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With a handful of wealthy Gold Rush barons as indulgent patrons, an active community of artists appeared in nineteenth-century San Francisco almost overnight. A subculture of artistic brilliance and social experimentation was the result--in essence, a decades-long revelry that finally ended with the 1906 earthquake. Witness Jules Tavernier, hungry and in debt, accepting a stuffed peacock and two old dueling pistols in payment for a Yosemite landscape; Mark Twain as reluctant art critic; Oscar Wilde outdrinking his hosts at the Bohemian Club, declaring he had never before seen "so many well-dressed, well-fed, business-like looking Bohemians." Prolific production of some of America's greatest paintings developed into a distinctly California style. Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Hill, and William Keith were among the many artists who documented Yosemite Valley and the state's other natural wonders. Grace Hudson's paintings are still considered some of the finest records of Native American culture.
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