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One of California's best-known impressionist landscape painters of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, William Wendt was called the "Dean of Southern California" artists. His landscapes were especially known for rich greens and browns. In 1911, he became founder of the California Art Club, where he served as President from 1911 to 1919. This organization reflected his commitment to plein-air painting of the California landscape. Indicative of the breadth of his reputation was his election in 1912 as an Associate of the National Academy of Design in New York.
He was born in Bentzen, Germany, and in 1880, immigrated to Chicago where, largely self taught, he studied briefly at the Chicago Art Institute and worked as a commercial artist. He moved to California in 1906 and that same year he married sculptress Julia Bracken. They bought the studio home of Marion Wachtel and Elmer Wachtel on Sichel Street, and in 1913, he and Julia built a home in Laguna Beach.
In California, Wendt was not a studio painter but worked outside, "en plein air", and explored the unique native landscape, often going into the wilderness. He had a deep reverence for nature, especially the unsettled wilderness, which he regarded as a place for silence and contemplation. As Los Angeles became increasingly populated, William Wendt pulled away from the active city, and in 1919 settled in Laguna Beach until his death in 1946.
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Nancy Dustin Wall Moure, "California Art: 450 Years of Painting & Other Media"
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Art Institute of Chicago
Dallas Museum of Art
Brigham Young University Museum
San Diego Museum of Art.