North Sea winds still blow inland to Thorpe-St. Andrew, England, where this adventurous maritime artist was born Arthur Edwin Crabbe on March 25, 1890. Arthur was the fourth of five children born to Moses Samuel Crabbe and Sarah Jane Belderson. Moses, a medical attendant, served in the British Military in India for 17 years. His wife, a trained nurse, was expert in fine sewing and embroidery. With the advantage of extra income from the sale of Sarah's crafts, the children had a better education than normally would have been possible. A novice artist, Sarah encouraged her children to draw and paint. Family legend has it that Arthur sketched his first fishing schooner at Yarmouth at the age of four. However, the oldest painting in the family collection depicts a railway scene near their home in England and is dated 1906.
Educated at home by a governess/tutor until he was ten years old, Arthur entered the Holt School, aspiring to become an architect. He dreamt of building castles like those nestled in the English countryside. However, architecture requirements proved too stringent and engineering classes too difficult for a student that was not strong in math. He graduated from Holt school in 1908, with a baccalaureate degree and a yearning for adventure.
Enticed by a job offer on a ranch in Saskatchewan, Arthur and his friend, George Barclay Stone, embarked on a Canadian liner bound for Quebec, only to discover their destination lay far from their place of landing. Not discouraged, they continued their journey westward by train. Upon arrival at Humboldt, the closest station to the ranch owned by an Army friend of Arthur's father, they were shocked to find "no real roads and no real houses!" The city boys adapted quickly, although learning to ride Western style caused them discomfort for some time. Both young men soon traded their proper English jodhpurs and riding boots for cowboy gear.
Ranch life was exhilarating. Arthur's distinctive accent and keen wit amused the other workers, and he quickly made friends. The days consisted of riding and the chores of cattle-raising. The expansive prairie land imprinted its influence on Arthur. He sketched all aspects of ranch life which later appeared in his impressionist-style paintings of the late 1920s and early 1930s. Only the frigid winter discouraged Arthur from extending his stay in Canada.
In 1909, after almost a year on the ranch, Arthur decided to head south for the sunny climate of California, where his older brother Will and his wife May were living. By this time Arthur knew he wanted to study art. With the help of friends, he enrolled in the University of California School of Art, located in the former Mark Hopkins residence atop Nob Hill. He commuted to San Francisco from his brother's home in Oakland by ferry each day and he pursued odd jobs in San Francisco in order to pay his expenses.
Further ranch adventures lay ahead. Summer vacation in 1910 found Arthur working on a ranch near Klamath Falls, Oregon. On the Fourth of July he fell ill while en route to a rodeo. After consulting with a local doctor, he was diagnosed with typhoid fever. There were no hospitals in the vicinity, and Arthur was placed in quarantine in a hospice nearby. An Indian woman was assigned to look after him. In those days, few people survived typhoid fever. As he was isolated in quarantine, he received little attention except for an occasional visit from the physician. After several weeks of isolation, he was certain that he would die if he continued to remain in the hospice. He summoned his strength and he escaped from the hospice and travelled into town. All of his money had been stolen while he was in the hospice, and he was penniless. A sympathetic German settler and his family took pity on him and cared for him until he had recuperated sufficiently to make the return journey to California.
After his miraculous recovery, Arthur traveled to the American River in the High Sierras, in search of his brother Will. Will had graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and he had become an electrical engineer. His first job was to run the Pacific Gas and Electric power plant on the American river. He obtained a job for Arthur, and Arthur worked at the plant for about a year. In 1912 Arthur was hired as a ranch hand in the San Joaquin valley. At the Miller and Lux Ranch, his newly attained cowboy skills earned him the nickname "Bronco Pete". It was not long before he advanced to the position of assistant superintendent of the Eastside Ranch. The Central Valley of California was relatively untamed in those days. "Bronco Pete" uncovered a clandestine cattle rustling conspiracy headed by the notorious Perini brothers. He informed the local sheriff that the Perini's were stealing cattle from the ranch. The Perini's were arrested and subsequently convicted and sent to prison. The Perini's declared a vendetta against "Bronco Pete". Cousins of the jailed Perini brothers attacked Arthur leaving him severely injured. Subsequently, Arthur was fearful of additional attempts on his life, and he decided to move back to San Francisco.
Although details of his whereabouts during this time are not clear, around 1915 "Bronco Pete" changed his name to Arthur Edwaine Beaumont-Crabbe, in an effort to keep his assailants from tracking him down. He chose to change his family name to Beaumont-Crabbe. In subsequent years, he shortened his name, and became knows as the artist, Arthur Edwaine Beaumont.
In 1915 Arthur Beaumont moved to Los Angeles. While working at an odd job as a construction worker he met the young girl that he would subsequently marry. He fell in love with beautiful Dorothy Dean, whose father was the General manager of the Bible Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles. After a four year courtship, Arthur and Dorothy were married on April 4, 1919. Beau obtained a more permanent job working in the port of San Pedro, which turned out to be a perfect place to sketch marine scenes. Dated 1916, a single miniature painting remains today, which commemorates his first effort at painting ships.
In 1917, Beau opened his first commercial art studio in Los Angeles. From that date onward, he pursued his career as a professional artist. Success was not immediate by any means. He recalled, "After one month on the job, I had only made five dollars, not even enough to pay one month's rent!"