tarting with the late 1880s and continuing into the early part of the twentieth century, California’s majestic landscape was the inspiration for many American artists. They set out to capture California’s vivid colors and intense sunshine in a distinctive style that has come to be called California Impressionism or California plein air painting after the French term for "in the open air." Venturing out into nature, these artists often depicted California as a colorful, sunlit garden of wildflowers or a tranquil retreat.
As a regional variant of American Impressionism, the California plein air style is a composite of traditional American landscape painting and influences from French Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. With the turn of the century, when Impressionism had only recently become an accepted American style, Southern California experienced an influx of young artists, most of whom had been trained in that style and had never known any other. The period from 1900 to 1915 marks the flowering of California Impressionism. It is part of the continuum of American art’s passion with landscape, a lineage that began long before the early years of the American republic.
This exhibition presents masterpieces of California Impressionism from the Irvine Museum, arguably the most important collection of West Coast American Impressionism. The Irvine Museum is the only museum in California dedicated to the preservation and display of California Impressionism or plein-air painting. The colorful collection of more than 60 California Impressionist paintings presents the work of more than forty-four artists. Among the well-known artists featured in the exhibition are William Wendt, Guy Rose, Dona Schuster, Granville Redmond and Alson Clark.