Fernand Harvey Lungren

Like many artists of his generation, Fernand Lungren worked as both a fine artist and illustrator. He grew up in Toledo, Ohio, and showed artistic promise at an early age. When he was 19, he met Kenyon Cox, who encouraged him to pursue a career in art. Lungren enrolled at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and studied with Thomas Eakins. After completing his studies in 1877 Lungren moved to New York City and worked as an illustrator. He shared a studio with the prominent painter Robert Frederick Blum and helped to found the Tile Club in 1878. In 1882 he and Blum traveled to Paris, where Lungren briefly enrolled at the Academie Julian. Disappointed with the state of academic painting in the French capital, he traveled to Barbizon, where he studied and began practicing painting en plein air.

Upon his return to the States, Lungren settled in New York briefly, but then moved to Cincinnati, where met J.H. Sharp and Henry Farny. Both men had already adopted Western subject matter for their artwork and they encouraged Lungren to do the same, which he did. In 1892 Lungren was hired by the Santa Fe Railway to sketch scenes of the landscape and Native Americans along its route. This experience was the first of many travel excursions Lungren would make to the West. He mostly painted Native American ceremonies and folklore that also became widely popular illustrations in such magazines as Harper's, Scribner's, and Century.

In 1898 Lungren moved to London for three years. He exhibited his Western scenes and paintings of London street life to wide success. He also mastered the art of pastel drawing, applying the keen observational skills he developed as an illustrator to the challenging medium. In 1901 Lungren returned again to New York City, where he stayed for two years before moving to California. In 1906 he settled permanently in Santa Barbara and became an important figure in the Southern California art scene of the early 20th century. His landscape paintings of the Mojave Desert and Death Valley were greatly celebrated.

Throughout his long and varied career Lungren used his artistic powers to poetically capture atmosphere and mood. His deft handling of his medium, whether it was paint or pastel, enabled him to achieve the most challenging effects of color and light. Lungren's night scenes and cityscapes were widely praised for their ability to conjure an impression of a fleeting moment in time. Clearly his training as illustrator helped him to perfect this skill, but his sensitivity to his subject was something innate, making him one of the finest observers of early modern life.