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.
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