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[Fortunato Arriola (American, born Mexico) “Santa Barbara Coast” 1870. Oil on canvas. Crocker Art Museum Purchase, 1945.23]
San Francisco had become an important city and art center by the time Fortunato Arriola painted this work, yet relatively few artists frequented Southern California. Although Santa Barbara had been an important community since Spanish occupation, depictions of the city and its coastline remained rare until the early 20th century.
Arriola was born and raised in Sinaloa, Mexico. There, he was well educated, learned several languages, and taught himself to paint. He arrived in San Francisco in 1857, selling his first landscape, a tropical sunset, for $400. He also painted portraits. Finding it difficult to support his large family as an artist, he left for New York in 1871. He did not achieve the recognition he had hoped for in the East, and decided to return to San Francisco. He died when his ship caught fire and burned in the Atlantic. In this painting, notice the permeating golden light that for many artists of the era denoted God’s presence in the landscape.
Shared by crockerart (Crocker Art Museum) and selected for Art.