Louis Choris

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Louis Choris, lithograph by Joseph Langlumé after a self-portrait of Choris

Louis Choris (1795-1828) was a famous German-Russian painter and explorer. He was one of the first sketch artists for expedition research. Louis Choris, who was a Russian of German stock, was born in Yekaterinoslav, now Ukraine on March 22, 1795. He visited the Pacific and the west coast of North America in 1816 on board the Ruric, being attached in the capacity of artist to the Romanzoff expedition under the command of Lieutenant Otto von Kotzebue, sent out for the purpose of exploring a northwest passage.

The Russian "Rurik" sets anchor near Saint Paul Island in the Bering Sea in order to load food and equipment for the expedition to the Chukchi Sea in the north. Drawing by Louis Choris in 1817.

Choris is said to have "painted nature as he found it. The essence of his art is truth; a fresh, vigorous view of life, and an originality in portrayal." The accompanying illustrations may therefore be looked upon as faithfully representing the subjects treated by the artist. After the voyage of the Ruric, Choris went to Paris where he issued a portfolio of his drawings in lithographic reproduction and studied in the ateliers of Gerard and Regnault. Choris worked extensively in pastels. He documented the Ohlone people in the missions of San Francisco, California in 1816. Seized by an irresistible craving for adventure, he left France in 1827 for South America. He met his end when he was murdered by robbers on March 22, 1828, en route to Vera Cruz, Mexico.[1]

The Anchorage Museum of History and Art, the Honolulu Museum of Art and the Oakland Museum of California are among the public collections holding works by Louis Choris.

References[edit]

  • Ellis, George R., Honolulu Academy of Arts, Selected Works, Honolulu, Honolulu Academy of Arts, 1990, 181.
  • Forbes, David W., Encounters with Paradise: Views of Hawaii and its People, 1778-1941, Honolulu Academy of Arts, 1992, 23-62.

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