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Ferdinand Burgdorff 1881 - 1975
Ferdinand Burgdorff, Pebble Beach, 1956
Pebble Beach 1956
Indians at Monument Valley, 1972, Ferdinand Burgdorff
Monument Valley, 1972
Ferdinand Burgdorff, On the Wharf, Monterey, CA, 1948
On the Old Wharf, Monterey 1948
Ferdinand Burgdorff, California Coast, 1911
California Coast, 1911
Ferdinand Burgdorff lived to be 94 years old, and was a highly successful artist during his lifetime. Upon his death, he was the oldest working member of the Carmel, California art community.

He was born in Cleveland, Ohio. After initial art studies in his hometown, he then studied in Paris with Rene Menard and Florence Este. In 1907, he headed to America's West, hoping to become a landscape painter. He lived in boxcars with workers building the railroad between Yuma, Arizona (before Arizona became a state) and Calexico, California.

He would venture away from the rail line on horseback to paint the desert. He later wrote of these experiences saying, "There were such exciting things to see and paint, undisturbed by a single human within miles."

Ferdinand Burgdorff painting en plein air
Ferdinand Burgdorff at his plein air easel

At the age of 30 in 1911, he returned to his native Cleveland, Ohio and sold enough of his works to finance a round the world trip. His goal was to see Greece and Egypt, ancient desert worlds. Painting along the Nile reminded him of his time along the Colorado River.

For a while, he lived and painted in Sante Fe, New Mexico, painting the region known as "Sandia" west of Albuquerque. He then moved to California, and became an illustrator for a new publication, Sunset Magazine. Many of his paintings were published in Sunset.

He settled in Carmel, building a house near Pebble Beach on Rondo Road. He made many trips to the Grand Canyon and Hopi Reservations in Arizona. His landscapes were both realistic and romantic, conveying mystery and drama in the landscape.

Sources: AskArt: Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940, Ed Ainsworth, Widening Horizons, Painters of the Western Desert