top of page
  • by William Pinney

Paul Lauritz's Sierra Snowfields

Thank you, thank you Mr. Anonymous for loaning your “Sierra Snowfields” by Paul Lauritz (1889-1975) to the Jonathan Club for five years. We have enjoyed it for two years in its prominent position at the Town Club.

The painting positively demands your attention, and when this happens, we should always ask ourselves, "Why?" Firstly, there are almost no “cool” colors to be found except in the sky. Even the darkest canyon shadows are a rich chocolate so you don’t feel you will freeze while you look. It says stop and tarry for a while.

Secondly, wherever you start looking, your eye is drawn to the central element, the snowfield. During this meander around the painting, you find the naked rock crags to the top and right of the snowfield and notice a distinct red hue which becomes less obvious as your eye travels to the left. Looking closer, you realize that the undercoat of the whole painting is brick red. This layer, known as “grisaille” by the old masters, is used to show form and depth, and acts as a unifying scaffold for a painting when done this brilliantly.

When he arrived in Los Angeles in 1919, aged 20, Lauritz had been observing snow fields for most his young life. He was born in Norway and grew up in an art colony before setting out on an Alaska gold mining adventure. This experience accumulates thorough a painting career and one can assume that “Sierra Snowfields” was the beneficiary of this knowledge.

For me the foreground is the treasure. Lauritz‘s control of value and form are so complete that you could wander mentally on these slopes for hours just like a mountaineer would on foot. The brush strokes leave tiny ridges of paint that make the light vibrate off the forms, just like the real world. You are urged forward into the light as if to conquer the magnificent peaks ahead.

Take the opportunity to compare “Sierra Snowfields” with similar works in your collection. Another would be the painting on the cover of Art at the Jonathan Club book, “Mountain Glacier” by Jack Wilkinson Smith (1873-1949).

If you would like to discuss loans or any other matters relating to private collections, Jonathan Art Foundation is able to act confidentially, institutionally and legally as the case may require.

Thank you again, Mr. Anonymous.

bottom of page