The Irvine Museum

Irvine, CA



A Woman's View: Paintings by Women Artists

January 27, 2001 - May 19, 2001


Far from being limited to a dilettante role, women artists in California were important figures in the early part of the twentieth century and excelled in landscape painting, as well as portrait, figural, and still-life. Moreover, they set the standard in such diverse media as oil painting, watercolor, and sculpture.

As one of the founders of the Laguna Beach Art Association (see our story on the Laguna Art Colony), in 1917, Anna Althea Hills (1882-1930) played a key role in organizing and, later as its president, in charting the course of the California Plein-Air style. A popular art teacher, she helped guide the careers of numerous artists of the period, including George Kennedy Brandriff (1890- 1936). The Irvine Museum exhibition, A Woman's View, shows several works by Hills, including the small and charming outdoor sketch entitled By the Roadside Near El Toro, 1914. (left: Elanor Colburn, Bathing Baby '30, oil oil canvas, 36 x 33 inches)

One of the most popular artists whose works are on display at The Irvine Museum is Jessie Arms Botke (1883-1971). Her elegant and brightly colored paintings of exotic birds and plants stand out for their sheer power to dazzle the eyes of the viewer. Nationally known as one of the important American Art Deco painters, Botke's works shimmer with color and graceful detail, often times accompanied by large areas of gold leaf as part of the design. (right: Elsie Payne (1884-1971), Red Cliffs, gouache on paper, 11 1/2 x 14 inches)

Not all California painters were Impressionist inspired. Starting in about 1914, a group of progressive artists began to show works of strong modernist ideals. Among these were Mabel Alvarez (1891 -1985), Elanor Ruth Colburn (1866-1939), Meta Gehring Cressey (1882-1964), Helen Katherine Forbes (1891-1945), Donna Norine Schuster (1883-1953) and Elsie Palmer Payne (1884-1971). Their bold use of color and line is in stark contrast to the realistic appearance of the Plein-Air paintings usually associated with this period. (left: Donna Schuster (1883-1953), On the Beach, c. 1917, Collection of The Irvine Museum)

Readers may also enjoy related articles in our 20th Century Pacific Painting magazine.


Resource Library editor's note:

For biographical information on artists referenced in this article please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists

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This article was originally published in 2000.

Rev. 8/27/09

Read more articles and essays concerning this institutional source by visiting the sub-index page for the Irvine Museum in Resource Library.

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