Thaddeus Welch (1844-1919)
Black Mountain, Marin County
Black Mountain, Marin County by Thaddeus Welch (1844-1919) is set in coastal Marin near Point Reyes Station, in one of the small valleys where a creek ran in summer months. Though Welch painted in many parts of the world, luminous oil paintings of Marin County are his greatest legacy. Alfred Harrison, a foremost expert on early California art, deemed this an excellent Welch painting, in its original frame and with pigments that are still fresh and bright. It is a fine example of Welch capturing the play of light so familiar in coastal Marin and the character of the cows as they meander on a path leading into the distance on the left. From the time of the Mexican land grants in the 1830s, thousands of Spanish cattle roamed the landscape, and many were adopted into the early dairies along the coast. For generations, dairies were the major economic force of Marin County. Today, there are west Marin dairies that the same families have worked for 100 years or more.
Thaddeus Welch and his accomplished artist wife Ludmilla built a cabin above Stinson Beach in 1896 in the area they named Steep Ravine. From there, they explored and painted the beauty of Mt. Tamalpais, its watershed, and the coast and were regular visitors to Bolinas, where they were close friends with Nellie Waterhouse. Thaddeus Welch had great success as an early artist-member of the Bohemian Club. Even after they moved to Santa Barbara for his health, Welch continued to paint Marin’s coastal landscape that he knew so intimately. Today, both Thaddeus and Ludmilla Welch are viewed as exceptional artists of early pastoral California.