William Wendt was born in Bentzen, Germany, and immigrated?to Chicago in 1880. Although he took classes for a short time at the Art Institute of Chicago, he was a largely self-taught painter with a religious reverence for nature. Wendt co- founded the California Art Club in 1911, and within a year he was elected to the National Academy of Design and built his home and studio in Laguna Beach.
Often referred to as the “dean of Southern California artists,” he became known for his ability to scout locations for ideal, naturally occurring compositions. His earlier, Edenic landscapes exude the hallmark lightness of traditional Impressionism, but he distinguished his work with bolder, block-style pastoral compositions with muted colors.
The masculine quality had an influential effect on the style of paintings in the American West. “Wendt’s canvases grew in strength and boldness over his forty years of painting,” Nancy Moure wrote in her comprehensive book, California Art: 450 Years of Painting & Other Media (Dustin Publishing, 1998). “He soon began to ‘draw’ with his brush, to carve out the underlying structure of the mountains, delighting in the folds of the earth.”