By Rob Pierce, Associate Director, William A. Karges Fine Art, Santa Monica
Since the beginning of the 20th century, the climactic landscape of the Monterey Peninsula has attracted artists from around the world, eager to try their hand at capturing the spirit of the dramatic shoreline. Over the ensuing century, hundreds of artists produced thousands of works, each a unique interpretation of the region’s natural beauty.
After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the region was inundated with musicians, writers, painters and other artists who established an artist colony after the bay city was destroyed. The new residents were offered home lots – ten dollars down, little or no interest, and whatever they could pay on a monthly basis. Among the visual artists to participate in the burgeoning arts community were Armin Hansen, Mary DeNeale Morgan, Carl Oscar Borg, Roi Clarkson Colman, William Louis Otte, Rinaldo Cuneo, William Henry Price.
San Francisco native Armin Hansen is generally considered the most significant artist to work in the Monterey Peninsula during the early-and mid-20th century. Stormy Sea (pictured below) depicts a ship struggling through stormy seas. This painting is an excellent example of Hansen’s powerful oceanographic scenes, for which he is best known.
Carmel artist Mary DeNeale Morgan was born in San Francisco in 1868, where she became a favorite pupil of William Keith. Morgan attended summer classes in Carmel that were led by William Merritt Chase and later became the Director of the Carmel School of Art from 1917-1925. Equally facile in watercolor, gouache and oil painting, Morgan’s works often feature the windblown trees and rocky coastline of the Monterey Peninsula.
A native of Sweden, Carl Oscar Borg cut his teeth as an apprentice to the English artist George Johansen. Working as a seaman, Borg jumped ship in San Francisco in 1901. Borg initially studied under Southern California luminary, William Wendt, and showing great promise, was soon sponsored by Phoebe Hearst to study in Paris and Rome. The artist is remembered for his naturalistic paintings of Monterey and the American Southwest. Here, Borg presents his version of the iconic Monterey cypress tree, a popular subject matter among the region’s artists.
A contemporary of Borg, Roi Clarkson Colman studied in Paris at the Academies Julian and Grand Chaumiere, before settling in Southern California around 1913. While maintaining a professorship at the Santa Ana Academy, Colman traveled up and down the California coast, painting scenes of Laguna Beach, Carmel, and San Diego.
Although William Otte was a successful stockbroker in NYC, in his leisure he studied at the New York School of Art, Independent School of Art, and with Robert Henri. In 1913 he retired from the stock market and moved to California to devote his life to art. An Impressionist, he used small, feathery brush strokes and a colorful palette to create paintings of the California landscape, primarily of Santa Barbara and the Monterey Peninsula.
Rinaldo Cuneo studied at the Mark Hopkins Institute with Arthur Mathews before attending the Academie Colarossi in Paris from 1911-1913. Upon his return to California, Cuneo was involved in every major art exhibition in the San Francisco area from 1916-1939. Called “the Painter of San Francisco,” at the inaugural exhibition of the San Francisco Museum of Art in 1935, Cuneo had the most paintings displayed by any early California artist. In that same exhibition, his painting, "California Hills" won the Museum’s Purchase Prize award. A pure impressionist early in his career, Cuneo’s style constantly evolved throughout his life as he was always seeking out and assimilating the various innovations of representation.
Franz Bischoff was born in Austria, where he studied at a crafts school, specializing in painting and porcelain. Emigrating to the United States in 1885, Bischoff worked in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan, ultimately setting up Bischoff Schools of Ceramic Art in New York and Dearborn, Michigan. Arriving in Pasadena in 1908, Bischoff established a home and studio along the Arroyo. Once in California, Bischoff turned his attentions to landscape painting. His best known subjects are of the Arroyo near his home, still lifes, the Sierras, and the Monterey Peninsula.
Born in Pittsburgh, PA on Feb. 14, 1863, William Henry Price had a few art lessons from Emil Forester while working for Anaconda Copper Company in Butte, MT. He had visited Laguna Beach, CA in 1910 and, after retiring from the business world in 1920, settled there and devoted the rest of his life to art. He studied briefly with Edgar Payne but was primarily a self-taught painter of landscapes and marines.
The artistic community in the Monterey-Carmel area remains vibrant, active, and progressive today, while simultaneously paying homage to the area's rich cultural history. Contemporary plein-air painters such as award-winning artist Dennis Doheny continue to be inspired by the scenic beauty of the region. His recent compositions include works that capture the grandeur of the Point Lobos State Reserve, and the quiet beauty of the Carmel Monastery at Dawn.
Another artist who has been inspired by early California Impressionism is Pebble Beach artist Brian Blood. He is a well-known local plein-air painter whose works show a fascination with the changing light effects explored by artists of the Monterey Peninsula area for well over a century.
Contemporary Carmel artist Joaquin Turner also embraces the artistic history of the Monterey Peninsula. His remarkable landscapes are influenced by late 19th/early 20th century Northern California painters, including tonalists Charles Rollo Peters, Gottardo Piazzoni, and Percy Gray.
For over one hundred years, paintings of the Monterey Peninsula's rocky shoreline, ambling cypress, and tumultuous seas have captured the hearts and minds of connoisseurs the world over. From Hansen to Doheny, Gray to Turner, Yuan to Blood and beyond, the region continues to inspire. Of course, as with those of the early 20th century, the painters of today will eventually pass the torch to a new generation of artists, thus cementing their own legacies in the annals of art history. Until then, we look to these modern day visionaries to interpret nature's hidden truths, to reveal through their art the real essence of the land and sea, and carry on the rich traditions started so long ago.
For additional information about available paintings, please contact Rob Pierce, Associate Director, William A. Karges Fine Art, Santa Monica, at email@example.com.