Monday, November 7, 2016

1869-1948: M. Evelyn McCormick, American

M. Evelyn McCormick was a California Impressionist painter whose career started in the 1890s. She lived and worked in Monterey, and most of her subjects were local scenery and historical architecture. Her style was influenced by French Impressionism—with broken brushstrokes and attention to light effects—but it had the realism of documentation.

Evelyn was an important figure in the early history of California art, but she limited the scope of her achievement by focusing on regional subjects. Her paintings were shown in many exhibits in the Montery-Carmel area and some statewide expositions, and her work may be found in several California museums.

Although Mary Evelyn was born in Placerville, she was raised in San Francisco. Her parents were Irish, and that apparently was significant to her because later she was close to other Irish artists. Nothing is said about her father except that he was a "barkeeper." I like to picture an Irishman with a pub in 1890s San Francisco. It appears that the business was successful, as they were able to give Evelyn a good education.

After attending a college prep school in the city, Evelyn attended the California School of Design in the 1880s, when that school was only about ten years old. She did well there and won awards, but, more importantly, she developed friendships with three other women artists who would later gather in Monterey.

While she was at art school, Evelyn fell in love with Guy Rose, the son of a wealthy rancher, who eventually became a more significant figure in the history of art in California. When he finished school, Guy traveled to Paris to continue his training. It was the thing to do at the time. Evelyn decided to follow his example, and she attended classes at the Academie Julian, along with a few other women from her art school. In 1891, one of her paintings was accepted by the Paris Salon. The academic influence is very strong in Evelyn's work.

The California artists spent the summers in Giverny, soaking up the influence of Impressionism. This is where Evelyn began painting out of doors.

Evelyn and Guy continued their romance for a couple of years, but they broke up in Giverny and both of them returned to California in 1891. The following year, Evelyn gave birth to Guy's son, who was then raised by Evelyn's sister.

When Evelyn returned to San Francisco, at the age of 22, she became an active exhibitor and organizer with the San Francisco Art Association, but she soon began painting on the Monterey Peninsula. In Monterey, Evelyn found inspiration in the landscape and enjoyed associating with the vibrant colony of writers and artists. She acquired rooms at a hotel that she used as a studio. Her work was well-received by galleries in the area.

In 1895, Evelyn had another child out of wedlock, a daughter whom she put up for adoption. She said the daughter was the result of a love affair with a poet named Charles Warren Stoddard, but since he was gay, this has been questioned. Evelyn practiced the sexual freedom that was common among male artists, giving birth to two children out of wedlock, and refusing to take responsibility for their upbringing. Evelyn never married, but she was nurtured by her busy social life among women artist friends in the area.

By 1919, both Evelyn's parents had died, and she had moved permanently to a hotel in downtown Monterey, where she continued to exhibit and to make significant sales.

After a major sale in the 1920s, she made a trip to Europe.

During the Great Depression she was commissioned by the WOA to paint the crumbling old Monterey adobes. The paintings hang in the government offices and public buildings in that town.

She continued to paint in the forties and her work was popular. She died at the age of 81.

My photos of Evelyn's art:

Cactus Garden, Del Monte, c. 1893
Crocker / Jan's photo, 2014

Monterey Bay, c. 1907
Crocker / Jan's photo, 2014

Carmel Valley Pumpkins, c. 1907
LACMA / Jan's photo, 2014

Example of Guy Rose's work:

Guy Rose
Marguerite, c. 1900

Internet examples of Evelyn's work:

The painting below is the one she submitted to the Paris Salon.

A Garden in Giverney, 1891
Berkeley Art Museum

Old Washington Hotel, Monterey, 1903

Most of Evelyn's work that is shown online is undated.

The Customs House, Monterey, no date given or location
26" x 30"
Sold for $108,000 in 2007 /

Casa Jesus Soto Adobe, Monterey, no date
A private collector from Puerto Rice paid $50,000 in 2016

Vasquez Adobe, Monterey
Monterey Museum of Art

Contemporary photo of Vasquez Adobe

Monterey Terrace, no date
18" x 21" / oil on board

Bisque House, St. Jean de Luz, France
25" x 38"