Artist Profile

Charles Rollo Peters


A native Californian, Charles Rollo Peters studied privately with Jules Tavernier (1844–1899) and at the California School of Design with Virgil Williams (1830–1886) and Christian Jorgensen (1860–1935). By the mid-1880s, Peters was exhibiting works in San Francisco, most of which were seascapes and harbor views. In the spring of 1886, he and his studio mate, John Stanton (1857–1929), journeyed to Monterey, where Peters was immediately taken with the beauty of the area. It would be in Monterey that he would eventually make his home in 1895, and it is his paintings of Monterey—especially his nocturnes—that would secure his reputation and earn him the title “Prince of Darkness.”

Peters furthered his education in Europe, studying at the Académie Julian and the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. It was on a beach in Brittany that he painted his first nocturne, remarking that the scene looked better “in the moonlight than during the day . . . . This led me to specialize on nocturnes.” He was also influenced by fellow artist and expatriate Thomas Alexander Harrison (1853–1930), who was known for his marine nocturnes. Returning to San Francisco in 1889, Peters opened a studio in the bohemian quarter and became an active exhibitor. The following year he went to Monterey and began painting works that would become “his signature Monterey style.”

Peters traveled again to Europe, in 1891, remaining for four years and painting numerous works, most of which were nocturnal landscapes. Reportedly, James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903) saw and admired his work.



Works in Our Collection

Charles Rollo Peters
The Artist’s House, Monterey
Oil on canvas, 1891
36 1/2 x 51 1/2 inches
Gift of Nancy Dustin Wall Moure