Elmer Wachtel (1864-1929) was born on January 21, 1864 in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1882, he went to Southern California to live with his older brother John, who was married to artist Guy Rose's sister and was managing the Rose family ranch, Sunny Slope. An aspiring violinist, Wachtel became first violin of the Philharmonic Orchestra in Los Angeles in 1888. He held the same position from 1893 to 1894 with A. J. Stamm's Philharmonic Orchestra. During this time Wachtel also pursued an interest in drawing and painting. He became active in local art circles, which included John Gutzon Borglum (1867-1941) and John Bond Francisco (1863-1931). With several other artists, they founded the Los Angeles Art Association in the late 1880s. In 1895, Wachtel went to New York and enrolled in the Art Students League. Unhappy with the teaching methods there, he left after only two weeks. He remained in New York and received criticism from William Merritt Chase (1849-1916). Working in watercolor, Wachtel exhibited with the New York Water Color Society. After returning to California in 1896, he spent a brief period in San Francisco, where he exhibited with the San Francisco Art Association. He then returned permanently to Los Angeles. Wachtel worked as a pen-and-ink illustrator for Land of Sunshine and Californian magazines. Around 1900 he went to England and Europe, studying at the Lambeth Art School in London and visiting and painting with his friend Gutzon Borglum, who was living there. Wachtel returned to Los Angeles and, within a few years, established a reputation as an accomplished landscape artist. William Keith (1838-1911), the California Barbizon master from San Francisco, sent the young artist Marion Kavanaugh to take classes with him in 1903. The two fell in love and were married in Chicago the following year. Somewhat of an artistic maverick, Elmer Wachtel was at first a Tonalist, showing moody and poetic landscapes in dark tones. As he progressed, he accepted some of the Impressionist aesthetic and brightened his palette. Many of his mature works show a more decorative and lyrical style, very reminiscent of Arthur Mathews (1860-1945), the San Francisco landscape and figure painter who influenced a generation of northern California painters. However, Wachtel rarely included figures in his compositions. Elmer and Marion Wachtel spent the next 25 years as inseparable painting companions -- he working in oils and she in watercolor. They traveled throughout California, the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico, and in Mexico. Wachtel died on August 31, 1929, during a painting trip to Guadalajara.