BORG, Carl Oscar

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San Miguel Island
oil on canvas, 1908
Santa Cruz Island Foundation
San Miguel Island
oil on canvas, 1908
Private Collection
Captain McGuire Catching Seal
Santa Cruz Island
oil on canvas, c. 1912
Santa Cruz Island Foundation


BORG, Carl Oscar (1879-1947), Swedish-born painter, illustrator and etcher who came to California in 1903. He taught at the California Art Institute in Los Angeles, and from 1918 to 1924 he lived in Santa Barbara and taught at the School of the Arts. Borg traveled in California and the west, and made several return trips to Europe. After World War II, he returned to Santa Barbara where he died in 1947. Borg is known to have painted at least two large oil paintings depicting the capture of sea lions on Santa Cruz Island. Captain McGuire Catching Seal, 1912 is owned by the Santa Cruz Island Foundation, as is a San Miguel Island painting by Borg. Several archaeological items from San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, and Santa Catalina islands were gifted by Borg to the Etnografiska Museet, Stockholm, Sweden, and to Goteborgs Etnografiska Museum, Goteborg, Sweden.



In the News~

June 10, 1908 [SBI]: “Carl Oscar Borg, a Los Angeles artist, is on Santa Cruz Island engaged in doing a large number of oil paintings. Some of these are said to be very fine. They will be brought to Santa Barbara in the near future and exhibited here.”


July 18, 1908 [SBI]: “A party is going from this city to Santa Cruz Island Monday for a two weeks’ outing. The camp will be pitched at the far side of the island, so there will be greater seclusion. Those making up the group will be Mr. And Mrs. W. Edwin Gledhill, Miss Neidermuller, Miss Forbes, Carl Oscar Borg, Hugh and John Weldon.”


August 16, 1908 [LAT]: “Although Carl Oscar Borg, the talented young Swedish artist, is the gentlest of men, cultivated, sensitive, civilized, there are times and seasons when the spirit of his Viking ancestry asserts itself, when he feels impelled to obey the call of the sea and the cry of adventure… Last May he found both a sea and a shore that were exactly to his mind. On one of the excursions which are made weekly from Santa Barbara to the Channel Islands, he discovered the artistic possibilities of Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and especially San Miguel… He decided to join an expedition just starting out to hunt live seals for European museums and circuses. The California seal, be it known, is the most intelligent in the world… But after all, the really fine treasures of the painter’s trip to San Miguel are the sketches he has brought with him, twenty-five or thirty of them, with almost a hundred photographs… Next week Carl Oscar Borg starts for San Miguel again, for more artistic and archaeological material.”


September 6, 1908 [LAT]: “Carl Oscar Borg spent only a few days on San Miguel Island on his last trip. He is now in Santa Barbara.”


October 8, 1908 [SBI]: “Carl Oscar Borg, Los Angeles artist who recently played the role of Robinson Crusoe for a week on San Miguel Island, has just returned to Los Angeles from another interesting experience on Santa Cruz Island. This time Mr. Borg was compelled to stay on the island, together with eight men of a sealing crew for ten days, with provisions for two days. The crew went over to the island to obtain some of the paraphernalia that had been left from the last seal hunting expedition. Mr. Borg, who accompanied the men and passed his time in painting, went over on the last trip, expecting to complete some of the sketches left incomplete at the first visit. The weather was propitious, and the men set out with the expectation of remaining on the island two days. However the sudden spell of bad weather that struck Los Angeles two weeks ago was intensified between the island and mainland, always a somewhat treacherous voyage, and the men had nothing to do but remain on the island until the weather cleared so that it might be safe for the return voyage. After the third day, the principal article of diet was fish, which continued to be almost the only article of food which the men had until their return to Santa Barbara. Mr. Borg expects to leave before November 1 for South America where he will be the guest of Hugh S. Gibson, a Los Angeles young man who is United States charge d’affaires at Honduras. Mr. Borg will accompany Mrs. Gibson who is going to pay an extended visit to her son. Mr. Borg expects to be absent from Los Angeles about one year.”


October 11, 1908 [LAT]: “Carl Oscar Borg has returned from the Santa Barbara islands, bringing with him a few more of his astonishingly vigorous sketches of life among the seal hunters. He came back just in time to be able to hustle a few of his pictures into the exhibitions of the Painters’ Club — a consummation for which the club and the public are assuredly thankful.”