Arthur Beaumont (1890-1978)
Arthur Edwin Crabbe was born in Norfolk County, England, the son of a career soldier in the Royal Army Medical Corps. Crabbe's mother was well-read and artistic, and she encouraged her son to draw and sketch whenever possible.
In 1908 he began art study at the University of California's Mark Hopkins School of Art. Before and after his education he worked as a cowboy and in his spare time sketched ranch scenes and portraits of co-workers. After prosecuting a gang of cattle rustlers, he moved to Southern California and changed his name to Beaumont-Crabbe, and ultimately to Beaumont.
In Los Angeles in 1915 he met his future wife, Dorothy Dean. In 1917, at age twenty-seven, he opened his first commercial art studio. He enrolled in Choinard Art Institute, where he studied with modernist Stanton MacDonald Wright and classicist Frank Tolles Chamberlain. In 1925 Nelbert Choinard, the school's founder, arranged for a scholarship that allowed Beamont to study at the Slade School of Fine Art in London and at the Academie Julian and the Academie Colarossi in Paris.
When Beaumont returned from Europe, he began seriously associating with the Los Angeles art scene. In 1927 and 1928, while teaching at Choinard with Millard Sheets, Beaumont produced some oil landscapes. By 1929 Beaumont had opened his own art studio and had begun exhibiting in the California Watercolor Society's annual exhibits.
During the Depression Beaumont taught watercolor classes, many of which were held at the Long Beach harbor. The turning point in his career occurred in 1933 when the artist was given a commission as a lieutenant in the Navy, with orders to accompany the fleet on its major endeavors at sea. Beaumont went to sea every time the fleet was deployed, including an extensive cruise from the California bases through the Panama Canal to the navy bases in the Caribbean and on the East Coast.
Beaumont's first navy exhibit opened in early 1933 at the Palm Springs Art Gallery, and after two more venues, ended up in an expanded form at the Villa Riviera Hotel in Long Beach. In 1934 the Los Angeles Art Association sent thirty-four of Beaumont's paintings on a national tour, and his solo show, "Our Glorious Navy", opened at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. In 1935 he opened a fine art studio at the Pacific Coast Club in Long Beach. He joined the Academy of Western Painters, the California Art Club, and the Aquarelle Painters. He served two terms as president of the Long Beach Art Association.
During WWII he focused on military activities and ship paintings, which were reproduced on the front pages of the Los Angeles Herald, Express, and the Long Beach Press-Telegram. In 1944 Beaumont was given the status of War Correspondent. Accompanied by the Naval Reserve rank, he continued to observe and paint naval activities. In the post-WWII era he continued to receive important painting assignments from the Navy. In 1946 he served as the official artist for Operation Crossroads, the Navy's first tests of the nuclear bomb, which would be dropped from the air, and the Baker bomb, which would be exploded underwater. In 1947 Beaumont shipped aboard the USS Saint Paul, the flagship of the Pacific Fleet, the mainland China during the Chinese Civil War.
At various times during his career, he contributed his skills to the production of motion pictures. In 1935 he created storyboards for Mutiny on the Bounty, and during the war he worked on Wake Island, and later, The Cruel Sea.
He contributed articles to the Jonathan Club's magazine, The Jonathan, describing his adventures, and created original artwork for its covers. In 1955 the Club commissioned him to paint a large oil-on-canvas mural titled Cabrillo Landing, depicting Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who lead the first expedition to America's West Coast in 1542. Beaumont's painting, Speed Run, depicting the cruiser USS Rochester, was the State of California's inaugural gift to President John F. Kennedy, funded by the Army-Navy support group of the Jonathan Club. For over thirty-five years he was an honorary member of the Club. In 1993, in ceremony attended by his son, the Jonathan Club made Beaumont its very last Artist Life Member, posthumously.
In the late 1950's and early 1960s Beaumont accepted three assignments from the Navy to paint in frozen climes, including Alaska for the International Geophysical Year Expedition and in Antarctica. From 1964 to 1976 Beaumont painted a series of Revolutionary War-era sailing ships. In 1966, in Vietnam, he recorded the Navy's small-craft operations on the Mekong River against the Viet Cong, and he continued to paint ship portraits of the Navy's most advanced nuclear ship warships until his death. Between 1970 and 1973 he created twenty-four ship portraits to be placed aboard each of the ships constructed by National Steel and Shipbuilding in San Diego. In 1976 he was honored with a one-man retrospective at the Laguna Art Museum.
Excerpt from Nancy Moure, "The Arthur Beaumont Collection," Art at the Jonathan Club, Jonathan Art Foundation