What is it that has always attracted people to Early California painting? Works created during the period between 1870 and 1940, plein air works in particular, call attention to the exceptional and unparalleled beauty of the hills, mountains, deserts, and farmlands of the Golden State. These cherished historic works remind us of a romantic era and a quieter time in the history of the “Land of Sunshine and Opportunity”.
Joan Irvine Smith, founder of the Irvine Museum, noted that “Over a hundred years ago, the splendor of nature fascinated artists and compelled them to paint beautiful paintings. As we view these rare and remarkable paintings, we are returned, all too briefly, to a time long ago when the land and its bounty were open and almost limitless.”
Even before the land around Yosemite Valley became part of Yosemite National Park in 1890, the breathtaking views of this area captivated countless notable artists and writers. The stunning waterfalls, majestic granite cliffs and scenic vistas were favorite subjects of famous 19th century landscape artist Thomas Hill. One of the most acclaimed painters in the history of American art, Thomas Hill is especially well known for his western landscapes and panoramic views of our National Parks.
Millard Sheets was one of the seminal artists working in California from the late 1920's until his death in the late 1980's. Often identified as the most influential of the "California Scene Painters" during the 1930's and 40's, Sheets was a master watercolorist and oil painter. He also designed and oversaw the implementation of over 100 public murals, and as one of the directors of the WPA Art Program for Southern California, his leadership and impact on the local art world cannot be overstated.
Millard Sheets was born in 1907 in Pomona, California and grew up on a ranch, where he developed a love of the land and horses. "Oro Grande, 1937", is a fine example of his unique style that also reveals his enduring attraction to simple, rustic, rural scenes. His paintings can be found the collections of numerous important museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum, the Chicago Art Institute, and the National Gallery in Washington D.C.
American Impressionist Orrin White is best known for his decorative Southern California landscape paintings. He was born in Illinois in 1883 and moved to Los Angeles in 1912, where he worked for an interior design firm and painted in his spare time. In 1915 his works were accepted to both the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, and the 1915-1916 Panama-California International Exposition in San Diego, and he was inspired to begin painting full-time.
“Sycamores and Coast” is painted in a classic impressionist style, with rich, bold colors, close attention to light and atmospheric effects, and loose brushstrokes. The strong composition features the towering, majestic trees that are often found in his finest plein-air works.
The appeal of historical California art is multi-faceted and often rooted in deeply-felt emotions and fundamental human nature. Early California landscapes can bring us joy, pleasure, and memories of happy times spent with people we've loved. And, most importantly, the paintings from this special era in history make us feel connected to the past, connected to the land and the environment around us, connected to the artists through time, and to each other.
For additional information about these paintings or other currently available artworks, please visit www.kargesfineart.com, call (800) 833-9185, or email the Director of our Carmel Gallery, Patrick Kraft, at firstname.lastname@example.org.