Artist Biography

1879 - 1934

Gunnar Mauritz Widforss was born in Stockholm, Sweden on October 21, 1879. He studied to be a muralist at the Royal Technical Institute in Stockholm from 1896-1900. While in his native land, he became well known with sales to European royalty. A world traveler, on his way to the Orient in 1920 he visited San Francisco and opted to remain. He painted along the Monterey coast for a while before deciding to specialize in scenery of the national parks. His work was inspired by the Bryce, Zion, and Yellowstone canyons as well as Yosemite and Crater Lake. Widforss illustrated the book Songs of Yosemite (1923), and his work was widely reproduced on postcards and covers of national magazines. He is best known for his watercolors of the Grand Canyon where a prominent spot is named for him. He maintained a studio there on the rim until his sudden death on November 30, 1934. Partly due to the Depression, his works were unappreciated and sold for very little money during his lifetime. Living alone and in near poverty, he was a prolific painter of western landscapes. Exhibited: Paris Salon, 1912; California Watercolor Society, 1928 (first prize); Gump's (San Francisco), 1929 (first prize); California State Fair, 1930 (third prize); Museum of Northern Arizona, 1969 (retrospective). Works held: National Museum of American Art; Yosemite National Park Museum; Museum of Northern Arizona; Ahwahnee Hotel (Yosemite).

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