Charles Rollo Peters Biography

Charles Rollo Peters




Born in San Francisco in 1862, Charles Rollo Peters attended Bates Private School for Boys and the City College of San Francisco, where he was recognized for his artistic talents. After graduation from the college, he began work as a commercial artist, to his dissatisfaction, and in the mid 1880s began to study with Jules Tavernier. He also began classes at the California School of Design, where he studied with Virgil Williams and Christian Jorgensen. 1886 saw his first trip to Europe, where he would study for four years at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and Academie Julian, under Jean-Leon Gerome and Fernand Cormon.

He returned to San Francisco in 1890, and met and married Kathleen Mary Murphy; immediately following their wedding, they left for England and France. Here, encouraged by the work of fellow artist James McNeil Whistler, he continued to study, and began to produce his first nocturnal landscapes, the style which he would become known for. He returned to San Francisco in 1895, and began exhibiting his works throughout the country, to much acclaim. He soon moved to Monterey with his family, where he built the family home. Here, surrounding adobe ruins and the California coast fostered some of Peters' most important work.

The death of his wife in 1902 and daughter in 1904 led to heavy depression; around this time, Peters began throwing lavish parties for his artist friends, sparing no expense. Though he remarried in 1909, to artist Mabel Prudhomme Easley, and had a successful run of exhibitions in London in 1910, his spending caught up with him. The foreclosure of his house upon their return to California and his ensuing depression led to heavy drinking and declining health. Peters died in 1928, in San Francisco.