Oil on board, oval, 26 inches wide/Signed lower right
Bush was born in Rochester, New York and as a teenager he first studied landscape painting with local, Finger Lakes artist, James Harris. He took additional training from Hudson River School artist, Jasper Cropsey in New York City. He began exhibiting at the National Academy of Design in 1851 at the age of seventeen. It was another Hudson River School artist, Frederic Church, who encouraged Bush to travel to Central and South America to view their “sublime” lush, tropical environments. In 1853, the same year that Church first traveled to South America, Bush traveled to California via the Isthmus of Panama in Central South America and Commodore Vanderbilt's Route through the rugged landscape of Nicaragua. The following year, he exhibited tropical landscape paintings at the Mechanics’ Institute in San Francisco. By the end of the 1860s, Bush has opened a studio in the Mercantile Library Building in San Francisco. He is credited with being the first professional landscape painter in San Francisco. His realistic depictions of California mountain ranges attracted the eye of Willard Brigham Farwell, president of the Society of California Pioneers, who purchased his painting of Mount Diablo (San Francisco Bay Area).Bush returned to South America in 1868 under commission from Bank of California founder, William C. Ralston, to paint the landscape of Panama and the Chagres River. From 1869 to 1872 Bush was in New York City, before returning to San Francisco. South American railroad builder, Henry Meiggs, commissioned him to paint the landscape of the Andes Mountains in Peru and Ecuador, along his railroad line. This was followed by commissions from Mark Hopkins, Jr. and Charles Crocker, both founders of the Central Pacific Railroad. His last foray into South America was in 1875. In the late 1870s, Bush moved to Sacramento, California, where he opened a studio and taught art. While there Bush was the superintendent of the art department for the California State Fair. Although Bush painted the rugged landscape of the Sierra Nevada and Lake Taho and other rugged California scenery, it was his luministic South American “tropicals” that gained him recognition and his greatest success. From 1878 to 1880, Bush was the Director of the San Francisco Art Association and in 1893 he was appointed art director for the California galleries of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition (Chicago, Illinois). Unfortunately, a cold that he caught in Chicago during this time resulted in a fatal heart attack. Bush was a member of the Brooklyn Art Association; San Francisco’s Bohemian Club; San Francisco Art Association (1878-1880) and California Arts Association. He exhibited at the National Academy of Design (New York City, 1852 and 1871); Mechanics Institute (San Francisco, 1858); California State Fairs (Sacramento, four gold medals); and the World's Columbian Exposition (1892-1893).