Francis McComas
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Biography provided courtesy of “California Watercolors 1850-1970” By Gordon T. McClelland and Jay T. Last.

Francis McComas...(1875-1938) Born: Fingal, Tasmania

Studied: Sydney Technical College (Australia)

Member: American Watercolor Society, Philadelphia Water Color Club.

Francis McComas studied art in Australia before sailing to San Francisco, via Samoa and Hawaii. In 1898, he spent a brief period in Monterey, studied art with Arthur Mathews in San Francisco, and then went to Paris where he continued his art education at the Acad6mie Julian. Upon his return to the West Coast in 1901, he began traveling throughout the Southwest painting depictions of desert landscapes which often included monumental rock formations and Indian dwelling places.

In 1912, he returned to California, got married and settled in Monterey. McComas was a well traveled man, having visited many parts of the world including Greece, Mexico, Tahiti, Alaska and greater North America. He was socially connected and early in his career, established art connections on the East Coast and in Europe. When he began seriously exhibiting his works in the early 1920s, these connections proved valuable.

Although he produced many oil paintings and murals, McComas received most of his national acclaim for his bold and directly painted watercolors. On the East Coast, he received awards and notoriety from his many watercolors exhibited in annual shows of the Philadelphia Water Color Club and American Watercolor Society. On the West Coast, he was a prominent exhibitor at the Del Monte Gallery and was honored with a special two-man show with his former art instructor Arthur Mathews at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. Most importantly, his works were included in the Armory show, the exhibition that is credited with changing the course of American art.

For twenty-six years, McComas was a key figure in the development of California watercolor painting and was an inspiration to younger artists who were considering pursuing watercolors as their primary painting medium. He was a popular, well-liked person and a respected artist in the Monterey community where he spent much of his life.

Biographical information:

Interview with Margaret Bruton, 1980

Yesterday~ Artists on the Monterey Peninsula (Catalog).