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Plein Air Art Collection


The collection as exhibited in the Stephen B. Chase Administration Building at The Living Desert represents forty-nine paintings by twenty-two artists, some among California’s greatest. While others are not as well known, most appeared in the exhibitions of their times. The collection spans the years between 1900 and the late 1930s. Fourteen of the paintings depict Coachella Valley scenes.

Dynamic development and change characterize American art history at the turn of the twentieth century. Impressionism was the dominant style that emerged during this time, especially suited to the dramatic, pristine landscape and shimmering light of California. Artists painting in California between 1900 and 1950 were driven by admiration of French Impressionism and their appreciation for the California landscape, climate and quality of light.

In southern California, landscape painting was an especially popular subject, with many artists painting plein air, or out of doors, to best capture the bright, buoyant and fleeting quality of the light. Artists known for plein air painting represented in this collection include Granville Redmond, Marion Kavanagh Wachtel, William Wendt, Franz A. Bischoff, Edgar Payne, Jean Mannheim and Maurice Braun, among others.

California’s landscape and light were natural subjects for artists painting in the Impressionist style either plein air or in the studio. The paintings in this collection resonate with color, texture and light, from cool coastal scenes to rugged mountains and their wooded glades down to arid desert vistas interspersed with vivid wildflowers and lush palm oases.

California Landscape Painting: The Stephen B. Chase Collection

California Landscape Painting: The Stephen B. Chase Collection

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