Edwin Deakin was born in Sheffield, England, and at age twelve apprenticed in japanning, or decorative lacquering of furniture. This would be his only formal art training. His family immigrated to the United States in 1856 and settled in Chicago. There Deakin began work as a portrait and landscape painter and became a member of the Chicago Academy of Design. In 1870, he moved to San Francisco and opened a studio. He became active with the San Francisco Art Association and befriended many San Francisco artists, such as William Hahn (1929–1887), Thomas Hill (1829–1908), and Samuel Marsden Brookes (1816–1892), with whom he shared a studio. Deakin made numerous painting trips throughout California and successfully exhibited and sold his works. In summer 1877, he went to continental Europe, visiting Switzerland, Germany, and France, and then traveled to London where he sketched churches and cathedrals. After two years, he returned to San Francisco and began producing paintings based on the sketches he had made abroad. In 1881, he left San Francisco again and headed east. In the summer of 1882, he opened a studio in Denver and then traveled to Salt Lake City before returning to San Francisco the following year. He made a final trip to Europe in 1888, then, in 1890, built a mission-style home and studio in Berkeley, which would be his final home.
In 2008, the Crocker Art Museum hosted the exhibition Edwin Deakin: California Painter of the Picturesque, curated by Scott Shields. It was the first comprehensive retrospective of the California artist whose oeuvre included portraits, landscapes, architectural studies, still lifes, and several complete series of works documenting the California missions, in both oil and watercolor. He painted in Chinatown and made sensitive paintings that documented the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. He made several paintings of Samuel Marsden Brookes in his studio, whimsical studies of the Bohemian lifestyle of an artist.
Works in Our Collection
Campfire in the Redwoods
Oil on canvas, 1876
30 x 25 inches
Gift of the Carl S. Dentzel Estate