Louis Moulthrop



Born: Alameda, California
Died: Fresno, California


Louis Moulthrop was born into a family that emigrated to California right after the Gold Rush and settled in old San Francisco in the 1850's. His mother's family emigrated from Switzerland, and lived for almost half a century in a classic Victorian house at 708 Bush that burned in the Great Earthquake and Fire.

They were rooted in the arts: his Swiss grandfather was an oboeist with the San Francisco Symphony and with Patrick Gilmore's world-famous traveling band. Louis was accepted in 1930 to the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, California, and studied under Xavier Martínez and Louis Macouillard.

His intent was to become a commercial artist, and he was hired immediately on graduation by Safeway Stores at their headquarters, then in San Francisco. However, from the time he entered the College of Arts and Crafts until twenty years later, he exhibited around the Bay Area in juried competitions in watercolor and pen and ink, and one successful series of shipyard paintings done in oils.

Louis began accumulating a scrap file for his artwork when just a small boy, and for the rest of his life maintained an astonishing collection of graphics, posters, brochures, samples, magazines, and clips, which, characteristically, he kept in near-perfect condition.

In 1943 he married a former fellow student from the California College, Thelma Kelly. During the war he worked for Kaiser Shipyards as an engineer, and after the war returned to commercial art.

However, in his private work, in 1950 Louis shifted gears, and took up photography. He became a skilled monochrome photographer. He eventually began freelancing in the San Joaquin Valley, where he moved his family in the early 1960's when his company was bought by Dow Chemical, who relocated operations to Fresno, California. In Fresno, his beloved Thelma flourished as an artist herself, and Louis spent much of the last ten years before her untimely passing in 1974 supporting her work as a watercolorist and collagiste.

Louis Moulthrop spent his life capturing the beauty and romance of the California he loved.