William Wendt

William Wendt
1936, oil on canvas
Private Collection


Born in Germany in 1865, Wendt immigrated to Chicago in 1880 and studied briefly at the Art Institute while working as a commercial artist. A self-taught painter, he became a great technician through his power of observation. With his good friend Gardner Symons, he made several trips to Southern California between 1894 and 1906. After his marriage to sculptress Julia Bracken in 1906, the couple moved to Los Angeles and bought a studio-home in Los Angeles.  Wendt served as the 2nd and 4th president of the California Art Club from 1911 to 1918. In 1912, he built a studio-home in Laguna where he lived until his death in 1946.  His early paintings were characterized by light, short strokes, but after a 1915 sketching trip to Europe he developed a much broader, bolder, modern brush. A giant among American artists, he was often referred to as the “Dean of Southern California.”