The Plein Air Scene

by Sarah Beserra

Scott Burdick, Sarah in Catalina, oil on panel, 8 x 10 inches


Early California Painters Take Europe By Storm


The first-ever international exhibition of California Impressionist paintings has been touring Europe for the past six months and attracting unprecedented crowds. "Masters of Light, California Plein Air Paintings from The Irvine Museum," includes mainstay painters such as Franz Bischoff, Guy Rose, Maurice Braun, E. Charlton Fortune, William Ritschell, and Armin Hansen, and will return home this coming fall. Initiated by James Irvine Swinden, Vice President, Irvine Museum, and Jean Stern, Executive Director, the show took four years of planning and development to come to fruition. A grand finale celebration is planned for October 4, 2003 at the Irvine Museum to welcome the show home. Comprised of 58 California Impressionist paintings, the exhibit features works from the Irvine's collection as well as those from some 15 of the most prestigious private collections in the United States

The show premiered in Paris last September at the Mona Bismarck Foundation Museum. After a gala grand opening under the auspices of U.S. Ambassador Howard H. Leach, the show earned enthusiastic reviews in the French art press and attracted record crowds during its three-month stay.

Krakow, Poland was the second destination for the show which opened in February at the eminent International Cultural Center. The Prime Minister of Poland had planned to open the exhibition until he was called away on urgent business in Washington. The Polish Minister of Cultural Affairs welcomed the larger-than-normal crowds, forcing the Center to open one extra day per week. Total figures for attendance were 33,000, far surpassing the previous record of 8,000.

The exhibition opened June 18 in Madrid, Spain, at the Centro Cultural del Conde Duque, a distinguished municipal museum and will remain there throughout the summer.

Collectors contributing paintings to the show are: Paul and Kathleen Bagley, Dr. and Mrs. Edward H. Boseker, The Buck Collection, John and Patricia Dilks, Jack and Suzie Kenefick, Dr. Oscar and Trudy Lemer, De Witt Clinton McCall, Raymond G. Redfern, Roy C. Rose and the Rose Family Collection, the Joan Irvine Smith Collection, Mr. and Mrs. George Stern, Jean, Stern, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas B. Stiles II, and the Swinden Family Collection. A full-color book accompanies the exhibition with essay by Dr. William H. Gerdts, the foremost authority on American Impressionism and Jean Stern.

Call: (949) 476-0294 or go to


Joseph Raphael in Monterey


The Monterey Museum of Art at the Civic Center will feature "Joseph Raphael: American Expatriate" through August 31, 2003. Raphael is know for his exquisite Impressionist landscapes, still lifes and genre paintings. Drawn from the extensive collection of Oscar and Trudy Lemer, this is a rare opportunity to explore the range of oil paintings, watercolors, and prints created by this highly acclaimed artist. The last-showing of Raphael's paintings was at the Stanford Museum 23 years ago. The exhibition includes some 70 pieces: paintings, drawings, woodblock prints, pastels and watercolors.

Joseph Morris Raphael (1869-1950) was born in San Francisco where he received his initial professional training as a pupil of Arthur Mathews at the California School of Design before undertaking further art studies in Paris. Raphael established his home and family in Europe, living there for 37 years, achieving an international reputation as a painter working in Holland, France and Belgium, while continuing his ties to the Bay Area and Monterey Peninsula arts communities. At the onset of World War II, in 1939, Raphael returned to San Francisco where he kept a studio on Sutter Street until his death in 1950.

In the color catalogue which accompanies the exhibit, Harvey Jones, Senior Curator of the Oakland Museum, quotes Society of Six member William H. Clapp: "In my opinion, (Joseph) Raphael is the greatest artist California has produced, in fact, he is close to being the greatest Impressionist that the whole nation has produced." According to Jones, "Today it seems that Joseph Raphael is an artist better known for his considerable reputation during the early years of the 20th century and as a major influence on California's Impressionist painters, than for his now too rarely exhibited paintings."

With only a few works in museum collections, most of Raphael's paintings remain in private hands.

Monterey Museum of Art, Joseph Raphael An American Expatriate -- 559 Pacific St., Monterey. June 7-Aug. 31, 2003 (831) 372-5477.


© Sarah Beserra, 2003

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Sarah Beserra is Editor and Publisher of The Plein Air Scene - a monthly newsletter on plein air painting in California. Please see the website for The Plein Air Scene for email address and phone number.

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