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Frederick Ferdinand Schafer Painting Catalog

Problematic painting record FFSp0064

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[photo] Evening on the Lake Tahoe [2]

Date: 1881
Medium: oil on canvas, lined
Size: 20 x 36 in (51 x 92 cm)
Inscription: l/r "F. Schafer 81." in red, in the artist's characteristic block-letter hand, date difficult to read. There is an extra mark of unknown significance between the name and the date.
Verso: "Ev. on the Lake Tahoe"
Provenance: In collection of the Third Church of Christ, Scientist, San Diego, by 1979. In private collection, Los Angeles, by 1984; sold by 1987. With Butterfield & Butterfield, San Francisco, 9 December 1999.
Reproductions: Early California and Western Art Research/Schafer slide #69 (color, 1984); William K. Dick photo #49; William K. Dick slide #8 (color, 1979); 9 December 1999 sale catalog, lot 5207 (color).
Citations: 21 February 1979 letter from the Third Church to William K. Dick
Attribution: The 9 December 1999 sale catalog lists this painting under the artist Joseph Strong (1852-1900), and carries the note "Although it is signed F. Schafer, we believe this painting to be by Joseph Strong." The basis for this proposed re-attribution is not mentioned. The composition, botanical accuracy, and rendering of depth by these two artists tends to be very similar. In addition, Strong often includes a gratuitous "the" in painting titles. However the saturated palette and especially the hand used in the verso inscription on this painting both suggest that the painting be attributed to Schafer, and Schafer occasionally inserts a gratuitous "the".
Site: Eastern (Nevada) side of Lake Tahoe, looking south across Glenbrook Bay toward Cave Rock (a landmark sacred to the Washoe Indians, and known by them as De'ek Wadapush, or Standing Gray Rock Cave Rock Final Environmental Impact Statement) and beyond toward the mountains surrounding Desolation Valley.
Description: The top of Cave Rock is visible behind a brown, rocky ridge at the left, beyond a small bay of the lake. A stand of conifers appears at the base of the ridge, beyond a collection of white boulders at the left edge of the painting. A boulder-strewn hill topped with several dense conifers fills a dark triangle in the right lower corner, contrasting with the bright lake and sky. In the distance are snow-capped peaks, low and barely visible in the haze. The shadows in the painting suggest that the sun is low in the sky to the right, as in early evening. (From a color photograph.)
Note: 1. There is a Charles E. Watkins photograph of this scene from virtually the same vantage point, taken between 1880 and 1885. However, the scene in the photograph is different in enough respects to make it unlikely that it was used as a model for the painting. 2. The 9 December 1999 sale catalog description gives the provenance as "private collection, Los Angeles, California" and reads the date as 1880.
Identification: The three photographs are of the same painting. The letter suggests that the date be read 1890 or 1891. The difference in date readings suggests that the letter may actually refer to a different painting with the same verso title. The Early California and Western Art Research index gives the size as 20 x 26 inches, but all of the photographs show a painting whose height is about 55% of its width.
Other title(s): On Lake Tahoe, Cave Rock (Early California and Western Art Research index)
In index(es): Lake Tahoe and environs, dated paintings, questioned attributions

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Mar 10, 2024, 11:47 MDT Accessibility