Elmer Wachtel was an American artist who holds a high place in the early California school of Impressionism. He was born in Baltimore, Maryland on January 21, 1864 -- he received his artistic training at the Art Students' League of New York under William Merritt Chase, and the Art School in London 1901-02. While in California he resided and maintained studios in Los Angeles and Pasadena.
In 1904 Elmer Wachtel married the artist Marion Kavanaugh (1876-1954) in Chicago. Husband and wife were frequently seen painting the Southern California landscape -- they were known to have traveled by horseback over the San Marcos Pass to the Santa Inez Valley -- they traversed and painted the coastline between Gaviota and Conception Lighthouse (just north of Santa Barbara, California), the Cooper Ranch (north of Santa Barbara), Matilija Canyon and Ojai, California. Venturing south the couple made it to the San Luis Rey River (near present day Oceanside) and the Cerisa Loma Ranch (near San Diego). In 1908 they trekked to the arid deserts of Arizona and New Mexico painting the historic pueblo villages on the Moki and Navajo reservations.
During their marriage Marion specialized as a general rule in watercolors while Elmer stayed with oils. In 1906 a Los Angeles Times critic noted, "Elmer knows Southern California perhaps more intimately than any other artist. He paints her directly, simply, truthfully, and yet never with topographic hardness and realism...". While on a trip to Mexico, Elmer Wachtel died a sudden death in Guadalajara on August 31, 1929. [Source: Elmer Wachtel Paintings & Gallery, California]