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Jules Tavernier: A French Artist in California / Presentation by Claudine Chalmers

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cloudy pink and purple sky and green grass

Jules Tavernier, “Sunrise over Diamond Head,” 1888. Oil on canvas, 11 3/4 x 17 3/4 in (29.9 x 45.1 cm). Collection of the Honolulu Museum of Art. Gift of Frances Damon Holt in memory of John Dominis Holt, 2001 (9500.1). Courtesy of the Honolulu Museum of Art

French artist Jules Tavernier (1844–1889) was one of the American West’s foremost talents, with a natural ability that many believed was second to none. His studios in San Francisco and Monterey became hubs for California's developing art scene. Join us for a virtual presentation by Claudine Chalmers, independent historian and author of "Jules Tavernier: Artist and Adventurer,” and hear how Tavernier's views on art, his paintings, and his belief in the productive atmosphere of the art studio impacted the vision of other California artists forever. Dr. Chalmers will guide us through his background and the training that forged his identity as a French painter, his productive partnerships with other French artists like Paul Frenzeny, and his launching of Monterey as a plein air destination.
This program is part of Virtual Wednesdays, a weekly YouTube broadcast, and is in support of the exhibition Jules Tavernier and the Elem Pomo. This presentation will be streamed in English and French.

About the Speaker

Claudine Chalmers moved from her native Cannes, France, to California after completing graduate studies at the University of Nice. She soon developed great interest in the history of her adoptive Golden State while traveling around the Sierras with her family. In 1991, while working freelance for Random House’s textbook division, she turned the information unearthed in the course of her ten-year research into a lively 800-page PhD dissertation on Gold Rush San Francisco’s numerous and colorful French pioneers. Her fascination with early California led her to research and write “Splendide Californie!: Impressions of the Golden State by French Artists,” a book magnificently produced by the Book Club of California which received the Commonwealth Club’s 2001 silver award and a great review in the Los Angeles Times. An exhibit based on this book was hosted by San Francisco’s California Historical Society and Sacramento’s Crocker Art Museum. Her many articles on the subject appeared, among others, in the California Historical Society Quarterly, Antiques and Fine Art Magazine, The Californians, Ancestry Magazine, as well as quarterlies in France and a spot in a French documentary for the prestigious television show Thalassa.

About the Exhibition 

Upon its completion in 1878, Jules Tavernier’s Dance in a Subterranean Roundhouse at Clear Lake, California—which depicts a ceremonial dance (mfom Xe) of the Elem Pomo in an underground roundhouse (Xe-xwan) at Clear Lake (Xa’btin)—was hailed in a San Francisco newspaper as “by far the most remarkable picture ever painted on the Pacific Coast.” The French-born artist’s painting now returns to California for the first time in more than 140 years as the central focus of the Jules Tavernier and the Elem Pomo exhibition at the de Young. The exhibition includes more than a dozen paintings, watercolors, prints, and photographs by Jules Tavernier (1844–1889) and puts forth a new interpretation of his career masterwork and his other compositions of the Western United States by offering a multiplicity of voices and perspectives, including those of Pomo cultural leaders and curators. 

Ticket Information

No registration is required. This is a free online event. 

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Contact Information

Public Programs
(415) 750-7624