Maurice Del Mue Biography

Painter, illustrator, muralist


   Maurice Del Mue was born in Paris, France on November 24, 1875.  About 1880 his family moved from Paris to San Francisco where he grew up. He enrolled as a student at the California School of Design when a teenager and later studied art at the Mark Hopkins Institute under Mathews and Joullin.  In the late 1890s he returned to Paris for a year rooming with his friend, Gottardo Piazzoni, who would go on to marry his sister.  While in Paris he had further studies under Gérôme at Ecole des Beaux Arts.  

Back in San Francisco, Del Mue was hired as an illustrator for the San Francisco Call, while pursuing a career as an easel painter in his spare time.  He soon became an active member of the vigorous art world of early twentieth-century San Francisco.

In 1902 he joined fellow artists Piazzoni, Putnam, C. P. Neilson, W. H. Bull, M. Sandona, and Blendon Campbell in forming the California Society of Artists as a protest to the conservative attitudes of the San Francisco Art Association. He established a studio and began receiving favorable reviews for his paintings by the local press:

     In 1906, Laura Bride Powers, art critic for the Call, announced that "Del Mue has arrived…I commend to you his exquisite presentations of the phases of nature that whisper to him." (March 18, 1906).  

     In 1907, Elise Graupner noted that "(Del Mue) sees no garish colorings in nature—just the soft, subdued tones that please the eye and to which one returns again and again." (Call, November 3, 1907).  

     Lake Tahoe appears as a subject for his landscapes for the first time in 1913:  "Del Mue handles a Tahoe scene with great vigor and depth of color," the San Francisco Chronicle observed, "striking a new note in his work." (October 26, 1913).

During the 1920s Del Mue was a staff artist for the San Francisco Chronicle and later worked for Foster & Kleiser (billboards).  His commercial art includes many prominent logos which are still in use (Hills Brothers Coffee, Schillings Coffee, Southern Pacific Railroad, and others).

As early as 1933 he maintained an art studio in the small town of Forest Knolls in Marin County.  Painting in a style that evolved from the Post-Impressionists, Del Mue was motivated by color and often boasted that he had his own blue that he humorously referred to as "Del Mue blue."

Best known for his landscapes, many of the High Sierra, he also painted still lifes and portraits.

Del Mue died on January 24, 1955 at Ross General Hospital in Kentfield.

Member: California Society of Artists (founding member); SFAA; Bohemian Club; Marin Society of Artists.

Exhibited: Royal Academy (London); Hotel Oakland; Mark Hopkins Institute, 1906; SFAA and Bohemian Club annuals; Del Monte Art Gallery, 1907-12; PPIE, 1915 (silver medal); Calif. State Fair, 1934; SFMA, 1935; GGIE, 1939.

Murals: College of Marin; Tamalpais High School; Lagunitas School; Officers Lounge, Hamilton Air Force Base; Union Jr. College (Kentfield).

In: Oakland Museum; De Young Museum.

Sources include: AskArt; Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes