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From the Gold Rush to the Earthquake: Selections from the Collection
On view October 26, 2019 - March 29, 2020

From the Gold Rush to the Earthquake: Selections from the Collection

From the Gold Rush to the Earthquake: Selections from the Collection presents highlights from the California Historical Society’s holdings of paintings, photographs, manuscripts and ephemera.  Focusing on key topics in California’s late-nineteenth-century history, the exhibition features selected works from the Gold Rush, the exploration of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and coastal regions, the rise of agriculture and industry in the state, San Francisco’s Chinatown, and the city’s devastating 1906 earthquake and fires.

From the Gold Rush to the Earthquake: Selections from the Collection

The Gold Rush that started in 1848 marked the beginning of a period of dramatic transformation in California.  Following the state’s official entry into the Union in 1850, a sudden influx of United States citizens and immigrants from around the world profoundly and precipitously altered the region.  The state rose to national prominence only to be brought to its knees when its largest city, San Francisco, was reduced to rubble in the 1906 earthquake.

In the intervening half century, the state’s myriad possibilities became important subject matter for numerous US and European artists. This exhibition considers some of the themes that were popular among painters: the Gold Rush, exploration of the Sierras, the burgeoning agricultural industry, Chinatown, and the Great San Francisco Earthquake. Drawn exclusively from the California Historical Society’s collection, the show presents paintings alongside archival materials—photographs, letters, books, and ephemera—that deepen our understanding of these subjects.

Landscape with Mount Shasta (oil on canvas)

Landscape with Mount Shasta (oil on canvas)

Painting of damaged buildings from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake

Painting of damaged buildings from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake

View of Yerba Buena, now San Francisco, 1847 (oil on canvas)

View of Yerba Buena, now San Francisco, 1847 (oil on canvas)

Gold Rush Comic Strip

Gold Rush Comic Strip

Photo of Farm Workers

Photo of Farm Workers

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