On August 21, 1856, Alexander Harmer was born in Newark, NJ. At the age of 16, he joined the U.S. Army and was stationed in California. However, after one year, he left his post to pursue a career as an artist. He enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, where he studied under Thomas Eakins and Thomas Anshutz. In 1881, he re-enlisted in the Army and was assigned in Arizona. Upon his return to the PAFA, he turned his sketches of the Apache Nation into illustrations for Harper's Weekly. Upon his marriage in the early 1890s, he settled in Santa Barbara, where he worked on a series of paintings of the California missions under Mexican rule. His adobe on De La Guerra Plaza became a local hangout for many of California's premier painters. Today, he is remembered as "Southern California's first great painter of the 19th Century."
6:05 | Narrated by Jeremy Tessmer | Released for The Art of Santa Barbara: 1875-2016, 2016
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Santa Barbara Historical Society
Santa Barbara Museum of Art
University of Texas, Austin
1. Falk, Peter Hastings ed., Who Was Who in American Art: 1564-1975, Vol. II, Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1999, p. 1461.
2. Hughes, Edan Milton. Artists in California: 1786-1940. Third ed.,Vol. I, Sacramento, Calif.: Crocker Art Museum, 2002, p. 489.
1909 Alaska Yukon Exposition, Seattle, WA (Gold Medal)
1887 California State Fair
1882, 1891 Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art