William Wendt (1865-1946)
William Wendt, an American landscape painter, was born on 1865 in Bentzen, Germany. At age 15, Wendt immigrated to the United States and worked in Chicago as commercial artist and studied for a short time at the Chicago Art Institute. Early on, he enjoyed easel painting and began to develop his own unique style for painting.
Between 1894 and 1906, Wendt and his close friend Garner Symons made several trips to Southern California. Wendt’s adoption of impressionism began 1896 when he and Symons were painting together on the Malibu Rancho near Los Angeles.
In Chicago, Wendt wasn’t a successful artist, but his art was well received in California almost instantly upon him settling there in 1906. In California, William Wendt worked outside, “en plein air”, and experimented with the unique native landscape, often exploring the wilderness. He had a reverence for nature, particularly the unsettled wilderness, which he regarded as a place for peace and contemplation. Wendt’s landscape paintings were especially known for their rich greens and browns. Wendt was a founding member of the California Art Club and served as its president for six years. This organization reflected Wendt’s commitment to plein-air painting of the California landscape. He became known as the “Dean of Southern California landscape painters.”
William Wendt received many awards, including the Bronze Medal from the Buffalo Exposition in 1901, the Kirchberger Prize from the Chicago Art Institute in 1913, the Silver Medal from San Francisco Exposition in 1915, the Black Prize from the California Art Club in 1916 and the Ranger Purchase Prize from the National Academy of Design in 1926.
As Los Angeles became more populated, William Wendt navigated away from the busy city and in 1919 settled in Laguna Beach where he died in 1946.
William Wendt’s work can be found in many collections including the Union Club in Seattle, the Art Institute of California, the Pasadena Art Institute and in the Springville, Utah Museum.
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