The Museum is currently closed and will open Sunday, August 10th.
See the Upcoming Exhibitions page for more information.
Hearst and Walker Family/Brother Cornelius Galleries
Big Keith: Golden State Grandeur
Saint Mary’s College has long been a leading research institution and repository for California’s great 19th century landscape painter, William Keith (1838 - 1911). From the grand mountain scenes of his early work to the later sublime paintings of calm oak-laden pastorals, William Keith remains one of California’s major painters more than 100 years after his death. Keith had a deep and enduring love of nature, yet his stylistic path was complex. Moving away from the carefully rendered realism of his 1870s paintings,which wereinfluenced by his friend John Muir’s admonishments to reproduce the landscape with scientific accuracy, Keith’s style gradually became looser in brushstroke, and more somber and moody.
In 1872, carrying a letter of introduction from a mutual friend, Keith trekked up to Muir's rustic Yosemite cabin in 1872. Although they had never met, an instant friendship formed between the two Scottish immigrants. Keith had walked into the life of a kinsman in passionate love with California’s magnificence. Through decades of friendship Muir and Keith rejoiced in the spectacular and pristine beauty of California's Sierra Nevada, the Range of Light. Through the 1870s, Keith sketched extensively in Yosemite. With glowing newspaper reviews, his paintings sold well. Keith had established his reputation as a painter of grand panoramic landscapes, often of the High Sierra range.
Late in 1882 Keith met Mary McHenry, a suffragette and California’s first female attorney; they married in 1883. Throughout their marriage, Mary championed her husband's painting career. Aftyer his death, working closely with Saint Mary’s College professor, Brother Cornelius Braeg, FSC, an avid mountain climber and competent amateur landscape artist, and the author of Keith’s major biography. Brother Cornelius was introduced to Keith's paintings during a visit with John Muir in 1908, which led to his friendship with Mrs. Keith and his lifelong effort to chronicle this fascinating artist.