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  • Stephen Drake

John Marshall Gamble

JAF is excited to announce the acquisition of John Marshall Gamble’s (1863-1957) Poppies and Lupines (1912) for its collection. The piece measures 30” x 40” and will be displayed at the Jonathan Club. Gamble was a giant among the early California Impressionists, and having this artist our collection is an important step toward establishing one of the finest plein air collections on the West Coast.

Born in 1863 in New Jersey, Gamble received his early art training at the San Francisco School of Design. Like many other American artists, he made the pilgrimage to Paris for art study.

Back in San Francisco he established a successful career until the devastating 1906 earthquake and fire that destroyed the city and engulfed his studio. Packing up what little was left, he headed toward Los Angeles but only made it to Santa Barbara, as he was captivated by the town's charm and landscape's native beauty. Many “upper crust” Easterners considered his California landscape paintings to be pure fabrications due to such vivid color—until they made the trip in springtime and found themselves proven wrong. After a long and fruitful career, Gamble passed away in 1957.

Now to the other fun part of our story. Returning from a JAF tour at the Bowers Museum, Past JAF President Richard Reitzell and current JAF Board member Grafton Tanquary discussed what artists JAF is still seeking for its collection, and one name that came up was Gamble. Afterwards, Rich was reviewing a brochure for the July Coeur d’Alene Art Auction, noticed a remarkable Gamble in the line-up, and alerted Grafton. The wheels were set in motion, and Grafton called JAF Collections Committee Chair Joe Baratta to initiate the acquisition consideration process. The Committee agreed to pursue the painting, but the question was whether we had enough time to inspect the piece in person and whether the financial resources were available to make a successful bid in the amount we had guesstimated. We knew that a Gamble of this size, provenance and subject matter would be on many collectors’ radars, so our available funds were not likely to be enough to achieve this. The word went out to the JAF Board and to other JAF-supporters for donations. Within 10 days of Rich and Grafton’s initial chat, the Committee was convened, JAF’s Executive Committee gathered, Joe flew to Reno to inspect the Gamble, and we raised enough supplemental funds to put in a winning bid!

The power of teamwork towards a common goal of growing and enhancing a truly one-of-a–kind art collection, our members’ love of fine paintings, with some luck and serendipity thrown in, proved to be the ingredients for us to become the proud new owners of a remarkable new addition.

Join us on Tuesday, November 12th at 6:00 p.m. as we celebrate this stunning work at the Jonathan Club.

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