While Monet’s sensational water lilies and landscapes are featured in Reflections on Monet, this display highlights a few of the leading artists who have painted outdoors here in Balboa Park.

The availability of oil paint in tubes from 1841 replaced the necessity of pig bladders and glass to transport paint, and enabled artists to leave their studios and paint in the surrounding parks or countryside.  In particular, artists became more interested in how changing daylight could be interpreted, and in capturing a moment in time with quick brushstrokes.  Impressionism, as it developed in France, rapidly had many followers in the United States, contributing to the California Plein Air scene.

While many local artists continue to paint in this technique, the artists seen here offer a variety of approaches to representing Balboa Park, from Maurice Braun’s majestic overview, to Belle Baranceanu’s condensation of the park as if seen from the sky.  Charles Fries’ quick sketches (featured above) contrast with the seeming timelessness of the park. Alfred Mitchell captures a flower show held in the Southern Counties  building (destroyed by fire in 1925) in colorful impressionistic gestures.

Works by noted American Impressionists Mary Cassatt, Childe Hassam, Maurice Prendergast, Charles Reiffel, and Guy Rose can be found in the American galleries, the Visible Vaults, and in Reflections on Monet.

The San Diego Museum of Art is organizing plein-air painting workshops September 16 and 23. These workshops are now sold out. Visit our calendar to see upcoming programs and events.

Featured: Charles Arthur Fries, A Game of Croquet, 1936. Oil on canvas. Gift of Kevin and Tamara Kinsella. 2005.138.