California Impressionism



This section of the Traditional Fine Arts Organization (TFAO) catalogue Topics in American Art is devoted to the topic "California Impressionism." Articles and essays specific to this topic published in TFAO's Resource Library are listed at the beginning of the section. Clicking on titles takes readers directly to these articles and essays. The date at the end of each title is the Resource Library publication date.

Following are links to valuable online resources found outside our website. Links may be to museums' articles about exhibits, plus much more topical information based on our online searches.

Following online resources is information about offline resources including museums, DVDs, and paper-printed books, journals and articles.


Sampler of articles and essays from Resource Library in chronological order:

Abundance of Color: California Flowers in Art (8/22/08)

Romance of the Bells: The California Missions in Art (10/4/07)

Passionate Visions: Paintings by Botke, DeRome, Rider & Wendt (5/22/07)

Peaceful Awakening: Spring in California (1/18/07)

Majestic California: Prominent Artists of the Early 1900's (9/28/06)

The California Missions in Art - 1786 to 1890; essay by Norman Neuerburg (2/18/05)

Art in California: 1880 to 1930; essay by Jean Stern (2/16/05)


(above: Franz Arthur Bischoff, Arroyo Seco, 18 x 24 inches, Steven Stern Collection. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons*)


Romance of the Bells: The California Missions in Art (8/27/04)

A Woman's Touch: Selected Women Artists in California (4/14/04)

Landscape Painters of Northern California 1870-1930; essay by Harvey L. Jones, from the catalogue "Impressions of California: Early Currents in Art 1850-1950" (2/16/04)

Landscape of Light: Impressionism in California; essay by Jean Stern, from the catalogue "Impressions of California: Early Currents in Art 1850-1950" (12/26/03)

California's Native Grandeur: Preserving Vanishing Landscapes (12/22/03)

Impressionist Style in Perspective; essay by Jean Stern, from the catalogue "California Impressionists" (11/4/03)

The Land of Sunshine; essay by William H. Gerdts, from the catalogue "Masters of Light: Plein-Air Painting in California 1890-1930" (10/8/03)

Masters of Light, essay by Jean Stern; from the catalogue "Masters of Light: Plein-Air Painting in California 1890-1930" (10/3/03)

Masters of Light (6/25/03)

Well of Gold and Other Paintings of Summer in California (5/5/03)

Spring in California (2/4/03)

The Vanishing Landscape (9/18/02)

Moods of California (2/8/02)

California, This Golden Land of Promise: The History of California Through Art (11/12/01)

Southern California Masters of Landscape: Payne, Redmond and Wendt

A Woman's View: Paintings by Women Artists (12/6/00)

Along El Camino Real: The California Missions in Art (8/24/00)

Nature's Harmony (3/4/00)

All Things Bright and Beautiful (9/18/99)

Painted Light: California Impressionist Paintings: The Gardena High School/Los Angeles Unified School District Collection (4/8/99)

Of Springtimes Past (12/12/98)

Spacious Skies (9/2/98)

Painting Partners (6/14/98)


From other websites:

Albert Bierstadt's The Domes of the Yosemite  is a 2018 exhibit at the Morse Museum of American Art which says: "The Domes of the Yosemite, the largest existing painting by Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902), is making its post-conservation debut at the Morse through a special loan from the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum in Vermont. The monumental 1867 painting, which has not been seen outside the Athenaeum since its installation there in 1873, appeared on the American scene in the context of the Hudson River School." Also see news release and essays about Bierstadt in America's Distinguished Artists and page about the painting's conservation.  Accessed 3/18

California Impressionism from Wikipedia is a multi-part posting. The introduction says "The terms California Impressionism and California Plein-Air Painting describe the large movement of 20th century California artists who worked out of doors (en plein air), directly from nature in California, United States. Their work became popular in the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California in the first three decades after the turn of the 20th century. Considered to be a regional variation on American Impressionism, the painters of the California Plein-Air School are also described as California Impressionists; the terms are used interchangeably." Contents include 1 History, 1.1 Artists, 2 Northern California Tonalism and Impressionism, 3 Southern California Impressionism, 4 Decline of California Impressionism, 5 Revival of interest in early California Impressionism, 6 California en plein air revival, 6.1 Original California Plein-Air School, 6.2 Rehabilitation of the early California Impressionists, 6.3 Teachers form a bridge between the Plein-Air School and the Plein-Air Revival, 6..4 Origins of the California Plein-Air Revival, 6.5 Re-organization of the California Art Club, 6.6 Plein-Air shows. Accessed August, 2016.

Drawing On The Past: Works on Paper is a 2018 exhibit at the Irvine Museum Collection which says: "Drawing on the Past is a remarkable display of drawings, pastels, watercolors and etchings by California artists dating as far back as the 1880s." Accessed 8/18

Dusk till Dawn is a 2017 exhibit at the Irvine Museum which says: "Usually, an artist will paint a beautiful landscape bursting in bright sunlight with colorful trees and flowers, things one would expect to see during the day. This exhibition is different as the paintings on display show those same subjects but at night or at the outer edges of the day, when the sun is setting or when it is rising." To read more after exhibit closes, go to "Past Exhibitions" section of museum website.  Accessed 6/17

Early Artists in Yosemite from Yosemite Indians and Other Sketches (1936) by Mrs. H. J. Taylor, from Accessed July, 2015.

Early California Art Blog, with illustrated texts about exhibits at museums, historic artists and other information, by William A. Karges Fine Art Accessed July, 2015.

Early Days in California: William Keith, John Muir, and Joseph LeConte, an exhibit held January 15 - May 21, 2005 at the Saint Mary's College Museum of Art. Accessed April, 2015.

The Golden Twenties: Portraits and Figure Paintings by Joseph Kleitsch is a 2017 exhibit at the Pasadena Museum of California Art which says: "The Golden Twenties is the first museum exhibition to assemble Kleitsch's remarkable portraits and figure paintings. With a jewel-toned palette influenced by his native Hungary and a lighter, golden palette developed after his arrival in California, the works demonstrate the artist's exceptional ability to reveal the unique personality, demeanor, and essence of each subject." Also see press release. Accessed 9/17

Harmony of Light: Spring in California is a 2018 exhibit at the Irvine Museum Collection which says: "Harmony of Light comprises a selection of paintings by California Impressionists that show Spring in California from nearly a century ago. Although the year-round mild climate was a key factor in the growth of the Golden State, it was in the Spring that nature put on her most glorious display."  Accessed 4/18

The Historic Collections Council is dedicated to providing information about California Impressionist art and artists along with providing educational experiences for its members. Accessed 1/23

Inner Visions: Women Artists of California, an exhibit held March 17 through June 7, 2012 at The Irvine Museum. Accessed February, 2015.

Lasting Impressions: Twenty Years of The Irvine Museum, an exhibit held January 26-June 6, 2013 at The Irvine Museum. Accessed February, 2015.

Moods of California is a 2017 exhibit at the Irvine Museum Collection which says: "Our Golden State is a multi-faceted expanse of land that boasts seven unique ecological regions, each with distinctive flora, fauna and climate. These regions are: North Coast, Central Coast, South Coast, Shasta-Cascades, Sierra Nevada, Central Valley and Desert. This exhibition explores the various landscapes that characterize California." Accessed 12/17

Poems Without Words is a 2019 exhibit at the Irvine Museum Collection which says: "The Poems Without Words exhibition features 42 paintings that explore California impressionist artwork through the framework of visual poetry. The lead artwork is titled Pergola at Samarkand, painted in Santa Barbara in 1921 by Colin Campbell Cooper (1856-1937). The painting portrays Samarkand Persian Hotel which was built in 1920 and was one of the most luxurious hotels on the west coast until it was forced to close at the height of the Depression. The exhibition also features works by Granville Redmond, Anna Hills and Jessie Arms Botke, among others."  Also see Jean Stern interview from Irvine Weekly. Accessed 7/19

Radiant Impressions is a 2021 exhibit at the UCI Institute and Museum of California Art which says: "From California Impressionism to the Light and Space movement, California artists have been celebrated for their skillful rendering of the perceptual effects of light. Focusing on painters working in California throughout the 20th century, Radiant Impressions considers the ways these artists have engaged with light not only for its optical qualities but also for its power to infuse ephemeral moments with meaning and emotion. Whether the warm golden tones of the California sun or the intense glow of electric bulbs, light in these paintings communicates a sense of anticipation, celebration, rest, and reflection."  Accessed 12/21

Sunlight & Shadow: The Tradition of Plein Air Painting is a 2015 exhibit at the Irvine Museum which says: "In the early years of the twentieth century, California produced a unique artistic style which combined several distinctive aspects of American and European art. This style, which is often called California Impressionism or California Plein Air painting, after the French term for "in the open air", concerned itself with light and color. As a variant of the American Impressionist style, it focused directly on the abundant California light." Accessed 12/18

Upon a Painted Ocean: An Ode to the California Coast is a 2018 exhibit at the Irvine Museum Collection which says: "In addition to spectacular scenes of idyllic beaches, the exhibition includes several paintings of Santa Catalina Island, Coronado Beach, the rocky cliffs of Big Sur, views of San Francisco Bay, and two historic vistas of Crystal Cove, one of which shows the cove as a movie set, used as such since the early 1920s."  Accessed 12/18

Variations of Place: Southern California Impressionism in the Early 20th Century is a 2022 exhibit at the UCI Jack and Shanaz Institute and Museum of California Art which says: "Variations of Place: Southern California Impressionism in the Early 20th Century comprises over 30 paintings representing more than 20 artists who settled in Laguna Beach, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Santa Barbara in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Drawn from both Langson IMCA holdings and private collections, the exhibition features a myriad of seascapes, landscapes, and figure paintings. Artists include Franz A. Bischoff, Colin Campbell Cooper, Anna Althea Hills, Guy Rose, William Wendt, and others responding to Southern California's temperate climes and variety of natural features."  Accessed 9/22


(above: Guy Rose (1867-1925), Lifting Fog, Irvine Museum. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons*)


Also see:

California Art History and California Regionalism and California School of Painters


Online videos

(above:  Alson S. Clark (1876-1949), Reflection, 1922. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons*)

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