On May 7th, the Calaveras County Historical Society & Museums Executive Director Kristopher Mandell presented an excellent lecture on the Art of the Gold Rush. Mr. Mandell has an international art education. He received his education at San Francisco State University, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia, and John Cabot University in Rome, Italy.
During the gold rush, many artists found they could make more money drawing and documenting places, people, and gold rush life than they could in the gold fields. Consequently, artists created commissions for miners that would become keepsakes for their travels home. In addition, some artists sold their works to newspapers and other publications to give the world a view of gold rush life.
The 1906 San Francisco earthquake and subsequent fire destroyed much of the gold rush art pieces. However, some works still exist that let us decipher life during the gold rush and extrapolate more about the miner’s life experiences. Mr. Mandell explained that while many of the gold rush paintings are gone, many drawings and etchings still exist.
For this presentation, Kristopher focused on four artists. Each was classically trained in Europe and worked in oil, providing a rare glimpse of the vibrant colors of the gold rush that don’t come across in black and white drawings. The artworks he focused on had a lot going on in each painting and demonstrated the picturesque nature of the art of the times both elementally and through the use of colors and light.
You can enjoy the Lecture Series with us by becoming a Patron of the Museum or kindly making a Donation.