Ernest Peixotto was born on October 15, 1869, in San Francisco. He received his public school education at the San Francisco School of Design under the aegis of Emil Carlsen. Beginning in 1888, he entered the Atelier Julien in Paris, and studied for seven years with Constant, Lefebvre, and Doucet. Several years were spent touring and sketching the French countryside. He exhibited in many Paris salons and in leading American exhibitions, illustrated books and periodicals, and painted murals for many important buildings.
In 1894, he returned to San Francisco and soon thereafter founded "The Lark", an art magazine. In 1897, he moved to New York City and worked for Scribner's and Harper's. Living in New York until 1899, he returned to France and established a studio and villa near Fontainebleau. While living in France, he traveled extensively in Europe and to North and South America writing and illustrating books and articles on his adventures. He also made many trips to California to exhibit and execute mural commissions. He painted murals, portraits, and landscapes in oil and watercolor as well as superb pen-&-ink sketches.
So excellent were his delineations of buildings that he was elected an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects. When the war began in 1914, Peixotto initially joined the local defense group, but in October of that year he returned to the United States. Age prevented Peixotto from entering active military service, however in March of 1918, General John Pershing appointed him as official artist attached to the A.E.F. (American Expeditionary Force). With the rank of captain, his experience of living and working in France, and his fluency in French, he followed the entire American campaign as an Army artist. At the close of the war, he was assigned as director of the A.E.F. Art Training Center at Bellevue, France, before returning to the United States in 1919. He produced a body of work that captured the widespread destruction caused by the weapons of modern warfare. He also used the small towns of the French countryside as background in many of his paintings.
Considered to be one of the highest paid artists in his business, he was versatile as well as prolific. He produced 50 illustrations for President Theodore Roosevelt's "Life of Cromwell", and a large number for Henry Cabot Lodge's Story of the Revolution as well as sketches for Robert Louis Stevenson's Letters. Peixotto wrote and illustrated many other books including "Romantic California", 1911; "Our Hispanic Southwest", 1916; "The American Front", 1919; and "A Bacchic Pilgrimage" in 1932. He died on December 6, 1940 in New York City.
Member: Salmagundi Club; National Society of Mural Painters; Society of Illustrators; New York Architectural League; Associate of the National Academy of Design; Century Club; Societe des Artistes Francais; Bohemian Club; French Legion of Honor.
Works Held: National Museum of American Art (Washington, D.C.); Hispanic Museum in New York.
Hughes, Edan M. Artists In California 1786-1940. 3rd ed. Vol. 1. Sacramento: Crocker, Art Museum, 2002. N. pag. 2 vols. Print.
Online Archive of California
Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley