Julian Rix worked as an apprentice sign painter in San Francisco and studied briefly at the California School of Design. While in school, he befriended fellow artists Amédée Joullin (1862–1917) and Jules Tavernier (1844–1899). Both Tavernier and Rix joined the Bohemian Club and moved to the burgeoning art colony in Monterey. Rix worked there for several years at a hillside studio. He returned to San Francisco in 1879 and shared a studio with Tavernier on Montgomery Street.
In 1880, due to the depressed art market in San Francisco, Rix moved to the East Coast, settling in Paterson, New Jersey, and establishing a studio in New York City. There he enjoyed commercial success with his watercolor and oil paintings, exhibiting at the National Academy of Design. Despite his exodus from the West Coast, Rix remained interested in the San Francisco art community; in 1883, he sent two hundred paintings there for a solo exhibition. In 1888, he was one of the artists who contributed images for Picturesque California, a journal of writings and illustrations edited by naturalist John Muir that represented the natural wonders and spectacular scenery of the thirty-first state.
Despite the fact that he had little formal training, Rix achieved great success with his work, especially his poetic landscapes. He adopted the French Barbizon style, whose proponents advocated realistic, not idealized, interpretations of nature. Like William Keith and Thomas Hill, Rix sought to create poetic yet truthful renditions of nature and shunned the idealized and constructed views of the more romantic images of the time.
Works in Our Collection
Untitled (Winter Twilight)
Oil on canvas, c. 1880
48 x 36 inches
Promised gift of Nancy Dustin Wall Moure