L.P. Latimer Biography

Born in Gold Hill of Placer County, California, Lorenzo Latimer became a prolific California landscape painter and highly respected teacher. He is best known for his watercolor paintings of picturesque views of northern California including giant redwoods, Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

He was educated at McClure's Military Academy in Oakland. He first settled in San Francisco and studied at the School of Design with Virgil Williams, graduating in 1882. He then opened a studio at 611 Clay Street in San Francisco and formed a partnership with John A. Stanton (1857-1929) to exhibit paintings and do decorative commissions. He also became a part of the raucous, partying circle of Jules Tavernier (1844-1889).

By 1883, he had begun the routine that would sustain him for a long career, about fifty years, of teaching and painting. He taught outdoor painting classes, mostly of women, and they took many excursions to picturesque areas of California, especially Sonoma where his family retained property. Painting alongside his students, Latimer did watercolor sketches that he later converted to oil paintings in his studio.  He became a prominent artist, known especially for his scenes of California redwood forest interiors.

He exhibited frequently with the San Francisco Art Association and also had a work included in the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Underscoring his growing reputation was his election to artist membership in the Bohemian Club and selection to the Guild of Arts and Crafts, a group of artists, writers and musicians that imposed cultural standards on local culture.  Latimer had a studio at 841 Market Street, and in 1893 married Jennie Phelps. They had a son, Lorenzo Phelps Latimer, who became an amateur painter and professor of agriculture at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.

From 1893 to 1894, he taught at the Mark Hopkins Institute, whose name was later changed to the California School of Design. In 1898, he became second vice-president of the Hopkins Institute and was the senior artist on the board, serving for ten years as arbiter for the exhibitions. In 1894, he started teaching at the Mechanics Institute, a position he held until the earthquake of 1906. He lost much of his early work from the 1906 earthquake and fire in San Francisco and moved across the Bay where he set up a home and studio at 2514 Woolsey Street in Berkeley.

He remained a highly influential teacher, especially of female students, and encouraged them to find their own unique styles. Beginning 1897, he exhibited many of their paintings with his own, and he led many painting trips, often to locations near Lake Tahoe and the Sierras including Yosemite. In 1914, he spent three summer months near Tahoe at Fallen Leaf and returned every summer for the remainder of his life. In 1916, he began autumn classes in Reno, Nevada, and in 1921, students there organized the Latimer Art Club. Known as the "Latimers", members became the founders of the Nevada Art Gallery, whose successor is the Nevada Museum of Art.

Lorenzo Latimer died on January 14, 1941 in Berkeley. His reputation remains for capturing primarily in watercolor landscape scenes of the beauty of the West.

Member: Bay Region AA; Bohemian Club; SFAA (board of directors 1899-1917 and vice-pres. 1902); Press Club (SF); Sequoia Club (SF).

Exhibited: SFAA, 1881-1914; Mechanics’ Inst. (SF), 1881-97; World’s Columbian Expo (Chicago), 1893 (gold medal); Calif. Midwinter Expo, 1894 (gold medals); Bohemian Club from 1897; Calif. State Fairs (medals); Lewis & Clark Expo (Portland), 1905 (silver medal); SF Artists Society, 1905; Del Monte Art Gallery, 1907-10; Oakland Library, 1908; Berkeley AA, 1908; Alaska-Yukon Expo (Seattle), 1909 (silver medal); Calif. Artists, Golden Gate Park Museum, 1915; PPIE, 1915; Reno Commercial Club, 1917; GGIE, 1939.

In: CHS; Santa Cruz City Museum; Bohemian Club; Nevada Museum (Reno); Oakland Public Library; State Museum Resource Center (Sacramento); Oakland Museum; Athenian Nile Club (Oakland); De Young Museum; Orange Co. (CA) Museum; Society of Calif. Pioneers.

Sources:  Alfred Harrison, Jr. 'Lorenzo Palmer Latimer, California Watercolor Painter', "The Magazine Antiques", April 2005. (North Point Gallery); Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"