Large, Antique Oil Painting Depicting the Olympia Beer Logo; Original Painting of Tumwater Falls, Historic Site of Olympia Brewing Company, Tumwater, Washington State
Tumwater, WA: Leopold Schmidt. First Edition. Oil Paint on Canvas. Oil on canvas. Painted circa 1902 – 1910. Oval in shape, the painting was designed to fit within the form of a horseshoe, tapering inward at its lower half. Painting measures 37.5” at its widest breadth, 45.5” at its tallest height. Condition: Overall crackling consistent with age. Crimped/mottled areas on left and right margins, a result of storage in a mailing tube from 1974 to 2018. Loss of a section at bottom border measuring 1” x 13.5”. In sum, painting is in Very Good condition, with only minor loss. A worthy candidate for restoration. Good+. Item #1505
The history of the Leopold Schmidt’s founding of the Olympia Brewing Company is well documented. Attracted to Tumwater, Washington by the quality of artesian water he tasted during exploratory research travels, Schmidt, a Master Brewer whose brewing experiences in Montana were bolstered by his enrollment in brewery training in Worms, Germany, established his Tumwater brewery adjacent to three waterfalls – the Tumwater Falls -- on the Deschutes River. In 1902 the company was named Olympia Brewing Company, utilizing as a logo for Olympia Beer, its leading product, an artistic depiction of the upper waterfalls within an upside-down horseshoe. The logo was enhanced by the now-ubiquitous motto “It’s the Water,” representing the ineffable qualities of the beer’s key ingredient, artesian water.
Although Olympia Brewing Company’s pre-Prohibition logo, printed on labels, advertising collateral, serving trays, etc., underwent several iterations, the waterfall landscape within the horseshoe remained its fundamental image. As the logo evolved, the bridge under which the river flows became more stout and the falls themselves more robust, energized by white water and faster flow. Remarkably, some 117 years later, the logo today remains essentially unchanged.
A fine early 20th C. landscape, the painting displays a technically accomplished hand, with treatment of clouds and water flow indicating academic training; the artist’s proficient use of light enhances the tableau. While the identity of the artist has proven elusive, the painting’s fine brushwork fits within the style of the Hudson River School and would complement, as an example, the core collection of German landscapes formed by Charles and Emma Frye, at Seattle’s Frye Art Museum. The painting at hand is not purported to be the first to capture Leopold Schmidt’s concept for the Olympia Beer logo; that said, limited research has not denied that supposition. Assuredly, the painting evinces Leopold Schmidt’s practice of hiring accomplished professionals.
The painting has spawned innumerable reproductions through company-related printing, whether on bottle labels or marketing collateral, perfectly encapsulating a choice Leopold Schmidt adage, “quality first - quantity next”.