Artist Biography

Gideon J. DENNY
1830 - 1886

Gideon Jacques Denny was born in Wilmington, Delaware on July 15, 1830. As a young man he worked as a sailor of small craft on Chesapeake Bay and his enthusiasm for ships never waned. Arriving in San Francisco with the Gold Rush in 1849, he worked as a teamster on the waterfront and was a member of the Vigilance Committee. After two years in California, he opted for an art career and then traveled to Milwaukee where he was a pupil of Samuel Marsden Brookes. After six years of study there, he returned to San Francisco and established a studio on Bush Street. When Brookes moved to San Francisco in 1862, the two friends shared a studio for many years. Although he did a few portraits and landscapes, it was his paintings of the clippers and shipping activities on San Francisco Bay that were to bring him success and fame. These views often include ship wrecks along the West Coast done in a Turneresque manner with vaporous effects of smoke, steam, and clouds. He never married and remained a resident of San Francisco except for visits to Hawaii, Canada, and South America. Denny died of malaria while a member of a surveying party in Cambria, California on October 7, 1886. Upon his death a memorial exhibition of his works was held at the Society of California Pioneers. Member: Bohemian Club; San Francisco Art Ass'n; Pacific Union Club; Society of California. Pioneers. Exhibited: Mechanics' Institute (San Francisco), 1864, 1869, 1871 (silver medal); California Art Union, 1865; Snow & Roos (San Francisco), 1869; San Francisco Art Ass'n, 1872-86. Works held: Oakland Museum; Bohemian Club; Monterey Peninsula Museum; Crocker Museum; De Young Museum; California Historical Society; University of California Berkeley Museum.

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