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Harmony of Light: Spring in California

Harmony of Light comprises a selection of paintings by California Impressionists that show Spring in California from nearly a century ago. Although the year-round mild climate was a key factor in the growth of the Golden State, it was in the Spring that nature put on her most glorious display.

Country Road, by William H. Clapp (1879-1954) is a spectacular scene of warmth and light as shown by the bright springtime display of the roadside flowers and trees. The sense of brilliance is enhanced by the technique of pointillism, the use of a multitude of small dots of color that Clapp employs in this work.

French-born Paul de Longpré (1855-1911) specialized in elegant paintings of all types of flowers. He is most renowned for his beautiful and botanically exact watercolor paintings of flowers, particularly roses. His De Longpré Garden in Hollywood was often the source for his artistic inspiration. He was called “Le Roi des Fleurs” (The King of Flowers) and won numerous awards during his lifetime. Here you will see Wild Roses; Violets; and an old rose hybrid called Papa Gontier.

The Birth of Spring is one of Millard Sheets’ most important works. Painted in 1937, the painting shows a rhythmic sense of form that would later distinguish Sheets as one of the most important artists in California. While much of Sheets’ work was done in watercolor, this key painting was achieved with oil paints.

Maurice Braun (1877-1941) visited Yosemite Park in 1917. Two works from that trip are displayed here: Yosemite Falls from the Valley and Along the Merced River. In both paintings, Braun reveals the clear, natural colors of Yosemite in Spring.

John Frost (1890-1937) suffered from tuberculosis most of his short life. As such, he often stayed at sanitariums in the warm, dry air of the desert. San Jacinto Mountain, which adjoins Palm Springs, was a favorite painting subject. A bold Impressionist, Frost uses a quick, active brushstroke coupled to intense, vivid color to render the vibrant light of the desert.