James Everett Stuart Biography

Born in Bangor, Maine, James Everett Stuart became known for his panoramic landscapes from Maine to California to Alaska to the Panama Canal, but especially of the American West with focus on Northern California and Oregon. Reportedly he painted more than 5000 paintings during his lifetime and originated a method of painting on aluminum and wood with a special adhering process that he thought made his work quite durable but proved not to be so. He also wrote on the back of most of his paintings.

His parents took him to California at the age of eight, and the family settled in San Francisco where he attended the public schools and studied art with Virgil Williams, Raymond Yelland, Thomas Hill, and William Keith at the San Francisco School of Design. His early work was dramatic California landscape including the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, and in style the works were moody and mysterious and suggestive of the French Barbizon School. He first traveled to the Northwest in 1876, and in 1881, he opened his studio in Portland, Oregon and from there traveled throughout the West and East Coast and into Mexico. Subjects included Yosemite as well as California missions and adobes. He painted landscapes whose sales ultimately were financially remunerative and which established his reputation. In 1885, he first went to Yellowstone where he camped for several weeks, supplied himself with fish for food, climbed steep cliffs including Electric Peak, and filled his sketchbook for studio paintings. The following summer, Stuart returned, having negotiated a free pass from the Northern Pacific Railroad in exchange for paintings. At the end of the summer, he went East to New York City on the return part of his train pass. Settling a studio in New York for four years, he continued to arrange several more summer railroad passes to Yellowstone. He was unable to arrange a formal arrangement for painting sales from the Park's gift shop, so he sold paintings from his tent.  Of those years, he expressed that he much preferred being in the park to studio painting, but he stopped visiting in 1889 and instead traveled to Alaska and the Coastal Range.

During much of the 1890s, he lived in Chicago, but in 1912 returned to San Francisco until his death in 1941. There, from his studio near Union Square, he was highly successful and popular among his peers, underscored by his membership in the Bohemian Club. Many of the owners of old homes in California have his paintings on the wall, suggestive of a time of grandeur. One of his paintings is in the White House, and his work is in the historical societies of Oregon, Washington, and Montana.

Source:AIC//Hughes; Drawn to Yellowstone/Hassrick; Encyclopedia of Artists of the Am. West/Samuels