American, born England, 1886-1973
England: Tunbridge Wells, 1886
Oregon: Hood River, 1973
- Occupation or Type
Percy Manser lived in Hood River from 1917 until his death. In 1925, twenty-two oil paintings, mostly landscapes, were displayed at the Hood River Library as a benefit for the community hospital. Eleven years later, he was one of six Oregon artists to represent the state in the National Exhibit of American Art in New York City. About this time he completed a seventy-foot long mural for the local High School. Manser's Hood River murals are also at the Courthouse, the Hospital, and the Elks Building. His painting, The Edge of the Desert, was voted the most popular entry in the Oregon Society of Artists Show in 1941 held at the Meier and Frank Co. department store in Portland. He developed a close working relationship with Maryhill Museum of Art in Washington state where he had one person shows in 1948, 1954, 1956, and a retrospective in 2008.
Manser's academic British training was evident in his early landscapes. His style of bold, wide brushstrokes, where light and shadows set the mood, brought him fame as one of the outstanding regionalists of his day. During the 1930s and 1940s, Manser painted the region around Hood River in the plein air tradition. Historian Keith McCoy says, "No artist has better captured the grandeur of the Columbia River Gorge or of the snow-capped sentinels that guard it ... his eminent place in Northwest art will grow with the years." From the 1950s on, he began to experiment with geometric abstractions, his style changing noticeably as he explored new trends. His entry in the Oregon Centennial Exhibition's The Oregon Scene, titled Semantics of Form is an example. His career spanned sixty years. He was a noted teacher at Crook County's Juniper Art Guild and elsewhere and a WPA artist whose work earned many awards. Sometimes his signature contained the initials of the British Watercolor Society. Scholars consider him the major Oregon landscape artist of his period.
Artist biography reproduced with permission from the authors, Oregon Painters: the First Hundred Years (1859-1959), Ginny Allen and Jody Klevit.