The Journal of San Diego History
Spring 1977, Volume 23, Number 2
Editor James Moss
Asst. Editor Thomas L. Scharf

Frank L. Heath, a renowned California artist of his time whose works won numerous awards, was twenty-nine years old in 1886 when he painted the subtly colored view of Mission Valley reproduced in part on the front cover. The entire canvas, which measures 24 x 44 inches, is from the collections of the San Diego Historical Society and is currently on view at the Serra Museum in Presidio Park.

The artist painted the scene looking towards Point Loma with the village of Old Town nestled at the base of Presidio Hill. A pencilled notation on the pack of’ the painting states: “View from Shirley and De Witt’s Addition” — a probable reference to the great Southern California real estate boom of the 1880’s.

Heath, a native of Salem, Oregon, came to California as a child in 1866 and grew up in Santa Cruz. He later attended the Mark Hopkins Art Institute in San Francisco and opened a studio in that city. Heath also founded the Santa Cruz Art League. He married Lillian J. Dake, a fellow artist and a former resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The couple traveled throughout California and Oregon painting and sketching the scenery. Heath primarily painted landscape views of the coast or rugged back country mountains. His works are typically signed “F. L. Heath” in pencil on the back of the canvas.

In 1894, Heath’s work went on exhibit at the Chicago World’s Fair. He subsequently had shows at the St. Louis World’s Fair, exhibits in Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles as well as galleries in South America.