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FORTUNE Euphemia Charlton Landscape Painting - “VIEW OF MONTEREY”
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FORTUNE Euphemia Charlton

ca 1930


Front: “Two for one” is not an expression often heard in the art world, yet here we have it: two extraordinary paintings in one frame. Two views of Monterey, California, that are profoundly complementary despite their sharp contrasts. The symbolism of these two pictures co-existing in the same frame, one for all to see and one a hidden gem on the back, only adds to the baffling strength of this (double) work of art. On the front one can feel the warmth of the summer sun in southern California vibrating through the canvas. True to the experiences on a sun-drenched day for this small fisher's community, Fortune depicts the scene in a very colourful, extremely bright and saturated way. Her somewhat rough brush strokes and thick layers of paint perfectly symbolize and reflect the patches of hot midday sun. Yet despite its vibrancy, the picture seems deserted. Perhaps it got too hot and the fishers went inside for a refreshing nap, perhaps it was low-tide and the boats who were still ashore had to wait for the tide to rise and flood the bay. The front picture stands in sharp contrast with the scene on the back, showing the figuratively bigger picture. Whereas in the front, from up close, Man seems to be in control of the scene, Fortune shows that from a little distance Man is merely a dash of paint, a spot of colour in an infinitely larger natural landscape. The sun-drenched peace and quiet of the front scene is offset by the cumulus clouds and windy shadows on the back as well, making one realize the snapshot of the fisher’s cabin and his barges is just that: a momentary close-up of mankind’s own puny creations, a micro-universe he is so caught up in he tends to forget the threatening clouds over his head. Back: So familiar yet continents away: what could seem like any old dune landscape is in fact Monterey, California in the United States no less. This profoundly rural scene is awfully surprising for today’s beholder, as these picturesque and peaceful dunes are a far cry from today’s associations with bustling California. As such, Euphemia Charlton Fortune pays homage to a long-lost era that was, then and there, already on the verge of oblivion in the United States of the Interbellum. Although life must have been harsh and at times lonely for this isolated fishing community, the on-looker immediately identifies, seems welcomed by the painting and even feels at home. Not only thanks to the universality of the picture – it might just as well be Italy or the French coast – but also because of the vibrant colours. Fortune captures a truly typical and universal scene of a sunny seaside day, bathing the sandy slopes and loosely scattered houses in bright light. Yet one can feel the stark sea breeze rushing through the high grasses and scarce trees, while clouds stack-up at the horizon casting a titillating shadow play over the entire scene. Within a few moments, the sun might be gone, just as this community in itself threatened by modernization. The remarkable hovering perspective Fortune uses, looking down from above, reinforces this sense of both nostalgia and remoteness. Her trademark late Impressionist style only adds to this secluded impression, where human life consists of merely a few – one might say fragile and insignificant – dots in a rugged landscape still very much dominated by Nature. Euphemia Charlton Fortune - ‘Effie’ for friends - was a well-travelled and well-introduced American Impressionist painter, born in 1885 California. Intentionally signing her work with the ambiguous eponym E. C. Fortune, she was nonetheless internationally acclaimed, exhibiting both in museums and galleries in Edinburgh, Paris, San Francisco and more during her lifetime. Her many moves and travels were partly fuelled by personal motives: losing her father at early age, she often travelled with her mother. In 1906 both their family home and the Mark Hopkins Institute of Art she then attended, were destroyed by a large earthquake, pushing the family to move to New York. As she had a cleft palate, she also decided not to marry nor have children, which allowed her to travel freely and dedicate herself to her art. Fortune studied in Edinburgh, San Francisco and New York, where she developed a fondness for outdoor painting. Starting her career painting mostly portraits and landscapes, which depict her many travels both in the United States and Europe, Fortune nonetheless decided to focus on ecclesiastical art later in life. In 1955 she received the papal award Pro ecclesia et Pontiface for her liturgical art. In 2014 a painting by Fortune was sold for $365,000. Museums: Irvine, CA, USA (Irvine Museum) - Monterey, CA, USA (Monterey Museum of Art) - Moraga, CA, (USA Saint Mary's College Museum of Art) - Oakland, CA, USA (Oakland Museum of California) - Sacramento, USA (Crocker Art Museum) - San Francisco, CA, USA (Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco)


  • Artist
    FORTUNE Euphemia Charlton (1885 - 1969, American)
  • Creation Year
    ca 1930
  • Medium
  • Condition
  • Period
  • Dimensions
    H 14.18 in. x W 17.92 in.H 36 cm x W 45.5 cm
  • Gallery Location
    Ghent, BE
  • Reference Number
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Typical response time: 10 hours
Located in Ghent, BE
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WILLAERT Ferdinand
KELLER Adolphe
Canvas, Oil
Oil, Panel
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