Hanson Puthuff

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"San Fernando Landscape"
Oil on masonite
12 x 16 inches

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Hanson Duvall Puthuff was born in Waverly, Missouri on August 21, 1875. When Puthuff was two years old, his mother, Mary Anne Lee Duvall died and he was brought into the care of his mother’s friend Elizabeth Standley Puthuff. At 6 years of age, his father, Alonzo Augustus Duvall decided to take his son with him and they moved to Kentucky in 1891 and then Guthrie, Oklahoma in 1898. In the same year, Puthuff’s father sent him back to Elizabeth in Denver, Colorado, and Puthuff began to refer to Elizabeth as his mother. He would not see his father for another 40 years.

Puthuff’s first interest in art appeared when he was given money by his foster mother’s friend Reverend Darley to buy a print of Landseer’s Stag at Bay. Upon receiving the artwork, Puthuff proceeded to make a true copy of the work. Observing Puthuff’s artistic talents, the Darley family helped Puthuff get into the University of Denver Art School. He attended the school from 1890-1893 under the instruction of Ida de Steiger. Before this, he had also studied at the Chicago Art Institute and later at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts.

In 1893, through friends and relatives, Puthuff’s foster mother helped him obtain his first job painting decorations and murals in Peoria, Illinois. He began doing menial work at first, but after the flower painter quit, Puthuff was put in charge of painting the flowers for the church that was being commissioned. Later on, he worked for a different firm and painted murals at the city hall of Peoria, a church in Altos, and a church in Galesburg. In 1894, he became a poster and sign painter for an advertising firm in Denver. Puthuff left his job at the advertising firm and spent his free time painting landscapes.

Mr. Wiley, who previously worked in the same advertising firm as Puthuff in Denver, offered him a job in Los Angeles. Hearing of the beautiful landscapes, Puthuff moved out to California in 1903. While continuing to work in advertising, he painted landscapes on the side. Through the advice of his foster mother’s acquaintance, Puthuff put together an exhibition of his works and received rave reviews by Los Angeles Times critic Antony Anderson.

In 1906, Puthuff moved to Chicago and worked as a scene painter at the Sasmun Studios. While there, he entered a painting at the Chicago Institute of Art where his work was successfully sold. He moved back to California in 1907 and met Charles Thompson who was starting a scenic studio. Puthuff worked for Thompson’s studio and it was here that he met his wife May Longest, a fellow scene painter.

Puthuff built a house in Eagle Rock and his family stayed there until 1926 when he then moved to La Crescenta. By this point, Puthuff had quit his advertising job and supported his family through the sales and exhibitions of his paintings. He took on a commission by the Santa Fe Railroads and painted a series depicting the Grand Canyon, which was shown at exhibition in 1927. When the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science, and Art began to expand, Puthuff was given commissions to paint a series of backgrounds that are now backdrops to the habitat groups of the museum. He moved to La Canada and later to Corona del Mar and continued to paint desert, mountain, and other landscape scenes throughout California, frequently accompanying artist Edgar Payne to trips to the Canyon de Chelly in Arizona.

After his wife’s death, he married Louise Ashbridge White in 1940. He continued to travel and paint throughout his life. Puthuff died in Corona del Mar on May 12, 1972. He is nationally famous for his lyric interpretations of the Southern California deserts.

Member: California Art Club (co-founder); California Watercolor Society; Laguna Beach Art Association (co-founder); Painters and Sculptors of Los Angeles; Palette and Chisel Club, Chicago; Pasadena Society of Artists; Salmagundi Club; San Francisco Art Association; Southern States Art League.

Exhibited: Del Monte Art Gallery, 1908-12; Alaska-Yukon Exposition, Seattle, WA, 1909; Paris Salon, France, 1914; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1914, 1917, 1929; Panama-California Exposition, San Diego, 1915; San Francisco Art Association, 1916; , California Art Club, 1916; , California State Fair, 1918, 1919; Laguna Beach Art Association, 1920, 1921; California State Fair, 1930; Painters of the West, 1925, 1927, 1930; Pacific Southwest Exposition, Long Beach, 1928; Biltmore Salon, Los Angeles, 1930-40; Golden Gate International Exposition, San Francisco, 1939.

Works held: California Historical Society, San Francisco; Hackley Museum, Muskegon, Missouri; Irvine Museum, California; Laguna Art Museum, California; Laughlin Theater, Long Beach (murals); Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach; Pasadena Art Institute; Springville Museum of Art, Utah; Municipal Collections of Denver, Colorado and Phoenix, Arizona.

Hughes, Edan M. Artists In California 1786-1940. 3rd ed. Vol. 1. Sacramento: Crocker, Art Museum, 2002. N. pag. 2 vols. Print.
Hanson Puthuff: 1875-1972 California Watercolors by Wesley Jessup, Hanson Puthuff, and Jean Stern