Robert Rishell

(1917 - 1976)


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Robert Rishell

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Robert Clifford Rishell was instrumental in starting the Oakland Museum, and remained an active participant until he died.

Robert Clifford Rishell was the son of former Oakland mayor Clifford E. Rishell. He lived in the Oakland hills with his wife and daughter, and was affiliated with the Oakland Museum. His daughter was a freelance biological illustrator until 1988, when she became an elementary school art teacher.

Rishell graduated from the California College of Arts and Crafts (B.A. and M.A.) and after serving in the U.S. Navy in WWII, he went on to receive an adult school teaching credential from the University of California, Berkeley. He was a member of the Society of Western artists and studied under Xavier Martinez, who himself studied under John Singer Sargent.

Rishell’s work includes murals, landscapes, portraits and scenes of the Indian country of Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona. He organized the first showing of the Society of Western Artists at the California Garden and Home Exposition (then the California Spring Garden Show) in 1949. He was instrumental in starting the Oakland Museum and remained an active participant until he died. He painted several of the background dioramas in the Natural Science area of the museum.

In 1974, Rishell was commissioned by the State of California to paint the official gubernatorial portrait of Governor Ronald Reagan, which is currently on display at the California State Capitol Museum in Sacramento, CA. According to the Oakland Tribune, March 20, 1969, Barry Goldwater purchased two Rishell paintings from a show held in a Palm Springs Gallery.

Rishell’s work is also in the collection of the Oakland Public Library, the World Trade Center, SF, the Oakland Museum, the Bank of California, Oakland, Palm Springs Desert Museum, the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, Treasure Island Naval Base, West Point Museum, the Naval Academy Museum (Annapolis), Indianapolis Museum; the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Chicago and the Bohemian Club.