Marin Arts & Culture May 2017 - Page 40

Marin History Museum Displays a Rare Painting By Michelle Kaufman T he Marin History Museum was founded in 1935 by Belle Brown and a small group of her friends who realized the county’s history was being lost as the original pioneers passed away. Ms. Brown was determined to preserve the county’s history by starting a local historical society and collecting those memories. Her original goal is embodied in what we still do today. We continue to preserve the past and honor our future by archiving over 25,000 historic objects and 200,000 photographic images. In turn, we take those artifacts and bring history to life through lectures, tours, exhibitions and outreach into local schools. Within the museum’s expansive 40 MARIN ARTS & CULTURE collections are some absolute gems, including a very rare painting of the Saucelito ferryboat, which was created in an extraordinary moment when a reclusive East Coast painter and one of Marin’s finest ferryboats crossed paths. James Bard and his twin brother, John, were American painters born in New York City in 1815. Despite their humble beginnings, both brothers excelled at painting, and by age 12 were known to paint works together, each signing the final product. Their styles were so similar that experts are still hard-pressed to identify one brother’s detail work from the other’s. After almost 30 years of painting together, John passed away in 1856 at the age of 41. James continued painting for another 41 years before passing away at the age of 82 in 1897. The Marin History Museum’s Saucelito was signed in 1877, confirming that James was the sole artist. After his brother passed away, James focused on painting steamboats, schooners, and of course, ferry boats. His fame spread owing to his detailed style, many comparing him to an engineer because of the fine technical and mechanical details he included in his works. Like the majority of his ferryboat paintings, the Saucelito is pictured sailing across the open bay. However, only a few of his paintings include the combination of gauche, graphite and gold as was used in the Saucelito.