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Francis Golden   Click Images to Enlarge

Francis Golden
Tarpin Fishing, Florida
Watercolor on paper
22 x 29 in.
Francis Golden
Bass Fishing
Watercolor on paper
14 x 21 in.
Francis Golden
Fly Fishing Along the Metapedia, Canada
Watercolor on paper
22 x 29 in.
Francis Golden
Pheasant Hunting, Fall, New England, 1984
Watercolor on paper
22 x 29 in.
Francis Golden

(American, 1916-2008)

Francis ("Frank") Golden was born on August 22, 1916 the son of carpenter Frank and weaver Emma Golden in Adams, MA. He graduated from the Museum of Fine Arts School in Boston (1939), the student of Alexander Jacovleff. In 1939 he traveled with a group of artists who had joined an artist’s union, settled in Chicago, moved to New York, then CT and finally to MA. He has spent his life painting watercolors outdoors, creating popular scenes magazines quickly bought and used as illustrations. "I became known as an illustrator," he said in 1999, "but my work is not illustrative! I paint because I have to paint in order to stay sane!" Nevertheless, his watercolors became some of the most popular images in sports magazines and by 1974 he was highly respected as a wild life and sporting scene painter probably because with enthusiasm and gusto he painted what he knew with competence and virility.

Golden is a knowledgeable, versatile, skilled outdoorsman who has fly-fished streams, deep-sea fished, sailed in the roughest waters and hunted in the most remote areas throughout the world. He can tell someone all there is to know about swans, Atlantic Salmon, White Tail deer, squirrels, ducks and beagles. He profoundly discerns auto racing, air flight and yachting. He is a tenor in a barbershop quartet, bakes apples pies gourmets envy and is considered "a macho Renaissance man" by those who know him well.

In 1939, Golden lived in NYC to paint murals and the background on Salvador Dali's The Dream of Venus for the World's Fair. In 1940, he free-lanced to earn a salary painting posters, and "pots and pans" for J.C. Penney's. His "big break" came in 1948 when he was chosen to illustrate for Collier's. He transcribed with ease oscillating wildlife scenes and because of this ability, from 1948-1978, Golden's paintings became illustrations for Saturday Evening Post and his sporting scene subjects were popular in Sports Illustrated (where he was voted one of its top 10 artists of all time), Sports Afield, Gray's Sporting Journal, Audubon, Collier's and other prestigious magazines.

"I love the medium of watercolor! It allows me to paint loose, fast and smooth without hesitation and that is what creates action and the illusion of movement," the artist admits. Zack Taylor observed in Sports Afield, "He sees and uses colors no other artist sees…[His] leaping fish flair correctly in all proportions down to the arc in the angler's rod," and that talent has won Golden awards from the Society of Illustrators and the Art Director's Club, but Golden admits, "I hate to waste time exhibiting when I can be painting, and I reject as silly juried shows." In 1961, Golden's Summer Race was Time magazine's image-announcement for the new magazine, Sports Illustrated. Golden was hired by Sports Illustrated to paint hunting of upland birds and soon he was illustrating experience-oriented stories because editors considered him a "storyteller" in paint. He painted the golfing days of Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, took them fishing for roosterfish in the Gulf of California with Jon Tarantino, and showed them the secrets of Johnny Unitas' forward passes! In 1978, Golden left the illustration world to paint at his easel. Many enthusiasts of his work marvel at the golden touch of this artist and compare him unfairly with Ogden Pleissner. Golden seems to have an uncanny ability to capture fluidly all of nature with an emotional impact.

Harry Bruse declared in 1996 in the Atlantic Salmon Journal, "What does this Connecticut watercolorist bring to his work? Strength, control, imagination, impressionism, realism, precision, care, speed – and an unmistakable whiff of the outdoors. That’s all!" His paintings of Fly Fishing Along the Metapedia, Quebec; Fishing in the Idaho Countryside; Bonefishing the Florida Flats; Fishing for Stripers; Winter Fishing in Vermont; Early Morning Trout Fishing; Duck Hunting Along the Mississippi Delt; Skiing in Stratton, Vermont and those of yachts, schooners and of many Fishing Tournament views in Florida have endeared Golden to thousands of sporting enthusiasts who have either seen articles or illustrations of his agile, colorful, fluid watercolors. Having lived in many countries, Golden is a worldly man whose vision and philosophy are broad.

In 2000, Pierce Galleries, Inc. became Golden's agent and held an exhibition of his watercolors in May-August. Francis Golden is an extraordinary artist who can paint anything well. His fame as a sports illustrator is well deserved, but he can paint so much more with equal verve. He has been influenced by the work of Sargent and by Japanese paintings and prints that predate 1890. He has painted nature and sporting events throughout the world and he is recognized as one of American's most distinguished watercolorists.


Bibliography: Patricia Jobe Pierce, "A Golden Art Opportunity," The Inquirer and Mirror Nantucket, August 2000; Harry Bruce, "Francis Golden," Atlantic Salmon Journal, Volume 45, #1, Spring 1996, pp. 20-25 (and front cover); Martha Hill, "That Golden Touch," Volume 2, Issue 5, September-October 1983, pp. 46-55; "What the Guide Sees," Gray's Sporting Journal, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp. 56-57 (and front cover).