Friday, August 14, 2009

Sidney Mortimer Lawrence - Alaskan Artist

I had the one above, of the pond hanging in
my den for about five years.

Laurence was the first professionally trained artist to take up permanent residence in Alaska. For half a century he turned out numerous oils, watercolors and photographs. Many of his works are in private collections in Alaska and on the West Coast. Comparatively few ended up in museums.

“Sydney Mortimer Laurence (1865-1940) was the foremost painter of the Alaskan landscape and his work is so well known to Alaskans
as to make him a legend in the forty-ninth state.

At the same time, his paintings of a romantic, unspoiled northern frontier - Mt. McKinley, trapper's cabins and caches, quiet pools, rocky coasts, and totem poles - are little known beyond Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. Even in Alaska, where his work is known to virtually every resident, the artist's life and early career have long been shrouded in mystery, and his work has never been placed in the larger context of the art of his time.”

As one of Alaska's most widely beloved historical painters, Sydney Laurence was the first professionally trained artist to make Alaska his home. He was born in Brooklyn, New York City in 1865, and studied at the Art Students League of New York and exhibited regularly by the late 1880s.

Settling in 1889 in the English artists' colony of St Ives, Cornwall, over the next decade he exhibited at the Royal Society of British Artists and was included in the Paris Salon in 1890, 1894, and 1895, winning an award in 1894.

Laurence moved to Alaska in 1904 for reasons still unknown. Living the hard life of the pioneer prospector, he painted little in his first years in the territory, but between 1911 and 1914 he began to focus once again on his art. He moved from Valdez to the budding town of Anchorage in 1915 and by 1920 was Alaska's most prominent painter.

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