Artist Biography

1856 - 1940

William Otto Emerson was born near Chicago in Union, Illinois on March 2, 1856. He came with his family overland to California in 1870. After a few years in Placerville, he moved to San Francisco where he studied with Virgil Williams at the School of Design. Following the trend for serious art students of this period, he continued at Académie Julian in Paris under Bouguereau and Lefebvre. While there, he appears to have spent an extended period in Holland and brought back several paintings of his visit. During the latter part of his life Emerson lived in the San Francisco Bay area cities of Oakland and Hayward. He died in the latter on December 24, 1940. He was a highly skilled painter of California landscapes, still lifes, Dutch and French scenes. As well as a painter, he was also a noted ornithologist; his collection of 6,000 species of western birds was donated to the Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. Member: SFAA; American Artists Ass’n of Paris. Exhibited: California Midwinter Int'l Expo, 1894. Works held: California State Library.

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