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Jorgensen Watercolors

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Chris Jorgensen was born in Christiana, Norway in 1859. When he was ten he and his mother came to San Francisco and in 1874 he was the first pupil to receive a scholarship at the newly-opened California School of Fine Arts. He graduated, became an instructor there and married a student, Angela Ghirardelli. They had two children: Virgil and Aimee.

Chris became a recognized landscape painter and the California Missions fascinated him. In 1903-04 he and his wife traveled the length of El Camino Real to study and paint the Missions. The resulting watercolors were shown at the Bohemian Club and many noted galleries throughout America, as well as a 1906 Washington, D.C. exhibition of these and other watercolors of the Yosemite Valley (now hanging in the Yosemite National Park Museum).

Chris Jorgensen lived to the age of seventy five. His son Virgil donated the 1903-04 watercolors to a permanent collection to be housed and preserved at the Sonoma Mission.

Those watercolors now hang in what used to be the Mission dining room. They are kept in subdued lighting which helps preserve them but makes photography difficult as no flash is allowed. The images shown on the following pages are heavily edited from dark originals and, as such, are only a faint representation of the originals which must be seen in person to truly appreciate. (I've also digitally cut the actual pictures out of the original frames and placed them into digital frames and matting as the original frames and matting often had shadows and light reflections that would have distractred the eye from the pictures themselves and been difficult to edit out.)

An index to the pictures is below, or you can just take a tour. I have organized the pictures from South to North and not all Missions are represented in the sixty pictures on display.

Note: The original pictures were taken during a 2003 visit. New versions taken in 2012 have been added and show up when you click on any of the images on a page. From the lightbox you can also start a slideshow that takes you through all the pictures on that page. If you just want to see the 2012 images go here.

Jorgensen Picture Index

Or, just take the tour, starting in the South...Enter


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Copyright © 2003 Tom Simondi, All Rights Reserved
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