And still, San Francisco was being creatively documented. Photographers, who largely captured the ongoing devastation, were joined by fellow artists who drew and painted the structural wreckage left behind and the subsequent reconstruction of a port town that had burgeoned to some 400,000 population by early 1906. In History’s Anteroom – Photography in San Francisco 1906-1909, by Rodger Birt and Marvin Nathan (2011), the intense transformation is surveyed.
Within their book is a photograph of a man quietly seated at his easel and painting the remains of City Hall. The artist, Charles Albert Rogers (American, 1848-1918), trained in New York and later in Europe. He arrived in San Francisco in the late 1870s where he began producing regional landscapes, portraits, and city scenes. Some 150 works were lost when his studio was destroyed in the fire, yet within a very short time he was already back at work. The canvas, shown here, is in the collection of the California Historical Society. While small in size it clearly delineates the distinctive entablature supported by two surviving columns and towering above the bulky ruins behind it. Though initially unknown, Rogers was ultimately identified within the photograph when CHS displayed this painting in the exhibition, A Century of Landscapes: Selections from the California Art Club (July-September, 2011).
|Charles Albert Rogers (American, 1848-1918)
S.F. [San Francisco] – City Hall, May 1906
Oil on canvas, 20 x 11 -1/2 inches
The photographer who captured Rogers at work remains unidentified. A copy of History’s Anteroom is available for viewing in CHS’s Reference Library.