California Impressionist artist William Wendt (1865-1946) was born on February 20th in Bentzen, Germany. Primarily a self-taught artist, William Wendt immigrated to the United States at the age of fifteen. William Wendt studied briefly at the School of the Chicago Art Institute and worked as a commercial artist. In his free time he displayed a love for easel painting and began to develop a personal style of painting. William Wendt was an active exhibitor in Chicago art shows but would not enjoy much success until he reached California.
In 1894 and 1896, William Wendt traveled and painted with his friend George Gardner Symons (1863-1930). They traveled to England and California, and then later traveled to the East Coast, Germany and France. William Wendt married sculptress Julia Bracken in 1906. The couple soon moved to California and purchased the studio home of Marion and Elmer Wachtel on Sichel Street. In 1913, the couple built a home in Laguna Beach, California and they frequently exhibited together.
Many artists of his time created most of their paintings in an art studio, however William Wendt loved to travel through the countryside and would often paint outdoors, "En Plein-Air". William Wendt would often hike deep into the wilderness in search of new subject matter and there he would sketch the outlines for his new paintings. He was a religious man and had a deep appreciation for nature and the unspoiled wilderness. As a young artist, William Wendt's paintings were soft and peaceful, but his later works became more majestic and the artist utilized rich colors and broader brushstrokes.
William Wendt is referred to as the "Dean of Southern California" artists. He co-founded the California Art Club in 1911 and served as President on two occasions. His level of activity in The California Art Club reflected William Wendt's commitment to Plein-Air painting. Elected as an Associate of the National Academy of Design in New York, William Wendt's scope of influence extended much farther than the confines of California.
William Wendt was an impressionist artist who was influenced by the art work of Arthur Mathews (1860-1945). Art historians can see the impressionism style of painting in William Wendt's work going back as far as the mid 1890's. It was during this time that William Wendt spent a lot of time painting with George Gardner Symons and painting in the impressionistic style is evident in the paintings they created. Impressionism was a style of painting that started in France in the middle of the 19th century and William Wendt was on the forefront of American painters to adopt this style of painting.
William Wendt died in Laguna Beach, California on December 29, 1946.
William Wendt Painting Awards
1901 Bronze Medal, Buffalo Exposition
1913 Kirchberger Prize, Chicago Art Institute
1915 Silver Medal, San Francisco Exposition
1916 Black Prize, California Art Club
1926 Ranger Purchase Prize, National Academy of Design