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Gardens and Grandeur: Porcelains & Paintings by Franz A. Bischoff

Franz A. Bischoff (1864-1929) began his artistic training at a craft school in Bohemia at the age of 12. He trained in ceramic decoration. In 1882, he came to the United States and worked as a painter in a ceramic factory in New York City. He moved to Pittsburgh, then to Fostoria, Ohio, and finally to Dearborn, Michigan, continuing to work as a porcelain painter.

Bischoff became one of the foremost porcelain painters of his day and is still regarded today as the greatest American porcelain painter. His porcelain works were exhibited at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago and at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis. He founded the Bischoff School of Ceramic Art in Detroit and in New York City. Additionally, he formulated and manufactured many of his own colors, participated in exhibitions and won several awards, earning a reputation as “King of the Rose Painters.”

He first visited California in 1900, and finding the climate and scenery appealing, made plans to move his family, arriving in Pasadena in 1906. In 1908, he built a studio-home along the Arroyo Seco in South Pasadena, which included a gallery, ceramic workshop, and painting studio. In 1912, he took an extended tour of Europe where he studied the works of the Old Masters and the Impressionists.

On his return to California, Bischoff turned to landscape painting and gradually abandoned porcelain decoration. Through the 1920s, he painted the coastal areas of Monterey and Laguna Beach, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and the desert near Palm Springs. Some of his most charming works were painted in the small central California village of Cambria. In 1928, he and his friend, the artist John Christopher Smith, traveled to Utah, where they painted in Zion National Park. He died at home, on February 5, 1929.

Bischoff exhibited with the California Art Club and the Laguna Beach Art Association. In 1924, he received the Huntington Prize, an annual award given for the most popular painting at the California Art Club exhibition.

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