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2013 Catalog > 8. Richard Welsted Day. “San Jacinto”

8. Richard Welsted Day (1896–1972). “San Jacinto,” 1930.

Lithograph, no. 22, on Basingwerk parchment cream wove. Plate: 13 1/4 x 16 1/2." Sheet: 17 1/4 x 23." Signed, l.r. Titled, l.c. “Paul Roeher, Imp. 1930,” l.l. Clean and bright. Excellent condition.


The composition of this lithograph has a striking angularity, heightened by areas of snow in contrast with jagged cliffs and an atmospheric sky. “San Jacinto,” depicts the highest peak of the San Jacinto range in Southern California, known as San Jacinto Peak, Mount San Jacinto, and Mt. San Jack. The remote location of the scene depicted suggests that Richard Day was an avid hiker.

For a self-trained artist, Day’s lithographs reveal a mastery of the medium as well as a level of modernist sophistication that indicate a rather amazing level of interest in and understanding of the work of his contemporaries. The subject of the present lithograph, “San Jacinto,” appears to be quite rare in his body of work, while scenes from Mexico, for example, are more numerous. Nearly all of Day’s lithographs date from the 1930s, and certainly he would have been aware of the allure that both Mexico and New Mexico held for many artists of the time.

Richard Day is well known for his work in motion pictures as an art director for Erich von Stroheim, MGM, and 20th Century Fox, having received forty nominations and seven Academy Awards during his fifty year career in film. He began his career as a commercial artist in Canada and moved to Hollywood in 1920 where he first worked as a scene painter.

“Richard Welsted Day, printmaker and art director, was born in Victoria, British Columbia. His education consisted of private tutoring, developing his natural talent for drawing without professional lessons and voracious reading. After serving with the Canadian army in World War I, he returned to Victoria and began his career as a commercial artist. In 1920, Day arrived in Hollywood hoping to find a career in the emerging motion picture industry. Befriended by Eric Von Stroheim, he was hired as a scene painter for the film Foolish Wives but was soon elevated to art director. The pursuit of his new career led him to MGM and then to 20th Century Fox where he became Supervising Art Director. Day worked on hundreds of films earning him forty Academy Award nominations. His genius was rewarded with the coveted Oscar for Dark Angel, How Green Was My Valley, This Above All, My Gal Sal, A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront and Dodsworth. He designed and built some of the largest sets of his time and in 1935, Day was the highest paid art director in Hollywood. During the 1930s he created a number of fine lithographs which were professionally printed by Paul Roeher and were shown at Jake Zeitlin’s Book Shop in Los Angeles. In 1932 Merle Armitage published The Lithographs of Richard Day. Day’s lithographs were shown in 1935 at the California–Pacific Exposition in San Diego. Today they are held in the collection of the Library of Congress. Day’s brief career as a printmaker ended with the boom in films during the Depression of the late 1930s. He immersed himself in the film industry and never again ventured into printmaking.” — IFPDA

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