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Christian August Jörgensen
1860 - 1935
Christian August Jörgensen is related to 44 records

Born on October 7, 1860 in Christiana, now Oslo, Norway, Chris Jörgensen (Christian August Jörgensen) immigrated to San Francisco in 1870 with his widowed mother, two brothers and two sisters. In 1874, the young Norwegian was discovered sketching a "picture store" by Virgil Williams. Williams had just been appointed director and teacher of the newly formed School of Design by the San Francisco Art Association. Williams was very influential in Jörgensen's early art training, becoming his benefactor, mentor, and very close friend. Under his tutelage, Jörgensen "developed the tightly drawn, representational composition of classical proportions which was to characterize his style." From 1881-1883 Jörgensen himself taught at the School and became the Assistant Director. There, in his sketching class, he met Angela Ghirardelli, daughter of the founder of San Francisco's first chocolate factory. In 1888, they were married and by 1992 they and their two small children along with Angela's father, Domingo Ghirardelli, travelled to Italy to visit his beloved homeland. While there, Jörgensen received commissions from San Francisco patrons for Italian views. For his own pleasure in painting, he chose the architecture of Venice, the Italian Riviera, and fishing and sailing boats as his subject matter.

Jörgensen was also influenced by Thomas Hill, the Art Association's most distinguished artist-member. While Hill never taught at the School of Design, he did allow Jörgensen to use his studio to study his works. He also introduced the young artist to the scenic wonders of Yosemite where the Jörgensen's lived during the summers from 1900-1917. There Jörgensen built his first residential studio. The living room was his studio and display area which was open to the public. In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt visited the park and entered the only building on his visit, the Jörgensen Studio. Upon the President's departure he invited Jörgensen to call on him at the White House and three years later he did call upon the President. In 1906, Jorgensen had an exhibit at the Cosmos Club in Washington, D.C. which was organized by a close friend of Roosevelt's. Yosemite and the California Missions were the primary subjects of the exhibition and it was the first time that all 21 missions had been exhibited in Washington. The Mission paintings were declared the most significant part of the exhibit. It was Jörgensen's first and only exhibit outside of California.

In 1905, the Jörgensen's completed another studio they named La Playa, their Carmel Studio. They now wintered in Carmel and summered in Yosemite. Here, on the Monterey coast, Jörgensen's palate was as dramatic as Yosemite with the rocky coastline, wave-lashed shores, and windswept cypress trees.

By 1916, Virgil Jörgensen, son of Chris and Angela, was now a young man, married to Florence Orr, and living in Cambridge, Massachusetts where he attended MIT and studied architecture. During that spring, Chris and Angela drove across the country to spend the summer with their son and daughter-in-law touring New England. They remained in New England for the year and all four returned in the spring of 1917 for the last summer spent at Yosemite. The watercolors Jörgensen produced during this period have a more modern line, an American quality, and suggest the influence of Winslow Homer.

In their latter years, the Jörgensen's purchased property in Piedmont, California where Chris designed and built his final house. Just shy of 75 years, Chris Jörgensen died of a heart attack on June 24, 1935 and Angela joined him at the Ghirardelli family vault in the Mountain View, California, Cemetery just six months later.

The Works of Chris Jörgensen are represented in the major collections of:

Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley
Bohemian Club, San Francisco
California Historical Society, San Francisco
DeYoung Museum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
Natural History Museum, Los Angeles County
Oakland Museum, Oakland
Press Club, San Francisco
The Society of California Pioneers
Mission San Francisco Solano, Sonoma State Historical Park, Sonoma
Yosemite National Park

Katherine M. Littell, "Chris Jorgensen: California Pioneer Artist," Fine Arts Research Publishing Co., Sonora, California, 1988.

Also known as:
Primary Name:  Christian August Jörgensen 
Other Name:  Chris Jörgensen 
Other Name:  Chris Jorgensen