Crocker Art Museum

Sacramento, California

(916) 264-5423.



California Impressionists



Louis Betts (1873-1961)

MidWinter, Cor onado Beach, c. 1907

Oil on canvas, 29" x 24"

Courtesy of Irvine Museum

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California Impressionists, showing at the museum beginning August 15, 1997, features more than fifty outstanding paintings by over thirty artists, dating about 1895 through the 1920s. Among artists represented in the exhibition are Franz Bischoff, Maurice Braun, William Merritt Chase (with a painting of Monterey, dating to 1914), Colin Campbell Cooper, E. Charlton Fortune, Armin Hansen, Childe Hassam, Granville Redmond, Guy Rose and William Wendt.


Franz A. Bischoff (1864-1929)

Roses, n.d.

Oil on canvas, 30" x 40"

Joan Irvine Smith Collection

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Originated by the Georgia Museum of Art and the Irvine Museum, the exhibition brings together canvassed by major artists who adopted the techniques of painting directly from nature using short brush strokes from French Impressionism. They likewise sought to capture ephemeral effects of light and atmosphere of California landscape motifs. Works by artists working in both Northern and Southern California are featured, allowing comparisons between their approaches. Of special importance are the paintings created by William Merritt Chase and Childe Hassam during their visits to the state in 1914. These compliment views created by artists such as Bischoff, Rose and Wendt, who spent significant portions of their life working on the West Coast.


Guy Rose (1867-1925)

The Green Parasol, c. 1909

Oil on Canvas, 31" x 19"

Collection of Patricia and John Dilks

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Although artists began exploring Impressionism in Europe as early as the late 1860s, and banded together to present independent group exhibitions by the early 1870s, American artists did not adopt the principles of the style for a number of years. By 1890, however, painters from Old Lyme, Connecticut to Carmel, California, began to flock to France -- and especially to Claude Monet's retreat in Giverny -- to learn Impressionist techniques.



Colin Campbell Cooper (1856-1937)

Pergola at Samarkand Hotel, Santa Barbara, c. 1921

Oil on canvas, 29" x 36"

Joan Irvine Smith Fine Arts, Inc.

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In an era characterized by many artistic styles, Impressionism became the "dominant style in painting" by the early years of this century, as attested to by the art work on display in the 1892 Midwinter Fair and 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, both of which were held in San Francisco.


William Wendt (1865-1946)

Quiet Brook, 1923

Oil on canvas, 30" x 36"

Joan Irvine Smith Fine Arts, Inc.

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Although these exhibitions were significant in confirming Impressionism as an important style for California artists, other factors -- including the climate, extended coastline and quality of light (said to approximate that of the south of France) -- encouraged painters, particularly in Southern California, to employ Impressionist techniques. These were adopted by leading artists of the period to the distinctive character of the California landscape, creating images as distinct as Colin Campbell Cooper's lyrical A California Water Garden at Redlands (in which small strokes of paint and pastel tomes convey an ephemeral effect to William Wendt's more broadly painted canvases Quiet Brook and California Gold, in which broad swaths of paint anchor their subjects. The artists, however, share an interest in representing nature directly observed and in presenting scenes attesting to the state's natural beauty and bounty.

Text and photos courtesy of Crocker Art Museum

Search for more articles and essays on American art in Resource Library. See America's Distinguished Artists for biographical information on historic artists.

This page was originally published in 1997 in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information.

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