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John Marshall Gamble

John Marshall Gamble was an American landscape artist who produced many colorful plein air scenes of California. On November 25, 1863, John Gamble was born in Morristown, New Jersey. His family moved to Auckland, New Zealand when he was a teenager but at the age of 20, he returned to the United States to attend the San Francisco School of Design in California. Here he studied under Virgil William (1830-1886) and Emil Carlsen (1853-1932) and worked odd jobs to financially support himself. In 1890, he traveled to Paris to attend the Académie Julian and Colarossi under the tutelage of Jean-Paul Laurens (1838-1921) and Benjamin-Constant (1845-1902). After three years abroad, he returned to San Francisco to open a studio and created numerous paintings of the Californian landscapes, using vibrant colors for the native flowers that littered the countryside. Known for his precise color placement he used the flowers for their color and not as a botanical asset to his paintings, making the colors as much the focus of the painting as the subject itself. He stated, "I never painted them as flowers at all. I didn't even think of them as flowers while I was painting. They were just color patches to me, I simply liked the way they designed themselves across the field.”

John Gamble continued to paint for thirteen years before his studio and all but three of his paintings were destroyed in the devastating earthquake on April 16, 1906. He decided to relocate to Los Angeles, but during his move, became distracted by the beauty and warm climate of Santa Barbara. Gamble settled there for the rest of his life, establishing a studio and residence in Santa Barbara. He traveled to Paris and toured the Middle East in 1908 as well as visiting the Grand Canyon and painting the deserts of the southwestern United States. He won the Gold Medal Award at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in 1909. Following an earthquake in 1926 in his beloved town Santa Barbara, his studio escaped any serious destruction, but Gamble took it upon himself to help reestablish the town. He served as the color consultant in the Architectural Board of Review in its mission to help revitalize the city. In 1929, he began teaching at the Santa Barbara School of Arts and continued painting until his eyesight failed him. Due to a sudden illness, Gamble passed away at the age of 93 on April 7, 1957 as a prominent and successful figure in landscape artistry. He played a critical role in establishing the art community in Santa Barbara and was considered the “Dean of Santa Barbara Artists.”

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