Gunnar Widforss (1879-1934)

Colorado River, Grand Canyon, c. 1924
Watercolor, 17.5 in x 19.5 in
Gunnar Widforss, beloved watercolorist of the early twentieth century, lived and worked at Grand Canyon for many years producing a body of work prized for its artistic excellence and geologic detail. He came to the United States from his native Sweden at the age of forty-two, already an accomplished artist. At the encouragement of the National Park Service's first director, Stephen Mather, Widforss visited and painted several western national parks. In 1924 seventy-two of his watercolors were exhibited at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Widforss lived briefly with the Kolb family at their home and studio on the rim and later resided in a Fred Harvey Company dormitory. In 1934, diagnosed with an illness and told to avoid the high altitude of Grand Canyon Village, he returned to the canyon for one final visit. Stricken with a heart attack while driving his car near El Tovar Hotel, he died at the age of fifty-four. Widforss's work, well known throughout the United States at the time of his death, con tinues to influence the style of contemporary artists. He is buried in the Grand Canyon cemetery.

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Presented by the
Grand Canyon Association, 2000

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