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A painter of landscapes, portraits, and genre, Thaddeus Welch is best known for his views of Marin County, California.
Born in La Porte, IN on July 14, 1844. Welch crossed the plains with his family in a prairie schooner at age thirteen and settled on a farm near Portland, OR.
After graduating from nearby McMinnville College, he accepted a position in Portland at Walling's Printing Office. Coming to California in 1866, he lived for a brief period with his aunt in Dixon before moving to San Francisco. While employed as a typesetter with the Call and Bulletin, Welch studied art with Virgil Williams and was an apprentice in the studio of J. W. Ogilvy in exchange for art lessons. While there, he made the acquaintance of a wealthy patroness who financed a four-year scholarship for further study in Europe.
In 1874 he sailed for Munich where he entered the Royal Academy under Dietz, Piloty, and Leibl. While in Munich he became close friends with Frank Duveneck (who painted his portrait), Wm M. Chase, and John Twachtman. Leaving Germany, he spent nearly four years in Paris where he continued studying while living on a houseboat on the Seine.
Welch returned to the U.S. in 1881 and painted for a while in the Hudson River area where he met Ludmilla Pilat whom he married in 1883. He worked for lithographer Louis Prang in Boston, and followed portrait and cyclorama commissions to Philadelphia, Chicago and Australia. Upon returning from Australia in 1889, he was active in San Francisco for a while before returning to New York for Ludmilla. After spending several months at the World's Fair in Chicago in 1893, the couple returned to California. After one year in Pasadena, they moved north to the San Francisco Bay area. Poverty stricken but deeply in love, they camped out in the hills of Marin County until a suitable cottage could be found in nearby San Geronimo Valley. There the Welches began painting the poetic scenes of rural Marin that were to bring success and freedom from financial worry. Due to Thad's health they were forced to seek a milder climate and in 1905 moved to Santa Barbara where he remained until his death on Dec. 19, 1919.
Member: Bohemian Club; SFAA. Exh: Munich Academy, 1876 (bronze medal); Paris Salon, 1880, Calif. State Fair, 1895, 1902.
In: Oakland Museum; CHS; San Diego Museum; Frye Museum (Seattle).
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Thad Welch, Pioneer and Painter; History & Ideals of American Art (Neuhaus); Artists of the American West (Samuels); Artists of the American West (Doris Dawdy); American Western Art (Harmsen); California Art Research, 20 volumes; California Historical Society; Southern California Artists (Nancy Moure); SF Chronicle, 12-28-1919 (obituary).