The following 2002 essay was written by William H. Gerdts, Professor Emeritus, Graduate School of the City University of New York, for the illustrated catalogue Masters of Light: Plein-Air Painting in California 1890-1930, ISBN 0-971-4092-3-4 (cloth), which accompanied the exhibition, Masters of Light, the first ever international exhibition of California plein air paintings to tour Europe. The essay is reprinted with permission of The Irvine Museum and without illustrations. If you have questions or comments regarding the essay, or wish to purchase a copy of the catalogue, please contact The Irvine Museum directly through either this phone number or web address:
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Redmond's fame both in his own time and today rests principally upon his mastery of the theme of fields of wildflowers, above all golden yellow poppies. CALIFORNIA LANDSCAPE WITH FLOWERS is one of the most monumental of these, the expansive horizontal spread of the canvas echoing the vastness of the state itself. In such pictures, the tapestry of bright colors covering the rolling hillside glows in the light of California, a paean to its unique natural qualities. Probably dating from the 1920s, as does its near-mate, POPPY FIELD LANDSCAPE (Laguna Art Museum), such pictures inevitably conjure up the aesthetics of Impressionism. They call to mind Claude Monet's own paintings of poppies in Giverny and elsewhere, and the works of American artists working in a similar fashion - Childe Hassam on the island of Appledore, Julian Onderdonk in the bluebonnet fields of Texas. Redmond was painting and exhibiting scenes featuring fields of poppies at least as early as 1912.
Despite the fact that some critics labeled Redmond's poppy pictures as "potboilers," his choice of subject matter was, itself, a tribute to and celebration of California, where the poppy is the state flower. In California at the turn of the century, poems were written and legends were recalled extolling the poppy, designated the "Queen flower of them all." Writers such as Charles Lummis declared such fields of wildflowers as "The Carpet of God's Country," referring not only to the poppies, but to the "forty million flowers" of all species and all colors that covered the landscape - the field, not of the "Cloth of Gold," but "of the cloth of all the jewels and all the colors and all the ores in the treasury of the universe." In addition, the cultivation of the poppy, otherwise a wildflower, was considered by gardeners worthy of celebration. 
Almost all of the state's landscape painters joined Redmond in choosing to paint such subject matter; it would probably be simpler to list those who did not.
The painters discussed so far, who were among the dominant figures in Southern California art at the end of the 19th century and in the first decade of the 20th, may not have considered themselves as belonging to the Impressionist movement, nor did critics specifically identify them as such. Certainly those who spent time abroad early in their careers, such as Wendt, Redmond, and John Gamble, could not have helped being exposed to what was still, for Americans, a radically advanced aesthetic, while these artists may also have become aware of Impressionism through works seen in San Francisco in the 1890s, or in New York and Chicago in that decade. Still, their celebration of the light and colors of California would appear to have been basically homegrown.
The actual identification of California artists as "Impressionist" would appear to have begun no earlier than 1909, and became more common by 1911.The problem is that the critical reception, by and large extremely positive, was directed not toward Wendt, Puthuff, or Redmond, but toward a group of painters almost totally forgotten today: Jack Gage Stark seems to have been the first, followed by Detlef Sammann, Helena Dunlap, and Ernest Browning Smith. Antony Anderson, the very perceptive art critic for the Los Angeles Times, unquestionably the major critical force on the local scene and one who would champion the local Impressionist faction until his retirement in the mid-1920s, noted in December 1911, "By now we are getting accustomed to impressionism in Los Angeles. Few of us dare laugh at it, for fear that we may become the butt of our own jokes. We are beginning to take it seriously, to study it, to enjoy it.We've had [Jack Gage] Stark, [Detlef] Sammann, Helena Dunlap, [and Ernest] Browning Smith."
It was at this time also that a group of works painted in Pasadena by Frederick Frieseke, an artist who was then becoming one of the best-known American painters working in Giverny, France, and who was visiting his parents in California, was seen by Anderson at the Kanst Art Gallery in Los Angeles in December 1911. They were not on public view but were being framed there. Anderson "had stepped into the Kanst studio, to find five wonderful paintings of gardens under sunlight by Frederick C. Frieseke, who had run out from New York to visit his parents here, and who painted these five impressions of gardens with figures on his brief stay .... They would be eye-openers to our Los Angeles public - educational skyrockets.Yet, Frieseke was a perfectly proper and academic painter a year or two ago, just as Sammann was." It is not known whether Anderson's comments drew local artists to study these pictures before they were shipped back to Frieseke's New York dealer, William Macbeth, but Kanst did hold an exhibition of Frieseke's work, though the date of the show has not been identified.
Thus, Impressionism was "in the air" in Los Angeles when one of the state's native sons, Guy Rose, returned in 1914 from a long sojourn in Giverny and New York. Born in San Gabriel, Rose was another artist who had trained in San Francisco at the California School of Design before going on for further study in Paris in 1888. He must have become aware of Impressionism there, and found further exposure when he joined the art colony in Giverny in 1890-91; Rose included several Giverny landscapes among his pictures on view in Los Angeles at Sanborn,Vail & Co. in October 1891, and several were shown at the San Francisco Art Association the following year. After this visit to California, Rose was in New York, and in 1894 returned to Paris and Giverny. Beginning in 1895, Rose taught for four years at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, before returning to Paris and Giverny in 1899, and then purchasing a house in the latter in 1904. Having had to abandon his art almost completely owing to lead poisoning around 1897, Rose resumed painting in 1908, and became one of the most successful of Frieseke's many associates, like him painting colorful figural pictures of lovely young women outdoors, as well as several nudes in interiors. Rose's friendship with Frieseke is beautifully documented in ON THE RIVER (cat. 50) of ca. 1910, a depiction of Frieseke's wife, Sarah, or Sadie, in a boat on the Epte River. This was painted at the same time, though from a different vantage point, as one that Frieseke himself painted of his wife (LADY WITH A PARASOL, Cornelia and Meredith Long Collection). The lovely, isolated woman was a staple of latter-day Impressionist painting in Giverny, an object for male delectation and admiration. Indeed, though the Epte River, a branch of the Seine passing through Giverny, was actually a narrow stream, here the shore-less waters open up broadly, completing the subject's isolation within Nature.
Like most of his American colleagues working in the Giverny art colony in the first two decades of the 20th century, Rose alternated his figural subjects between members of the artists' families and professional models; unlike their predecessors of the previous decades, they seldom, if ever, called upon the local populace to pose for them. One of Rose's finest figure pieces painted from the model in Giverny is THE GREEN PARASOL (cat. 48), perhaps the archetypal Giverny figure picture. The beautiful woman wears the favored patterned kimono and holds a decorative parasol, both reflections of the contemporary preference for Japanese motifs, the parasol shielding her from the bright sunlight while also isolating her in the foreground plane. And behind her, scintillating green-yellow leaf patterns hanging from unseen trees form a curtain above the flickering reflections in the blue water - presumably the Epte River again - offering intriguing color juxtapositions of blue to blue, green to green.
Much more than Frieseke, however, Rose concentrated on pure landscapes, utilizing the high-key colorism and painterly brushwork of Impressionism, undoubtedly influenced by Claude Monet himself; Rose and his wife, Ethel, were among the very few American painters of his generation in Giverny who actually came to know Monet personally. One of the finest of these landscapes is THE BLUE HOUSE (cat. 49) of ca. 1910; this painting, in fact, is also something of a testimonial to that relationship, for the house depicted belonged to Monet, and it was where the artist developed his vegetable, or kitchen garden after he had converted the grounds of the Maison du Pressoir, his home, into the luxurious floral setting still maintained today. The Blue House, or Maison Bleue, was on the Rue du Chêne, at the other end of town from the Maison du Pressoir. Presumably the majority of Rose's French pictures were painted in and around Giverny, but Rose traveled quite extensively in France, both to the northern coast at Honfleur, and in the south to Toulon, Antibes, and Cannes.
Having enjoyed a tremendously successful group show late in 1910 at the Madison Gallery in New York along with his fellow Giverny-ites - Frieseke, Richard Miller and Lawton Parker - Rose returned to that city two years later. He painted in New York and in Wickford, Rhode Island, while teaching an outdoor sketching class at Narragansett; several figural works depicting lovely young women in the landscape painted at Wickford have recently come onto the art market. Two years later, in October 1914, Rose returned to Los Angeles; the following year he began exhibiting with the California Art Club and teaching at the Stickney Memorial School in Pasadena, where he became director in 1918, while enjoying one-person shows over the next decade at the Steckel, Kanst, and Cannell and Chaffin galleries in Los Angeles, and from 1920 on at the Stendahl Galleries in that city - as well as at the Elizabeth Battey Gallery, Pasadena, the Friday Morning Club in Los Angeles, the Shakespeare Club in Pasadena, and the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science, and Art - and while establishing representation at the Macbeth Gallery in New York, where he exhibited from 1913 to 1918. At his death in 1925, Rose was deemed "unquestionably the greatest landscape painter of the Impressionist school that California has produced."
Southern California appears to have become immediately aware that a major artistic personality had returned to Los Angeles. Antony Anderson noted that "the return of Guy Rose... was an event of importance to Los Angeles." Anderson also recognized immediately that Rose's paintings represented unqualified Impressionism, referring to him in a review of Rose's first Los Angeles show at the Steckel Gallery in February 1915 as a "frank disciple of Monet and his school .... Like them, he paints the out-of-doors, its colors broken into beauty by brooding sunlight, caressing air and moving winds. Needless to add that he paints much in the 'high key,' which is the key of nature." Anderson was later, however, to distinguish Rose's work from that of Monet, finding the former's paintings more poetic, more architectonic, and more pictorial. Edgar Hunt noted in 1916 that Rose was "modern in every respect." At the same time, Rose was seen as championing the California landscape; when his pictures were on view in February 1916, Anderson noted, "Charming as are the pictures from Giverny and Toulon, they have not the grasp of the solidities that we find in those from Laguna and La Jolla. They are not so translucently poetic. Perhaps the painter has always needed the sunlight of his boyhood."
Rose gave a new boost to the spreading of the tenets of Impressionism in the region, first through the exhibition of his Giverny paintings, and then from his newer work painted along the coastline at Laguna Beach and La Jolla in late 1914, 1915, and 1916. Some of these pictures concentrated upon the coves below the rugged coastal cliffs at Laguna Beach, as in his VIEW OF WOOD'S COVE, ROCKLEDGE (cat. 47), emulating the tradition of Winslow Homer and, closer to home, William Ritschel up in Monterey, depicting the meeting of the flowing Pacific waters and the sloping rocky shoreline. Rose, along with most of the other Impressionists working at Laguna Beach, painted a great many pictures of these coves, but this particular view at Arch Beach, just south of Laguna Beach proper and once a separate community; was especially favored by him. Indeed, one can even identify a serial predisposition in his choice of subject here, perhaps not unrelated to the serial work of his French colleague Monet. There would seem to be at least three similar versions of this scene; VIEW OF WOOD'S COVE, ROCKLEDGE is a variant of the artist's INCOMING TIDE (Joan Irvine Smith collection) and also of his ARCH BEACH COVE, which was included in the Guy Rose Memorial show at the Stendahl Art Galleries in Los Angeles in February 1926. He would continue this "serialization" in some of his subsequent landscape painting on the Monterey Peninsula. Rose began exhibiting his Arch Beach pictures in his first one-person show held at the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science and Art in February 1916, and others were shown in January and October 1917 and March 1918; presumably, then, these works date from 1915-17. Rose also painted in the High Sierra in the summer of 1916, as well as in his home area of San Gabriel.
Rose was one of the few California Impressionists to have had direct contact with a major European Impressionist. Perhaps the only other such painter was Arthur Grover Rider, a disciple of the greatest of the Spanish Impressionists, Joaquín Sorolla. Just as Sorolla was a later master than Monet, so Rider appeared in California only in the 1920s, possibly as early as 1924, when the Impressionist movement was already entrenched in the state. He lived in Los Angeles and painted at Laguna Beach, where he established a studio in the early 1930s. Like so many of the California Impressionists, Rider came from Chicago and trained there at the Academy of Fine Arts before going to Paris. Rider is said to have become a disciple of Sorolla when the latter was teaching at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1911, after which Rider followed him back to Spain; other reports have them meeting while Rider was painting on the beach at Valencia, Spain. Rider worked there for nine summers, exhibiting in Valencia at the Circulo des Bellas Artes, and he was a part of Sorolla's funeral cortege in 1923  Following Sorolla's lead in both subject and pictorial mode, Rider became intensely interested in Spanish fishing boats with their billowing sails, painting in broad areas of bright colors such subjects as BRINGING IN THE BOATS (cat. 42), a theme he began exhibiting at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1921 and repeated many times. The emphasis here is upon the play of white and brilliant blue, contrasted with the keel of the boat and the figure in dark shadow; the picture gains tremendous immediacy in the unrestrained movement of boat, figure, and water directly toward the viewer. While Rider is especially renowned for his Valencian scenes painted in the manner of Sorolla, he was also deeply committed to the Southern California landscape, capturing, in such a picture as his 1928 OAK STREET, LAGUNA BEACH (cat. 43) the rural charm of that artists' community where he spent the years 1928-31. In such a painting, the glistening sea, the shaded trees, and the rolling dirt road speak not of privation and primitive living conditions, but the compatibility of man's dwellings within the natural setting, emphasized by so many painters in this most congenial of California art colonies.
Guy Rose advanced the aesthetics of Impressionism in Southern California not only by his own example, but by attracting to the region a number of his Giverny colleagues, several of whom joined him in teaching at the Stickney Memorial School. Richard Emil Miller, primarily a figure painter in the Frieseke mold, was the first of these. Miller arrived in Pasadena in July 1916 and gave weekly criticisms there beginning in October; he remained through March 1917, while living on Arroyo Drive among the art colony there, and painting in the garden of Mrs. Adelbert Fenyes (Eva Scott Fenyes), herself an artist. Miller had had a work on view in Los Angeles in 1913 at the opening show of the Museum of History, Science, and Art, and Rose included Miller's SCARLET NECKLACE (Hevrdejs collection) in a show he organized for the Museum early in 1916, which was acquired by the Museum, but deaccessioned in 1966.
Miller seems to have had an influence on the local art scene, but more lasting was the later appearance in the Los Angeles area of John Frost and Alson Clark. John ("Jack") Frost was the son of the great illustrator, Arthur B. Frost; he and his brother, Arthur, Jr., had been taken to France by their father for Parisian training in 1906. Frost and his family lived in Giverny for several years beginning in 1907, during which Arthur Sr.'s closest friend and fishing companion was Guy Rose; John Frost studied there and in Paris with Richard Miller. After returning to America following three years in a Swiss sanatorium for tuberculosis (1911-14), John Frost settled in Pasadena in the beginning of 1919, and was soon followed by his parents, all of them undoubtedly attracted both by the favorable climate, given young John's frail health, and by Rose's presence.
Indeed, the health-promoting effects of California's climate had long been presented as one of the major attractions for both visitors to and settlers in Southern California, particularly for those suffering from pulmonary ailments. As early as 1874, Ben Truman, in his classic Semi-Tropical California, noted: "The best medicine for consumption is a dry, warm, equable climate [for which there was] no better place than that portion of the coast of California from Santa Barbara to San Diego." California was regarded as "The Summerland of America" for its ever-salubrious climate. In 1892, Dr. Walter Lindley was promoting the elevated valleys of Southern California as winter resorts for those with pulmonary diseases, while in the summer the same sites served as vacation hostels  Yet, many warnings were issued against over-optimistic expectations of recovery; as early as 1895, Dr. Norman Bridge warned against the notion that a three-month vacation would be restorative. Henry Kingman later pointed out that the region was not suited to those suffering from tuberculosis owing to the dampness, and recommended instead the neighboring southwestern states. Nevertheless,John Frost thrived in the Southern California climate. Recollecting his years in Giverny with Rose, John Frost was quoted in 1927 as stating that "he now finds ten minutes outside of Pasadena, all the atmosphere Guy Rose and he found abroad in those days." Arthur B. Frost, Sr. lived in Pasadena until his death in 1928, and John remained only long enough to close out his father's affairs, and then returned east. Frost does not appear to have been particularly attracted either to coastal or Sierra subjects, however, in clear distinction to Rose; rather, his most characteristic subjects were the cottonwood tree and the desert landscape, seen in THE FLOWERING DESERT of 1922. The desert, of course, would have had special attraction for one suffering from tuberculosis. In 1926 a critic noted that "when John Frost looked toward our mountains and our desert he found exactly the subjects suited to his training and temperament." Frost's palette is his alone, a pale reflection of Impressionist chromatics, though still relying on color rather than tone. The artist enjoyed the great flat expanse, enlivened by the tufts of green foliage and patches of pink verbena, with a gnarled desert tree at the right, and backed by the almost spectral snow-topped mountains in the distance.
Arriving in Pasadena for a visit in 1919, the same year as Frost, and settling there in the Arroyo Seco the following year, the otherwise peripatetic Alson Skinner Clark remained in Southern California for the rest of his career. As with so many of his colleagues there, Clark had been born and trained in Chicago, at the Art Institute, before going on to study first in New York and then in Paris. Clark led a nomadic life, mostly abroad, though he continued to exhibit extensively at the Art Institute through the mid-1920s, even after he was resident in California; he also enjoyed the first of several one-person shows there in 1906. In the summer of 1907, Clark painted a series of pictures, subsequently exhibited in America, of the French chateaux, and afterwards he was in Giverny for a visit in the autumn of 1910.While many of his early Chicago paintings are dark, dramatic cityscapes, Clark had already begun to utilize the strategies of Impressionism even before his visit to Giverny, in winter scenes painted in Quebec in 1906-07, in his subsequent French chateaux pictures, and even more in such works as his 1909 PLAZA DEL SOL, MADRID (cat. 7), with its high coloration and bright sunlight. Encouraged by their artist-friend, F. Luis Mora, who had just returned from Spain, Clark, his wife, and Mora sailed for Spain in the spring of that year, disembarked at Algeciras, and traveled extensively, visiting Seville, Granada, Toledo, and Segovia, as well as Madrid, their goal there being primarily to visit the Prado museum. Their hotel was located on the Plaza del Sol, and Medora Clark, the artist's wife, later recalled that Clark "did, however, during the first set of the Prado's closing hours in the early afternoon, paint a big canvas of the Puerta del Sol." Though the picture is luminous, Clark still presents the buildings and trolley cars in a highly structured manner, as formal blocks played off one against the other, with touches of bright color introduced in pedestrians and wagon wheels, distributed throughout the scene. Clark's Spanish collection was initially exhibited to great acclaim at the O'Brien Gallery in Chicago in March 1910.
While his stay in Giverny was short, Clark reestablished there his earlier connections with Frieseke, Rose, and Lawton Parker, and joined the rest of the colony there, including Miller and the Frosts; his experience in the French art colony may have led him to adopt a more scintillating, truly Impressionist brushwork. Back in North America, Clark subsequently painted a much-heralded series of 18 pictures of the building of the Panama Canal in 1913, which were exhibited at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in 1915. After settling in California, he joined Rose on the faculty of the Stickney Memorial School (shortly before the latter's debilitating stroke), and in the same year had his first one-person show in the state at Stendahl Galleries in Los Angeles. Even in his later years, Clark did not abandon his travels, making numerous painting trips to Mexico, the first time in 1923, and he may have returned to Charleston in 1933, having painted there previously in 1917. In addition, in 1902, Clark painted murals in the Mancel Talcott School in Chicago, and later accepted mural commissions in California, such as the seven panels done for the Carthay Circle Theatre in 1926; four for the First National Bank of Pasadena in 1929; eight oval paintings for the Women's Dining Room of the California Club in Los Angeles in 1928; and in 1932 eight sepia murals for the Teatro Leo Carillo in Los Angeles; he also painted the curtain for Pasadena's Community Playhouse in 1925.
Among the more significant artists active during the later years of the Giverny colony, Clark was one of the painters there devoted almost solely to landscape. He did, occasionally, paint the figure, including a group of portraits created in the middle of the first decade of the 1900s, before he adopted the strategies of Impressionism. One of his first California pictures and best-known works is a depiction of his wife, REVERIE (MEDORA ON THE TERRACE, cat. 6) of 1920, set on the patio of their Pasadena home. Beyond a fond and gentle imaging of Clark's beloved mate, the picture is a quintessential Impressionist representation, the languorous, lovely female, suffused in sunlight, with the ubiquitous parasol, both a shield and an emblem of sunlight and lassitude. Contemporary evaluations of such imagery differ. Brain Dijkstra views this picture as "a perfect expression of the ideology of passive, reproductive femininity, of a creature 'whose normal physical and mental condition' seemed to be indeed little more than that of a 'sick child'." Will South, on the other hand, views such an image far more positively, noting that, in such California Impressionist figure painting, the "interaction with the environment was always positive - an act of enjoyment, meditation, or praise."
Without meaning to denigrate the many other professional painters working with Impressionist-related strategies and objectives,William Wendt and Guy Rose would seem to have been the most significant and original painters in Southern California in the first three decades of the 20th century. Rose may have had more direct influence on some of his contemporaries, but Wendt was active there far longer, and both artists realized both critical acclaim and significant patronage, not only in California but elsewhere - Wendt in Chicago particularly and Rose in New York. Though the two do not appear to have been especially close, there is no indication of any sense of rivalry between them, or that most contemporaries regarded them as representative of opposing or competing "schools." They were both active in the California Art Club, and, along with Puthuff, Payne, and the Wachtels among others, both Wendt and Rose were also members of the Ten Painters Club of California, a primarily Impressionist group not unlike their namesake in New York, the Ten American Painters; the short-lived California association held exhibitions in 1919 at the Kanst Art Gallery, at which each of nine members succeeded one another with one-artist shows held between March and July (the one for Jack Wilkinson Smith remained unscheduled). Rather, Wendt and Rose seem to have been two of the brightest stars in a glowing firmament shining upon and celebrating the California landscape.
Both artists were also active painting at Laguna Beach. Wendt had been there as early as 1905, and was one of the founders of the Laguna Beach Art Association in 1918, the year he built his studio there. Rose exhibited with the Association in August and September 1918, May and June 1919, and, after his stroke, his work was shown during all three summer months in 1922.With its year-round temperate climate, along with the natural beauty of its broad swath of cliff-crested beaches and nearby canyons, Laguna Beach had served as one of the earliest painting grounds for Southern California landscape painters, even in the late 19th century.
George Gardner Symons, yet another Chicago-born and -trained artist, and a close friend and painting-companion of Wendt, had first come to California in the early 1880s. He returned with Wendt in 1897 to paint at Malibu, on commission from Frederick Hastings Rindge, who had acquired Rancho Malibu, one of the original Spanish land grants, in 1892. Symons was the earliest artist of note (Wendt was the second) to settle in Laguna Beach, building a studio in Arch Beach, just south of Laguna in 1903, and painting there over the next several decades, often large, dynamic coastal scenes such as his SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA COAST (cat. 54). Symons, a major figure who has yet to be studied in depth, carries a confused artistic identity, for he also maintained a studio in the Massachusetts Berkshire Mountains, and is nationally better known for his winter landscapes painted there, than for his colorful, sun-filled scenes painted along the Southern California shore. Likewise, he is often grouped with Edward Redfield and the Pennsylvania Impressionists, with whose winter scenes Symons's bear close similarities.
By the second decade of the 20th century, Laguna Beach had become a well-known art colony, the most celebrated one west of the Mississippi River. Edgar Payne was the guiding figure in the establishment of the Art Association, leading his colleagues to adopt the abandoned town hail and remodel it under his direction; he also became the Association's first president. The colony there differed from many other art communities in that, unlike, say, Giverny, it did not revolve around one major figure, nor did it, as did Old Lyme, Connecticut, or Provincetown, Massachusetts, foster a significant summer art school.
Around 1917, Rose painted one of his seminal images of California there, his LAGUNA EUCALYPTUS (cat. 46), perhaps the supreme achievement of Rose's fascination with trees, which led him to show the distinguishing characteristics of many varieties both abroad and in America. Eucalyptus trees, imported from Australia, were planted in the 1890s in response to the Timber Culture Act, as an improvement to legalize land claims in the area. They probably came from the seedbeds along the railroad tracks, where the trees were raised by A.C. Carle of El Toro. Carle had been hired by Dwight Whiting, owner of the Rancho de Los Alisos; about 40,000 to 50,000 trees were grown by him.
The eucalyptus was celebrated not only in paint but also in poetry, as in Harry Noyes Pratt's "The Eucalyptus." In Rose's picture, the trees are seen from a worm's eye view, their incredibly tall, thin trunks snaking upwards, their masses of foliage framed against the sky, their shape echoed in the billowing clouds.The work, sent by the artist late in 1917 to his New York dealer, William Macbeth, who exhibited and sold it early the following year, offers a succinct rebuttal to the implicit denigration associated with the expression "the eucalyptus school." LAGUNA EUCALYPTUS (cat. 46) is unusual among Rose's pictures painted in that community. Most of his other known Laguna pictures are bright, sunlit coastal scenes, such as the VIEW OF WOOD'S COVE, ROCKLEDGE (cat. 47), emphasizing the steep, craggy rock formations plunging directly into the Pacific. Indeed, the ocean and coast understandably figure in almost all the landscapes painted by the many members of the Laguna art colony; the California coastline had long been recommended as one of the most enticing features of the region, above all because "its beauties and attractions may be enjoyed during every month of the year." William Wendt's THE SILENT SUMMER SEA (cat. 58), painted in 1915, is a stark, terse, but brilliantly lighted coastal scene, set abruptly above the rocks, with only a precarious toehold in the yellow-brown hillside grasses before the visual plunge into the blue waters. Wendt typically emphasizes the structural solidity of the rocks with slab-like brushstrokes, relieved against the intense blue of the ocean, made all the more immediate through the high horizon.Thus, the viewer senses the tremendous breadth of the sea, while at the same time, without any coloristic amelioration or atmospheric haze, the high horizon validates the picture's basic flatness. THE SILENT SUMMER SEA was exhibited with the California Art Club in October 1915, when it gathered such encomiums as the one that appeared in The Graphic: "[Wendt] seems to have captured the spirit of 'The Silent Summer Sea.' I believe Mr. Wendt will one day paint marines which will win him world renown. There is a direct understanding for flowing elements, a fine interpretation of texture and glory in the composition."
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