Percy Gray (1869-1952)
Henry Percy Gray was born in San Francisco, CA, on October 3, 1869. From a long line of British artists, he studied locally at the School of Design under Emil Carlsen. He then worked as a quick-sketch artist for the San Francisco Call. In 1895 he moved to NYC, where he spent eleven years working as head of the art department for the New York Journal. While in NYC, he studied at the ASL and with William M. Chase. Gray 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 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. About 1910, he began signing his paintings in script instead of the block letters he had used since student days.
In 1923 Percy Gray married and settled in Monterey, where the newlyweds purchased their home and had rebuilt on another site, the historic Casa Bonifacio. Working from his studio attached to the house, Gray attained total mastery of his watercolor technique during his Monterey years. In 1939 they sold the home and, after two years in San Francisco, 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 October 19, 1952.
Although he painted oils and produced 20 etchings, Percy Gray 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. The rocky California coast was often his subject and Southwestern desert scenes, while 25 portraits of American Indians represent the bulk of his portraiture.
Edan Hughes, “Artists in California 1786-1940”
California Art Company is Actively Seeking to Acquire Paintings by Percy Gray
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