Maurice Logan Paints for the Southern Pacific

Maurice George Logan was born in 1886, three years after Oscar Bryn, and like Bryn grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and studied at, among other places, the Mark Hopkins Institute of Art. In 1915, he helped form the Society of Six, a group of California artists who were challenging conventional paintings with works of “vivid color, dashing brushwork and expressive energy.” The six painters were specifically reacting against the “tonalism” used by such painters as Gustav Krollmann and Sydney Laurence.

This 1923 poster is flat but has the bright colors found in most of Logan’s early paintings. Click to view a 1.5-MB, 2,443×3,567 JPG.

Perhaps spurred by guilt–his father had never approved of his becoming an artist–he started making a series of paintings for the Southern Pacific in 1922, an association that would last more than a decade. He did covers for Sunset Magazine–then published by Southern Pacific–as well as advertisements for Shell Oil; map and magazine covers for Chevron; and other commercial customers. His willingness to do commercial as well as fine art work made him financially more secure than the other members of the Society of Six, and he showed off his good fortune by painting in a three-piece suit covered with a smock.

This poster also dates from 1923. Click to view a 1.5-MB, 2,459×3,530 JPG.

Although I have no reliable date for this “4 Great Routes” poster, it matches the style of the above two posters and thus is likely from the early 1920s. While the text at first looks hand lettered, close examination reveals all of each letter are identical.

Click to view a 750×1,078 JPG.

By the end of the 1920s, Logan had painted many of the most scenic sights along the Southern Pacific. Unlike the first paintings shown above, his later paintings had more depth and detail while still emphasizing bright colors.

In sharp contrast to the previous Yosemite painting, this one has the bold brush strokes and vivid colors that are more typical of Logan’s oil paintings. Click to view a 2.1-MB, 2,602×3,816 JPG of this poster.

This poster is from 1927. Click to view a 0.9-MB, 2,426×3,573 JPG.

This poster also is from 1927. Click to view a 750×1,079 JPG.

The painting Logan did of Crater Lake for Southern Pacific is almost identical to one he did for Shell Oil, the main difference being that, in place of the bears in the SP poster, the Shell painting has a motorcar. The SP poster has been dated 1928 and the Shell ad before that, so it is possible he did the Shell painting first.

Click to view a 750×1,085 JPG.

Click to view a 750×1,083 JPG.

This “big trees,” meaning giant sequoia, poster dates from 1928. No larger view available.

No larger view available for this poster which has been dated to 1928.

No larger view available for this poster which has also been dated to 1928.

Logan’s Alamo poster has been dated to 1929. Click to view a 750×1,082 JPG.

Logan’s painting of Carriso Gorge–a route no longer part of the Southern Pacific–may be the best example of the extravagant colors he used in the 1920s.

Click to view a 1.0-MB 2,478×3,657 JPG.

Click to view a 750×1,078 JPG.

Click to view a 750×1,077 JPG.

There is no larger view of this “Old Missions” poster available, but the painting is significant because Southern Pacific would later use it on some of its on-board stationery.

This Mexico poster, which has been dated to 1932, may be the last one Logan did for the Southern Pacific. If the date is correct, he seems to have returned to the flat style of his earliest posters.

In the 1930s, Logan turned to watercolors, toning down his palette and–ever the joiner–helping start a new group called the “Thirteen Watercolorists.” He continued to live in Orinda, California until his death in 1977.


Maurice Logan Paints for the Southern Pacific — 1 Comment

  1. I have an original Southern Pacific advertising artwork that simply says: “GO.. Southern Pacific” I would appreciate any information on this piece. It has the artist signed name on the mat border of the piece ” The artwork is signed in pencil on the matte, COMM, ART – BERRY R Teuk,”
    I cant quite make it out. Dimensions of the image are approx 14” x 7” This could have been a design for a billboard.

    Thanks in advance.

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