December 5, 2017
Alfred Lambourne, Sunset on the Coast- California, 1885, oil on canvas, 20 1/2 x 28 15/16 inches. Brigham Young Museum of Art, 1987.
On this date in 1848, U.S. President Polk triggered the Gold Rush of 1849 by confirming the discovering of gold in California. In the coming decades, thousands would move West, for a variety of reasons. While many were seeking a fortune in gold, others moved for adventure, new beginnings, or simply to see and document the beauty of the untamed West. An earnest adventurer and aspiring artist, Alfred Lambourne arrived in the Utah territory with his family in the 1860s. He would later trek throughout the West seeking inspiring vistas to paint. Lambourne was the first painter to document the area now known as Zion National Park, visiting in 1871 as part of a survey party with territorial governor Brigham Young.
Lambourne’s painting Sunset on the Coast- California, part of our permanent collection, portrays rugged rock formations, crashing waves, and a spectacular sunset that all seem to encapsulate the allure of the California coast. The mystical light conveys the sense of spirituality that Lambourne and others believed was inherent in America’s distinctive terrain.