Charles Rollo Peters

Evening, Trees

oil on board
10.25 x 13.75 inches
16.5 x 20 inches framed
signed lower right

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Charles Rollo Peters is best known for his impressionistic landscapes and nocturnes. Although his painting style combines qualities from many disciplines, including the Barbizon School, Impressionists, Tonalists and the American Luminists, he has been most closely associated with the Impressionists. 

Peters was born in San Francisco, California in 1862 and spent most of his youth attending military academies. He was enrolled in the Art Associations School of Design for two years and also studied privately with Jules Tavernier. In 1886 he began a four-year period of study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Academie Julian in Paris, France. He spent time with his friend Thomas Alexander Harrison, an Impressionist marine painter, who influenced Peters to continue painting nocturnes. He then traveled extensively throughout Europe, returning to San Francisco in 1889. 

In San Francisco, he met and married Kathleen Mary Murphy. The couple immediately departed for a five-year trip to France where Peters painted the countryside and produced numerous landscape paintings. Upon his return home in 1894, Peters held a large show in San Francisco and was able to sell many of his works. Soon after, he and his family relocated to Monterey, California where Peters became interested in Californias adobe ruins and missions as subjects for his paintings. 

In 1899, he made a tour with his collection of work, touring through Chicago, Maine and Long Island, New York. In New York he held a solo exhibition at the Union Club, receiving very favorable publicity. He returned to Monterey in 1900 and purchased thirty acres of land where he built an estate. The later part of his life was stricken with sadness and grief with the death of his wife in 1902 and daughter in 1904. During this dark period Peters began to compensate for his emotional losses by throwing lavish parties for his artist friends, sparing no expense. Following the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, his estate became the hub of activity for Bay Area artists. 

In 1909, Peters met Mabel Prudhomme Easley, a sophisticated and worldly woman. She was an artist who painted delicate landscapes and had recently shown her work in the San Francisco Bay Area when she met Peters. They were soon married and spent a year in England where Peters had a very successful exhibition in London in 1910. When the couple returned home to California it became evident that Peters spending had caught up with him when he found his Monterey estate had been foreclosed. Faced again with depression, he began to drink regularly and his health gradually deteriorated as a result. He and his wife separated in 1920 and Peters became ill soon after. 

One thing that remained a constant in his tumultuous life was his painting. He continued to pour his emotions into his work, creating lonely, mysterious nocturnes with a palette of deep blues and blacks. The scenes were always dotted with a speck of light emanating form the moon or a lighted window. His landscapes usually displayed a more prominent sky view and often included a winding path or road trailing off in the distance.

When Mabel heard the news of his illness, she returned and remained with him until his death in 1928. 


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