Artist, illustrator, and adventurer Jules Tavernier used an academic training to record his travels through California and Hawaii, creating lasting images of the local landscape and culture.
The Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento is currently hosting the first ever museum exhibition to survey the artwork of Jules Tavernier (1844-1889), who is an essential figure in early Californian and Hawaiian art. “Jules Tavernier: Artist and Adventurer” offers a comprehensive survey of the artist’s work, comprising nearly 100 paintings and works on paper.

Jules Tavernier, “A Balloon in Mid-Air,” 1875, oil on canvas, 30 x 50 in. Private collection
Tavernier was born in Paris and trained with academic painter Félix-Joseph Barrias before moving to the United States and finding work as an illustrator for Harper’s Weekly. His work led him to California, where he painted memorable scenes of San Francisco Bay and the Monterey Peninsula, where he founded an art colony in 1875. Tavernier would travel farther west, to Hawaii, where he discovered his signature subject: volcanoes. Tavernier’s volcano scenes memorably capture the apocalyptic aura of the volcano with a dramatic palette.

Jules Tavernier, “Carmel Mission on San Carlos Day in the Olden Time,” 1875, oil on canvas, 18 x 29 in. Collection of Bill and Merrily Karges

The present exhibition features exemplary works from each of these moments in Tavernier’s unfortunately short career: woodcut engravings created for Harper’s, oils depicting the California landscape, genre scenes, and architectural views, and the stunning Hawaiian works.

Jules Tavernier, “Red Cloud’s Camp at Dawn,” 1874, oil on canvas, 17 1/2 x 29 1/2 in. Courthouse Museum, Shasta State Historic Park

“Jules Tavernier: Artist and Adventurer” will remain on view at the Crocker through May 11. To learn more, visit the Crocker website.


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