Artist Biography

Chris JORGENSEN
1860 - 1935

Christian August Jorgensen was born in Oslo, Norway on October 7, 1860. Jorgensen moved to San Francisco with his mother in 1870. He showed artistic promise at an early age and when the School of Design opened in 1874, he was among the first to enroll. At 14 he was greatly influenced at that school by Virgil Williams who was both teacher and father figure. Jorgensen later became an instructor at the School of Design and served as assistant director from 1881-83. He then established a studio at 131 Post Street where he continued teaching and by the mid-1880s was a successful landscape painter. For five years he and his wife, Angela, traveled by horse and buggy to the sites of the 21 California missions and during this period he produced 80 watercolor studies of the missions and a complete set of oils. In 1899 he pitched a tent in Yosemite and after several months, obtained a permit to build a studio-home there and continued painting there during the warm months for 19 years. (His home in Yosemite is now used as headquarters for the Government Rangers.) In 1905 he built a boulder home in Carmel (this later became the Hotel La Playa) where he and Angela lived for a few years; most of his time was spent at the family home in Piedmont (Oakland). The Jorgensens made trips to Italy (1892-94), Mexico (1907), the Grand Canyon (1910) and New England (1916). Jorgensen enjoyed a long career and continued painting until his death in Piedmont on June 24, 1935. Member: Bohemian Club; Press Club (SF). Exhibited: San Francisco Art Ass'n, 1887; Mechanics' Institute Fair (SF), 1887; California State Fair, 1891 (medal); Mark Hopkins Institute, 1897; Bohemian Club, 1899-1904; Cosmos Club (Washington, DC), 1906; Sequoia Club (SF), 1907; Del Monte Art Gallery (Monterey), 1907-09; Rabjohn & Marcom Gallery (SF), 1908; Alaska-Yukon Expo (Seattle), 1909; Courvoisier Gallery (SF), 1909. Works held: Bohemian Club; Sonoma Mission; Athletic Club (Oakland); Mechanics' Institute Library (SF); Orange County (CA) Museum; Yosemite Museum; California Historical Society.

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