Saturday Night at the Mines

Saturday Night at the Mines, by Charles Christian Nahl

A while back I wrote about one of my favorite paintings, Sunday Morning in the Mines, by Charles Christian Nahl. Here is a companion piece by the same artist, Saturday Night at the Mines.

Who do we see in this painting? Six men, one of them asleep in his bunk in the background. Highlighted by his white shirt and his central position is one miner soberly weighing the result of a week’s worth of gold-mining. He is watched by a young man in a dark shirt, who is smoking a pipe, and a man standing, wearing a red shirt. On the right a young man kneels at the fireplace and stirs their evening pot of beans.

On the left is another red-shirted miner who is obviously enjoying his bottle. His slovenly posture contrasts with the alertness of the other red shirted man and the diligence of the cook.

This painting was purchased by Mrs. Jane Stanford, wife of Governor Leland Stanford, and at one time hung in the state capitol. One reference said that it is in the Stanford University Museum of Art, but a search of that website (now the Cantor Arts Center) doesn’t turn it up. So I can’t tell you for sure where you can see it. Sunday Morning in the Mines is in the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento.

Before he did this painting, C.C. Nahl did another version of this picture with his friend and fellow artist Frederick A. Wenderoth. It is a lithograph titled Miner’s Cabin: Results of the Day. Here is the hand-colored version by Wenderoth and Nahl, made in 1852. The lithograph would inspire Nahl’s painting Saturday Night at the Mines twenty years later.

Miner’s Cabin: Results of the Day, by Wenderoth and Nahl


The image is reversed, the table is gone, and so is the drunkard with his bottle. Other elements remain similar: the man kneeling to cook at the fireplace, the moon shining in the open doorway, the gear on the floor and the shelves, the sleeper in his bunk. The tall man in the center strikes the same pose as the red-shirted man in the painting.

And, just for fun, here is another painting by F.A. Wenderoth.

Little Terrier, by Frederik A. Wenderoth

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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