Gallery Artists > Henry Lavender Adolphus Culmer Biography :

Henry Lavender Adolphus Culmer (1845 - 1914)  Artworks >>

English by birth, Henry Culmer became known as a painter/scientist, illustrator and educator. As his oil and watercolor painting evolved, so did his interest in botany and geology, especially rock formations. These interests are reflected in his paintings of Monument Valley; the Natural Bridges published in National Geographic; the Grand Canyon; the coast of Monterey; and mountain ranges including the Tetons and Wasatch. A painting called The Mystery of the Desert, is considered his masterpiece and was appraised at $25,000.00 at its completion in 1906. Culmer is regarded as the first professional painter to penetrate the interior of the Alaska, which he did early in his career while commissioned by the Alaska Steamship Company. From Cordova he traveled by rail to the Kennicott and Bonanza Mines, rich in copper, and also painted glaciers of the region. Working primarily in Utah and basically self taught, Henry Culmer became one of the state's most popular painters, noted for his expansive, panoramic views as well as rock formations. "Geologists claimed they could identify the age of rocks in his pictures." (Samuels 117). His popularity irritated some of his formally educated peers, especially ones such as John Clawson, John Hafen and James Harwood, who had studied in Paris at the prestigious Academy Julian. When asked for names of his art instructors, Culmer responded "N.A. Ture". Towards the end of his career, it is reported that Henry Culmer sold his paintings almost as fast as they were painted. Major collectors were Colonel and Mrs. Edwin F. Holmes. Although he referred to himself as painting to please the public, until four years before his death when he painted full time, he usually painted only in moments away from business, civic and other cultural pursuits. From 1876 to 1882, he was a printer and publisher, and from 1883 to 1914, he owned his own business, Culmer Paint & Glass Company. Henry Culmer arrived with his parents in Utah in 1868 as a young man, having been inspired to come to the seat of Mormonism by Mormon missionaries in England. He worked as an accountant and newspaper editor. In the 1870s, he attended the University of Deseret and studied with artists Reuben Kirkham and Alfred Lambourne. During that same period, he met Thomas Moran, a frequent visitor to Utah, and so admired Moran that he painted with open acknowledgement in the same grandiose style. Another artist with whom he became friends and who was influential was Julian Rix of California. Culmer visited California, where he especially loved to depict the cypress trees. He died suddenly on February 10, 1914. His work is in the Utah State Capitol Building and the Utah Historical Society. Source

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