top of page

MANUEL VALENCIA (1856-1935)​

"Gray Beach"

"Gray Beach"

11" x 17", Oil on Canvas 20126

Manuel Valencia (1856-1935)

Manuel Valencia was born in Marin County, California on October 30, 1856 on the family hacienda called Rancho San Jose, which is now Hamilton Field.  A member of one of California's earliest families, Manuel was named after his grandfather who came to California with the Anza Party in 1774 and became administrator of the Presidio in San Francisco.  The Valencia's were given many land grants in the San Francisco Bay area and a street near Mission Dolores is named in honor of his family. Manuel attended what is now Santa Clara College, and then established a studio in San Francisco.


He began painting when he was quite young and remained a self-taught artist except for a few lessons with Jules Tavernier locally and in Mexico City.


Early in his career, he was a commercial artist who designed calling cards.  After the 1906 earthquake and fire, Valencia and his family moved to San Jose, but he commuted to his studio in San Francisco.  There he was art editor of the "San Francisco Chronicle" newspaper under art patron M.H. de Young, for whom the museum in San Francisco is named.  War Cry, the Salvation Army newspaper, also hired Valencia as its first illustrator.

A prolific painter, Valencia is best known for his landscapes and historic scenes of Northern California, which often included nocturnal adobes, missions and pueblos. 

Around 1912, he began exhibiting in San Francisco galleries such as S & J Gumps and in New York at Macbeth Gallery and exclusive restaurants such as Delmonico's.  President William McKinley, who purchased one of his Yosemite paintings, was amongst his growing list of collectors.  He also did desert scenes of Arizona and New Mexico landscapes.  He remained in San Francisco until the early 1930s and then moved to Sacramento where he died on July 6, 1935.  His family scattered his ashes on Mount Tamalpais in Marin County.



Carol Lowrey, The Poetic Vision: American Tonalism, (Spanierman Galleries)

Michael David Zellman, Three Hundred Years of American Art

Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940

Biography adapted from the DeRu’s Fine Arts biography.




bottom of page