William Wendt (1865-1946)
William Wendt was born in Bentzen, Germany on February 20, 1865. Wendt immigrated to Chicago in 1880 and studied briefly at the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) while working at a commercial art shop. A self-taught painter, he became a great technician through his power of observation. Wendt was a good friend of artist Gardner Symons in Chicago and made several trips to Southern California with him between 1894-1906.
William Wendt married sculptress Julia Bracken in 1906, and the couple moved to Los Angeles and bought the studio home of the Elmer and Marion Wachtel on Sichel Street in Los Angeles. Wendt was a co-founder and first president of the California Art Club in 1911 and held the position for six years. In 1912 he was elected an Associate of the National Academy and in that year built a studio home in Laguna Beach.
Before 1915 Wendt’s paintings were characterized by light short strokes, and after that time, he used a much broader, bolder brush. Eugen Neuhaus wrote, “He sings of spring in its rich greens and more often of the joyful quality of summer in typical tawny browns, in a decorative and broad term.” Wendt is considered a giant among American artists and is often referred to as the “Dean of Southern California.”
William Wendt died in Laguna Beach, CA, on December 29, 1946, and was buried next to Julia at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery in Orange.
Edan Hughes, “Artists in California 1786-1940”
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