american overview
post civil war
pre civil war
Tavernier catalog
Frénzeny catalog

American Post Civil War Art

1865 to 1900

Jules Tavernier



  Jules Tavernier

born: Paris, France; 27 April 1844
died: Honolulu, Hawaii; 18 May 1889

Tavernier's American friends pronounced his name anglicized: Tav-ern-neer, with the stress on the last syllable. In French it would be pronounced Tav-en-yay with the stress on the second syllable. So I suppose when you talk about him you have your choice of pronunciation.

The above picture of Tavernier working in the redwoods is owned by the Bohemian Club of San Francisco and was painted by Christian Roullier. It is undated but probably dates from around 1880.

The biographical information given below was gathered hit and miss around the web, it was then checked for consistency against Claudine Chalmer's book, Splendide Californie! which has an excellent chapter on Jules Tavernier. Claudine's research in Paris for the book discovered the exact date of Tavernier's birth.

Finding good resolution pictures to document this short biography was difficult. Tavernier is not covered by most art books so published images are difficult to find. His art is concentrated in a few museums, with most of his art still in private hands. Jules Tavernier was an important person in the development of the romantic landscape art of the West Coast and the art of Hawaii. He deserves this extended biography. His art should be more widely known. — ed.


1844   Born in Paris with what he called “English heritage”; that is he claimed British citizenship. His father was English and his mother French.
1846   2 He moved to England with his parents.
1851   7 Returned to France to live with relatives.
1860 16 He studies with the artist Félix Barrias in Paris.
1864 20 Jules first exhibits at the Paris Salon with two pictures in 1864. He also paints at Barbizon, where he begins to use the method of painting with a loaded brush. He continues to show his pictures at the Paris Salon until the Franco-Prussian War interrupts in 1870.
1870 26 Start of the Franco-Prussian War. Jules volunteers for French war service; he serves in the 84th Battallion of the Compagnie des Marche.
1871 27

At the end of the war he takes advantage of his British citizenship and moves to London. He works as an illustrator for the London Graphic.

In the summer or early fall Jules moves to New York accompanied by Allen Meason the engraver he worked with at the London Graphic. After they emigrated Allen works for many years at Harper's as an engraver. His name appears on several of the Tavernier woodcuts.

1872 28

In New York Jules works as an illustrator for Aldine, Harper’s Weekly, New York Graphic. He paints a dramatic picture of Niagara Falls which becomes a cover of Aldine (see below). His publication work leads to his choice to illustrate the beauties of Northern New Jersey in volume two of the two volume book Picturesque America.


Tavernier: Ft. Lee, New York

Fort Lee — New York
oil on canvas; 35x51 cm
Trotter Galleries
Carmel, CA, US


Tavernier: [woodcut] The Christmas Dream

The Christmas Dream
Harper's Weekly v15
30 December 1871

Tavernier: [woodcut] Winter

Harper's Weekly v16
20 January 1872
p. 56

Tavernier: [woodcut] Niagra

The Aldine
Novermber 1872

Tavernier: [woodcut] Terrace House and Thorn Mt. -- New Jersey

Terrace House and
Thorn Mt.

from Picturesque America V II



1873 29

Jules next important partner is Paul Frénzeny. Paul had been working as an artist in New York for several years before Jules arrived. It is unknown when Jules and the artist Paul Frénzeny met, it may have been in Paris during student days, or only after having been given a joint assignment at Harper's. In any case they found themselves compatible and in New York worked together and separately on pictures for publication.

In the fall they get a great assignment from Harper's Weekly. They are to travel the Western United States together and sketch scenes for illustrations in the magazine.

Tavernier/Frenzeny Route Map

They cross the Mississippi at Hannibal, Missouri; ride the train to Denison, Texas, and head north, eventually getting to Denver, where they spent the Winter. in Nebraska in the Spring of 1874 they visited the Red Cloud agency. Their sketches of ritual self-torture of the Sioux Indians are some of the earliest depictions of that subject (see below). From there they went to Salt Lake City and then on to San Francisco, arriving some time in the Summer of 1874.



Tavernier & Frenzeny: Sioux Sun Dance

Tavernier & Frénzeny:
Sioux Sun Dance
[Harper's Weekly. 2 January 1875]
colorized wood-cut/newspaper

Original B&W Woodcut


Tavernier & Frenzeny: Quarying Stone for the New Mormon Temple

Tavernier & Frénzeny:
Quarying Stone
for the New
Mormon Temple
[Harper's Weekly, 12 December 1874]

Tavernier & Frenzeny: Denver from the Highlands

Tavernier & Frénzeny:
Denver from the Highlands

atercolor; 15 x 23 in
Public Library
Denver, CO, US


The Western Trip Gallery has a list of all the known pictures (at least to us) from the Tavernier/Frénzeny Western sketching trip, there are good images for most of the 67 woodcuts.






Annon: San Francisco and
the Golden Gate from Telegraph Hill 1873

1875 31

Both Paul and Jules become early members of the Bohemian Club, a group of creative people: newsmen, artists, and business people who shared an interest in the arts and drinking.

The club still exists although members are rarely as poor as they were in the early days of the club; today it tends to be a stoutly Rebublican conservative, bussiness man's/politician's enclave. Conspiracy theroists tend to believe that it is a secret society plotting world domination. On the other side of the coin, Richard Nixon, said on one of those infamous tapes: "The Bohemian Grove — which I attend, from time to time — it is the most faggy goddamned thing you could ever imagine, with that San Francisco crowd. — I can't shake hands with anybody from San Francisco."

1876 32 In Monterey, then a very quiet town, Jules builds a studio on Alvarado Street that gathers artists and hangers-on who lounge on animal skins and oriental rugs, smoke pipes, drink and discuss art-related topics. Paul Frénzeny moves to Monterey with Tavernier, but Jules and Paul quarrel, and their friendship ends.


Tavernier: Trading Post 
of J. S. Collins
 Fort Laramie, Wyoming

Trading Post
of J. S. Collins
[Fort Laramie, Wyoming]

oil/wood; 12×19 cm.
The Bancroft Library
University of California
Berkeley, CA, US

Tavernier: Ambush

Attack by Indians
near Chimney Rock
(The Ambush)

oil/wood; 71×121 cm
Bohemian Club
San Francisco, CA, US

Tavernier: White Man's Weapon

White Man's Weapon
Stark Museum
Orange, TX, US

Tavernier: Carmel Mission on San Carlos Day

Carmel Mission
on San Carlos Day

William A. Karges Fine Art
Carmel, CA, US

Tavernier: In Wildwood Glen — Sausalito California

In Wildwood Glen —
Sausalito California
Private Collection
Los Angeles, CA, US

Tavernier: [engraving] Off for Arctic Regions: The “Jeannette ”
leaving the Harbor of San Francisco

Off for Arctic Regions:
The “Jeannette”
[leaving the Harbor of San Francisco]
Harper's Weekly
26 July 1879
hand colored engraving/paper
28×38 cm.
The Bancroft Library
University of California
Berkeley, CA, US


1877 33 24 February. Jules marries Lizzie Fulton(18). Her father is from New York; her mother is Austrian.
1878 34

Jules's paintings tend to be controversial because he enjoys painting subjects when lighting was unusual, e.g. sunset or moon rise. This fascination with light comes directly out of French impressionism, in Tavernier it is mixed with a lot of romnaticism, but it is a little too modern for Western America in the 1870s. Townspeople saw these modernisms as strange lighting effects and distortions, but many Monterey people think his paintings good advertising for the community; that is until Jules sketched and published some pictures showing Monterey as a desolate, dull town. These unflattering pictures combined with his extravagant lifestyle and indebtedness lead to arguments with the local people.

Tavernier: [woodcut] Alvarado Avenue -- Monterey

Alvarado Avenue
Principal Stree in Monterey
The Argonaut
[San Francisco]
October 1878

1879 35

Jules returns to San Francisco where he shares a studio with Julian Rix and Joseph Strong, friends from Monterey. Lizzie Fulton tries to modify his lifestyle which leads to domestic fights.

Tavernier: Ad for his new studio

Newpaper Ad
about 1880

Giuseppe Gariboldi, another friend from Monterey, helps him get mural commissions including major pieces for the Hopkins House in San Francisco. Hopkins is one of the big four railroad magnates that built the Central Pacific railroad.

Tavernier: Cover of Christmas Issue of the Argonaut

Tavernier Cover
for the Cristmas Issue of the
San Francisco Argonaut
They used it in 1878, 1879, and 1880.

1881 37 In September, the San Francisco Post publishes a letter from a correspondent in Yosemite noting the presence of Tavernier and two other San Francisco painters. “They have been here about six weeks,” the correspondent reported, “and say it is more beautiful to them each day.” Later that month the Post art critic reports that “[Tavernier] has recently returned from Yosemite Valley and has brought with him studies that should be of great value… He is a close observer and student of nature and at the same time an artistic poet. He catches the spirit and impression as well as the bare portrait of the scenery.”
1882 38

Annon: [woodcut] Cal;ifornia Street -- San Francisco

California Street in San Francisco
Harper's New Monthly
May 1883
p. 827-8

Jules Tavernier visits British Columbia and paints a couple of Indian Villages. (see Skidegate below)




Tavernier: Waiting for Montazuma

Waiting for Montazuma
oil/canvas; 163×74 cm
The Anschutz Collection
Denver, CO, US

Tavernier: El Capitan — Yosemite

El Capitan — Yosemite
about 1881


Tavernier: Cremation of Care

Cremation of Care
pastel/wood; 103×62 cm
Bohemian Club,
San Francisco, CA, US


Tavernier: Village of Skidegate, British Columbia

The Village of Skidegate, British Columbia
pastel/paper on canvas; 61×107cm
Beaverbrook Art Gallery
Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada

Tavernier: April Showers -- Napa Valley

April Showers, Napa Valley
about 1882
California Historical Society
San Francisco, CA, US

Tavernier: The Block's Farmyard

The Block's Farmyard
[on Dry Creek near Healdsburg
Sonoma County, California]

about 1883
watercolor+pencil/paper; 27×42 cm
The Bancroft Library
University of California
Berkeley, CA, US


1884 40 He and Lizzie sail for Hawaii in 1884, one step ahead of his San Francisco debts.
1885 41

Tavernier begins doing Hawaii volcano paintings that create a sensation. He receives many commissions for views of other scenic spots as well.

Tavernier spends considerable time on the island of Hawaii, painting and sketching at Kilauea Volcano and in the city of Hilo.


Tavernier: Interior Volcano House

Interior Volcano House
heightened with white/paper
26×37 cm
Private Collection

Tavernier: Kilauea Caldera, Sandwich Islands

Kilauea Caldera,
Sandwich Islands
Oil/canvas, 71×145 cm
Museum of Art
San Diego, CA, US


Tavernier: Kilauea at Dusk

Kilauea at Dusk
about 1887
oil/canvas; 36
×91 cm
Private Collection
Honolulu, HI, US


1887 43

In Sept. the Pacific Commercial Advertiser writes: “It is admitted by all that Mr. Tavernier has been the means of largely increasing the tourist travel to the Islands.”

Tavernier is as much a Bohemian in Hawaii as he was in San Francisco. He dreams up elaborate schemes, such as a proposed pictorial album with more than a hundred etchings, and ever-more grandiose depictions of the volcano, including the idea of a painting a gigantic panorama, which could travel the country.

He runs up large bills for canvas, paints, and frames in King Brothers art store, and rarely settles his debts with the store.

His wife, Lizzie, gives up trying to reform him and leaves him, returning to San Francisco.

Plagued with ill health and incapacitated after bouts of drinking, he is befriended by the Hitchcock family in Hilo, who try to dry him out.


Tavernier: Wailuku Falls

Wailuku Falls — Hilo
about 1886
pastel/paper; 61
×91 cm
Academy of Arts
Honolulu, HI, US

Tavernier: The Pali

The Pali
about 1886
oil/canvas; 36
×52 cm
Contemporary Museum
Honolulu, HI, US

Tavernier:Sunrise over Diamondhead

Sunrise over

oil/canvas; 30×45 cm
Private Collection



1888 44

Jules begins to rework some of his earlier Western scenes. He paints a picture entitled Sunset in Wyoming (location currently unknown), which shows “groups of indians with their camp-fires and wigwams... from a sketch ... aided by memory” in his Hilo studio.

His alcholism has not subsided, and it will eventually will do him in.

1889 45

18 May, Jules Tavernier dies in his studio on Hotel Street in downtown Honolulu.

He is buried in the Oahu Cemetery, Nuuanu Valley. The Bohemian Club of San Francisco, hearing of his death, sends a massive granite marker for his grave.


After his death his art lived on in the hearts and homes of Hawaiians, and many more artists picked up on the volcano landscape theme he started. His Western art was mostly forgotten.

Fifty years after his death the Honolulu Advertiser rembembered Jules Tavernier in December 1940 with the comment: “ the generation which knew King Kalakaua, Tavernier recalls to mind some of the greatest paintings ever made of Hawaii volcanoes.”

At the beginning of the twenty-first century interest has reawakened in Tavernier's Western landscape art; museums are purchasing his pictures and prices for his oil paintings are increasing.


The Tigertail Museum is making an attempt to catalog all Tavernier's Illustrations and Art. A version of this developing four part catalog is available. Anyone with additonal information please contact the museum.

The Jules Tavernier Catalog.

The Paul Frénzeny Gallery.

american overview
post civil war
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< 2005-10-05