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©2015-19 Jonathan Art Foundation

Hanson Puthuff (1875-1972)

Hanson Puthuff profited equally from his childhood years, when he was dragged about the Midwest by an uneducated father from Kentucky who built houses for a living, and from his residence with his educated foster mother, who encouraged his art interests. Two years at the University of Denver Art School equipped him for a practical career as a mural and sign painter.  

His move to California in 1903 was prompted by the offer of a sign-painting job. Liking the climate, he built a house and sent for his foster mother. For the rest of his life Puthuff earned money either by building or remodeling houses that he rented out, painting signs or stage curtains or dioramas for museums, which he did on commission, or painting easel landscapes. Among his important commissions after his move to California were signs for the billboard firm Foster & Kleiser, murals for the Laughlin movie theater in Long Beach, various backgrounds for the Los Angeles County Museum of History, Science and Art, murals in the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and backgrounds for the Santa Fe Railroad's model train displays at fairs.

From 1908 to 1926 Puthuff resided in Eagle Rock, from where he would paint the foothills and valleys below the San Gabriel Mountains. He later moved to Corona del Mar and continued to paint coastals, deserts, mountains, and other landscapes throughout California, frequently accompanying artist Edgar Payne to trips to the Canyon de Chelly in Arizona. Puthuff is notable for starting the Art Student's League in 1906, which lasted to mid-century. He was also a founder of the Painter's Club of Los Angeles, a forerunner of the California Art Club.