Edgar Payne began working as a commercial painter in his late teens and by 1905 had a scene-painting studio in Dallas, Texas. Essentially a self-taught artist, he only briefly studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago after moving there in 1907. Over the next forty years, until his death in Los Angeles in 1947, Payne was a leading American painter who exhibited works in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, and Paris. In 1941, he wrote a primer on landscape painting, Composition of Outdoor Painting, which has been republished several times in the last sixty years. The book gives remarkable insight to Payne’s painting philosophy, style, and methods.
Payne first visited Laguna Beach on a painting trip to California around 1911. Six years later, he returned with his wife, artist Elsie Palmer Payne (1884–1971), and their daughter. Both artists became very active with Laguna’s burgeoning artist colony; Payne was first president of the Laguna Beach Art Association at its founding in August 1918. After he moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1920s, he continued to be an active member of the association. Payne’s oeuvre includes paintings of the desert Southwest, the High Sierra, French and Italian harbor scenes, and the Alps. He would spend several weeks in remote locations, living with his family in large, elaborate campsites.
Works in Our Collection
Oil on canvas, 1939
28 x 34 inches
Gift of the Jack J. Rimel and Beverly M. Rimel 1978 Intervivos Trust
Peaks and Shadows
Oil on canvas, c. 1925
41 x 41 inches
Gift of Elizabeth C. and Thomas T. Tierney
Oil on canvas, c. 1920
34 x 45 inches
Museum purchase with funds from prior gift of Lois Outerbridge