Charles Christian Nahl established a career based on his paintings of California’s mining industry. Miners were portrayed in fiction and popular culture as either moral men or dissolute louts, offering lessons on virtue and vice. By the time Nahl painted this picture, the gold rush had long subsided. His work coincided with a popular reimagining of this legendary era as a time that tested the wills of men. His painting The Dead Miner was designed to elicit maximum sympathy: depicted as a martyr to progress, the miner’s outstretched hand clasps a portrait of his sweetheart, and he has only his loyal hound to mourn him.
~ The Dead Miner (Mourning the Master) | 1867