Louis Bassi Siegriest
Louis Bassi Siegriest
Comstock Miner’s Home, Virginia City, 1946
Oil on board
Board: 11" high x 14" wide
Frame: 17.25” high x 20" wide
Signature: Lower left; inscribed verso “A Comstock Miner’s Home, Virginia City – Nevada, Louis Bassi Siegriest, 1946, $100.”
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About the work
Louis Siegriest frequented Virginia City during the mid-1940s and created paintings of the city's weather-worn and dilapidated structures, sometimes just ahead of wrecking crews hired by contractors who hauled the antique bricks over to California. The artist recalled making at least 200 sketches and paintings during this period, twenty-four of which were featured in his University of Nevada show in 1983.
After leaving the Comstock, Siegriest continued to use Virginia City as the subject in many of his lively collages and paintings—sometimes with contorted figures of tourists whom he felt showed veiled contempt for Comstock locals and their life style.
In later years he said “I went to Virginia City, and I stayed. I stayed there all of ‘45 and '46. I did come home, oh, maybe for a week at a time, but I'd go back. So that started my real painting of Virginia City. I'd been there a number of times before, but more or less just go there and make some quick paintings and get out. But I'd always felt that I wanted to go back some time and stay there and paint. So when I was there in '45, I got to know the place pretty well and thought, this is what I want to do. I want to paint Virginia City.”
Louis Siegriest (1899 - 1989) had a long, distinguished career including association in the 1920s with a California Bay Area group called the Society of Six. The Society of Six was led by Selden Gile and included William Clapp, Bernard von Eichman, Maurice Logan, and August Gay. The group, based in Oakland, focused on California scene subject matter, aggressive use of color, and a freedom of style rooted in Impressionism.
For Siegriest, the 1930s Depression years were a time when he traveled in the Midwest and further east, and his palette darkened with industrial themes. But he also discovered Taos, New Mexico. Returning to California, he worked in advertising for Maurice Logan and did poster work for the WPA. In 1945, he became a full-time fine artist and from 1948 to 1951 taught at the Art Students League of San Francisco.
Siegriest’s works are in the collections of the Oakland Museum, Stanford University Museum, and the University of Nevada, which houses numerous examples of his Virginia City works.
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