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Harry Cassie Best 1863 - 1936

Known today as the father-in-law of famed photographer Ansel Adams, Harry Cassie Best first achieved fame for his early paintings of Yosemite Valley.

As young men, Harry and his older brother and fellow artist Arthur William Best (1859-1935) were traveling musicians in the Northwest. Harry was enthralled with Mt. Hood, having observed the mountain in different seasons, and was inspired to teach himself to paint. After the brothers' traveling band ended in 1895, they both moved to San Francisco. Arthur became a staff artist for the San Francisco Examiner, and started the “Best Art School” while Harry worked as a cartoonist for San Francisco newspapers and in the meantime advanced his self-taught art skills as a student of Alfred Rodriguez (1862-1890). While teaching a sketch class at the Best Art School, Harry visited Yosemite Valley with artist friend Thaddeus Welch (1844-1919).

Harry Cassie Best California Oaks and Pasture Path
California Oaks and Pasture Path
Harry Cassie Best Yosemite Valley 1915 Midsized Thumbnail
Yosemite Valley, 1915
Harry Cassie Best Yosemite Half Dome Midsized Thumbnail
Half Dome, Yosemite
Best Harry Cassie Mt Shasta Mid
Mt. Shasta
Best Harry Cassie Trees with Mt Shasta Mid .jpg
Mt. Shasta
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Harry soon built a home near Bridalveil Falls and resided there the rest of his life, leaving only during the coldest winters for Arizona, and finding time for far off travel to Hawaii, Paris, and Italy.

In 1916, a young Ansel Adams with his first Kodak box camera made his first of many visits to Yosemite Valley. Ansel was an aspiring concert pianist and was drawn to Harry’s parlor piano, one of few pianos for miles around. Consequently, Ansel met Harry’s 18 year old singing daughter, Virginia, and they were married in 1929. After Harry died in1936, Harry’s gallery became the Ansel Adams Gallery.

Sources: Biography of Ansel Adams, arguably the greatest photographer of the 20th century, http://wy.essortment.com/anseladamsbio_rjrq.htm. Mount Shasta as a Visual Resource ... The San Francisco Art Boom: 1860s-1880s ... http://www.siskiyous.edu/shasta/art/boo.htm Edan Milton Hughes, Artists in California 1786-1940. Samuels, Peggy and Harold, "Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West."


President Teddy Roosevelt, a fan of Yosemite and the West, hung one of Harry’s paintings of Mt. Shasta in the White House.
Below is a clipping from the Nov 29th issue of the San Francisco Call describing Harry's refusal to accept a check from President Roosevelt., and the text of a letter sent from the President thanking Harry for the painting.

Harry Cassie Best Presents Painting to President Roosevelt
San Francisco Call, Nov 29, 1907 ... editorial page, The Insider column.

November 12, 1908
White House

Mr. H.C. Best,
Cosmos Club, Washington, D.C.

Dear Sir: I appreciate very much your painting, the "Afterglow on Mount Shasta," and shall give it the place of honor in my home. I consider the evening twilight on Mount Shasta one of the grandest sights I have ever witnessed. Kindest regards to Mrs. Best and little Virginia Best.

Yours truly,

Theodore Roosevelt