One of Crocker Art Museum’s newest acquisitions, a 1930s painting of the Port of Stockton by artist Paul Sample, will be unveiled Oct. 18.
The painting, titled “Stockton,” was purchased as part of a move to create an enduring tribute to the Stockton community within the Crocker’s permanent collection, museum officials said. On Oct. 23, Stockton residents can visit the museum and view the painting free of charge.
“The subject of this particular painting is rare and important for our region,” Scott A. Shields, the museum’s chief curator and associate director, said in a written statement. “It depicts a unique view of the Port of Stockton in the 1930s, and though many artists of his era painted scenes of San Francisco and Los Angeles, very few (artists) of Sample’s caliber painted views of California’s Central Valley cities, making this painting an incredible historic document as well as a beautiful work of art.”
Sample, who was born is Louisville, Ky., in 1896, is known as a landscape, figure and genre painter. After enrolling in Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, he enlisted in the Navy and served in World War I, where he became fascinated with the life at sea, according to a museum news release. He expressed a desire to pursue a career aboard ships, but Sample’s father persuaded him to return to Dartmouth to complete his studies.
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At Dartmouth, Sample became ill with tuberculosis, and while undergoing treatment at a New York sanitarium, he met Jonas Lie, a Norwegian-born painter whose wife was being treated at the same facility. Lie specialized in painting colorful coastlines, and shared Sample’s appreciation for ships and the ocean. Under Lie’s mentorship, Sample explored drawing and painting during his recovery. At Lie’s urging, he decided to pursue a career in art.
Sample went on to study at Greenleaf Art School in New York and the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. At one point, he joined the faculty of the University of Southern California’s school of architecture.
During the decade leading up to World War II, Sample produced social and regional paintings and accepted commissions from various patrons, including Fortune magazine, which led to his relationship with Time-Life.
In 1936, Sample accepted a commission from Fortune that involved visiting various U.S. ports and painting a series of related scenes. One of these paintings, “Stockton,” became available for sale in Palm Springs. After a two-year funding effort, officials said, Crocker Art Museum acquired the work with the support of Northern and Central California donors.