William Keith, The Saint Mary’s College Collection
Author: Alfred C. Harrison Jr.
Publication: Hearst Art Gallery, Moraga, CA, exhibition catalogue, 1994
For the first time, the 135 William Keith paintings in the St. Mary’s College collection, representing all stages of his career, were published in this 1988 book. Keith’s earliest serious biographer was Brother Fidelis Cornelius of St. Mary’s, who had conducted interviews with Keith’s widow and others who knew him, and whose book was published in two volumes in 1942 and 1956. The essay that accompanies this catalogue expands on Brother Cornelius’s work and provides a full picture of his life and the historical circumstances surrounding him and his work. In many ways Keith, despite spending most of his adult life in San Francisco, reflected the major trends in art in Europe and the eastern United States. The catalogue shows the changing character of Keith’s work, from his monumental topographical portrayals of California wilderness, to his Barbizon-influenced, “subjective,” non-topographical landscapes that manipulate light to enhance their spiritual message.