Percy Gray, Aetna Springs, California III

AS III
ca. 1930
Watercolor on paper
16.5 х 20 in.
Signed lower left.
From the estate of Frances Marion

Academy Award–winning Frances Marion was one of the most respected and highest paid scriptwriters during the early days of Hollywood and became Gray’s benefactor in the 1930’s.

This watercolor on paper exemplifies the style of California artist Percy Gray. The scene is of Aetna Springs, California, which is located outside of Sacramento and is known for its beautiful countryside. Gray skillfully depicts a quiet barn shaded under the branches of a California oak. Its soft rendering and warm colors unite to form a peaceful and bucolic composition.

Born in San Francisco, CA on Oct. 3, 1869. From a long line of British artists, Percy Gray studied locally at the School of Design under Emil Carlsen. Afterward, he worked as a quick-sketch artist for the San Francisco Call. In 1895 he moved to NYC, where he spent 11 years working as head of the art department for the New York Journal.

Gray next returned to San Francisco in 1906 and joined the art department of the Examiner, where he remained until about 1915. By that time, he had already established himself as a professional landscape painter. From 1918-23 he maintained a studio in San Francisco’s old Monkey Block (now the Transamerica Pyramid), which also served as his living quarters. During this time, he achieved total mastery of his watercolor technique.

In 1939, the Grays sold their home and settled in San Anselmo in Marin County. The last year of Gray’s life was spent as a resident of the Bohemian Club in his native city. He died of a heart attack in his studio on Oct. 10, 1952.

Although he also painted with oils and produced 20 etchings, he is best known for his atmospheric watercolors. His works most often depict the glades and valleys of northern California, with slopes of poppies and lupines under oak and eucalyptus trees.

Price available upon request.