Peter Petersen Toft (Danish,1825-1901)

”Mar Saba, Palestine”, 1882
watercolor by Peter Petersen Toft (Danish, 1825-1901)
signed and dated ”P. Toft May ’82” lower left
sight 14.5”h x 10.25”w

Born in Kolding, Denmark on May 2, 1825. Toft was educated in his native land. At age 16 he began his travels aboard a whaler and in 1849 sailed into San Francisco Bay aboard the ship Ohio. After unsuccessfully panning for gold around the Trinity River, he returned to San Francisco where he contributed illustrations to Harper’s.

While in California, he made many painting excursions to Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. He signed his works in various ways: Tofft, Tufts, Toffts, Toft, and with his monogram, the letter T with a circle drawn around its stem. In 1867 he was in NYC and in 1869 returned to Kolding.

In 1870 he settled in London where he remained until his death on Dec. 17, 1901. His watercolors are rare and historically important. Exh: Mechanics’ Inst. Fair (SF), 1864; SFAA, 1872-1900; Royal Academy, London. In: Oakland Museum; House of Parliament (Victoria, B.C.); Bancroft Library (UC Berkeley); Montana Historical Society; NMAA.

Edan Hughes, “Artists in California, 1786-1940”
Oakland Museum; Artists and Illustrators of the Old West (Robert Taft); Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs, et Graveurs (Bénézit, E); Artists of the American West (Doris Dawdy); Artists of the American West (Samuels); From Frontier to Fire.

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