Hearst Art Gallery

Saint Mary's College

Moraga, California

(510) 631-4379


Early California Impressionists: The Ronald E. Walker Collection


Like swallows returning to Capistrano or the Monarch butterflies to Pacific Grove, historic California landscape art will make its annual reappearance this summer at the Hearst Art Gallery of St. Mary's College in Moraga. In fact, views of Mission San Juan Capistrano and Pacific Grove are included in the exhibition "Early California Impressionists: The Ronald E. Walker Collection," which opens June 28 and continues through September 14, 1997.

Left: Elmer Wachtel, San Juan Capistrano, oil on canvasboard, 14 x 18 inches

California Impressionism, although related to French Impressionism, developed several decades later., and probably had more to do with the state's spectacular natural beauty, vast areas of open space, and rich natural resources than any deliberate effort by the artists to copy the style of Monet or Renoir.

This exhibition will be a rare opportunity for visitors to see exceptional works by Southern California plein air painters including Maurice Braun, Franz Bischoff, Edgar Payne, Donna Schuster and William Wendt. Many are associated with the art colony in and around Laguna Beach, where Hawaii collector Ronald Walker formerly lived.

Right: Edgar Payne, Summit Lake - High Sierras, oil on canvas, 28 x 34 inches

Because of the popularity and influence of the melancholy tonalists such as Gottardo Piazzoni and William Keith, in his later paintings, and perhaps without the sunny optimism and and spectacular climate of their south coast counterparts, the Bay Area did not become a major center of the new impressionism. However, a thriving artists' colony was developing further down the coast, especially after the exodus of artists from San Francisco following the 1906 earthquake and fire.

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This page was originally published in 1997 in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information.

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