Perhaps one could say that Sydney Laurence was one of Americas most travelled artists. When he at last found his love of painting in the wilds of Alaska, he became one of Alaska’s most beloved artists. His most noted scenes are that of the majestic Mt. McKinley. The tallest mountain in North America at + 20,000’.
Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1865, Laurence went to sea and upon returning, he became a member of the Arts Students League during the 80’s where his talents became known thru the many exhibitions he attended. In 1889, he went to France and eventually to England where he exhibited his works in both countries whild winning various awards especially three awards at the Paris Solon.
In 1904, Laurence and several friends made the decision to move to Alaska. The reason is not known! He worked in the territory as a gold prospector and lived off the land until 1911 where he decided to “paint his way up the coast”. Arriving in Anchorage in 1915, he put his efforts into painting and during the next five years, he became one of Alaska’s most important artists.
He painted the rural life of Alaska including the native peoples, the ways of the trapper, northern lights, it’s rivers but most of all, his wonderful works of Mt. McKinley and the Tokositna River. On the reverse of some of his paintings of McKinley, he inscribed the words (Top of the Continent) along with it coordinates. It was during the last 25 years of his life that Laurence put major efforts into painting the interior and especially that of McKinley. During the Alaskan winters, Laurence went to Los Angeles. During his life, he became a member of the Salmagundi Club, the Royal Society of British Artists among others.
Laurence died in Anchorage in 1940.