Illustrator and landscape painter Fernand Lungren attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia for a brief period, working with renowned artist Thomas Eakins (1844–1916). He furthered his studies in Paris at the Académie Julian. In 1877, he became a magazine illustrator in New York City, specializing in city street scenes and night scenes. His work was featured in magazines such as Harper’s, Scribner’s Monthly, and Century Magazine. In 1882, he went to Paris to study at the Académie Julian; however, he left after a short time. He then went to London where he worked for three years—from 1899 to 1901—as a professional painter, mixing with artists in the circle of James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834–1903). Returning to the United States, Lungren settled in Cincinnati. Sponsored by the Santa Fe Railroad, Lungren made his first trip to the Southwest in 1892, and the railroad published some of his illustrations in their 1893 guidebook Grand Cañon of the Colorado River, Arizona. Under the railroad’s sponsorship, he made several more trips to the Southwest between 1894 and 1897.
In 1903, Lungren moved to Los Angeles, then three years later to Santa Barbara where he helped found the Santa Barbara School of the Arts. The California deserts became a main theme in his art, and he would often take long trips to the Mojave Desert or to Death Valley. William H. Gerdts stated that Lungren “became the foremost desert painter” of the early twentieth century, “depicting this subject under varying conditions of light and at different times of day, reveling in the vivid coloration he observed.”
|Bastions of the Painted Desert
Oil on canvas, c. 1910
20 x 40 inches
Promised gift of Nancy Dustin Wall Moure