Paul Whitman Biography

Painter, etcher, illustrator, lithographer, muralist, sculptor, teacher.

Paul Whitman was an accomplished and versatile artist who played an active role in the arts community of the Monterey Peninsula for twenty-four years.

Whitman was born in Denver, CO on April 23, 1897.  He spent his boyhood on his father's ranch in the Texas Panhandle, and later moved with his family to St Louis, MO. After serving as a lieutenant in the Field Artillery in WWI, he joined his stepfather’s insurance business in St. Louis in 1921. Later that year he married and by 1928 their three children had been born.

Abandoning the insurance business in 1926, he moved with his family to California. After settling in Carmel, he embarked upon a long and successful art career. He had taken art classes at the University of Washington in St Louis and, after moving to the Monterey Peninsula, further studied with Armin Hansen.

Like Hansen, Whitman frequently depicted waterfront life in his etchings. However, while Hansen tended to focus on the human activity of waterfront, Whitman gravitated toward intricate scenes of piers and wharves that challenged his considerable drawing skills.

By 1928 Whitman was beginning to gain notice in the art world. He exhibited as a member of the California Society of Etchers and received a prize from the International Society of Etchers. Whitman also began to work in watercolor, and in 1929 the Smithsonian Institution hosted an exhibition of his work that included both etchings and watercolors.

Whitman taught locally at the Robert Louis Stevenson School and was a consultant to the State Department of Education.

He died in Pebble Beach, CA on Dec. 11, 1950. The artist painted in several media but is best known for his watercolors of the Monterey area, fishing boats, and Mexico.

Member: Calif. Society of Etchers, Carmel Art Association.

Exhibited: Int'l Society of Etchers (LA), 1928 (prize); Smithsonian Inst., 1929; Calif. State Fair, 1947 (prize); Monterey Museum of Art, 2002.

In: CSL; Stanford University; Monterey Museum of Art (murals); Metropolitan Museum; Art Digest, Nov. 1929; AAA 1929-31; WWAA 1936-41.

Source: Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes; MMA/Reflections-The Art of Paul Whitman, 2002; interview with family members.