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William Keith

1838-1911

Artist William Keith, friend of John Muir
  • Scottish-born California painter.
  • Keith was a very succcessful painter. His paintings are still owned by collectors all over the world, with many found in museums throughout the United States. St. Mary's College in Moraga, California, has perhaps the largest collection, and serves as a center for temporary exhibitions of Keith's work.
  • Keith met John Muir in Yosemite in the fall of 1872, in the company of two other artists, Benoni Irwin and Thomas Ross, with a letter of introduction from their mutual friend, Jeanne Carr. The two Scottish nature-lovers became very close life-time friends. Keith and Muir were frequent traveling companions.
  • William Keith was the subject of a foremost art scholar, Brother Cornelius, who was introduced to Keith's paintings by John Muir himself, and wrote the benchmark book Keith, Old Master of California (1942).
  • Sources: Eugen Neuhaus. William Keith: the Man and the Artist. 1938. Berkeley: University of California Press. Extensive art biography including correspondence between Keith and Muir.
  • Alfred Harrison, William Keith: The Saint Mary's College Collection, Second Printing with Supplement, 1994 (158 pages) Major essay by Alfred Harrison; full texts of five essays and lectures by William Keith; catalog listings and black-and-white illustrations of 135 Keith paintings; 39 color plates; and more.
  • Hearst Art Gallery, St. Mary's College, William Keith: The Artist and His Times, 1995 (Video; 23 minutes). In this documentary, more than fifty of Keith's paintings show the range of his artistic vision. Historic photographs, footage of California scenes today, and the words of the artist, his friend John Muir, and their contemporaries help tell the Keith story. Note the cover of the video incorrectly identifies John Burroughs as John Muir.



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