In Sacramento and Monterey, a pioneer painter gets his due

Jules Tavernier
“A Balloon in Mid-Air” (1875) was painted by Jules Tavernier (1844-1889). Oil on canvas, 30 by 50 inches. Private collection.
(John Wilson White / Phocasso)

Sacramento’s Crocker Art Museum has turned a spotlight on an often-overlooked pioneer painter of the American West — Jules Tavernier, a footloose Frenchman who crossed the Atlantic in the 1870s, crafting paintings and drawings as he traveled North America, then made his way to Hawaii.

The show, apparently the first survey of the artist’s career, will hang through May 11, then travel to the Monterey Museum of Art June 6 to Oct. 5.

It includes 100 paintings and works on paper, including illustrations done for Harper’s Weekly, paintings of Native Americans, landscapes from the Monterey Peninsula and scenes of Hawaii’s erupting Kilauea volcano, which the artist painted from close observation.

Tavernier died in the islands at age 45 in 1889. His life and work are explored in the art book “Jules Tavernier: Artist & Adventurer” (Pomegranate Press, 172 pages, $50), which includes about 90 color images.


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