Desert Smoke Trees (near Palm Springs)
- Oil on canvas
- Canvas: 40” high x 30” wide
- Frame: 50" high x 40” wide
- Signature: Signed lower right
Click image to enlarge.
PRICE: Upon request INQUIRE
About the work
James "Jimmy" Guilford Swinnerton (1875-1974) explored and painted the remote desert regions of the Southwest, most notably in New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and the area around Palm Springs. The mysterious qualities of the desert proved an irresistible subject of his artistic output for more than 45 years, earning him the title of "the Dean of desert painters.”
“What sets Swinnerton apart from most of the other desert painters active at this time is his emphasis on plant portraiture. In fact, his approach mirrors formal figurative studies, but in this case the subject is the unique flora of the Southern California deserts.” — Donald J. Hagerty, essay from Gerald Peters exhibition catalog on James Swinnerton, 2001
Swinnerton began to sketch and paint the landscape around Palm Springs in 1907 while living at Nellie Coffman’s Desert Inn. Nellie took a special interest in Swinnerton, allowing him to hang a sign on the hotel that read “Sidewinders Shebang.” Coffman’s accommodations and hospitality attracted a number of now well-known desert artists, including Carl Eytel and Stephen Willard.
Other artists drawn to the local landscape included John Hilton, Clyde Forsythe, and Sam Hyde Harris. These artists explored and painted the desert floor and canyon areas that surround Palm Springs.
The collective body of works produced by the group and their counterparts of the day came to be known as the Smoketree School. Thus Swinnerton’s painting of smoke trees represents not only a fine example of his best-known work, but also a symbol of the art movement he helped to create.
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