A painter in a highly detailed, traditional style, Ernest Narjot painted landscapes, mining scenes, portraits, and several murals for churches and public buildings. By the 1880s, he was considered one of California's foremost painters and also illustrated books of early California life.
Born in St. Malo, France on Dec. 25, 1826. Christened Ernest Etienne Narjot de Francheville, he was raised in an artistic atmosphere and taught to paint by both parents who were artists. Narjot studied art in Paris before joining the Gold Rush to California in 1849. After three unsuccessful years in the Mother Lode area, he joined a mining expedition to Sonora, Mexico. For 13 years he mined and painted scenes along the border of Mexico and Arizona. Narjot returned to San Francisco in 1865 with his Mexican wife and set up a studio at 610 Clay Street.
By the 1880s he was considered one of California’s foremost painters. His paintings were meticulously detailed and rendered in the traditional style of the mid-19th century French School of painting. His work includes mining scenes, landscapes, portraits and several murals in churches and public buildings of Northern California. Narjot was commissioned to paint the ceiling of Leland Stanford’s tomb at Stanford University and, while working there, paint splashed his eyes. His eyesight was temporarily affected, however, he later recovered to paint many of his best paintings. Narjot died in San Francisco on Aug. 24, 1898. His works are rare since many of his paintings were destroyed in the earthquake and fire of 1906.
Member: San Francisco Art Association
Exhibited: San Francisco Art Association, 1874; Mechanics’ Institute., 1876, 1893; California State Fair, 1888 (gold medal), 1889 (silver medal); Chicago World’s Colombian Exposition, 1893.
Works Held: Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Oakland Museum; Bancroft Library, University of California Berkeley; Silverado Museum, St. Helena, CA (portrait of R.L. Stevenson); de Young Museum.
(Source: Hughes, Edan Milton, "Artists in California: 1786-1940," San Francisco: Hughes Publishing Company, 1989.)