1878 Painting of Elem Ceremony (By Jules Tavernier)

Jules Tavernier (1) at the Red Cloud Agency, Nebraska 1874
Tiburcio Parrott
Tiburcio and the Baron Edmond de Rothschild in the painting.

In 2015, the Wildenstein & Co. art gallery in New York purchased the Tavernier painting from an auction house in Geneva. The painting was commissioned by wealthy San Francisco banker and Sulphur Bank mercury mine owner Tiburcio Parrott in 1875. The painting was given as a gift to the Baron Edmond de Rothschild following his visit to the mine in Lake County.

The painting was executed between 1876 and 1878 at Monterey and in San Francisco by the French artist Jules Tavernier (1844-1889).

Beginning in 1852, the Parrott family had various business projects in California, including buildings in San Francisco. In 1873, Tiburcio and his father, John, became the controlling owners of the Sulfur Bank Mine, a quicksilver mine, located north of Calistoga in Lake County.

In the June 8, 1878 “Around the City ” column in the Daily Alta California, the author announced that Tavernier had just returned from Sulphur Springs where he has been taking some sketches for the completion of his masterpiece, “The Indian Sweat House”, purchased by Tiburcio Parrott.

Photos taken of the Elem Community and Sulphur Bank Mine in 1906 show the relationship between the two. It is known that Native Americans from the Elem community worked in the mine alongside Chinese miners. Many of the Chinese miners lived in the Elem community.

One 1906 photo shows the ruins of a dance house at Elem. It is possible that these ruins are of the dance house that was in use during the Tavernier painting.

Ruins of the 1870’s dance house in 1906.