Sunday Morning in the Mines, 1872. Charles Christian Nahl.
|Dover Publications, Inc. Mineola, New York. Great Paintings of the American West.|
Here we have a scene with a great deal going on. Sunday is a day of rest and time to do laundry, read the Bible to fellow miners who don't read, horse race, play a little music, and write a letter home.
Charles Christian Nahl was born in 1818 in Kassel, Germany, to a family of well-known artists dating back to the 17th century. He studied at the Kassel Art Academy in Germany. Because of the political unrest in Europe, he and his family left for the California Gold Rush in 1851. He tried mining himself, even buying a "salted mine" (a mine that has some gold placed in it to make the buyer believe that it did have gold). He and his brothers began sketching miners in exchange for gold. They also illustrated local newspapers and books and magazines.
After a fire destroyed their studio and most of their artwork, they moved to San Francisco. Charles became one of the most significant artists in California, the first to enjoy the patronage of wealthy clients.
During the 1870's his depiction of the bawdy lives of the early miners were popular and he was considered one of the leading artists depicting pioneer life in California. He also painted classical paintings with allegorical themes and his detail painting of animals compared him to the last of the 19th Century Neoclassical artists.