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Miners in the Sierras

1851-1852 Charles Christian Nahl Born: Kassel, Germany 1818 Died: San Francisco, California 1878 August Wenderoth Born: Kassel, Germany 1819 Died: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1884 oil on canvas mounted on canvas 54 1/4 x 66 7/8 in. (137.7 x 169.8 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of the Fred Heilbron Collection 1982.120 Smithsonian American Art Museum
2nd Floor, South Wing


Gallery Label

California was admitted to the Union in 1850, less than two years after the first rumblings of the Gold Rush. President Polk encouraged Americans to settle the new state, and San Francisco quickly grew to be the fourth-busiest port in the nation. Charles Christian Nahl and August Wenderoth were refugees from Germany's political troubles of 1848. Like thousands before them, they came to California to find their fortunes, but as skilled entrepreneurs rather than adventurers. They built a studio in Sacramento and painted the first wave of prospectors.

These miners wear red, white, and blue shirts, signaling California's importance to the nation's future. But by the time Nahl and Wenderoth collaborated on this canvas, panning for gold had all but disappeared with the arrival of huge mining companies, and the new state was already an economic powerhouse.

Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006

Research Notes

Read research notes for Miners in the Sierras. (pdf)

Keywords

Architecture Exterior - domestic - cottage

Figure group - male

Landscape - California

Landscape - mountain - Sierra Nevada Mountains

Occupation - industry - mining

Western

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

About Charles Christian Nahl

Born: Kassel, Germany 1818 Died: San Francisco, California 1878

About August Wenderoth

Born: Kassel, Germany 1819 Died: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1884

More works in the collection by
Charles Christian Nahl

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August Wenderoth