William KEITH (1838-1911)


William Keith’s Portrait. Courtesy of the Bancroft Library. University of California, Berkeley.

California early days painter-poet and mystic, is still a favorite with lovers of California landscape. His great Canvases and small sketches are today true interpretations of the snow-clad peaks and rocky gorges of the High Sierras. Even his home was in the midst of live oaks treas, in quiet Berkeley,  accross the bay from his studio in San Francisco’s lively artist colony. Keith, a contemporary of the great landscape painter, George Innes, was also his friend and countryman. Keith’s Scotch heritage, as well as his painting career, closely parallels that of Innes in Armerican art annals.”

Read William Keith biography in California Art Project, volume 2. CARA_V02_KEITH

At a glance

Birth : 1838, in Scotland (United-Kingdom)
Death : 1911, in Berkeley, California (United States)
Arrival in San Francisco Bay area : 1859
Married to Elizabeth Emerson (1864-1882) and Mary McHenry (1883-1911)
Skills : engraver and painter
Influence : Plein air school, School of Barbizon


Art education, teachers : Andreas Achenbach,  William Roberts,  Samuel Marsden Brookes
Partners : Harrison Eastman, Durbin Van Vleck
Relations : Dr Arlow, Harry Bigelow,  William Hahn, Georges Innes, Arthur Frank Mathews,  Lucia Mathews, Joseph Le Conte, McDowell, Charles Nahl, Emanuel Swedenborg, Dr Hugh Tevis, Reverend Joseph Worcester,  Theodore Wores,  John Zeile
Patrons : B.P. Avery, Irving M. Scott, Daniel Burnham

Resources in the Bancroft Library

Resources of the Bancroft Library


Keith-McHenry-Pond Family Papers, 1841-1961. BANC MSS C-B 595. Catalog Record

Pictorial archives

William Keith sketchbook [graphic] BANC PIC 1950.007–fALB Catalog Record
Photographs relating to William Keith from the collection of Brother Cornelius [graphic] BANC PIC 1962.032–PIC Catalog Record


Cornelius (1942). Keith, Old Master of California. New York: Putnam. Online
Exhibition of paintings by the Late William Keith (1913). The Art Institute of Chicago. April 22 to May 6, 1913. Online
Harmon, E. N. The William Keith collection of paintings exhibited Golden Gate Park Museum, San Francisco, August 13 to October 5, 1912. Catalog Record
Keith, William, and Hearst Art Gallery (1994). William Keith: The Saint Mary’s College Collection. Moraga, Calif: Hearst Art Gallery, Saint Mary’s College of California. Online Preview – Catalog Record
Neuhaus, Eugen (1938). William Keith, the Man and the Artist. Berkeley, Calif: University of California press. Catalog Record
Pattison, James William (1913). William Keith: Poetical Painter. Fine Arts Journal , Vol. 28, No. 6 (Jun., 1913) , pp. 366-378 (DOI: 10.2307/25587183). Online (Jstor UCB)
Richardson, Leon Josiah  (1962). Berkeley culture, University of California highlights, and University extension, 1892-1960. Interview of the Regional Oral History Office (ROHO). Online
Taylor, Edward Robeson (1898). Sonnets of Edward Robeson Taylor on some pictures painted by William Keith. San Francisco, Printed by the E.D. Taylor Co. Catalog RecordOnline
Transamerica Corporation (1991). The Golden Age of Yosemite Painting, 1859-1930: A Centennial Tribute. Edited by Alfred C. Harrison. San Francisco, Calif: Transamerica Corp. Catalog Record

Data Visualization : mapping of the artist biography

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