National Academy Museum

and School of Fine Arts


All Things Bright and Beautiful: California Impressionist Paintings from the Irvine Museum

May 6 through July 5, 1998


Edouard A. Vysekal (1890-1939)

Joy, 1917, oil on canvas, 46 x 35 inches

Courtesy of the Irvine Museum, Irvine California

William Wendt, a founding member of the California Art Club, eventually moved his home and studio from Los Angeles to Laguna Beach, a coastal community noted for its tremendous beauty and Mediterranean climate. Although somewhat reclusive, he was a founding member of the Laguna Beach Art Association in 1918, which strengthened the local artistic community. Wendt was one of the most important local artists and teachers, and his painting The Silent Summer Sea (1915) offers exhibition visitors a sense of his luminous work in Laguna Beach.

Home to one of the most important of the California artists' colonies, Laguna Beach welcomed painters from all parts of the country, many of whom modified their styles in response to the area's features. Another instrumental member of the Laguna Beach Art Association was its first President, Edgar Payne, who used Laguna as a base for travel throughout the American Southwest and Europe. Featured in the exhibition is one of Payne's most beloved landscapes of the mountains of California, Sierra Divide.

San Diego, like Laguna Beach, served as an important artistic center in the early years of this century. New York-educated Maurice Braun looked to San Diego as an environment removed from the politics and pressures of the old guard in the East. Braun enjoyed a national reputation, exhibiting widely. In 1915, he received a gold medal at the Panama-California Exposition in San Diego. All Things Bright and Beautiful includes Braun's summery work San Diego Countryside with River, c. 1925.




The Irvine Museum, founded by Joan Irvine Smith in 1992, boasts the largest collection of California Impressionism in the world. The Irvine Museum is dedicated to the preservation and display of California art of the Impressionist penod, 1890 to 1930. Joan Irvine Smith comments, "...the multiple aspects of California Impressionist paintings, with their beauty, their significance as artworks and historical records, and their reverence for nature, have made a deep and abiding impact on me. They stand in silent testament to our regard for the environment, and their elegant account must not go unheeded. I sincerely hope that all who see these firsthand will be as moved by them as I have been."





The two most important private collections of California Impressionist paintings outside their home state are in New York, owned by Mr. Paul Bagley and by Mr. and Mrs. Thomas B. Stiles. Approximately thirty paintings drawn from these two major collections will be on view at the National Academy concurrently with the exhibition from The Irvine Museum. A tentative list of artists to be shown from these New York collections includes Franz Bischoff, George Kennedy Brandriff, Maurice Braun, Alson Clark, Colin Campbell Cooper, Arthur Hill Gilbert, Armin Carl Hansen, Anna Hills, Clarence Hinkle, Joseph Kleitsch, Edgar Payne, William Ritschel, John Christopher Smith, and William Wendt. New York Collects California Impressionism is curated by Dr. David Dearinger and will be accompanied by a separate brochure. This concurrent presentation is an exclusive addition to the New York venue of All Things Bright and Beautiful. This exhibition is funded with the generous support of Paul Bagley and Mr. and Mrs. Thomas B. Stiles.




The exhibition is accompanied by a full-color, illustrated catalogue in both hard and soft cover. The catalogue contains essays by Dr. Gerdts, Professor of Art History at the Graduate Center, CUNY, in New York City; Jean Stern, Director of The Irvine Museum; Dr. David Dearinger, Chief Curator at the National Academy Museum; and Harvey L. Jones, Director of The Oakland Museum, Oakland, CA. National Academy Director Dr. Annette Blaugrund contributed an introduction, as did Governor Pete Wilson, of California, who notes that the exhibition is a part of his state's sesquicentennial (150th) anniversary) celebrations. The catalogue is available at the National Academy Museum at (212) 369-4880, and at all of the venues along the tour.




Following its debut at the National Academy in New York, All Things Bright and Beautiful travels to The Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, IL (July 25 to September 27, 1998); The Dixon Gallery, Memphis, TN (October 18, 1998 to January 24, 1999); The Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, CA (March 20 to May 30, 1999); and The Irvine Museum, Irvine, CA (October 2, 1999 to January 22, 2000).

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