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Edgar Alwin Payne (1883-1947)

Edgar Payne was born on March 1, 1883 in Washburn, Missouri. His childhood consisted of working on his family farm while receiving a limited education.

In 1907, having moved to Chicago, Payne enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago but left soon after. He began to sell some of his small easel paintings from exhibitions at the Palette and Chisel Club in Chicago.

Payne moved to California in 1909, where he spent a good portion of his time in Laguna Beach. He eventually made his way north to San Francisco and met artist Elsie Palmer, whom he would marry in 1912. In 1913, Payne received a commission from Mitchell and Hallbeck Decorating Company of Chicago to create a mural for the Hendricks County Courthouse in Danville, Indiana. This would be the first project in which both Elsie and Edgar Payne would work on together. Following the finished project, he began to earn enough from the sale of his paintings to begin turning down offers for mural paintings. He accepted his last project in 1917 with Holsag and Company of Chicago to decorate eleven floors of the Congress Hotel.

Moving to Glendale, California, Payne enlisted the help of his artist friends Peter Nielson, Jack Wilkinson Smith, F. Grayson Sayre, and Conrad Buff to work on the project. The project took four months and 11,000 square yards of muslin. After completing the project in 1918, Payne moved to Laguna Beach, where he founded and became the first president of the Laguna Beach Art Association. During his stay in Laguna, he periodically took trips to the High Sierras and became well-known among the locals. One of the lakes, Lake Payne, was named in memory of the artist.

In 1922, the Payne family spent two years painting across Europe. They came back in 1924 and traveled from coast to coast, but spent winters mainly in and around New York City. On Payne’s return to Hollywood in 1932, he separated with his wife. On his own, Payne established his studio and lectured on the art and principle of landscape painting. The concepts in his lectures were put together to form the book
The Composition of Outdoor Painting, which he published and illustrated himself. Payne died on April 8, 1947 at the age of 64.

Member: Allied Art Association; American Artists Professional League; California Art Club; Carmel Art Association; Chicago Society of Artists; International Society Art League; Laguna Beach Art Association; Palette and Chisel Club; Salmagundi Club; Ten Painters of Los Angeles.

Exhibited: Los Angeles County Museum of History, Science and Art, 1919; Paris Salon, France, 1923; Golden Gate International Exposition, San Francisco, 1939; California State Fair, 1917, 1918; Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois, 1920; Southwest Museum, Los Angeles, 1921; National Academy of Design, New York, 1929; California Art Club, 1947.

Works held: Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley; Chicago Museum, Illinois; Fleischer Museum, Scottsdale, Arizona; Indianapolis Museum, Indiana; Irvine Museum, Irvine, California; National Academy of Design, New York; New Mexico Art Association, New Mexico; Oakland Museum of California; Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, California; Pasadena Art Institute, California; Southwest Museum, Los Angeles.

The Paynes: Edgar & Elsie, American Artists, Rena Neumann Coen
Artists in California, 1786-1940, Edan Hughes

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