Gift of Mrs. Hubert Wykoff
Courtesy of The Bancroft Library. University of California, Berkeley
Beyond the famed lure of Gold Rush fortunes, Hollywood dreams and sunny skies, California and its vast natural splendor have inspired many magnificent paintings. From the glory of the Pacific to staggering redwoods, to Franciscan missions and lush floral blooms, California artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries captured pristine scenes from a state which experienced tremendous growth and development since becoming an official part of America -- and which since 1850 has gone from a mere 93,000 people to over 36 million residents.
(Painting California: American Impressionist and Tonalist Artists from The Golden State at suite101.com )
With the turn of the century, when Impressionism had only recently become an accepted American style, Southern California experienced an influx of young artists, most of whom had been trained in that style and had never known any other. The period from 1900 to 1915 marks the flowering of California Impressionism.
Much has been offered about the desirability of the southern California climate, with its generous number of sunny days, as motivation for the advent of Impressionism in the southern part of the state. Likewise, the southward migration caused by the San Francisco earthquake of April, 1906, was significant. Both factors exerted considerable influence, however, the chief motivation was surely economic opportunity. Los Angeles, at the time not having an ingrained artistic establishment, became the alternative metropolitan center that absorbed the infusion of young artists in California in the late nineteenth century.
(A History of Plein Air Art, IMPRESSIONISM IN CALIFORNIA by Jean Stern at pleinairart.net)
One of California's most notable Impressionist painters and considered the first resident Impressionist of that state, Granville Richard Seymour Redmond (Born March 9, 1871, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is known for his landscapes, many of them floral with poppies and lupines. He is remarkable both as a painter of exceptional talent, and as a man of great personal appeal, who was friends with many celebrities in the arts, despite certain physical handicaps of his own.
Granville Redmond contracted scarlet fever at the age of two and a half, an illness which left him permanently deaf. In 1874, his family came to California, and in 1879 Redmond enrolled in what was then called the Institution for the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind at Berkeley (now called the California School for the Deaf, in Fremont). His artistic talents were recognized and encouraged by the deaf photographer and teacher Theophilus Hope d'Estrella (1851-1929), who taught him drawing and pantomime. He also received sculpture lessons from the deaf sculptor Douglas Tilden (1860-1935).
After graduation in 1890, Redmond enrolled in the California School of Design. In 1893, with a stipend from the Institution for the Deaf, he went to Paris where he enrolled in the Académie Julian.
(© copyright 2010 ~ The Irvine Museum)
When he returned from Paris, Granville decided to settle in Los Angeles. There he fell in love with the beaches, and started painting many of the ocean scenes he’s best known for. He also fell in love with a deaf woman named Carrie Ann Jean. The two were married in 1899 and had three children. To make ends meet, Granville often worked as an illustrator for various periodicals, and painted scenes for the Santa Fe Railroad. The family moved several times during this period, living in San Mateo, Tiburon, and Parkfield. This gave Granville more and more material for his paintings and by 1905 he was known as the leading California landscape painter. His impressionistic California landscapes were often compared to artists such as Monet and Pizarro.
For the next several years he painted throughout the Los Angeles area, including Laguna Beach, Long Beach, Catalina Island, and San Pedro. He visited and painted in Northern California in 1902 and 1905.
In 1908 he relocated to Parkfield on the Monterey Peninsula where he resumed his friendships with his former classmates from the California School of Design, Gottardo Piazzoni (1872-1945) and Xavier Martinez (1869-1943). He moved to San Mateo in 1910 and had a studio in Menlo Park.
(© copyright 2010 ~ The Irvine Museum)
By 1915, Granville Redmond had established his position as one of the most respected landscape painters in California. He was critically acclaimed and financially successful.
Then came the world war, and the art market evaporated.
"Redmond had an incurable disease known as 'instinct for survival,'" wrote the art critic of the Los Angeles Times. "Like the rest of us, he wanted to keep right on eating three meals a day."
Redmond's instincts had served him well in developing excellent communication skills, despite his deafness and his inability to speak. He had mastered sign language and pantomime, and had a ready smile and handsome, expressive features.
Poppies and Lupines
From 1910 to 1917, he spent time in various Northern California locations, studying and painting. About the time he moved north, Redmond turned to rendering sweeping terrains covered with highly colorful wildflowers, especially the purple lupine and California's state flower, the golden poppy. He developed a colorism and brushwork linked to Impressionism, though he was motivated more by his subjects than by aesthetic theory. West Coast critics at that time noted his use of pointillism and likened his art to that of Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro. Although Redmond recognized the public's preference for his brightly colored poppy pictures, he generally preferred to paint darker, more poetic scenes. Some of his finest paintings are of Catalina Island in Southern California, and of the oaks of Monterey County in Northern California.
Although his painting career was going well, Granville was fascinated by the movies. All movies being made were silent at this time, so Granville’s deafness was not an obstacle, and he suspected that with his background in pantomime he could make a great movie star.
In 1917 he traveled to Los Angeles with Gottardo Piazzoni with the intent of auditioning for the movies. He felt that his natural skills as a pantomimist would make him an ideal actor, as all movies at the time were silent. He met Charlie Chaplin, who cast him in a small role in A Dog's Life. Chaplin became a close friend and gave Granville space on his movie lot to set up a painting studio. In turn, Granville taught Chaplin sign language. Between 1918 and 1929, Granville had minor roles in seven Chaplin movies and painted throughout Southern California.
(© copyright 2010 ~ The Irvine Museum)
Poppies - Lake, c.1920s
You'd Be Surprised (1926)
Granville Redmond and Raymond Griffith
California Poppy Field, c. 1926
Malibu Coast, Spring
Oil on canvas, c. 1929
Redmond was, without question, one of California's leading landscape painters. Hampered by long periods of recurring depression, Redmond preferred to paint in a moody, introspective style, characterized by the use of dark tones of brown, gold and olive-green, but his patrons favored cheerful paintings of rolling hills covered with golden poppies and other wildflowers.
Granville died in Hollywood on May 24, 1935. He will always be known for his paintings featuring the rolling hills of California dotted by wildflowers, the moody colors of sunsets and moonlit waters, and beautiful brown vignettes of trees. His work is featured in museums across America and is still widely popular. Just before he died, Granville stated: “The highest tribute paid to an artist is the reflection of man’s noblest work – to inspire.” Granville’s life was wealth of artistic experiences. His vision will always live on in the inspiration he has been giving future artists for generations.
His work is held in many collections including: Laguna Beach Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum His work is held in many collections including: Laguna Beach Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Stanford University Museum, the De Young Museum, the Bancroft Library at the University of California in Berkeley, The California School for the Deaf, the New York City Museum, and the Oakland Museum, where in 1989, a retrospective of his work was shown.
He was a member of the Bohemian Club, the San Francisco Art Association, the California Art Club, and the Laguna Beach Art Association. His awards included the W. E. Brown Gold Medal, California School of Design, 1891; Medal, Louisiana Purchase Exposition, St. Louis, 1904; and a Silver Medal, Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, Seattle, 1909.