William Wendt

(February 20, 1865 – December 29, 1946)

A landscape painter known as the dean of the Southern California landscape painters; William Wendt was born in Bentzen in the Kingdom of Prussia. He was the only son of William and Willamina Ludwig Wendt. He attended rural schools and was apprenticed to a cabinetmaker. The work was not to his liking, so he immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 15. He stayed with an uncle in Chicago and got a job with a commercial artist. Here he painted the background colors only but took a few evening classes at the Art Institute of Chicago. On his day off he began to create his own paintings, always looking to the natural world for inspiration. He loved plein air painting. When he was 28, he won the Yerkes prize at the Annual Society of Chicago Artists Exhibition, which helped his work gain notice. He often traveled to California with George Gardner Symons, a painter and friend, and fell in love with the landscape. Between 1894 and 1896 he and Symonds traveled to England, Germany, France, and the east coast of the U. S. Back in California, Wendt got a commission from the Rindge family, to paint scenes from their Rancho Malibu in 1897. He moved to Southern California where he and his new bride, sculptor Julia Bracken settled. They created a studio in Laguna Beach and together lead the California Art Club from 1911 – 1917. Wendt’s work is most closely associated with the Eucalyptus School and the Arts and Crafts movement. He belonged to several art organizations and won numerous prizes over the course of his career. His work is displayed in museums across the country and has maintained its popularity.

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