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Gunnar Widforss Catalogue Raisonné Project

Timeline

1879

October 21: Gunnar Mauritz Widforss was born in Stockholm to Blenda and Mauritz Widforss, the third of thirteen children.


The Widforss family in 1895

  • 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.

1896–1900

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

1901

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

1902

 

Widforss continues working as an apprentice in St. Petersburg

  • 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

1904

Mont Salève, 1904 (no. 8)

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

December: Venice

Gunnar Widforss painting c. 1904

  • Ground broken on the Panama Canal
  • The first New York City subway opens

1905

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

1906

St. Augustine, 1906 (no. 672)

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.

1907

Woodland Pond, 1907 (no. 832)

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.

1908

Stockholm Harbor Winter, 1908 (no. 747)

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.

1909

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.

1910

January–February: Nice

March–April: La Turbie, Menton, Nice

May: Venice

September–December: Meran, Welsberg

  • Halley's Comet made an appearance.
  • The Tango was popular.

1911

Coast Scene with Tree, 1911 (no. 392)

March: Menton

May: Thun

June–August: Wengen

September–October: Venice

November–December: Menton

  • 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.

1912

Marina Piccola, Capri, 1912 (no. 137)

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

June–July: Tyrol

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.

1913

Grisslehamn, 1913 (no. 51)

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

1914

 

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.

January-March: Arco

April-June: Lake Garda, Vienna, Schloss Broyugan, Dresden

July: Stockholm

  • 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.

1915

 

Snowy Afternoon, 1915 (no. 474)
Stockholm

  • 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.

1916

 

Stockholm; Widforss does many paintings of old homes and buildings in Södermalm.

September: Helsingør, Denmark

October: Uddevalla

  • 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.

1917

Roskärstall, 1917 (no. 449)

Summer: Utö

November: Exhibition at Hultberg’s Konsthandel, sold 37 works including Tyska Brunnen (The German Well), 1916 (no. 737)


Widforss at work in the summer of 1917 on Utö. Note the subject of Roskärstall (449), behind him.

  • The first Pulitzer Prizes awarded
  • The Russian Revolution
  • The United States entered World War I.
  • In England, Ernest Rutherford first “splits” atoms.

1918

Reine Lofoten, 1918 (no. 804)

January-July: Northern Sweden and Norway, Hålland, Undersåker, Storlien, Trondheim, Reine, Svolvaer, Abisko National Park, Ulfö

August: Visby

  • 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

1919

 

January: Gorbio, France, Åre, Sweden

April: Trondheim

August: Grisselhamn, Rastaborgs, Ekerö

October: Gothenburg–London–Marseilles

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

1920

 

Tunisian Street Scene, 1919 (no. 380)
January-February: Kairouan, Tunis, Martigues, St. Raphael, Menton, Castillion, Grasse

March: Nice, Ventimiglia, Genoa, Milan, Como, Corso

April: Switzerland, exhibtion at Hultberg's Konsthandel

May: Stockholm

June-October: Denmark, exhibition in Copenhagen

November: Skövde

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.

1921

 

January: Widforss arrived in New York after 17 day voyage; Chicago, arrived in Los Angeles on January 11 and begins painting at Mt. Lowe on the 15th.

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.


Gunnar Widforss working in Yosemite Valley

  • 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.

1922

 

Yosemite

April: Exhibition at the Art Institute of Indianapolis

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.


Ansel and June Hall. Courtesy the Ansel and June Hall Family

  • 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.

1923

 

Angel's Landing Zion, 1923 (no. 604)
February: Widforss purchased his first car, a 1920 Willys Overland Roadster.

March: Zion
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.

May: Yosemite

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


Wylie Way Camp cabins on the North Rim near Bright Angel Point

September: Widforss first exhibits with the California Watercolor Society in their annual exhibtion.

October: Southern California, San Juan Capistrano

November–December: Monterey

  • 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

1924

 

Yellowstone Canyon, 1924 (no. 557)
January: 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

June: Zion

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

December: One-man exhibition at the National Gallery of Art

  • 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.

1925

 

In the Redwoods, n.d. (no. 58)
January: Philadelphia, New York City. Following his exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, Widforss donates his painting The Patriarchs, Zion National Park., 1924 (no. 287)  to the Smithsonian Museum.

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." Redwoods, 1925 (no. 1162) 

September: Yosemite

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

December: Yosemite

  • 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.

1926

 

January: Yosemite

Exhibition “Paintings and Sculpture by Scandinavian American Artists.” Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York.

Exhibition with Ferdinand Burgdorf at the Stendahl Gallery, Los Angeles.

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.

October: Asilomar

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.

1927

 

The Ahwahnee and Half Dome, c.1927 (no. 408)
January-February: Asilomar, 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

1928

Visit to Sweden

March: "International Watercolor Exhibition," Art Institute of Chicago.

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 Sierra Cliff, 1928 (no. 554) .

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.

1929

Monument Valley, 1929 (no. 451)

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.

1930

Grand Canyon, 1930 (no. 1230)

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."

December: Phoenix

  • 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

1931

January: Indio

February–December: Grand Canyon, a severe winter with lows to -20

April: "International Watercolor Exhibtion," Chicago Art Institute

October: "California Watercolor Society Annual Exhibition"

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.

1932

 

Crater Lake, 1932 (no. 100)
January–July: Grand Canyon, Phantom Ranch. Widforss’ right hand was injured when he was kicked by a mule on the Kaibab Trail while on his way to Phantom Ranch. Widforss camps in a tent cooking his own meals, meets his friends and plays cards in the evenings.

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

October: "California Watercolor Society Annual Exhibition"

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

1933

Plateau Point, Grand Canyon, c.1930 (no. 252)

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


Widforss at work on one of the murals for the Chicago Century of Progress International Exposition

  • 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.

1934

Death Valley, c.1934 (no. 497)

January: Death Valley, Arizona, Widforss begins work on 8 watercolors for the Arizona PWAP, including the Salt River Valley and Grand Canyon.

February-March: Phoenix

April-August: Grand Canyon

September: Zion

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.


Gunnar Widforss at Grand Canyon

  • 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.

Sources:
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.