Camille Solon Drawings Collection, MS 106
This collection contains approximately 225 landscape sketches by English muralist and ceramist Camille Solon. Items in the collection include re-worked pencil sketches of rural locations and landscapes in Britain and northern California, where he lived most of his adult years. Despite his extensive work at San Simeon, this collection contains only one pencil sketch from the Hearst estate. A few watercolors and some conté crayon sketches with ink are also included in the collection. Donated in 2001.
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- Title: Camille Solon Drawings Collection, 1900-1952 (bulk 1910-1913 and 1950-1952)
- Collection Number: MS 106
- Creators: Solon, Camille Antoine Arnoux, 1877-1960
- Extent: 6 boxes
- Language: English
Muralist and ceramist Camille Solon was born March 27, 1877, in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England, a region known for its potteries. A descendant of the Arnoux family, master ceramists in France, Camille was one of nine children born to Louis Marc Solon and Laure Arnoux Solon. Solon's father was an award-winning potter famous for the "pâte-sur-pâte" technique. Many of Camille Solon's siblings became respected artisans as well. Camille studied under his father and in London at the Slade School and University College.
In 1914, at the age of 37, Camille emigrated to California to work with his brother, Albert, on a ceramic therapy program for tuberculosis patients at the Arequipa Sanatorium in Fairfax, California. Under Albert Solon's supervision and with financial support from Phoebe Apperson Hearst, the pottery gained a reputation for producing a wide variety of successful styles and designs.
In 1915, at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, the Arequipa Tuberculosis Sanatorium exhibited their ceramic works in the fair's Palace of Education. The Arequipa pottery ceased operation in 1918.
By 1920, Albert Solon and his partner Frank Schemmel formed Solon and Schemmel in San Jose, California, to manufacture wall and floor tiles. Tiles from Solon and Schemmel can be found at William Randolph Hearst's San Simeon estate. It is likely that Camille Solon worked for his brother's tile company during its early years of operation.
Camille Solon was retained by San Simeon's architect, Julia Morgan, to design the mosaics of blue-and-gold Venetian glass tile used in the Roman Pool. During his decade or more in Hearst's employment, Solon also designed and painted the murals in the Gothic Study of Casa Grande, as well as other decorative detail work on the estate.
In the early 1940s, Solon worked with Julia Morgan again to design murals and ceiling decorative details for the Chapel of the Chimes crematorium in Oakland. Other notable Bay Area work of Solon's includes "The Creation," an interior mural in the Temple of Religion and Tower of Peace building at the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco.
Solon married Sylvia Wallace, a fellow British immigrant, in 1920. In his later years, Solon suffered from failing eyesight and used a German shepherd guide dog to aid him. Camille Solon passed away in Marin County on Jan. 8, 1960.
- "Artist Solon Dies at 82 After Illness." Marin Independent Journal 9 Jan. 1960: n. p.
- Atkisson, Barbara. "Artist in Hearst's Castle." San Francisco News 25 April 1958: n.p.
- Aviles, Brian A., Philip W. Johnson, and Robert C. Pavlik. Tile & Terracotta In San Luis Obispo County. Healdsburg, CA: The Heritage Foundation, 1996.
- California Death Index, 1940-1997, Ancestry.com
- "Camille Antoine Solon (1878 1960)," Ask ART: The Artists' Bluebook. < http://www.askart.com/askart/s/camille_antoine_solon/camille_antoine_solon.aspx >
- "Camille Solon: San Simeon Muralist Dies." San Francisco Examiner 10 Jan. 1960: Sec 1, pg. 10.
- Commanday, Mary Floris. Camille Antoine (Arnoux) Solon. Piedmont, CA.:
- Commanday, 1989. [self-published]
- Hunter, Stanley Armstrong. Temple of Religion and Tower of Peace at the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition. San Francisco: Temple of Religion and Tower of Peace, Inc., 1940.
- "M. V. Artist—Solon Decorates Larkspur Altar". Mill Valley Record 10 Jan 1940: n. p.
- Official Guide Book, 1940: Golden Gate International Exposition on San Francisco Bay. San Francisco: The Crocker Company, 1940.
- "Pacific Coast News." [column] The Clay-Worker Feb. 1929: 181.
- Pavlik, Robert C. "The Tile Art of San Simeon." Tile Heritage IV.2 (Winter 1997/1998): 3-11.
- U. S. Census of Population, 1920, 1930, Ancestry.com
Scope and Content
Scope and Content Note
The collection contains approximately 225 sketches by artist Camille Solon, whose work appears throughout the Hearst estate at San Simeon, California. This collection consists primarily of re-worked pencil sketches of rural locations and landscapes in Britain and northern California including his native Stoke-on-Trent, England; Northern Wales; and Marin and Sonoma Counties north of San Francisco (where he lived his adult years). There is one pencil sketch of the Hearst estate at San Simeon, California. There are also a few watercolors and some conté crayon sketches with ink. The earliest piece in the collection is dated 1900.
The sketches were originally housed in three-ring binders. They have been removed from the binders and rehoused in their original order in acid-free folders.
The original binder names have been retained as headings for Subseries B. Mill Valley [Calif.] Sketches and Subseries D. Sketches, 1952. The binder for Subseries A entitled Sonoma/Conway has been renamed British Sketches and the binder for Subseries C Belvedere Sketches has been renamed California Sketches to more accurately reflect their contents.
Many sketches have handwritten titles and these are noted in the guide. Sketches that are untitled have descriptions in brackets which were added for ease of identification. The majority of the works are pencil sketches; the few watercolor and conté crayon pieces have been noted in the folder level descriptions.
Where possible, the provenance, or original organization, of the papers has been preserved. The collection is housed in six boxes and arranged in one series:
- Sketches, 1900-1952
The series is divided into four subseries:
- British Sketches
- Mill Valley [Calif.] Sketches
- California Sketches
- Sketches and Inventory, 1952.