Jules Tavernier Biography

Born in Paris, France on April 27, 1844. Tavernier began art studies at age 16 in his native city under Felix Barrias at Ecole des Beaux Arts. By age 20 he had exhibited at the prestigious Paris Salon and received local recognition.  After serving as an artist-war correspondent during the Franco-Prussian War, he lived in England for a year. He worked as an illustrator for the London Graphic before sailing for New York in 1872. With artist Paul Frenzeny, he crossed the U.S. in 1873 as employees of Harper's Weekly. Traveling by horseback, the two Frenchmen made drawings of the western frontier along the way.  After arriving in San Francisco in 1875, Tavernier became an active member of the San Francisco Art Association and Bohemian Club. Following a sketching trip to nearby Monterey, he built a studio there which became a mecca for visiting artists. Soon others joined him and an art colony of "Bohemians" was formed. Although his work brought top prices he was constantly in debt due to his profligate life style. After an altercation with local citizenry forced his return to San Francisco in 1879, he shared a studio with Julian Rix and Joseph Strong.

His desire to paint volcanoes in Hawaii led him to the Islands in 1884. His works were popular there and he became court painter to King Kalakaua. He produced about 100 depictions of volcanoes in oil and pastel. Local law insisted upon payment of all bills before leaving the Islands and, unable to do so, he remained there and drank himself to death. Tavernier died in Honolulu at his studio on Hotel Street at age 45 on May 18, 1889. A granite grave marker was sent to Hawaii by his friends at the Bohemian Club and is easily seen over the cemetery wall.

Member: SFAA; Palette Club; Bohemian Club.
Exhibited: Paris Salon, 1864-70; Philadelphia Centennial, 1876; Mechanics' Inst. Fair (SF), 1877 (medal); Calif. State Fair, 1880-82; New Orleans World's Fair, 1885; Calif. Midwinter Expo, 1894.
In: CHS; Oakland Museum; Bancroft Library (UC Berkeley); De Young Museum; Denver Public Library; Honolulu Academy of Arts; Gilcrease Inst.; Harrison Library (Carmel); Kansas State Historical Society; Monterey Peninsula Museum; Wichita Public Library; Yosemite Nat'l Park Museum; Bohemian Club; Olympic Club (SF); Volcano Nat'l Park (Hawaii); Shasta State Historical Monument; Beaverbrook Art Gallery (New Brunswick, Canada); Society of Calif. Pioneers.

Source: Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"