A Miner in his Cabin
18.125 in HIGH x 20.125 in WIDE
(46.04 cm HIGH x 51.12 cm WIDE)
Museum Purchase

Walton, Henry. A Miner at Rough and Ready, 1853; William D. Peck. Pen and ink and watercolor on paper. 11" x 13 1/4" framed 18" x 20" Title: "A Miner in his Cabin", a watercolor by Henry Walton, who arrived in California from New York on September 15, 1851 on board the Steamer "Oregon". He was born in New York in 1804; left California in 1857 for Michigan where he died in 1865. This painting is one of two known California works attributed to the artist, the other being a town view of Grass Valley. The subject of the painting, William D. Peck of Rough and Ready, California, remains a mystery From the History Information Station: The men who travelled to California in search of gold seemed anxious to leave a record of their experience. Proud and dignified, miner William Peck posed for this portrait in his cabin, the very picture of a successful forty-niner. Although little is known of Peck, artist Henry Walton has captured a myriad of revealing detail. From the miner's bunk with its homespun quilt to the gold pan and scales, Peck sits surrounded by the sort of objects that defined the California experience. Many similar artifacts can be seen nearby in the gallery. Folk artist Henry Walton emigrated from upstate New York where he painted portraits and town views before leaving for the gold fields in 1851. His only other known California work is a view of Grass Valley. From the donor file: Regarding Henry Walton, this is one of two known California works attributed to the American primitive painter. Most of his work consists of oil and watercolor portraits as well as painted and lithographed town views from upstate New York, the region in which he was born ca. 1804. From an article in "Historical and Biographical Record": There is an entry for a William D. Peck, who may be the same William D. Peck in the painting. The "Record" says that William D. Peck was born and reared in Kentucky and came to California in 1949. He went directly to Sacramento and established a draying business. At some time later, he began to mine near Forest City and then settled down to agricultural pursuits. He moved to Sierra valley in 1870, took up a tract of government land and engaged in stock raising and general ranch pursuits for the remainder of his life. In 1863, he married Margaret Ann Badenoch, a Canadian born in Stanstead County, Quebec, on April 14, 1833. They had two children, William O. and Frank F. The book goes on to relate the life of Peck's widow, Margaret Ann Peck Schroeder. There is no mention of Rough and Ready in this account so it may be about a different William D. Peck. The account does include an engraved portrait of Peck; the painting and the engraving may be of the same person but the painting is not precise enough to reach a definite conclusion.

Picture This Information

This artifact is part of the OMCA's Picture This website. More about the context and history of this artifact is available at Picture This.

About the Picture This web project: California's Perspectives on American History is a resource for teachers and students to learn about the experiences of diverse peoples of California by using primary source images from the Oakland Museum of California's collections. Organized into 11 time periods spanning from pre-1769 to the present, more than 300 photographs, drawings, posters, and prints tell stories from the perspectives of different ethnic groups. Historical contexts are provided to offer a framework of California's role in relation to American history.

The National Archives state that primary sources, "fascinate students because they are real and they are personal: history is humanized through them." Picture This invites students to examine the historical record, encouraging them to connect history with real people and explore how images tell stories and convey historical evidence about the human experience. History becomes more than just a series of facts, dates, and events.      

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