Jon Berg Fine Art
RALPH WARD STACKPOLE (1885-1973) drawing by noted San Francisco artist

RALPH WARD STACKPOLE (1885-1973) drawing by noted San Francisco artist

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Directory: Fine Art: Drawings: Charcoal: Pre 1940: Item # 1430019
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A fine charcoal on paper drawing of a lady, 15 3/4" by 11 3/4", unframed, signed at lower right be an artist who has been called the most important artist in San Francisco in the 1920's and 1930's, RALPH WARD STACKPOLE (1885-1973). Stackpole's importance in San Francisco and California's art scene during the first half of the century as a sculptor, painter, muralist, etcher and art educator is not reflected in the auction record for his work. He was a man who lived during a fascinating block of time, and he met many of the most important art figures of that period, in Paris, New York, and locally in San Francisco. Born in Oregon, Stackpole was in San Francisco by age 16, studying at the California School of Design in 1903 under Arthur F. Mathews. He became a fixture on San Francisco's bohemian "Montgomery Block" of artist studios. Between 1906, after the earthquake, and at least the 1920s, he made several trips to Europe, where he met and became friends with Diego Rivera and wife/artist Frida Kahlo. During the 'teens, he studied under Robert Henri in New York, and then blossomed with the coming to San Francisco of the Panama-Pacific Exposition (creating murals and architectural sculpted decoration). During the 1920's in San Francisco, his downtown studio became something of an unofficial center for the city's art community. Maynard Dixon and Dorothea Lange were close neighbors and became friends, photographer Edward Weston was a friend, as was Frank van Sloun, while Rivera and Kahlo lived in his studio for a time. Stackpole taught at the California School of Fine Arts for some twenty years during this period. It was at this point in his career that he became involved in creating murals for Coit Tower on Nob Hill (1933-34), followed by a project sculpting monumental figural pieces for the exterior of the rising stock exchange building in downtown San Francisco, under architect Timothy Pflueger, followed by a number of projects arising from the 1939 Golden Gate Exhibition. Beginning in the 1940's, his career seemed to slow. Franklin Delano Roosevelt commissioned a sculpture for his Hyde Park estate. Stackpole returned to France in 1949 with his French wife, and it was there that he passed away in 1973 after a very rich and productive life. His son, Peter Stackpole (1913-1997) became a noted photographer, known especially for his early images of the construction of San Francisco's bridges. The 1991 Oakland Hills firestorm destroyed the son's home, and with it, many of the father's works, which seem to be rather scarce, even rare. While looking at this rare survivor of a drawing, one can try to imagine if Maynard Dixon, Diego Rivera, and Frida Kahlo might have been socializing in the studio while it was being sketched. **CONDITION: the thin, inexpensive paper has browned as seen, and there are some edge tears, creases and corner dog ears, well away from the image area, which would all be invisible with matting and framing.