Biography of Leon Trousset, courtesy of Scott A. Shields:

LÉON TROUSSET (1838-1917)

Born in 1838 and raised in France, Léon Trousset became known in California as a painter of landscapes, architectural and
historical scenes, and city views of the type then popular in lithographs. Firm facts surrounding the artist’s life before
or after his California tenure are few. Having spent the late 1860s in Texas and Arizona, the itinerant Trousset
was in Mazatlán, Mexico, in 1874, but the next year he was actively working in Northern California. In Sonoma in
1875, he fulfilled commissions from Aguillon Winery, rendered a view of J. A. Poppe’s store, and produced a view of
the town. He also journeyed to Oakland, where he painted Lake Merritt. That fall he went south to Monterey. There
he sketched and painted with other artists in the area, befriended Jules Simoneau as he socialized at his restaurant,
and became, if only briefly, an important personality in the fledgling art colony.

Trousset arrived in the fall of 1875, after Tavernier’s first visit to the area but just before Tavernier actually took up
residence in early November. Shortly after his arrival Trousset produced a watercolor, City of Monterey, California, November
First, 1875, prominently titled and dated across the lower margin. Typical of Trousset’s work, the rendering
suggests a lack of academic training but is charming in its attention to the unique details of Monterey life. Whaling,
complete with flukes emerging from the water, takes place in the bay, and the beach is strewn with the bones of
leviathans washed ashore. Architectural landmarks such as Monterey’s Presidio Chapel and the Custom House are
also recognizable. The most prominent feature is a train, shown chugging into town from Salinas. One of the cars
is carefully inscribed “M.A.S.V.R.R.,” signifying the Monterey & Salinas Valley Railroad, a narrow-gauge line that began
its run between the two cities the year before. The train was used for shipping coal and grain, but it was also
outfitted with a passenger car. The watercolor’s size, inscription, and wide margins suggest that it may have been
meant for reproduction. The original watercolor was ultimately given to Simoneau to settle a $50 board bill.

In 1876 Trousset left for Southern California, where he worked briefly for St. Vibiana’s church in Los Angeles
producing two large religious scenes, The Resurrection of Christ and The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was
perhaps on his way there that he produced a large view of San Luis Obispo. After Los Angeles, he once again returned
to the central coast, initially settling in Castroville, where he and his fellow French artist, Alexander Zins, were
commissioned to make paintings for churches there and in Santa Rita. That same year Trousset produced Moss Landing
at Castroville, a large painting depicting a sweeping view of the area’s landscape and architecture. He also produced
the equally large and ambitious View of Santa Cruz, along with a smaller, more intimate, view of the town and
a view of the local mission.

After completing his church commissions, Trousset returned to Monterey to paint the area’s coastal scenery. He
also began a series of historical Monterey subjects. In 1876 and 1877 he produced scenes of the founding of the mission
and Father Serra’s first mass, which took place beneath a large oak on the Monterey shore on June 3, 1770. The
location of the event was likely the spot where Sebastián Vizcaíno had, 168 years earlier, first celebrated the Eucharist.
The presence of Indian neophytes and the fact that there is only one boat in the bay, whereas Vizcaíno came with
three, make clear that the padre was meant to be Serra himself and not one of the Carmelite fathers who came with
Vizcaíno’s expedition. A large version of the subject, dated 1877, hangs at the Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Rio

In February 1877 Trousset, in the company of the French artists M. Dupont and Frank Renoult, returned to San
Francisco. From there the elusive artist left California. By 1879 he was in Durango, Mexico, and left behind a view
of the town. In 1884 he was in Chihuahua, Mexico, where he rendered the city plaza. He was in Texas and New Mexico
in 1885 and 1886, producing views and architectural scenes in El Paso, Albuquerque, Mesilla, Socorro, and other
towns. He ultimately settled in Juárez, Mexico. There he married María Jesús Bustos, adopted a son, Antonio Bustos
Trousset, and died of arteriosclerosis on December 29, 1917.

Scott A. Shields, Ph.D.
Chief Curator of Crocker Art Museum
216 O Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
phone: (916) 264-5313
fax: (916) 264-7372

This biography comes from Scott A. Shield's 2006 book that serves as a catalogue for the exhibition Artists at Continent's End:
The Monterey Peninsula art Colony, 1875-1907,
organized by the Crocker Art Museum:

Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, February 17, 2006--May 21, 2006
Laguna Art Museum, June 18, 2006--October 1, 2006
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, October 21, 2006--January 21, 2007
Monterey Museum of Art, February 3, 2007--April 29, 2007

If you would like to learn more about the Monterey Peninsula Artists you can go to Museum Store the Crocker Art Museum website and purchase:
Artists at Continents's End, The Monterey Peninsula Art Colony, 1875-1907, By Scott A. Shields.

The two pieces of art below appear in Scott Shield's book along with the Léon Trousset biography.