Christian August JORGENSEN (1860-1935)

Boysen, Julius (c 1900). Chris Jorgensen in his Yosemite studio. Yosemite Musuem Collection Glass Negative

Boysen, Julius (c 1900). Chris Jorgensen in his Yosemite studio. Yosemite Museum Collection Glass Negative

Conspicuously in the foreground of western artists stands the figure of Christian Jorgensen, “Chris” to his numerous friends, admirers, and associates, the “Chris” of a thousand canvases, all of them argued by their proud possessors into the position of his best. The story of their creator centers attention upon a combination of courage and genius which has proved an unbeatable fusion. A painter who has lived amid and loved the subject matter of his art, Jorgensen’s pictures of the Yosemite Valley and the Missions of California are monuments of early art in this country. His studies made from the ruins of San Francisco, commemorated a passing phase of American life and recorded the picturesque side of a tragedy. His paintings of the old Catholic Missions, which range over the country from San Francisco to Mexico, are interesting from an architectural as well as artistic standpoint. They depict the efforts of the Franciscan monks in behalf of the Indians nearly a century and a half ago.

Read Chris Jorgensen‘s biography in California Art Project, volume 4. CARA_V04_JORGENSEN

At a glance

Birth :  October 7, 1860, in Oslo (Norway)
Death : June 24, 1935 in Piedmont, California (United States)
Arrival in San Francisco Bay area : 1870
Married to : Angela Ghirardelli
Skills : Painter


Art education, teachers : Virgil Williams at the San Francisco School of Design, Thomas Hill in his studio,
Relations :  Thomas Hill, Daws family, Ghirardelli family, Theodore Roosevelt, Virgil Williams
Patrons : Donald Y. Campbell, Mrs. J. A. Fillmore, Mr. Hamilton, Miss Head,  James D. Phelan, W. G. Stafford, Mrs. Whitmore
Institutions, clubs, venues : Bohemian Club, Carmel artist colony, Press Club, San Francisco Art Association


1883 San Francisco Art Association
1887 San Francisco Art Association, spring exhibition
1906 Cosmos Club, Washington, D.C.
1906 Bohemian Club, San Francisco
1909 Courvoisier’s Art Gallery,  San Francisco
1935 Library of the Mechanics’ Institute In San Francisco

Resources in the Bancroft Library

Pictorial Archives

The Jorgensen memorial collection, [graphic]. BANC PIC 1983.078–fALB; BANC PIC 1983.078–ALB; BANC PIC 1983.078–ALB The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. Catalogue Record
Mr. and Mrs. Virgil Willams Jorgensen memorial collection [graphic] BANC PIC 1987.051 The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. Catalogue Record


Katherine M. Littell. 1988. Chris Jorgensen: California Pioneer Artist. Fine Arts Research Publishing Co., Sonora, California. Catalogue record
Jorgensen, Christian. c 2004. Chris Jörgensen, Yosemite artist. San Francisco : Yosemite Fund. Catalogue record
Williams, by John H. 1914. Yosemite and its High Sierra [electronic resource], with more than two hundred illustrations including eight color plates from paintings by Chris Jorgensen. Tacoma, San Francisco, J.H. Williams. Online
Clark, Galen. 1910. Indians of the Yosemite valley and vicinity [electronic resource] : thier [sic] history, customs and traditions / by Galen Clark … With an appendix of useful information for Yosemite visitors ; illustrated by Chris. Jorgensen and from photographs. Online

Data Visualization : mapping of Christian August JORGENSEN’s biography

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