Gunnar Widforss Timeline

1905    1906    1907    1908    1909    1910
1911    1912    1913    1914    1915    1916    1917    1918     1919
1920    1921    1922    1923    1924    1925    1926    1927    1928    1929
1930    1931    1932    1933    1934

October 21, 1879

Gunnar Mauritz Widforss was born in Stockholm, Sweden to Blenda and Mauritz Widforss, the sixth of thirteen children.

  • 1872 - Yellowstone National Park created by President Grant.
  • 1876 - The battle of the Little Bighorn
  • 1876 - First practical telephone developed by Alexander Graham Bell
  • 1879 - Thomas Alva Edison filed his first patent application for "Improvement In Electric Lights" His first successful test was on October 22, 1879, and the bulb lasted 13.5 hours.
  • 1879 – Albert Einstein born
  • 1880 – The first steam-powered tram service begins in Stockholm.
  • 1880 - Stockholm Bell Telephone Company opened Sweden's first telephone exchange in Stockholm.

The Widforss family in 1895

1896-1900

Studied to be a muralist at the The Technical School (now Konstfack) in Stockholm, the same school that his mother, Blenda Widforss, studied at.

  • The Boxer Rebellion in China
  • Kodak introduced Brownie Cameras
  • Max Planck formulated Quantum Theory
  • Sigmund Freud Published The Interpretation of Dreams

Initially protected as a California state park in 1864, Yosemite National Park was established in 1890.

Mt. Rainier National Park created in 1899.

 

1901

 
  • First Nobel Prizes Awarded
  • First Trans-Atlantic Radio Signal
  • Queen Victoria Died
  • U.S. President McKinley Assassinated

June - July

Widforss departs for an apprenticeship in St. Petersburg, Russia

Helsinki, arrives in St. Petersburg and begins working as an apprentice decorative painter

 

1902

 
  • Riot in the theater of the People’s Palace, St. Petersburg, and on Nevsky Prospekt, St. Petersburg’s most beautiful commercial and residential street
  • The Wright Brothers Make the First Flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903

Crater Lake National Park established

The riots are always caused by the students, letter from Gunnar Widforss to his mother Blenda Widforss

 

St. Petersburg

 

1904

 
  • Ground broken on Panama Canal
  • The first New York City subway opens
  • Russo-Japanese War begins
  • Trans-Siberian Railway completed

Gunnar Widforss painting very early in his career, no date.

View from Mont Salève, 1904, watercolor on board, 9 3/4 x 12 3/4 inches (24.8 x 32.4 cm)

February - March

Widforss leaves Stockholm and his family to travel and paint

Berlin, Zürich

April – June

Geneva, painting on Mount Saleve

July – November

Munich, Brixen, South Tyrol, Merano

December

Venice

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1905

 
  • "Bloody Sunday" - Russian Revolution of 1905
  • Albert Einstein’s paper “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies” on special relativity is published.

Architect Mary Jane Colter designed the Hopi House at Grand Canyon for the Fred Harvey Company.

Stockholm Harbor and Södermalm from Skeppsholmen (with the dome of Katarina Kyrka, and the water tower), 1905, watercolor, 9 1/2 x 13 1/2 inches (24.5 x 34 cm)

December

London, arrives in New York, Jacksonville, Florida

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1906

 
  • Finland becomes the first European Country to give women the right to vote
  • San Francisco Earthquake
  • Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle is first published.

Old House in St. Augustine, 1906, watercolor, 15 x 22 inches (38.1 x 55.9 cm), formerly the Vedder Museum

January - June

St. Augustine, Jacksonville

July - December

New York, Brooklyn

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1907

 
  • First electric washing machine
  • With his painting Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, Pablo Picasso introduced the principles of cubism

President Theodore Roosevelt established Mesa Verde National Park to "preserve the works of man," the first national park of its kind.

As an artist I am just making a living, that's all. I have portrayed the dentist and his wife in exchange for dental work. He has already taken out 12 or 13 teeth and is going to make me new ones. Bridge work they call it. Letter to Blenda Widforss

Woodland Pond, 1907, oil on canvas, 19 1/2 x 23 1/2 inches (52 x 62 cm)

January - July

Lived in Brooklyn and worked occasionally as a painter and paperhanger.

August

Return to Sweden

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1908

Stockholm

Widforss paints many scenes of old houses and buildings around Stockholm, especially in Södermalm

  • A massive earthquake in Italy killed 150,000
  • Ford Motor Company introduced the Model-T automobile
  • Three year-Old Pu Yi became the last Emperor of China
  • The Tunguska Event, a huge and mysterious explosion in Siberia

Theodore Roosevelt created Grand Canyon National Monument in 1908

Stockholm Harbor, Winter, 1908, watercolor and gouache on paper, 11 1/8 x 1/4 inches (28.3 x cm)

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1909

 
  • The first form of plastic was invented
  • Robert Peary became the first to reach the North Pole

Zion National park was established in 1909 as Mukuntuweap National Monument. It became Zion National Park in 1919. The name "Zion" means "place of refuge.”

Marseilles Coastal Scene, 1909, watercolor, 12 x 14 inches (30.5 x 35.6 cm)

April - July

French Riviera and Monaco

Nice, Antibes, Marseilles, Martigues

October - December

Chamonix, Geneva

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1910

 
  • Halley's Comet made an appearance
  • The Tango was popular

Steinerner Steg Bridge, Meran, 1910, watercolor on paper, 14 1/4 x 20 1/4 (39.2 x 51.4 cm)

January - February

Nice

March - April

La Turbie, Menton, Nice

May

Venice

September – December

Meran, Welsberg

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1911

 
  • The Chinese Revolution
  • Ernest Rutherford discovered the structure of atoms
  • The ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu discovered
  • Roald Amundsen reached the south pole
  • Standard Oil Company Trust broken up

Coast Scene with Tree, 1911, watercolor on paper, 11 ½ x 17 ½ inches (29.2 x 44.5 cm)

March

Menton

May

Thun

June – August

Wengen

September – October

Venice

November - December

Menton

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1912

Two exhibits.

Two works painted at the Riviera in France  accepted in Paris Salon

works acquired by King Gustave, Sweden and Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria

City of Stockholm bought two paintings for city hall at the suggestion of Duchess Natalie of Oldenburg 

Exhibits paintings in a gallery in Leipzig

  • Piltdown Man, the "Missing Link" was “discovered,” though it turned out to be a fraud
  • The Titanic sank

Architect Mary Jane Colter designed Hermit’s Rest at Grand Canyon for the Fred Harvey Company.

Anhulter Hütte mit Hornbachkette, 1912, reproduction, illustration in the "Journal of the German and Austrian Alpine Club," 1912
Zeitschrift des Deutscher und Österreichischer Alpenverein, Band XLIII, Jahrgang 1912, page 158.
The Hornbach Range is in the Allgäu Alps in the Tyrol, Austria .
Widforss referred to his painting being published in the journal in a letter to his mother dated September 11, 1912 from Lugano Switzerland.

January – May

Menton, Lucerne

June - July

Tyrol

Illustration in the Journal of the German and Austrian Alpine Club , 1912

Zeitschrift des Deutscher und Österreichischer Alpenverein, Band XLIII, Jahrgang 1912, page 158.

Hornbach Range in the Allgäu Alps in the Tyrol, Austria .

August - September

Switzerland: Andermatt, Hospenthal, Lucerne, Lugano, Gandria

October - December

Rome, Capri, Naples

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1913

 
  • Henry Ford created the assembly line method of automobile manufacturing.
  • Los Angeles Owens Valley Aquaduct opened

Coast Scene with Tree, 1913, watercolor on paper, 12 1/8 x 18 3/8 inches (30.8 x 46.6 cm)

January

First solo exhibition at Hultberg’s Konsthandel in Stockholm including 8 paintings from Monaco and Cap Martin
Also 15 from Capri, Beach with Faraglionii.

Sold about half of the works.

Anders Zorn purchased a painting from Widforss

Stockholm City Hall purchased two paintings, one of Skeppsbron and one of Södermalm

Copenhagen

February – May

In Paris where he studied at the Academie Colarossi in Paris.
In the late nineteenth century there had been a very large and active community of Swedish artists and art students in Paris.

Widforss’ mother visited for a time.

June – August

Stockholm, Grisslehamn

November

Exhibtion in Stockholm

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1914

 
  • June 28 Archduke Ferdinand assassinated and World War I began.
  • Charlie Chaplin first appeared in a film as the Little Tramp
  • The Panama Canal officially opened

Architect Mary Jane Colter designed the Lookout Studio at Grand Canyon for the Fred Harvey Company.

Article in Svenska Dagbladet, July 3, 1914, Widforss is working on the painting below

Riddarholm Kyrka and Harbor Scene, 1914, Watercolor, 17 3/4 x 21 3/4 inches (45.1 x 55.2 cm)

January - March

Arco, Austri

April - June

Lake Garda, Vienna, Schloss, Broyugan Hungary, Dresden

July

Stockholm

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1915

 
  • D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation released
  • The passenger liner Lusitania was sunk by a German U-Boat
  • A loaf of bread cost $0.07
  • A first class stamp cost $0.02

A Snowy Afternoon, 1915, watercolor on paper, 9 x 21 1/2 inches (22.9 x 54.6 cm)

 

Stockholm

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1916

Widforss does many paintings of old homes and buildings in Södermalm

  • Easter Rising in Ireland
  • First self-service grocery store opened in U.S.

By 1916 the Interior Department was responsible for 14 national parks and 21 national monuments but had no organization to manage them. In 1916, the United States National Park Service was created and Stephen Mather appointed the first director. At this time, there were 9 national parks in Sweden.

View of Gamla Stan from Södermalm, 1916, watercolor on paper, 9 5/8 x 18 1/2 inches (24.5 x 47 cm)

The skyline includes from left to right: Riddarholmskyrkan tower (tower 1835), Tyskakyrkan (the German Church, or St Gertrude's Church, 1571), Storkyrkan (Great Church, 13th c.), the Telephone Tower (1887), Klara Kyrka (1572), Sankt Jacobs Kyrka (Saint James's Church, 1588)

 

Street Scene on Kammakargatan, Södermalm, 1916, watercolor on paper, 12 3/4 x 19 1/2 inches (32.4 x 49.5 cm)

September

Helsingør, Denmark

October

Uddevalla, Stockholm

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1917

 
  • The first Pulitzer Prizes awarded
  • The Russian Revolution
  • The United States entered World War I.
  • In England, Ernest Rutherford first “splits” atoms.

The Rock Wall, Utö, 1917, watercolor, 17 x 24 inches (45 x 63 cm )

Gunnar Widforss painting on Utö, 1917. Subject of The Rock Wall, Utö behind him.

Tyska Brunnen (The German Well), 1916, watercolor on paper, 14 5/8 x 16 5/8 inches (37.1 x 42.2 cm)

 

Exhibition at Hultberg’s Konsthandelat in Stockholm, sold 37 works including Tyska Brunnen.
Exhbition catalog

Summer

Utö, large island in the Stockholm archipelago.

   
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1918

 
  • Between 1918 and 1920 the Spanish Flu pandemic killed between 50 to 100 million people.
  • Daylight Saving Time was introduced in the United States
  • Russian Czar Nicholas II and his family are murdered
  • Armistice Day, November 11, World War I ends
  • A loaf of bread cost $0.07

Reine, Lofoten, 1918, watercolor, 9 x 12 1/2 inches (22.5 x 32 cm)

January - July

Trip to northern Sweden and Norway

Hålland undersåker, Storlien, Trondheim, Reine, Svolvaer, Abisko National Park, Ulfö

August

Visby

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1919

 
  • The Treaty of Versailles officially ended World War I

Although United States Senate bills to establish Grand Canyon as a national park were introduced, but defeated, in 1910 and 1911, in 1919 the Grand Canyon National Park Act was finally signed by President Woodrow Wilson.

Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim, 1919, watercolor, 15 1/2 x 19 1/2 inches (39.4 x 49.5 cm)

January

Gorbio, France

January

Åre, Sweden

April

Trondheim

August

Grisselhamn, Rastaborgs, Ekerö

October

Gothenburg – London - Marseilles

November - December

Tunis: Sfax, Nefta, Tozeur, Sousse, Kairouan

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1920

 
  • First commercial radio broadcast aired
  • The Harlem Renaissance develops
  • In the United States, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution granted women the right to vote.
  • The League of Nations was established in Paris and the United States Senate voted against joining it.

Saxonia

Bedouins and Camels, Tunisia, 1920, watercolor, 10 7/8 x

January - February

Tunisia: Kairouan, Tunis

France: Martigues, St. Raphael, Menton,  Castillion, Grasse

March

Italy: Nice, Ventimiglia, Genoa, Milan, Como, Corso,

April

Switzerland

May

Stockholm

June - October

Denmark

Exhibit in Copenhagen

November

Skövde, Sweden

December

On December 15, Widforss sails for New York on the “Saxonia,” Cunard Line, from Gothenburg

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1921

 
  • As a result of massive crop failures, one of the worst famines in modern times gripped Russia.
  • Tests and advancements were made that will be the basis for television technology.
  • Albert Einstein received the Nobel Prize for Physics in Stockholm.
  • The Irish Free State was proclaimed
  • Extreme inflation in Germany
  • The first commercial radio station in the United States, WWJ, began operations in Detroit, Michigan. The first radios began to appear for sale in shops.

Yosemite Valley, 1921, watercolor, 14 1/2 x 17 3/4 inches (36.8 x 45.1 cm)

January

Widforss arrives in New York after 17 day voyage

Chicago

Arrives in Los Angeles on January 11 and begins painting at Mt. Lowe on the 15th

February

Spends most of February in Avalon on Catalina Island, meets William Wriglet Jr. who buys several paintings

Returns to Mt. Lowe to paint at the end of the month

March

Yosemite

August

Anne-Marie, his daughter born

San Francisco, Pacific Grove

September

First of almost annual exhibitions at Gump’s in San Francisco

Automobile trip around northern California with Albert (Bert) DeRome who is a business man and amateur painter who becomse a close friend and patron of Widforss

October

San Francisco

Exhibits in the 1921 Carmel Arts and Crafts Club “Fall Exhibition of Small Paintings.”

November - December

Widforss pays the Sentinel Hotel in Yosemite 5 paintings a month to stay. Sells paintings for $50 each. He writes of his plans to make enough money to continue his planned journey to Japan, and then to return to California.

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1922

 
  • Insulin Discovered
  • In Egypt, the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun was opened and excavated by Howard Carter
  • Formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
  • By 1922, over 500 commercial radio stations were in operation in the United States

Architect Mary Jane Colter designed the buildngs for Phantom Ranch operated by the Fred Harvey Company at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

Cover for Songs of Yosemite, 1922, watercolor

 

Yosemite

Exhibition at the Art Institute of Indianapolis

May

Painted for two weeks around Tuolomne Meadows.

September

Two-week mountain trip with Ansel Hall and E.A. Solinsky, to Mt. Lyell, Minarets, and Devil’s Post Pile, on a reconnaissance trip pertaining to extending Yosemite National Park to the east.

November

Widforss painted eight illustrations for Songs of Yosemite 8 color plates, originally published by Harold Symes in 1911 and re-published by Ansel Hall.

Exhibit at the Stendahl Gallery in Los Angeles

   
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1923

 
  • The Charleston Dance Becomes Popular
  • Adolf Hitler was jailed after the failed Beer Hall Putsch (coup), or Munich Putsch.
  • First baseball game played at Yankee Stadium.
  • The world’s first domestic refrigerator is sold in Sweden.
  • The world’s first portable radio is developed in the United States.

Got five views at Zion. After that I wished for a change. Found it in Grand Canyon. And, though I hundreds of times have heard about that place, it surpasses all imagination. I suppose you know it from the South Rim Nothing I ever saw has impressed me anything in comparison. Simply wonderful and I am sure that the future will give me opportunity to paint there so much I want. I started 3 different things from the same spot. Letter to Francis Farquahr

Angel’s Landing, 1923, watercolor

 

Widforss purchases a 1920 Willys Overland Roadster.

March

Zion

May

Back in Yosemite

First reference to Stephen Mather in a letter to his mother. Mather commissioned Widforss to do some paintings of Zion National Park. One of these was used in an article that Mather wrote for “The World’s Work,” published in May 1924.

June

Zion and Bryce

July

Widforss’ first visit to Grand Canyon.

August

Grand Canyon, North Rim, Widforss stayed at the Wylie Way camp, where he traded a painting in exchange for room and board. He would stay at the camp often in the future.

August

Zion National Park

October

Southern California, San Juan Capistrano

November - December

Monterey

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1924

 
  • First Olympic Winter Games held in Chamoni, France
  • George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin, and Irvine Berlin continue to dominate the music industry and Rhapsody in Blue is performed for the first time.
  • V.I. Lenin died
  • The first regular airmail services started in the United States.

I like it better here every week…It nearly always is windy, very windy, which makes it kind of hard to work. Notwithstanding, I have done a whole lot and hope to do many more pictures before end of May. Have sold 2 and hope to get a commission of Fred Harvey to paint airplane view of Canyon.

This canyon certainly is fascinating to paint. But – it is difficult – sometimes despairing. Have to keep at it, and by and by I suppose it will come alright…
Will never come back to the Canyon before 1st of April – at least. Too much winter earlier. It is a very slow place here. No kind of entertainment, no change in the daily routine.

Letter from Gunnar Widforss to Francis Farquahr

My Dear Sir: Early in the summer Mr. Stephen T. Mather, Director of the National Parks Service, asked me to come over and see some paintings of the Grand Canyon country, by Mr. G. Widforss. I found them to be very good indeed, quite equal to Moran's work in truth and skill. Mr. Mather wondered whether I could arrange an exhibit for the works and I now write to recommend approval of the idea.
Letter from William Henry Holmes, Director of the National Gallery of Art to Mr. Charles D, Walcott, Secretary, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.

A couple of paintings from the North Rim will be more valuable for that purpose (DC exhibit) than a few more from Yellowstone. Saw Mather in Yellowstone. Gunnar Widforss letter to William Henry Holmes. 

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, 1924, watercolor

January

Exhibition at Hotel Oakland, Oakland

February - April

Grand Canyon. Stays at El Tovar.

May

Los Angeles Times Rotogravure section full page spread with pictures of Widforss' paintings

June

Zion National Park

July - August

Yellowstone National Park, met with Stephen Mather. First mention of exhibit that Stephen Mather was trying to arrange for W in Washington D.C.

WIdforss mentions going to the North Rim, Grand Canyon, and that he had done 10 paintings in Yellowstone so far.

Wylie Way Camp, Grand Canyon, North Rim, met with Stephen Mather there on August 30

September

Los Angeles and Grand Canyon

December

One-man exhibition at the National Gallery of Art,
December 10 – January 10, curated by William Henry Holmes

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1925

 
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is published.

Louis Sands and family from Glendale Arizona visited with Widforss as recorded in their scrapbook, 'Louis M. Sands purchased Gunnar Widforss' watercolor painting of the Redwoods from him where he was working at Schilling's Inn between Scotia and Garberville California on July 17, 1925. The painting Cost $100.00."

Gunnar Widforss, the well-known painter, is making studies of the Redwoods in the Dyerville-Bull Creek region – has been staying at the Schnelling Hotel, McKee's, near Dyerville.
Newton Drury to John C. Merriam

In the Redwoods, 1925, Watercolor on board, 25 x 19 inches (63.5 x 48.3 cm)

Phantom Ranch, 1925, Watercolor on paper, 24 x 21 inches (61 x 53.3 cm). Painted on commission for The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway.

Gunnar Widforss painting at Mesa Verde National Park, 1925, photograph from the artists’ scrapbook.

San Francisco Skyline, Foggy Day, 1925, Watercolor, 11 3/8 x 18 7/8 inches (28.8 x 44.8 cm)

January

Following his exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, Widforss donates his painting Patriarchs of Zion to the Smithsonian Museum.

Philadelphia, New York City

February

Grand Canyon, Phantom Ranch

June - July

Northern California, Eureka and Dyerville to paint redwoods

September

Yosemite

October

Travel with Ansel Hall from Mesa Verde to California as part of the National Park Superintendent’s Auto Caravan Tour.

Yosemite Nature Notes. Volume IV, Number 20. November 30, 1925.

November

Exhibit at Gump’s, San Francisco

December

Yosemite

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1926

 
  • A.A. Milne Publishes Winnie-the-Pooh
  • John Logie Baird conducted the first public demonstration of a television.
  • Robert Goddard launched his first liquid-fueled rocket 
  • Henry Ford announced the 40-hour week.
  • Radio network National Broadcasting Co. (NBC) was launched.

Met the Prince, was in his company for two days. Mr. Mather had given him one of my Grand Canyon pictures, while they were there. Good for me I think. When Mr. Mather asked the price of the picture (at G.C. he had said he was going to deal with me directly) I only asked $100 for a $250 picture. That seemed fine, and Mr. Mather said he was going to tell the prince that I had joined in the gift.
Letter to Albert DeRome July 31, 1926 on meeting Crown Prince Gustavus of Sweden

Grand Canyon from the North Rim, 1924, watercolor, 21 1/2 x 27 5/8 inches (54.5 x 70 cm)

January - August

Yosemite

Exhibition “Paintings and Sculpture by Scandinavian American Artists.” Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York, NY. January 30, 1926 – March 2,1926.

Exhibition with Ferdinand Burgdorf, Canyon and Desert Paintings, at Stendahl Gallery, Los Angeles.

Grand Canyon where Widforss met Crown Prince Gustavus during his visit there.

Yosemite

Served as the interpreter for Crown Prince Gustavus during his visit to Yosemite National Park.

October

Asilomar

December

Palm Springs and Indio

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1927

 
  • Babe Ruth establishes Makes Home-Run Record
  • The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) was BBC was founded
  • The Jazz Singer, the first talking movie was released.
  • Charles Lindbergh was the first aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean
  • First transatlantic telephone call - New York City to London.
  • Pan American Airways was formed.
  • A Kodak Brownie box camera cost $2.29
    A loaf of bread cost $0.09
    A new car cost $475

The Ahwahnee Hotel opened in Yosemite Valley

Mr. Tressidor (they call him Doctor now, which is as it ought to be) had me for lunch and I got a commission to paint several interiors and, at least, one exterior of the new hotel. Very kind of Dr. T. to let me wait until the fall coloring is over. And so, I will have to stay here all November too.
Letter to Albert DeRome

The Great Lounge in the Ahwahnee Hotel, 1927, photograph from the artist's scrapbook.

January - February

Asilomar

April

Exhibit at Gump’s, San Francisco

May

Grand Canyon

June

Taos, Mesa Verde National Park

July

Indio

September - October

New York City, Yosemite

November

California Watercolor Society exhibition at Los Angeles County Museum, Monterey Cypress was noted, also, From Taos

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1928 

Visit to Sweden

  • Mickey Mouse first appeared in Steamboat Willie, a short animated film produced by Walt Disney.
  • First Oxford English Dictionary published
  • Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin
  • The first loaves of sliced bread sold for $0.25
  • Amelia Earhart became the first woman to successfully pilot an aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean.

Bryce Canyon National Park created.

I’m currently in Oakland and painting harbor views, old houses and boats.
Letter to Blenda Widforss, December 5, 1928

Grace Watkins (art gallery manager at the El Tovar Hotel) received a “big box of candy from Widforss” for Christmas, letter from Grace Watkins to her mother

Ark in the Oakland/Alameda Estuary, 1928, watercolor, 19 1/8 x 23 14 inches (48.6 x 59 cm)

April

Exhibit at Gump’s, San Francisco

First prize - “Paintings and Sculpture by Scandinavian American Artists.” Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York, NY. April 9, 1928 – May 7,1928, exhibited Pines at Monterey, and Wind-shaped Trees

Grand Canyon

September

Northern California and Bishop, CA

October - November

Indio, Sacramento, CA

California Watercolor Society exhibition in Los Angeles, first prize for Sierra, also exhibited Cathedral Rock, Yosemite

December

Oakland, Asilomar

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1929

 
  • Charles Lindberg left on a 3,500-mile flight from Detroit to Cape Horn South Africa.
  • The Wall Street Crash of 1929, is the stock-market crash that occurred in late October and sparked The Great Depression in the United States, and resulted in world-wide economic crisis that lasted until the mid 1930s.
  • First Academy Awards made
  • Comic Strip character Popeye, made his debut
  • The Museum of Modern Art opened in New York City.
  • Motorola produced the first car radio.
  • The first public telephone booths appeared in London.
  • The German airship Graf Zeppelin completed a flight around the world.

Monument Valley, 1929, watercolor, 14 1/4 x 19 inches (36.2 x 48.3 cm).

January

Exhibition in Tucson, AZ

   

February

Phoenix, AZ, exhibition at the Westward Ho Hotel

March

Grand Canyon

Exhibit at Gump’s, San Francisco

April

Exhibition in Los Angeles,

Greenwich Village Studio-Gallery, Hollywood

May

Grand Canyon

June

Redwoods, Scotia, CA

Naturalized U.S. citizenship at San Francisco

Annual Exhibition of the California Watercolor Society at the Oakland Art Gallery

July

Los Angeles

September - October

Grand Canyon, North and South Rims

Trip to Monument Valley with Mike Harrison

Cameron, Tuba City, “stayed about a week with the Wetherills”  at Wetherill-Colville Guest Ranch, Kayenta, “stayed at Gouldings Trading Post almost a week” with Mike and Harry Goulding

1929 California Watercolor Society Annual Exhibition, Oakland Art Gallery.

December

Phoenix, and Mesa, AZ

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1930

 
  • 1930 was the first year of the great depression.
  • Television was starting to gain momentum but the high unemployment of 8.9% caused problems in every area of life.
  • In Germany, Adolf Hitler's National Socialists became the second largest political party.
  • Mohandas Gandhi informed the British viceroy of India that civil disobedience would begin in demonstration against British rule.
  • Stalin began collectivizing agriculture in the U.S.S.R.
  • For the first time in the world, a television drama is broadcast. The BBC broadcast the drama The Man with the Flower in His Mouth by Luigi Pirandello.
  • Astronomer Clyde Tombaugh discovered the planet Pluto at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff.
  • A loaf of bread cost $0.12
  • A radio cost $29.50

Grand Canyon, 1930, watercolor, 18 x 26 inches (45.7 x 66 cm), photograph from the artist's scrapbook

January

Phoenix, and Mesa, AZ

February - March

Grand Canyon

Los Angeles, departs for a visit to Sweden

May - August

Visit to family in Sweden and Europe

Holland, Munich, Florence, Zürich, Venice, Gothenburg

September

London - Return to United States

Third prize - California State Fair

October - November

Grand Canyon, Phantom Ranch

December

Phoenix

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1931

 
  • Unemployment doubled to 16.3%.
  • A number of car manufacturers went out of business as people did not have money to buy new cars.
  • The Empire State building was completed. NBC and RCA transmit experimental television broadcasts from antennae at the top of the skyscraper.
  • Al Capone was imprisoned for income tax evasion.
  • Auguste Piccard ascended to the stratosphere in a helium balloon.
  • Japan invaded Manchuria.
  • Ford ended production of the Ford Model A and developed new V8 models.
  • Work began on Boulder Dam on the Colorado River in Nevada and Arizona.

Today I expect to finish my first picture from here [the North Rim]. However, one or two more canyon pictures will probably be all – until I see that they sell. Because there are most wonderful groups of aspens here. And they fascinate me much more than the Canyon, letter to Mike Harrison

Aspens on the North Rim, watercolor

 

January

Indio

February - December

Grand Canyon, South Rim and South Rim


A severe winter with lows to -20

   
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1932

 
  • 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles
  • The economy continued to deteriorate and unemployment increased further to 24%
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt elected to be the president for his first term.
  • Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh's baby kidnapped
  • Zippo lighters developed
  • A gallon of gas cost $0.10
    A loaf of bread cost $0.07
  • Average cost of a new car $610.00
  • Architect Mary Jane Colter designed and oversaw construction of the Desert View Watchtower, which opened in 1933 at Grand Canyon.

Working on a painting for advertising the Watchtower, which is under construction, letter to Mike Harrison.

Grand Canyon seems to have become my home. If I can live many years yet, and if I can ever again be okay, perhaps one day I may become famous as a painter of the Grand Canyon, and perhaps earn real money. It should go like that. Letter to Blenda Widforss.

Desert View Watchtower, 1932, Watercolor on board, 12 1/2 x 20 1/2 inches (31.75 x 50.8 cm)

January – July

Grand Canyon and Phantom Ranch

Widforss’ right hand is injured when he is kicked by a mule on the Kaibab Trail while on his way to Phantom Ranch.

Widforss camps in a tent cooking his own meals, meets his friends and plays cards in the evenings

Wins first prize in the annual Arizona Artists’ and Craftsmen Exhibition at the Museum of Northern Arizona, Flagstaff. For the second year in a row, he won first and second place awards from visitor votes.

August

Crater Lake National Park

September

Grand Canyon, North Rim 

November

Trip to Monument Valley with Ansel Hall.

His friends have birthday party for Gunnar, and they played poker.

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1933

 
  • The worst year of the depression, unemployment peaked at 25.2%.
  • Dust storms in the Midwest began to drive thousands of farming families to California looking for a new start.
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt launched the New Deal.
  • The Civilian Conservation Corps was established.
  • Prohibition ended in the United States.
  • Aviator Wiley Post flew around the world in 8 1/2 days.
  • Long Beach earthquake
  • Work began on the Golden Gate Bridge

Have been sick and unable to paint for a month, exhausted by a hike in the Canyon. Now feeling better and painting better than usual, Letter to Blenda Widforss

Camelback Mountain, 1933, watercolor on paper, 20 3/4 x 28 inches (52.7 x 71.1 cm)

January

Phoenix

Sells three Grand Canyon paintings to Mr. Westinghouse.

March - April

Berkeley working on a mural for the National Park Service with George Collins for the Chicago Century of Progress International Exposition

May - September

Grand Canyon

Desert View Watchtower dedicated, May 13

October - November

Death Valley, Grand Canyon

Lived with Santa Fe Railway mechanical engineer Elmer Nelson for a time

December

Death Valley

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1934

 
  • Turning point in the Great Depression in the United States. Unemployment decreased to 22%.
  • In Germany Adolf Hitler declared himself the fuhrer.
  • In China Mao Tse-Tung begins spreading the communist doctrine and the Long March.
  • In Scotland, the Loch Ness Monster was first sighted.
  • In the United States approximately 35 million acres of farmland were destroyed by adverse weather conditions and millions of acres were in danger. Oklahoma experienced a ravaging drought with temperatures reaching 117 degrees in that summer.
  • Parker Brothers sells the board game game "Monopoly."
  • A gallon of gas cost $0.10
    A loaf of bread cost $0.08
    Average rent for a house was $20.00 per month

Architect Mary Jane Colter worked on designs for the Bright Angel Lodge at Grand Canyon for the Fred Harvey Company. The new lodge opened in June 1935.

These parts have been honored by the visit of several artists and during the closing days of the month Zion almost resembled an art colony. Mr. V. Roth arrived on the 16th and is still with us, working with oils. He turns out a canvas at an amazing speed, and considering the rate of production, of good quality.

A group of California artists arrived on the 22nd, consisting of A.W. Best of Oakland, H.C. Best of Yosemite, and a Mr. Teague of Oakland. Mr. Gunnar Widforss, noted Grand Canyon painter, arrived on the 28th for a stay of about 2 weeks.
Zion National Park Monthly Report for September 1934 by Superintendent Preston “Pat” Patraw, a friend of Widforss’ from the South Rim

Death Valley, 1934, watercolor on paper, 19 1/2 x 23 inches (49.5 x 58.4 cm)

January

Death Valley

Back in Arizona, Widforss begins work on 8 watercolors for the Arizona PWAP, including the Salt River Valley and Grand Canyon.

February - March

Phoenix

April - August

Grand Canyon

September

Zion

October

Grand Canyon

November

Arranged by his close friend Bishop William Scarlett, Widforss has a major exhibition at the Noonan-Kocian Gallery in St. Louis

Widforss is hospitalized for his heart condition for five days in St. Louis

On November 30th, upon his return to the South Rim, Widforss suffers a heart attack near the El Tovar hotel and dies

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© The Gunnar Widforss Catalogue Raisonné Project
Flagstaff, Arizona