George Henry Burgess

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View of San Francisco in 1850, painted in 1878

George Henry Burgess (June 8, 1831 – April 22, 1905) was an English landscape painter, wood engraver and lithographer.[1]

Life and work[edit]

Burgess was born in London, into a large family of artists. He studied at the Somerset House School of Design in that city. In 1849, he traveled to California to join the Gold rush. Having tried his hand at mining and lithography, he and his brother Hubert set up a jewelry shop in Sonora, repairing watches and fashioning jewelry. George traveled extensively through the gold rush country, chronicling his experiences through watercolor paintings.

George made three trips to Hawaii. His longest stay was 1855-1856, with shorter visits in 1866 and 1871.[2] Many of George’s Hawaii drawings were later printed by the lithographic firm of Britton & Rey in San Francisco. George’s brothers Charles Burgess and Edward Burgess lived in Honolulu for various periods of time. Charles was a photographer and portrait painter; Edward ran a coffee shop and sold his brothers’ artwork.[3]

In California, George made a living as a portrait artist, but remains best known for his paintings of the gold rush. He was a founding member of the San Francisco Art Association in 1871 and died in Berkeley, California.

The Amon Carter Museum (Fort Worth), Texas, the Bancroft Library (University of California, Berkeley), the Honolulu Museum of Art, the Oakland Museum of California (Oakland, California) and the Yosemite Museum (Yosemite National Park, California) are among the public collections holding works by George Henry Burgess.


  • Forbes, David W., Encounters with Paradise: Views of Hawaii and its People, 1778-1941, Honolulu Academy of Arts, 1992, 92-166.
  • Severson, Don R., Finding Paradise: Island Art in Private Collections, University of Hawaii Press, 2002, pp. 75–6, 132, 139-41, 198.


  1. ^ Burgess, George Henry (1854), Butte City, retrieved 26 April 2019
  2. ^ Severson, 2002, p. 76
  3. ^ Severson, 2002, p. 76