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Alfred Lambourne

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Alfred Lambourne

(Chievely, Berkshire, England, 1850 - 1926, Salt Lake City, Utah)

Alfred Edward Lambourne was born in England on River Lambourne on February 2, 1850. His parents encouraged his artistic talents while he was young, and when the family converted to the LDS faith and moved to the United States, Lambourne's experience as a romantic realist painter of the western landscape began. As a youth, Lambourne lived in St. Louis until his family migrated to Salt Lake City in 1866 (Haseltine, 42). During the trek west, Lambourne kept a sketchbook of the scenery along the way. After the family's arrival in Utah, Alfred began painting scenes for the Salt Lake Theater Company; he was just 16. Although he had some instruction from J. Guido Methua, George Tirrell, and Henry D. Tryon, Lambourne was primarily self-taught (42). He had an original approach to landscape painting and was capable of depicting moonlight and sunset scenes with an air of mysticism. Lambourne's content and painting style was that of the "Rocky Mountain School" which was similar in style and philosophy to the Hudson River School of the East. Similar to Thomas Moran, Albert Bierstadt, and Thomas Cole, Lambourne was a painter of new and often unexplored territories. "It is said that explorers of the time did not claim discoveries in an area until they ascertained whether Lambourne had already painted there." (Dictionary of Utah Artists, 277). In 1871, Lambourne went on an expedition to Zion Canyon with Brigham Young and produced the first sketches of the area. Also during the 1870s, Lambourne traveled with Charles R. Savage, the famous nineteenth-century photographer. Later that same decade, he traveled and painted with his friend Reuben Kirkham. Together they produced a landscape panorama that was similar to C. C. A. Christensen's and Samuel Jepperson's. The idea of a panoramic show was popular and appealing to Utahns of the nineteenth century. The large size of Lambourne's paintings reflected the grandeur of the United States. Kirkham and Lambourne traveled with 60 panels entitled "Across the Continent" (1876) , including a 25-foot long view of the Salt Lake Valley (Utah Art, 25). By the 1880s, Lambourne was well known for his painting abilities. He was one of the first artists to visit and paint Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and Yosemite and was quickly gaining commissions. In 1800, collector J.R. Walker had Lambourne paint Moonlight, Silver Lake, Cottonwood Canyon (1880). The picture depicts two figures in a boat and features dramatic changes in value and a heavy atmosphere. Also during the 80s, Lambourne began writing poetry to express his feelings on nature and Utah. Lambourne reported that the "lonely solemnity of Utah's scenery moved him" (Utah Art, 36). In January 1884, he wrote an essay contrasting the visual arts and literature, and by the 90s, Lambourne almost exclusively preferred the pen to the paintbrush. He wrote a total of 14 books, some of which he illustrated with black and white tempera paintings. Of the few easel paintings he did produce, several were hung in the Salt Lake temple in 1992, including one of the Hill Cumorah and on of Adam-Ondi-Ahman. Lambourne died June 6, 1926, in Salt Lake City. He had been a painter, writer, explorer, and lover of nature. He was described as a man "of ability if not genius" (Utah Art 20).

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