San Luis Rey Mission, Cal. by James David Smillie

San Luis Rey Mission, Cal. by James David Smillie

San Luis Rey Mission, Cal.

James David Smillie

Title

San Luis Rey Mission, Cal.

 
Artist
Year
1891 -92 
Technique
etching, softground etching & aquatint; printed chine colle 
Image Size
15 3/4 x 8" platemark 
Signature
pencil, lower right 
Edition Size
proof, edition not known, possibly not editioned. 
Annotations
in pencil, lower right - "Feb 7 '92" 
Reference
JDS71; W73 
Paper
china paper on heavy cream wove support sheet 
State
proof; II/II, with publisher's line 
Publisher
W.K. Vickery, SF (upper right, above image) 
Inventory ID
BC191 
Price
$2,000.00 
Description
According to Smillie's raisonne cataloger, Brucia Witthoft: "Smillie painted the subject from a photograph on October 5, 1891; reduced the painting by using a camera lucida a few days later, and began to work on the etching on Oct. 16. The sky is blank in an etching proof of Dec. 1891 (New York Public Library), before the aquatinting. JDS began to add the aquatint on Jan 1, 1892, putting in clouds and contrasts. First proofs are dated Feb, 1892." This impression is from the second state, dated Feb 7, '92. San Luis Rey, is the largest of the California Missions was founded in 1798 by Padre Fermin Francisco de Lasuen, successor to Padre Junipero Serra, the Mission was named after St. Louis IX, King of France, who lived during the 13th century. It served as a Spanish / Mexican mission until 18447-57 it was used by the US military as an operational base, falling into disrepair, as Smillie depicts it in this dramatic etching. In 1892, a group of Franciscans from Zacatecas, Mexico sought refuge in California and asked the Bishop for a site to move their novitiate. They were assigned to San Luis Rey under the guidance of Father Joseph Jeremias O'Keefe. Father O’Keefe has been referred to as the rebuilder of the mission. From 1892-1912, O’Keefe repaired the church and rebuilt the permanent living quarters on the foundations of the old mission (where the museum sits today). Restoration has continued throughout the years since Friar O’Keefe’s death. Included in this has been the partial rebuilding of the quadrangle in 1949 for a Franciscan college which serves today as a retreat center. During the 1950s and 1960s the Friars uncovered the soldier’s barracks and the lavanderia from layers of dirt accumulated over the years. In 1984 a restoration effort to stabilize and preserve the exterior of the church building was completed. Conservation of painting and sculptures in the museum collection is an ongoing process, and archaeological investigations continue to unearth the past.