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Granville Redmond (March 9, 1871 – May 24, 1935)

Written by Brett Nelson


Posted on October 10 2019

Born in 1871 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, Granville Redmond is an important American artist. Redmond was born to a hearing family, something important to the scheme of his life. He was stricken with scarlet fever at 2 1/2 years of age until age 3. Redmond's family upon his recovering ,discovered that the fever had caused him to go deaf. A short while following this, his family moved from the East Coast to San Jose, California. After moving to California, he attended a school for the deaf there from 1879 to 1890. This was where his artistic gifts were first recognized.

At the California School for the Deaf, Redmond would meet among his instructors, the deaf photographic artist Theophilus Hope d'Estrella. Redmond is the named as the most famous student ever taught by d'Estrella. Redmond studied pantomime, painting, and drawing with d'Estrella. After his graduation from the California School for the Deaf, Redmond would go on to attend CSD or the California School of Design. He would eventually win the first of many awards there, the W.E. Brown Medal of Excellence. He also made a lifelong friendship there with Gottardo Piazzoni who learned American Sign Language with him. The two would live together in Tiburon and Parkfield, CA.

In 1893 Redmond was awarded a scholarship from CSD, making it possible for him to study abroad in Paris, France. In Paris, Redmond attended the Academie Julian. His teachers would include Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant and Jean-Paul Laurens. Redmond would share a living space with another deaf artist, the well known sculptor named Douglas Tiden. They were both graduated from the California School for the Deaf years before. During 1895 in Paris, Redmond had his painting entitled Matin d'Hiver accepted for exhibition at the Paris Salon. But in 1898 he would return to live in Los Angeles, CA and Carrie Ann Jean a year later. She was deaf, and together they would have three children in California.

After returning to California, Redmond would become successful landscape artist. At first his paintings were reminiscent of Impressionist works, full of floral images like poppies and wildflowers. As time went on, he embraced a Tonalist method of painting. His works utilized muted tones and monochromatic color styles, making landscapes that showed the mysterious side of the natural world. Redmond's preference was doing dark paintings. His exhibitions at fairs and expos began to get notice and won him several awards, the majority being landscapes in a variety of styles. Which would become his famous style which comprises the body of Granville Redmond's work.

During his years in Los Angeles, Redmond would also befriend silent film star Charlie Chaplin. Together, they collaborated on developing many techniques Chaplin would use in his silent cinema films. Chaplin gave Redmond his own studio lot, bought a number of his paintings and got him a total of eight silent film acting roles. From 1918 to 1931, Redmond appeared in such films as The Gold Rush, The Kid, A Dog's Life, and City Lights. Chaplin is said to have learned American Sign Language from Redmond as well.

Redmond would die in Los Angeles on May 24, 1935. His paintings are housed in a number of California museums and have become more valuable over time. Key auction houses sell the work of Granville Redmond, his early Impressionist style piece mentioned earlier sold for $517, 000 at auction. Redmond is a name mentioned in art books, California biographies, and mentioned by art historians frequently today, although there are no books solely on his work now in print. To California, Granville Redmond is shining light and a never forgotten painter of landscapes, but his art is more to the world, as well as the people he touched in his lifetime.

View Granville Redmond Gallery