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Edgar Payne (1883-1947)
Edgar Payne was born in Washburn, Missouri, in 1883 and grew up in the Ozark Mountain Range. On his own at the age of 14, Payne learned house, stage, and mural painting to earn his keep, traveling throughout the Ozarks, Texas, Mexico, and ultimately Chicago where he briefly endured his only formal art education at the Art Institute. Payne is said to have disliked his formal art studies and preferred to think of himself as entirely self-taught.
In 1909 Payne first visited California, sketching and painting both the northern and southern halves of the state, and on this trip was introduced to the most common them of his life’s work, the Sierra Nevada Mountains. In 1918 Payne and his new family moved to Laguna Beach where he built a home and studio, and where he was the first President of the Laguna Beach Art Association.
A tireless traveler, Payne did not stay long in Laguna Beach, as he took his family on an extended tour of Europe which resulted in a fruitful development of subject matter. Payne enjoyed and painted the fishing harbors and villages of France and Italy, as well as the rugged Alps. Exhibiting in France in 1923, Payne earned an Honorable Mention in the prestigious Paris Salon.
During the years of the Depression, Payne was forced to take teaching jobs, and at that time also produced a still useful book “The Composition of Outdoor Painting.”
Though his Laguna coastal paintings were superb, Edgar Payne is best remembered for his iconic High Sierra and Swiss Alp paintings, his European boat scenes, and for his vivid depictions of the Canyon de Chelly, many of which were commissioned by the Santa Fe Railway Company. Edgar Payne died in Hollywood in 1947.
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