The Golden Mountain, Arriving San Francisco, 1865
By the mid-1800s, news of the discovery of gold in California reached its way across the Pacific and spread quickly throughout China. Trade relations had brought some Chinese to California as early as the sixteenth century, but the gold rush brought tens of thousands of emigrants in search of better economic opportunities and political freedom.
Thirty dollars was the fare for Chinese passage to America and these passengers were restricted to an area of the upper deck unless foul weather forced them below. This painting depicts a first sighting of America, the Golden Mountain.
When first exhibited at the Autry Museum at its annual Masters of the American West show in 2003, the painting received the Thomas Moran Memorial Award for best painting and both the Artists’ Choice and Patrons’ Choice awards recognizing its qualities as a significant accomplishment in the field.