Artist Biography

William S. JEWETT
1812 - 1873

William Smith Jewett was born in South Dover, New York on August 6, 1812. He studied at the National Academy of Design and was active as a portrait painter in New York City from 1833. His work was often exhibited at the American Art Union and National Academy of Design of which he was elected a member in 1845. A portrait of the governor of New York assured him of a bright future. Jewett abandoned a promising career in New York to join the Gold Rush of 1849. Upon his arrival, he became California's first professionally-trained portrait painter. After a few months at the mines, he opened studios in San Francisco and Sacramento. He was soon busy with portraits of local politicians and the nouveaux riches. During his years in California he made shrewd real estate investments and became a wealthy man. In 1869 Jewett returned to New York City and the following year married. After visiting San Francisco in 1871, the couple sailed to Europe on an extended honeymoon. Due to Jewett's ill health, they returned to Springfield, Massachusetts and the artist died there on December 3, 1873. There are about 100 of his paintings extant. Exhibited: National Academy of Design, 1838 (first prize); Mechanics' Institute Fair (San Francisco), 1857; California Art Union, 1865; San Francisco Art Ass'n, 1872; California Midwinter Fair, 1894. Works held: California Historical Society; Oakland Museum; National Academy of Design; Sutter's Fort; California State Capitol; Bowers Museum (Santa Ana); Terra Museum (Chicago); De Young Museum.

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