Clars is very pleased to be offering on Sunday November 16th, two rare, Spanish Colonial (late 18th and early 19th century), paintings, “St. Joseph” and “Our Lady of Guadalupe (1804)” once belonging to Luis María Peralta (Spanish, 1759-1851). These paintings are also accompanied with The Official Historical Atlas Maps of Alameda County, California (1878) by Thompson & West.
Luis María Peralta was a soldier in the Spanish Army, who received one of the largest of the Spanish land grants, Rancho San Antonio, a 44,800-acre area that encompassed most of the East Bay region of California which included the land and cities in Alameda, Contra Costa, and Santa Clara Counties.
The Peralta family, including the seventeen year-old Luis, arrived in Alta, California with Juan Bautista de Anza on his expedition in 1776. This group of settlers subsequently helped found the Presidio of San Francisco, Mission Santa Clara, and the Pueblo of San José. When he reached the age of 21, Luís entered, as was traditional, into the military of the King of Spain.
Upon his marriage to María Loreto Alviso in 1784, Luís transferred from the Monterey to the San Francisco Company serving with the Escolta (guards) at Mission Santa Clara, Mission San José and as corporal of the guard at Mission Santa Cruz. Phyllis Filiberti Butler records in her book, The Valley of Santa Clara, Historic Buildings, 1792–1920, that after an attack on the priest and majordomo of Mission San José in 1805, “he led the full garrison from the fort at San Francisco into the San Joaquin Valley in pursuit of the Indians.” Surprising the Indians in their village, Peralta won a swift victory, which enhanced his reputation. Then a sergeant, he was honored by appointment as ‘comisionado’ in charge of Pueblo San José in 1807, the highest military and civilian official. Peralta held this position until 1822, when the position ended with Mexico’s independence from Spain.
In 1804, he moved into what is now known as the Peralta Adobe, the oldest building in San José. In 1820, he was rewarded for his long service with the Rancho San Antonio land grant. In 1842, the land was divided amongst his four sons.
Upon Peralta’s death in 1851 in San José, his five daughters inherited his cattle, his adobe and the contents within. This included two, oil on tin paintings that descended to one of these daughters, Maria Guadalupe Peralta; “Our Lady of Guadalupe (1804)” and “St. Joseph (circa 18th century)”. This inherited property is stated in The Official Historical Atlas Maps of Alameda County, California (1878), by Thompson & West (page 19), which lists the “Last Will and Testament of Louis Maria Peralta”.
Over the course of close to a century, these paintings, now belonging to Maria Guadalupe Peralta, descended through her family and were eventually purchased by Dr. Henry Chesley Bush (1886-1977) of Livermore, California. Dr. Chesley was a prominent doctor of Internal Medicine and Tuberculosis. He also held the following titles; Superintendent of the Arroyo Del-Valle Sanatorium, Coordinator of Tuberculosis Service (Alameda County), Director of both the California State Tuberculosis Association and the National Tuberculosis Association, and lastly, Diplomat of the American Board of Internal Medicine, (Fellow 1929/ACCMA 1974). In addition to profession, Dr. Chesley was a noted California historian and public speaker of early California history.