October 21: Gunnar Mauritz Widforss was born in Stockholm to Blenda and Mauritz Widforss, the third of thirteen children.
- 1872–Yellowstone National Park created by President Grant
- 1876–The battle of the Little Bighorn
- 1876–First practical telephone developed by Alexander Graham Bell
- 1879–Thomas Edison's first successful test of his light bulb was on October 22, 1879, the bulb lasted 13.5 hours.
- 1879–Albert Einstein born
- 1880–The first steam-powered tram service begins in Stockholm
- 1880–Stockholm Bell Telephone Company opened Sweden's first telephone exchange in Stockholm.
Widforss studied to be a muralist at the Technical School (now Konstfack) in Stockholm, the same school that his mother, Blenda Widforss, studied at.
- The Boxer Rebellion in China
- Kodak introduced Brownie cameras.
- Max Planck formulated the basis for Quantum Theory.
- Sigmund Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams published
- Yosemite National Park established in 1890
- Mt. Rainier National Park established in 1899
June–July: Widforss departs for an apprenticeship in St. Petersburg where he begins working as an apprentice decorative painter
- First Nobel Prizes awarded
- First Trans-Atlantic radio signal
- Queen Victoria died
- U.S. President McKinley assassinated
- Crater Lake National Park established
- The Wright Brothers make the first flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903
- Riot in the theater of the People’s Palace and on Nevsky Prospekt, St. Petersburg’s most beautiful commercial and residential street
The riots are always caused by the students, letter from Gunnar Widforss to his mother Blenda
February–March: Widforss leaves Stockholm and his family to travel and paint; Berlin, Zürich
April–June: Geneva, painting on Mount Saleve; letter from Widforss to his mother Blenda
July–November: Munich, Brixen, South Tyrol, Merano
- Ground broken on the Panama Canal
- The first New York City subway opens
December: London–New York, Jacksonville, Florida
- "Bloody Sunday," Russian Revolution of 1905
- Albert Einstein’s paper “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies” on special relativity published
- The El Tovar Hotel opens on the South Rim of Grand Canyon
January–June: St. Augustine, Jacksonville
July–December: Brooklyn, Manhatten. There was a large Swedish community in Brooklyn at this time.
- Finland becomes the first European Country to give women the right to vote.
- San Francisco Earthquake
- Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle is first published.
January–July: Widforss lived in Brooklyn and worked occasionally as a painter and paperhanger.
As an artist I am just making a living, that's all. I have portrayed the dentist and his wife in exchange for dental work. He has already taken out 12 or 13 teeth and is going to make me new ones. Bridge work they call it. Letter to Blenda Widforss
August: Return to Sweden
- First electric washing machine
- With his painting Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, Pablo Picasso introduced the principles of Cubism.
- President Theodore Roosevelt established Mesa Verde National Park to "preserve the works of man," the first national park of its kind.
Stockholm, Widforss painted many scenes of old houses and buildings around Stockholm, especially in Södermalm.
- A massive earthquake in Italy killed 150,000.
- Ford Motor Company introduced the Model-T automobile.
- Three year-Old Pu Yi became the last Emperor of China.
- The Tunguska Event, a huge and mysterious explosion in Siberia
- Theodore Roosevelt established Grand Canyon National Monument.
April–July: Nice, Antibes, Marseilles, Martigues, and Monaco
October–December: Chamonix, Geneva
- The first form of plastic was invented.
- Robert Peary became the first to reach the North Pole.
- Zion National park was initially established in 1909 as Mukuntuweap National Monument.
March–April: La Turbie, Menton, Nice
September–December: Meran, Welsberg
- Halley's Comet made an appearance.
- The Tango was popular.
- The Chinese Revolution
- Ernest Rutherford discovered the structure of atoms.
- The ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu was discovered.
- Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole.
- Standard Oil Company Trust broken up.
Two works painted on the French Riviera were accepted in the Paris Salon.
Exhibition in a gallery in Leipzig
Paintings were acquired by King Gustave, of Sweden and Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria.
January–May: Menton, Lucerne
August–September: Andermatt, Hospenthal, Lucerne, Lugano, Gandria
October–December: Rome, Capri, Naples
- The Titanic sank
- Piltdown Man, the "Missing Link" was “discovered,” though it turned out to be a fraud.
- Mary Jane Colter designed Hermit's Rest at Grand Canyon for the Fred Harvey Company.
January: First solo exhibition at Hultberg’s Konsthandel in Stockholm including 8 paintings from Monaco and Cap Martin, and 15 from Capri, about half of the paintings were sold. Anders Zorn purchased a painting from Widforss. At the suggestion of Duchess Natalie of Oldenburg, the City of Stockholm purchased two paintings, one of Skeppsbron and one of Södermalm, for city hall.
February–May: In Paris where he studied at the Academie Colarossi
June–August: Stockholm, Grisslehamn
November: Exhibition in Stockholm
- Henry Ford created the assembly line method of automobile manufacturing.
- Los Angeles Owens Valley Aqueduct opened
Exhibtion in Stockholm
An article in Svenska Dagbladet published on July 3, 1914, featured a photograph of Widforss working on the painting to the right.
April-June: Lake Garda, Vienna, Schloss Broyugan, Dresden
- Archduke Ferdinand assassinated on June 28, igniting World War I
- Charlie Chaplin first appeared in a film as the Little Tramp.
- The Panama Canal officially opened.
- Mary Jane Colter designed Lookout Studio at Grand Canyon for the Fred Harvey Company.
- D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation released
- Passenger liner Lusitania was sunk by a German U-Boat.
- In the United States, a loaf of bread cost $0.07 and a first class stamp cost $0.02.
September: Helsingør, Denmark
- Easter Rising in Ireland
- First self-service grocery store opened in the United States
- The United States National Park Service was established to manage 14 national parks and 21 national monuments.
- At this time, there were 9 national parks in Sweden.
November: Exhibition at Hultberg’s Konsthandel, sold 37 works including
- The first Pulitzer Prizes awarded
- The Russian Revolution
- The United States entered World War I.
- In England, Ernest Rutherford first “splits” atoms.
January-July: Northern Sweden and Norway, Hålland, Undersåker, Storlien, Trondheim, Reine, Svolvaer, Abisko National Park, Ulfö
- Between 1918 and 1920 the Spanish Flu pandemic killed between 50 to 100 million people.
- Daylight Saving Time was introduced in the United States.
- Russian Czar Nicholas II and his family were murdered.
- Armistice signed on November 11 ending the fighting of World War I
August: Grisselhamn, Rastaborgs, Ekerö
November–December: Tunisia, Tunis Sfax, Nefta, Tozeur, Sousse, Kairouan
- The Treaty of Versailles officially ended World War I.
- Grand Canyon and Zion National Parks established
March: Nice, Ventimiglia, Genoa, Milan, Como, Corso
April: Switzerland, exhibtion at Hultberg's Konsthandel
June-October: Denmark, exhibition in Copenhagen
December: On December 15, with plans to travel to Japan, Widforss sails for New York from Gothenburg on the “Saxonia,” Cunard Line.
- First commercial radio broadcast aired
- The Harlem Renaissance develops
- The League of Nations established in Paris
- The 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution granted women the right to vote. In Sweden women’s votes (though granted in the 18th century) were given the same accord as men’s votes.
February: Spent most of February in Avalon on Catalina Island, met William Wrigley Jr. who bought several paintings, return to Mt. Lowe to paint
March: Widforss first visited Yosemite
August: San Francisco, Pacific Grove, Anne-Marie, his daughter, is born in Södertälje
September: First of almost annual exhibitions at Gump’s in San Francisco, automobile trip around northern California with Albert (Bert) DeRome who is a business man and amateur painter who becomes a close friend and patron of Widforss
October: San Francisco, exhibits in the 1921 Carmel Arts and Crafts Club “Fall Exhibition of Small Paintings”
November–December: Widforss paid the Sentinel Hotel in Yosemite 5 paintings a month to stay there. He was selling paintings for $50 each. He wrote of his plans to make enough money to continue his planned journey to Japan, and then to return to California.
- As a result of massive crop failures, one of the worst famines in modern times gripped Russia.
- Tests and advancements were made that will be the basis for television technology.
- Albert Einstein received the Nobel Prize for Physics in Stockholm.
- The Irish Free State was proclaimed.
- Extreme inflation in Germany
- The first commercial radio station in the United States, WWJ, began operations in Detroit, Michigan. The first radios began to appear for sale in shops.
May: Painted for two weeks around Tuolomne Meadows
September: Two-week mountain trip with Ansel Hall and E.A. Solinsky, to Mt. Lyell, Minarets, and Devil’s Post Pile, on a reconnaissance trip pertaining to extending Yosemite National Park to the east
November: Widforss painted eight illustrations for Songs of Yosemite 8 color plates, originally published by Harold Symes in 1911 and re-published by Ansel Hall. Exhibit at the Stendahl Gallery in Los Angeles.
- Insulin discovered
- In Egypt, the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun was opened and excavated by Howard Carter.
- Formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
- By 1922, over 500 commercial radio stations were in operation in the United States.
- Mary Jane Colter designed the buildngs for Phantom Ranch, operated by the Fred Harvey Company, at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
Stephen Mather, first director of the National Park Service, commissioned Widforss to do some paintings of Zion National Park. One of these was used in an article that Mather wrote for “The World’s Work,” published in May 1924.
June: Zion, Bryce
July: Widforss’ first visit to Grand Canyon
August: Grand Canyon, North Rim. Widforss stayed at the Wylie Way camp, where he traded a painting in exchange for room and board. He would stay at the camp often in the future. Return to Zion.
Got five views at Zion. After that I wished for a change. Found it in Grand Canyon. And, though I hundreds of times have heard about that place, it surpasses all imagination. I suppose you know it from the South Rim Nothing I ever saw has impressed me anything in comparison. Simply wonderful and I am sure that the future will give me opportunity to paint there so much I want. I started 3 different things from the same spot.
Letter to Francis Farquahr
September: Widforss first exhibits with the California Watercolor Society in their annual exhibtion.
October: Southern California, San Juan Capistrano
- The Charleston dance was popular.
- Adolf Hitler was jailed after the failed Beer Hall Putsch (coup), or Munich Putsch.
- The first baseball game played at Yankee Stadium
- The world’s first domestic refrigerator sold in Sweden
- The world’s first portable radio developed in the United States
Exhibition at Hotel Oakland
February–April: Grand Canyon, stayed at El Tovar.
I like it better here every week…It nearly always is windy, very windy, which makes it kind of hard to work. Notwithstanding, I have done a whole lot and hope to do many more pictures before end of May. Have sold 2 and hope to get a commission of Fred Harvey to paint airplane view of Canyon.
This canyon certainly is fascinating to paint. But – it is difficult – sometimes despairing. Have to keep at it, and by and by I suppose it will come alright…
Will never come back to the Canyon before 1st of April – at least. Too much winter earlier. It is a very slow place here. No kind of entertainment, no change in the daily routine.
Letter from Gunnar Widforss to Francis Farquahr
May: Los Angeles Times Rotogravure Section, two-page spread with photographs of Widforss' paintings
July–August: Yellowstone National Park where Widforss met with Stephen Mather. First mention of the exhibition that Mather was arranging for Widforss in Washington, D.C. Mather and Widforss meet again on the North Rim of Grand Canyon in August.
My Dear Sir: Early in the summer Mr. Stephen T. Mather, Director of the National Parks Service, asked me to come over and see some paintings of the Grand Canyon country, by Mr. G. Widforss. I found them to be very good indeed, quite equal to Moran's work in truth and skill. Mr. Mather wondered whether I could arrange an exhibit for the works and I now write to recommend approval of the idea.
Letter from William Henry Holmes, Director of the National Gallery of Art, to Charles D, Walcott, Secretary, Smithsonian Institution
A couple of paintings from the North Rim will be more valuable for that purpose (DC exhibit) than a few more from Yellowstone. Saw Mather in Yellowstone.
Letter from Gunnar Widforss to William Henry Holmes
September: Los Angeles, Grand Canyon
- First Olympic Winter Games held in Chamonix, France
- George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin, and Irvine Berlin dominated the music industry; Rhapsody in Blue is performed for the first time.
- V.I. Lenin died.
- The first regular airmail services started in the United States.
February: Grand Canyon, Phantom Ranch
May: Exhibtion at Gump's
June-July: Northern California, Eureka, Dyerville to paint redwoods. Exhibition at the Eureka Inn.
Gunnar Widforss, the well-known painter, is making studies of the Redwoods in the Dyerville-Bull Creek region – has been staying at the Schnelling Hotel, McKee's, near Dyerville.
Letter from Newton Drury to John C. Merriam
Louis Sands and his family from Glendale Arizona visited with Widforss as recorded in their scrapbook, "Louis M. Sands purchased Gunnar Widforss' watercolor painting of the Redwoods from him where he was working at Schilling's Inn between Scotia and Garberville California on July 17, 1925. The painting Cost $100.00."
October: Travel with Ansel Hall from Mesa Verde to California as part of the National Park Superintendent’s Auto Caravan Tour, Stockton Record, and Yosemite Nature Notes. Volume IV, Number 20. November 30, 1925.
November: San Francisco, exhibition at Gump’s
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald published
- Sears and Roebusk opened their first store in Chicago.
- First commercial radio broadcast in Sweden on AB Radiotjänst (now Sveriges Radio)
- In November, The Grand Ole Opry began broadcasting.
July: Grand Canyon where Widforss met Crown Prince Gustavus during his visit there. Letter from Grace Watkins to her mother.
Met the Prince, was in his company for two days. Mr. Mather had given him one of my Grand Canyon pictures, while they were there. Good for me I think. When Mr. Mather asked the price of the picture (at G.C. he had said he was going to deal with me directly) I only asked $100 for a $250 picture. That seemed fine, and Mr. Mather said he was going to tell the prince that I had joined in the gift.
Letter to Albert DeRome, July 31, 1926, on meeting Crown Prince Gustavus of Sweden
July– August: Yosemite. Widforss served as the interpreter for Crown Prince Gustavus during his visit to Yosemite National Park.
December: Palm Springs, Indio
- A.A. Milne published Winnie-the-Pooh.
- John Logie Baird conducted the first public demonstration of a television.
- Robert Goddard launched his first liquid-fueled rocket.
- Henry Ford announced the 40-hour week.
- Radio network National Broadcasting Co. (NBC) was launched.
exhibtion at the Oakland Art Gallery.
March–April: San Francisco, exhibition at Gump’s
May: Grand Canyon
June: Taos, Mesa Verde
July: Indio. The Ahwahnee Hotel opened in Yosemite Valley, July 16.
Mr. Tressidor (they call him Doctor now, which is as it ought to be) had me for lunch and I got a commission to paint several interiors and, at least, one exterior of the new hotel. Very kind of Dr. T. to let me wait until the fall coloring is over. And so, I will have to stay here all November too.
Letter to Albert DeRome
September-October: New York City, Yosemite, "California Watercolor Society Annual Exhibition"
- The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) was BBC was founded.
- The Jazz Singer, the first talking movie was released.
- Charles Lindbergh became the first aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.
- First transatlantic telephone call - New York City to London
- Pan American Airways founded
- In the United States, a Kodak Brownie box camera cost $2.29, a loaf of bread cost $0.09, a new car cost $475
Visit to Sweden
April: San Francisco, Grand Canyon, exhibition at Gump’s, “Paintings and Sculpture by Scandinavian American Artists,” Brooklyn Museum of Art, awarded First Prize.
September: Northern California, Bishop, "California Watercolor Society Annual Exhibition," awarded First Prize for .
October-November: Indio, Sacramento
December: Oakland, Asilomar. Grace Watkins (art gallery manager at the El Tovar Hotel) received a “big box of candy from Widforss” for Christmas, letter from Grace Watkins to her mother.
I’m currently in Oakland and painting harbor views, old houses and boats.
Letter to Blenda Widforss, December 5, 1928
- Mickey Mouse first appeared in Steamboat Willie, a short animated film produced by Walt Disney.
- Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin.
- Amelia Earhart became the first woman to pilot an aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean.
- Bryce Canyon National Park established
- In the United States, the first loaves of sliced bread sold for $0.25.
January: Tucson, exhibition at the El Conquistador Hotel
February: Phoenix, exhibition at the Westward Ho Hotel
March: Grand Canyon, exhibition at Gump’s.
April: Los Angeles, exhibition at the Greenwich Village Studio-Gallery
May: Grand Canyon, "International Watercolor Exhibition," Chicago Art Institute.
June: Scotia, California, redwoods. Widforss became a naturalized citizen of the United States in San Francisco. "California Watercolor Society Annual Exhibition," Oakland Art Gallery.
July: Los Angeles, exhibtion at the Alexandria Hotel
September–October: Grand Canyon, trip to Monument Valley with Mike Harrison: Cameron, Tuba City, “stayed about a week with the Wetherills” at Wetherill-Colville Guest Ranch, Kayenta, “stayed at Gouldings Trading Post almost a week.”
November: Los Angeles, exhibtion at the Bartlett Gallery.
December: Phoenix, Mesa
- Charles Lindberg left on a 3,500-mile flight from Detroit to Cape Horn South Africa.
- First Academy Awards made
- Comic Strip character Popeye made his debut.
- The Museum of Modern Art opened in New York City.
- Motorola produced the first car radio.
- The first public telephone booths appeared in London.
- The German airship Graf Zeppelin completed a flight around the world.
- The Wall Street Crash of 1929; stock market crash that occurred in late-October and sparked The Great Depression, resulting in a world-wide economic crisis that lasted until the late-1930s.
January: Phoenix, Mesa
February-March: Grand Canyon, Los Angeles, departs for a visit to Sweden; exhibition in Los Angeles at the Hotel Alexandria, "International Watercolor Exhibtion, Chicago Art Institute"
May-August: Visit to family in Sweden; Holland, Munich, Florence, Zürich, Venice, Gothenburg
September: London, return to United States, California State Fair, Third Prize
October-November: Grand Canyon, Phantom Ranch. "California Watercolor Society Annual Exhibtion."
- 1930 was the first year of the great depression.
- In Germany, Adolf Hitler's National Socialists became the second largest political party.
- Mohandas Gandhi informed the British viceroy of India that civil disobedience would begin in demonstration against British rule.
- Stalin began collectivizing agriculture in the U.S.S.R.
- For the first time in the world, a television drama is broadcast. The BBC broadcast the drama The Man with the Flower in His Mouth by Luigi Pirandello.
- Astronomer Clyde Tombaugh discovered the planet Pluto at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff.
- In the United States, a loaf of bread cost $0.12, a radio cost $29.50
February–December: Grand Canyon, a severe winter with lows to -20
April: "International Watercolor Exhibtion," Chicago Art Institute
Today I expect to finish my first picture from here [the North Rim]. However, one or two more canyon pictures will probably be all – until I see that they sell. Because there are the most wonderful groups of aspens here. And they fascinate me much more than the Canyon.
Letter to Mike Harrison
- Unemployment in the United States doubled to 16.3%.
- The Empire State building was completed and NBC and RCA transmitted experimental television broadcasts from antennae at the top of the skyscraper.
- Al Capone was imprisoned for tax evasion.
- Auguste Piccard ascended to the stratosphere in a helium balloon.
- Japan invaded Manchuria.
- Ford ended production of the Ford Model A and developed new V8 models.
- Work began on Boulder Dam on the Colorado River in Nevada and Arizona.
Widforss won first prize in the annual "Arizona Artists’ and Craftsmen Exhibition" at the Museum of Northern Arizona, Flagstaff. For the second year in a row, he won first and second place awards from visitor votes for the People's Choice Award.
August: Crater Lake
September: Grand Canyon, North Rim
November: Trip to Monument Valley with Ansel Hall. His friends at the South Rim have a birthday party for Gunnar and they played poker.
- 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles
- The economy continued to deteriorate, unemployment in the United States grew to 24%.
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt elected President for his first term.
- Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh's baby kidnapped
- Zippo lighters developed
- In the United States, a gallon of gas cost $0.10, a loaf of bread cost $0.07, the average cost of a new car was $610.00
- Mary Jane Colter designed and oversaw construction of the Desert View Watchtower on the South Rim
January: Phoenix, sells three Grand Canyon paintings to George Westinghouse
March–April: Berkeley, worked with George Collins on a mural for the National Park Service for their exhibit at the Chicago Century of Progress International Exposition.
May–September: Grand Canyon, Desert View Watchtower dedicated, May 13.
October–November: Grand Canyon, lived with Santa Fe Railway mechanical engineer Elmer Nelson for a few months.
Have been sick and unable to paint for a month, exhausted by a hike in the Canyon. Now feeling better and painting better than usual.
Letter to Blenda Widforss
December: Death Valley
- The worst year of the depression, unemployment peaked at 25.2%.
- Dust storms in the Midwest began to drive thousands of farming families to California looking for a new start.
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt launched the New Deal.
- The Civilian Conservation Corps was established.
- Prohibition ended in the United States.
- Aviator Wiley Post flew around the world in 8 1/2 days.
- Long Beach earthquake
- Work began on the Golden Gate Bridge.
January: Death Valley, Arizona, Widforss begins work on 8 watercolors for the Arizona PWAP, including the Salt River Valley and Grand Canyon.
April-August: Grand Canyon
These parts have been honored by the visit of several artists and during the closing days of the month Zion almost resembled an art colony. Mr. V. Roth arrived on the 16th and is still with us, working with oils. He turns out a canvas at an amazing speed, and considering the rate of production, of good quality.
A group of California artists arrived on the 22nd, consisting of A.W. Best of Oakland, H.C. Best of Yosemite, and a Mr. Teague of Oakland. Mr. Gunnar Widforss, noted Grand Canyon painter, arrived on the 28th for a stay of about 2 weeks.
Zion National Park Monthly Report for September 1934 by Superintendent Preston “Pat” Patraw
October: Grand Canyon
November: St. Louis, one-man exhibition at the Noonan-Kocian Gallery in St. Louis. Widforss is hospitalized for his heart condition for five days in St. Louis.
On November 30th, upon his return to the South Rim, Widforss suffered a heart attack near the El Tovar hotel and died.
- Turning point in the Great Depression in the United States, unemployment decreased to 22%.
- In Germany Adolf Hitler declared himself the Führer.
- In China, Mao Tse-Tung begins spreading the communist doctrine and the Long March.
- In Scotland, the Loch Ness Monster was first sighted.
- In the United States approximately 35 million acres of farmland were destroyed by adverse weather conditions and Oklahoma experienced a ravaging drought with temperatures reaching 117 degrees in that summer.
- Parker Brothers sells the board game game "Monopoly."
- Average rent for a house was $20.00 per month
- Mary Jane Colter worked on designs for the Bright Angel Lodge at Grand Canyon for the Fred Harvey Company. The new lodge opened in June 1935.
Letters from Gunnar Widforss to his family and friends.
Archival materials from the Museum of Northern Arizona, Grand Canyon, and Yosemite National Park Libraries.
Belknap, Bill and Frances Spencer. Gunnar Widforss: Painter of the Grand Canyon. Flagstaff, AZ: Northland Press for the Museum of Northern Arizona, 1969.
Sjöberg, Fredrik. Flyktkonsten. Stockholm: En Bok för Alla, 2006.