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Raymond Bertrand (American 1909 – 1986)

Updated: Jun 16, 2023

Old Barn, c. 1930, oil on canvas, 33 x 29 inches, signed lower right, exhibited at the Oakland Art Gallery, circa 1930 (label verso with artist’s name, medium, title, etc.)


About the Painting

Raymond Bertrand’s Old Barn is an impressive example of northern California Scene painting from the Depression Era. Likely painted several years before his contributions to the massive Coit Tower mural project in 1934, Bertrand depicts an imposing red barn nestled in a valley farm with stands of pine trees climbing up the hillside in the background. At a time when many American artists were fascinated by New York’s and Chicago’s skyscrapers, Bertrand explores the verticality of rural California through his portrayal of an unusually tall barn, which takes the main stage in the composition. Its centrality converts the barn into the painting’s protagonist, not unlike a human sitter in a formal portrait.

About the Artist

Raymond Bertrand was a San Francisco landscape painter, lithographer, and muralist. He studied at the California School of Fine Arts under Spencer Macky and later taught there. One of the highlights of his career was when he was selected as one of the 26 artists to paint murals in San Francisco’s Coit Tower, which stands as one of the most important and iconic examples of American Scene painting within a public works project. Bertrand routinely entered his works in the San Francisco Art Association’s Annual Exhibitions, where he won prizes or scholarships in 1927, 1935 and 1942. Bertrand also showed at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Oakland Museum. In addition to his mural work at Coit Tower, Bertrand was a printmaker for the WPA during the 1930s. He is listed in Who was Who in American Art and all other standard references.


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