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California Rhapsody: Early Artists of the Bohemian Club

Early Artists of the Bohemian Club In 1872, a number of San Francisco painters, writers, musicians and actors joined together as a group and formed the Bohemian Club. The club began to thrive. In April 1874, Henry Edwards, president of the Bohemian Club, reported that this “association of talent, which from small beginnings has, in the brief space of two years, made for itself a shining mark upon the literary and artistic records not only of California, but of America at large.”

The artists in this exhibition were all early members of this remarkable club. Among these were Percy Gray (1869-1952), best known for his paintings in watercolor, favored views of native wildflowers, stands of oaks, and groups of elegant eucalyptus, often shrouded in fog. William Keith (1838-1911) is called “California’s Old Master” and was perhaps the leading figure in the San Francisco art community. His early paintings were often mountain epics painted in descriptive realism. His later paintings are darker, smaller and more intimate with more emphasis on mood over subject matter. Xavier Martinez (1869-1943) was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. He settled in San Francisco and became an American citizen. Martinez was one of the leading figures in the Tonalist movement, an art movement that produced soft and gentle views of the San Francisco Bay area. Granville Redmond (1871-1935) was one of California’s leading landscape painters. While he preferred to paint in the moody and introspective style of the Tonalist, the public favored his color-filled Impressionistic paintings of rolling hills usually covered with golden poppies and blue lupines. William Ritschel (1864-1049) loved to paint the sea in its many moods. His works brought him high praise in Europe as well as the United States where he was called the “Dean of American Marine Painters.”

Suggested Books

  • The Legacy of Percy Gray
  • Impressions of California
  • Califronia: This Golden Land of Promise
  • Selections from The Irvine Museum

To see The Irvine Museum Collection’s entire collection of high-quality books, cards and prints, please visit the bookstore.