7_Yosemite_Valley,_California by Frederick_Ferdinand_Schafer

Yosemite Valley California from the Artist’s PointFrederick Ferdinand Schafer, date unknown

Frederick Ferdinand Schafer (1839-1927) was born in Germany. His early training is not recorded. He emigrated to the United States in 1876, at the age of 37, and over the next 50 years produced more than 500 paintings of western American landscapes. He mainly worked in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, British Columbia and Alaska, and most of his scenes are summer ones, probably because of the difficulties of visiting these sites in the winter. His vast, wild, dramatic scenes were painted in a natural style, without being slavish to photographic-type detail. His canvases feature saturated colours, strong light, awesome scenery and small mid-ground figures or animals to provide scale and atmosphere. His brush technique varies across the canvas, with the distant elements being shaped with just a few broad strokes of the brush, whilst the mid and foregrounds are far more intricately painted and deliberately draw the eye with splashes of colour and detail.


Frederick Ferdinand Schafer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Wrap Up Your Painting

  • In what way, if any, did this guided noticing activity add to your original impressions of the painting?
  • What was it like to remove the people from the painting?
  • Did you think the people were central to or incidental to the painting?
  • Did you want to be in the painting with the other people? Why did you feel that way?
  • How do you feel now you’ve completed this activity? If you enjoyed it, why not add more Look at Paintings audio guides to your week? And don’t forget, you can take these guides with you to your local gallery and try them whilst standing in front of ‘real life’ art