Distinguished Artist Series

 

Franz A. Bischoff

1864-1929

by Jean Stern

 

The Paintings of Franz A. Bischoff

Franz Bischoff began painting after he had been a successful china decorator. His conversion to easel painting occurred at about the same time he moved to Southern California, in 1906. Prior to that, Bischoff's favored subject matter was flowers, particularly roses. Although he continued to paint flowers throughout his life, he began to paint landscapes only after his arrival in Los Angeles.

The task of assigning a chronological development to Bischoff's paintings is made difficult because relatively few of his paintings are dated. Of the 135 paintings represented in this [sic Petersen Galleries] collection, only 2 are dated, and both of these are from late in his life. However, by a close examination of the bibliography on Bischoff, including various newspaper and magazine articles and exhibition reviews, a reasonably accurate working chronology has been established.

Most of Bischoff's early landscapes were painted in and around the Arroyo Seco. From the earliest, Bischoff liked to paint on-the-spot open-air sketches on small, 13 inch by 19 inch boards. These present an exceptional insight into the brilliance of his oil technique. The free flowing rhythm and the sure and well disciplined hand are clearly evident in these sketches. Yet, the freshness and spontaneity of the moment are not eclipsed in the quick presentation. These small oil sketches made up a large part of the display in his gallery and were often hung among his larger works at his public exhibitions.

Bischoff's early paintings, prior to 1920, were painted in softer, more muted color harmonies than those painted later. Although he was at all times an exceptional and bold colorist, his earlier paintings appear more naturalistic in color scheme than the brighter, higher keyed colors of the later ones.

From top to bottom: Picking Flowers, oil on canvas, 24 x 36 inches; Clouds Drifting over the Mountains, oil on canvas, 24 x 34 inches; San Juan Capistrano Mission, oil on canvas, 24 x 30 inches.

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