Glen William Thomas

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1_Glen William Thomas Chinatown Carson City.JPG
2_Glen William Thomas Chinatown Carson City.JPG
3_Glen William Thomas Chinatown Carson City.JPG
4_Glen William Thomas Chinatown Carson City.JPG
5_Glen William Thomas Chinatown Carson City.JPG

Glen William Thomas

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Old Chinatown, Carson City, Nevada 1939

  • Watercolor on illustration board

  • Sight: 10” high x 14.5” wide

  • Frame: 19.5” high x 23.5” wide

  • Signature: Lower right

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About the work

A rare 1939 watercolor by California/New York artist Glen William Thomas (1894-1995) depicting Carson City’s old Chinatown. Thomas is well known for the illustrations he produced in the 1930s and 40s for such magazines as Colliers Liberty, Saturday Evening Post, Look, and Ladies Home Journal.

In capturing this scene of Chinatown, Thomas recorded a vital piece of Nevada history that is now largely lost. The Chinese played a significant role in the development of the state. They were some of the earliest residents in northern Nevada, having come to Genoa in the 1850s to build irrigation trenches for the mines. 

Maynard Dixon Old Chinatown, Carson City.jpg

Chinatown

The character of Carson City’s Chinatown attracted famed southwest artist Maynard Dixon, who painted a nearly identical version of the scene in Thomas’ watercolor.

An excellent article published in the Nevada Appeal in October, 2008, notes that traces of old Chinatown are all but gone, save a plaque placed near the exit to the state printing office that commemorates what was the largest minority settlement in the state in 1880. At that time, one in five persons in Carson City was Chinese.

  This elderly man reading in front of his house was one of the few remaining residents of Carson City's Chinatown in the mid-1940s. Photograph from the Daun Cohall collection, Nevada State Museum. 

This elderly man reading in front of his house was one of the few remaining residents of Carson City's Chinatown in the mid-1940s. Photograph from the Daun Cohall collection, Nevada State Museum. 

About the artist…

Glen W. Thomas was born in Sterling, Illinois, in 1894. He served as a cartographer in World War One, and remained in France to study with American artist John Carroll. He rose to fame as an illustrator in Chicago and New York, producing watercolors for Goodyear, Maxwell House Coffee, Washington State Apples, U.S. Steel, Havoline Motor Oil and numerous other large firms. His works commanded prices ranging from 500 to 2,500 dollars per painting, a hefty sum for the day. He retired to Newport Beach, California, in the 1960s where he continued to paint well into his 90s. 

Biographical information sourced from the archives of AskArt. 

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