The Carmel Monterey Peninsula Art Colony: A History

By Barbara J. Klein



Paul Dougherty arrived in Carmel in 1931. He had studied at the New York Art Student's League and additionally was self taught by independent study. He exhibited work in the Paris Salon as early as 1901 and received top awards at the Carnegie International in 1912, the Innis Gold Medal, and the First Altman and Carnegie Prizes at the National Academy of Design in 1913, the Gold Medal at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915, and the Palmer Memorial Prize from the National Academy of Design in 1941. Towards Sunlight demonstrates the brilliance of his impressionist style.

Arthur Gilbert arrived in Monterey in 1928. His art studies included Northwestern University, Chicago Art Institute, and the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. He received national recognition for his work, receiving the Hallgarten Prize in 1929, and the Ranger and the Frances Murphy Prizes in 1930 from the National Academy of Design. The green oaks and golden fields in the hills of the Carmel Valley were some of Gilbert's favorite subjects for paintings.

Born in Bavaria, William Ritschel came to Carmel in 1911; he built a stone "castle" in the Carmel highlands overlooking the sea in 1918. Ritschel won three top awards at the National Academy of Design, the Carnegie Prize 1913, and the Ranger Prizes in 1921 and 1926, and won gold medals at the National Arts Club in 1914 and at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915.

Armin Hansen, born in San Francisco, studied with Arthur Mathews at the California School of Design and at the Royal Academy in Stuttgart. He exhibited work in Brussels, Munich, and in Paris before returning to San Francisco where he taught at the California School of Design and at the University of California at Berkeley. He received First Prize at the International Exposition in Brussels in 1910, a silver medal at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in 1915, and the Hallgarten and Ranger Prizes at the National Academy of Design in the years 1920 and 1924.

Hansen came to Monterey in 1922 to study with E. Charlton Fortune and became active in the art community on the peninsula. He helped found the Monterey History and Art Association and was a leading member of the Carmel Art Association. He was also a skilled etcher and received the gold medal award from the Printmakers Society of California. Hansen's favorite subjects for a painting were fishermen and the sea.[17] Armin Hansen taught a whole generation of modernist artists including the sisters Helen and Margaret Bruton, and Jeannette Maxfield Lewis.

The Carmel Art Institute was founded by Hansen and the Paul Whitmans in 1937 providing a year-round instruction. In 1939, when Hansen resumed his own painting career, artist John Cunningham, who had been a professor of art at Mills College in Oakland, California and Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, took over directorship. Cunningham had studied with Hans Hoffman in Munich, and Andre L'Hote in Paris and had also worked with Benjamin Buffano in France. His international connections brought well known European artists such as Ferdinand Leger, Alexander Archipenko, and Salvador Dali as instructors to the academy, reviving Carmel's reputation as a teaching center.[18]

Today, the village of Carmel retains much of its original magic, due to the visionary policies of early artists and generous developers. There are now four theaters of the dramatic arts, including the original Forest Theater and the Theater of the Golden Bough. The Annual Festival of Firsts still premiers the work of young playwrights. Summer musical events include the famous Bach Festival in Carmel and the Monterey Jazz Festival. The community of fine arts is well supported by the Carmel Art Association, The Pacific Grove Art Center, and the Monterey Peninsula Museum of Art, where art education is carried into the public schools, and exhibitions include juried shows of contemporary artists.


1. Helen Spangenberg, Yesterday's Artists on the Monterey Peninsula, Monterey: Monterey Peninsula Museum, 1976, 16-22.

2. Chauncey A. Kirk, "Bohemia Rendezvous, Nineteenth-Century Monterey: California's First Artists Colony," Cupertino: The American West Magazine, 1979,37-44.

3. Spangenberg, 22-23.

4. Ibid., 28.

5. Betty Haag McGlynn, Charles Rollo Peters (1862-1928), Plein Air Painters of California: The North, Irvine: Westphal Publishing, 1986, 150-151.

6. Stanley Wood, Over the Range to the Golden Gate, Chicago: R. R. Donnelley & Sons, Publisher, 1905, 247-249.

7. Harold and Ann Gilliam, Creating Carmel, The Enduring Vision, Layton, Utah: Peregrine Smith, Gibbs Smith, 1992,64-102.

8. Spangenberg, 27.

9. Betty Haag McGlynn, The Carmel Art Association: A History, Carmel-by-the-Sea: Carmel Art Association, 1987, 9-11.

10. Spangenberg, 47-48.

11. Ibid., 50-51.

12. Merle Schipper, Colors and Impressions: The Early Work of E. Charlton Fortune, Monterey: Monterey Peninsula Museum, 1990, 15-16.

13. Gilliam, 121-144.

14. Mathews became acquainted with Chavannes' work at the Academie Julian in Paris. Raymond Wilson, Towards Impressionism in Northern California, Plein Air Painters of California: The North, Irvine: Westphal Publishing, 1987, 6-7.

15. Harvey L. Jones, Mathews, Masterpieces of California Decorative Style, Gibbs M. Smith, Inc. in association with the Oakland Museum. Layton, Utah, 1985, 17-18.

16. Harvey L. Jones, Arthur and Lucia Mathews, Plein Air Painters of California: The North, Irvine: Westphal Publishing, 1986, 104-109.

17. Gael Donovan, Our First Five National Academicians, Carmel: The Carmel Art Association, 1989, 1-62.

18. Gilliam, 153-158.


About the author:

Barbara J. Klein is a freelance Berkeley writer, art historian and adjunct museum curator. She is the former director of the San Francisco Craftsman's Guild and California Heritage Fine Art Gallery. She is a also a private art dealer.


Resource Library editor's note:

The above article was reprinted in Resource Library on April 21, 2005 with the permission of the author. If you have questions or comments regarding the article, please contact Barbara J. Klein directly through either this phone number or address:

This article was previously published in American Art Review, Volume VIII, Number 4, September-October 1996, pp. 110-117.

Resource Library wishes to extend appreciation to for help in locating the address of Ms. Klein.

Readers may also enjoy these articles and essays:

For California art history overall see Top California Artists; In and Out of California: Travels of American Impressionists, an essay by Deborah Epstein Solon; In and Out of California: The Participatory Nature of Early California Art, an essay by Will South; California Watercolor Painters in Context, an essay by Donelson Hoopes; Regionalism: The California View, an essay by Susan M. Anderson and The Metamorphosis of California Landscape Art, an essay by Rexford E. Brandt.

For Northern California see The 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition of San Francisco; An Art-Lover's Guide to the Exposition, by Sheldon Cheney (reprint of an entire book covering the San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition of 1915); The Art of the Exposition, by Eugen Neuhaus (reprint of an entire book covering the San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition of 1915); The Sculpture And Mural Decorations Of The Exposition, by Stella George Stern Perry (reprint of an entire book covering the San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition of 1915); Harvey L. Jones' essay Twilight and Reverie: California Tonalist Painting 1890-1930; The Northern Scene and Towards Impressionism in Northern California, essays by Raymond L. Wilson; The Society of Six, an essay by Terry St. John; The San Francisco Art Association, The Santa Cruz Art League and The Carmel Art Association, essays by Betty Hoag McGlynn.

Persons further interested in California's art history may also enjoy these two videos:


Visions of California: The Story of California Scene Painting, from Paul Bockhorst Productions of Monrovia, CA, was made in 1994 for KOCE Public Television in collaboration with The Irvine Museum. It is a story of California Scene Painting 1925-1950. Bockhorst, working with scores of collectors and dozens of institutions and museums nationwide, created a three-part series that features almost 150 works of art.




Impressions of California: Currents in Art 1850-1930, from Paul Bockhorst Productions, was also made in for KOCE Public Television in collaboration with The Irvine Museum The video contains four 1/2 hour television programs totaling 112 minutes.



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