Oil on board, 8.25 x 14.5 inches/Signed lower left
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Self-taught landscape painter Lewis Marple was born in New York City in1827. In 1849 Marple boarded a Clipper ship and sailed to Isthmus of Panama where, upon disembarking, made his way overland to the gold fields of Northern California at Placerville (known as Dry Diggin’s and Hangtown at the time of Marple’s arrival). How long he remained among the ranks of “forty-niners” is unknown; however, it is known that in 1866 Marple had moved to San Francisco where he open a studio on Montgomery Street. Between his time as a gold prospector and his move to San Francisco, he worked as house- and sign-painter. Was this the impetus that propelled him, along with natural talent, along with the wonderous natural scenery that surrounded him, to become a landscape painter? There is no doubt that Marple made a success of his new career; in 1867 his paintings were among those sold along with works by well-known California artists Norton Bush, Gideon Jacques Denny, Ransome Gillet Holdredge, and Harvey Otis Young. Seeking additional art education, Marple, in 1869, travelled to Paris, France and Munich, Germany to study, and was back in San Francisco in 1871. He was one of a group of artists who founded the San Francisco Art Association in 1871. Marple had become one of San Francisco’s leading artists and in 1872 Marple and his friend, Solomon Gump (of the famous Gump’s of San Francisco), opened "Marple & Gump's, Importers of Paintings," which became the sole venue for the sale of Marple’s works. Marple painted scenes of the Sierra Nevada Mountain, Lake Tahoe, and Yosemite Valley areas – it is known that he accompanied artists Hiram Bloomer and Thomas Hill on sketching trips. A decline in the San Francisco art market, possibly due to the financial panic of 1873 that lasted for several years, prompted Marple to return to New York City. He was there for only a short while before moving to St. Louis, MO in 1879; long enough to found the St. Louis Art Association, of which he was the Director. In 1880 Marple applied for a divorce from his wife. One of his grievances was that she sent a broken frying pan to an art show, where some of his pictures were on exhibition, with a request that the hanging committee would give it a position, as “an example of the way in which the talented Mr. Marple provided for his families necessities.” His final home was Aspen, Colorado, where he continued to paint and prospected for silver. Marple exhibited at the Mechanics Institute (San Francisco, 1868 – 1878); Snow & Roos Art Gallery (San Francisco, 1869); and the San Francisco Art Association (1872-77).