Thaddeus WELCH (1844-1919)

“Out of the Oregon frontier woods, in 1866, drifted our Thaddeus Welch, a young tramp printer who was determined to make his way and name, as an artist in oils, an interpreter of Nature’s beauties and colors. And for more than half a century, he studied and worked until he had gained recognition as one of the truly great naturalistic artists. Thad Welch became known as the “painter of Marin” and his canvases of that northern county, with its softly grounded hills and wooded slopes, now hang in galleries, clubs and homes the world over. His rare gifts, however, were not confined to nature studies, but also found an outlet in portraits and in studies of domestic animals. As early as 1880, during his student days abroad, years before recognition came to him in San Francisco, he was awarded three bronze medals for works exhibited in Munich and Paris.

A prophetic comment of the period appeared in the “Californian” of July, 1830: “Three pictures are exhibited by Messrs. Morris and Kennedy which are well worthy of attention, both for their intrinsic merit and from the fact that the painter of them is a Californian. They are the work of Mr. Thaddeus Welch, who we understand left San Francisco to study in Europe some years ago and is at present in Paris. We have seen the works of any young Americans who have studied abroad but we do not remember to have seen many which so completely justify the painters of them in having gone abroad as do these of Mr. Welch.”

Read Thaddeus Welch biography in California Art Project, volume 3.

At a glance

Birth : July 14, 1844. La Porte, Indiana (United States)
Death : December 19, 1919. Santa Barbara, California  (United States)
Arrival in San Francisco Bay area : 1866
Married to : Ludwilla Pilat
Skills :


Art education, teachers : California School of Design
Relations : H.R. Bloomer, William M. Chase, Gilbert Hunger, Clarence King, John LaFarge, Mr. Twatchmann, Carleton Watkins
Clubs : Bohemian Club

Resources in the Bancroft Library

Pictorial archives

Items from the Pony Express Museum [graphic]. a watercolor of a pueblo Indian girl (by Thad Welch). Catalog Record
Welch, Thaddeus (1872). Sierra Encampment. Catalog Record


Harrison, Alfred C. (2007). Pastoral California : the art of Thaddeus and Ludmilla Welch. San Francisco : The North Point Gallery. Catalog Record 
Broekhoff, Helen Vernon (1966). Thad Welch : pioneer and painter. [Oakland, Calif.] : Oakland Art Museum, 1966. Catalog Record

Data Visualization : mapping of Thaddeus Welch biography

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