Distinguished Artist Series

 

Franz A. Bischoff

1864-1929

by Jean Stern

 

 

The gallery measured 36 feet by 40 feet. It had high, concave ceilings lighted by several half-circle skylights. The floors were of solid oak covered by old Turkish rugs and polar bear skins. All interior doors and paneling were of natural redwood in the Gothic style. The furniture was of massive oak in the Mission style. At the west end of the gallery was a huge tile-covered fireplace. The wall space throughout was covered with paintings of flowers and landscapes, and in one corner were several oak display cases containing examples of Bischoff's painted ceramics.

The painting studio had a large picture window that overlooked the Arroyo Seco, with a wide vista of the distant mountains. The studio furniture consisted of an easel, several easy chairs and low divans, all of Flemish oak. The basement housed a complete ceramic studio with a kiln, and a complete laboratory where Bischoff prepared his colors.

Bischoff's paintings were immediately well received by the public and the art critics. He loved to paint the Arroyo Seco from the vicinity of his home. His favorite sketching method was to take several small board panels, about 13 inches by 19 inches, and quickly paint the view first-hand. These numerous panels were used later to compose the large canvas paintings. Bischoff always displayed these small sketches in his gallery and visitors admired their "...broad, free way. They give us many aspects of nature with compelling truth. California's gray days as well as her sunshine..." In addition to the local landscape, Bischoff painted many aspects of everyday life about him: the farms and pastures with their cows and sheep; the busy docks of San Pedro with fishermen unloading their catch; relaxed groups of people picnicking or picking flowers on the lawn. Bischoff also traveled up the coast to Monterey, Carmel and Cambria. He painted in the Sierras and in the desert near Palm Springs. Late in his life, he visited Utah and produced several outstanding scenes of the sandstone cliffs of Zion National Park. But above all, he was a flower painter, and he continued to paint flowers throughout his life.

Bischoff continued to teach after he came to Los Angeles. In addition to holding classes in Los Angeles, he periodically traveled to San Francisco and Seattle to hold courses during the summer months. On February 5, 1929, Franz Bischoff died of heart failure at his home in his beloved Arroyo Scco. For many years thereafter, Bertha and their son Oscar kept the gallery open to visitors and occasionally sold some paintings and ceramics. Upon Bertha's death in 1966, Oscar Bischoff continued the practice until his death in 1967. Frances Bischoff Mace died in 1979.

From top to bottom: Cypress Point, oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches; Flower Arrangement, Mums, oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches; Peonies, oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches; Palisades Glacier, oil on canvas, 24 x 34 inches.

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