S. A. Norton Bush (1834-1894).
Scene on the Upper Guayaquil River
Oil on Canvas.
Signed l. r. with the artist's monogrammed signature "N Bush" and dated 1880
also titled Scene on the Upper Guayaquil River - S.A. on the stretcher
20 by 36 inches.
Provenance: Private collection, San Francisco, California
Born in Rochester, New York, in 1834, Norton Bush first studied art in his native town as thepupil of James Harris, an established landscape painter. In 1850, Bush moved to New York and studiedwith the Hudson River School painter Jasper Cropsey (1823-1900). At the suggestion of the artistFrederic Church (1826-1900), Bush decided to travel to look for inspiration for his paintings.In 1853, Bush left New York for San Francisco by boat, crossing America through Nicaragua onthe old “Vanderbuilt” route used by many Gold Rush prospectors and poineers, as the transcontinen-tal railroad would not be complete until 1869. Bush settled in San Francisco and became part of thegrowing art community in the city in the 1860s.After a sketching tour to Central America in 1868, Bush increasingly turned to tropicalsubjects, which were very popular in San Francisco. A majority of San Francisco residents before 1869had experienced a taste of the tropics in their pioneer journey to California, and Bush’stranscriptions of the lush beauty of the region evoked nostalgic memories. Additionally, many HudsonRiver school painters, such as Frederic Church, had started to travel and paint scenes from SouthAmerica and other tropical areas.Norton Bush became the most popular, and best known nationally, of the artists whosettled in California and specialized in landscapes of the tropics. Bush’s favorite subject was thetropical lagoon framed by palm trees. He was a master at capturing the soft harmonies of sunset in thetropics and their reflections in still water. Describing Bush’s tropical scenes, a San Francisco EveningPost art critic wrote:Not only is the vegetation splendidly tinted, but the atmosphere is warm, soft and golden, and the water asperfectly represented as can be imagined... Mr. Bush occupies a leading position as an American artist andthe newspapers of New York and other Eastern cities have often referred to his paintings in terms of a warmeulogy.(October 27, 1874)In 1875 Bush traveled to South America on a commission from Henry Meiggs, a mining andrailroad entrepreneur whom had moved there from San Francisco. Bush visited Peru, Chile andEcuador, taking studies for works like this tranquil scene that depicts the Guayaquil River in Ecuador.In 1878 Bush became director of the San Francisco Art Association, and in the following yearswon four gold medals at California State Fair exhibitions for his paintings of the tropics. In later years,Bush took to painting marine scenes, which lacked the popularity of his tropical views. In 1893, Bushwas put in charge of the California section of the Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The strenuousefforts of this were too much for his health, and he died in Oakland in April, 1894.Works by Norton Bush can be found in the collections of the Fine Arts Museums of SanFrancisco, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Oakland Museum of California.NORTONBUSH(1834-1894)Scene on the Upper Guayaquil RiverSigned, dated 1880 at lower right; Inscribed with title on stretcherOil on canvas20” x 36,” 30” x 46” framedProvenance: Private Collection, San Francisco, CA$90,000.