Celebrated for his paintings of South America, Norton Bush offered nineteenth-century audiences the chance to view exotic, distant lands. Born in Rochester, New York, Bush studied under Jasper Francis Cropsey, associated with Frederic Church, and began exhibiting at the National Academy of Design at the age of seventeen. He left New York for California in 1853, establishing a studio in San Francisco that same year. Along the way, Bush took a detour to journey through the jungles of Nicaragua, developing a lifelong interest in the region’s lush tropical scenery. His South American landscapes attracted the attention of prominent collectors like William Ralston and Henry Meiggs, who commissioned him to paint additional scenes of Peru, Panama, and Ecuador. As his reputation grew, Bush won four gold medals at California State Fairs, served as the director of the San Francisco Art Association, and acted as the art director of the California section at the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. His paintings are now featured in the Oakland Museum of California, the Parrish Art Museum in New York, the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, and the California Historical Society.
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