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Frederick Ferdinand Schafer Painting Catalog

Painting record FFSd0852

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[photo] [Morning on Mount Shasta 2] (attributed)
Photo credit: Mark Traugott, 2008
Date: undated
Medium: oil on canvas
Size: 14 x 22 in (36 x 56 cm)
Inscription: unsigned
Verso: no inscription
Provenance: With Clar's Auction Gallery, Oakland, CA, 5 April 2008; to private collection, Boulder Creek, California.
Reproductions: Clar's Auction Gallery sale catalog 463, lot 2 (color)
Attribution: Being unsigned and, in the 5 April 2008 sale catalog, unattributed, attribution must rest on characteristics of the painting itself. The painting is most unusual, apparently an incomplete work, which might explain the lack of a signature.
  • The overall composition is very similar to several Mount Shasta paintings that are unquestionably by Schafer, for example, Morning on Mount Shasta, 14,400 feet high from Shasta Lake, California, [Morning on Mount Shasta 1], [Mount Shasta 2] (attributed), Mount Shasta, California [4], Mount Shasta, California [7], [Mount Shasta 8], [Mount Shasta 15], and [Mount Shasta 16].
  • The profile of the stratovolcano, in which Shastina looms larger than life—nearly as large as Shasta itself—is a Schafer trademark present here as well as in most of the previously cited paintings.
  • As is typical of Schafer's work, the painting is constructed with just a few planes—a detailed foreground, two middle distance planes with a nearby ridge on the left and a more distant second ridge across the rest of the painting, plus a background plane depicting Mount Shasta against the sky.
  • The painting has a detailed front edge that is deemphsized by being in shadow; a bright central focus draws the eye to the riders on the trail passing a clearing. This arrangement is another typical Schafer characteristic.
  • The staffage, consisting of two quite small and crudely drawn horses with mounted riders facing away from the viewer, is very similar to the staffage found in many other Schafer paintings.
  • The brushwork seen in the detail photograph, with visible short, curved strokes going in many directions and exhibiting moderate impasto, is typical of Schafer.
  • The verso photograph shows a canvas that appears to be old enough to be 19th century, mounted on a redwood stretcher typical of 19th century California design and construction.
  • Two unusual characteristics of the painting are that the ridges in the middle distance, the river, and the sky are barely sketched in, and those areas are in pastels rather than the more saturated colors usually seen in Schafer paintings. In the high-resolution detail photograph, the areas in question have just a thin coat of paint through which the canvas texture is still prominent. These characteristics suggest that the pastel shade was used as a base coat to establish general shapes, planning that it could be easily hidden by later layers of more intense colors. If so, perhaps the painting left the easel before it was completed.
  • The painting is unvarnished, which supports the hypothesis that it left the studio before it was completed.

    The preponderance of evidence suggests that this is an incomplete painting appropriately attributed to Frederick Ferdinand Schafer.

  • Site: Mount Shasta, as viewed from the Sacramento River valley near Dunsmuir, California.
    Note: Shastina, which rises to the west of Shasta, is on the left, so the view is from the south. The shadows indicate that the sun is on the right, making this a morning painting, rather than the twilight suggested by the sale catalog title.
    Identification: Assigned, descriptive title.
    Other title(s): Mountains at twilight (Clar's Auction Gallery 5 April 2008 sale catalog)

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    Feb 13, 2017, 11:05 MST