His name will be unfamiliar to many people in the north-east.
Yet while William Keith is not widely known in his native Aberdeenshire, he is a “household name in art circles” in the United States.
Now a new exhibition at the Garioch Heritage Centre in Inverurie aims to shed more light on the Scottish artist’s story.
Following his father’s death just weeks before he was born in Oldmeldrum in 1838, Mr Keith spent much of his childhood with his grandparents, before the family emigrated to America – and settled in New York – in 1850.
It was there that he made his name as one of the most gifted artists of his generation.
Encouraged by his wife Lizzie, who was a fine watercolourist, Mr Keith embarked on a hugely successful career as a painter with the lush landscapes of California proving the main inspiration for his life’s work.
The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 led to the destruction of his studio and the loss of almost 2000 paintings and sketches.
It was a setback which would have demoralised many people. But undeterred, he picked up his brushes again with renewed energy, prior to his death in 1911.
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His prolific output meant that many examples of his work remain, including a large collection of around 200 paintings held by Saint Mary’s College of California.
In 1872 Mr Keith met the naturalist, author, pioneering environmentalist, and fellow Scot, John Muir. The two men became instant friends, and this enduring friendship is the focus of the current exhibition which features reproductions of Keith’s most famous works, and richly illustrated, extensively researched, information panels.
William Keith and John Muir – Kindred Souls has been curated by the Friends of John Muir’s Birthplace in Dunbar, and is supported by Aberdeenshire Libraries.
Councillor Anne Stirling, the authority’s communities committee, said it was a “fascinating” exhibition.
He said: “I would encourage as many people as possible to see this exhibition for themselves as there is something for everyone.
“We launched a 10-year culture strategy in July. One of the aims of this strategy is to encourage those who don’t normally go to art exhibitions, libraries and museums to visit them and discover the rich cultural heritage that Aberdeenshire has.”
The exhibition is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am-4pm at the Garioch Heritage Centre until the end of February.