Published: April 1, 2008
The New Britain Museum of American Art is presenting an exhibition featuring 60 works of California Impressionist art in “All Things Bright and Beautiful: California Impressionist Paintings from the Irvine Museum,” on view through June 29. An opening reception for the exhibition will be held from 5 to 7 pm, Thursday, April 3, and is free with museum admission.
The exhibition celebrates Impressionistic landscape painting through intricate depictions of the immaculate California countryside, preindustrialization. The paintings are rich with beauty, historical significance and a deep reverence for nature. This collection of images from the “land of sunshine” in the early Twentieth Century is meant to remind viewers of the importance of preserving their incomparable and beautiful environment, particularly during a time of ecological crisis.
The California Impressionist movement was initiated in the 1890s by a group of spiritually aware artists who were greatly influenced by Transcendentalism. The Transcendentalist movement, which reaffirmed faith in nature, affected spheres of art, literature, religion, culture and philosophy during the Nineteenth Century. Transcendental artists painted en plein air, or out-of-doors, and infused their art with intense light and color, capturing the majestic landscapes of California.
California Impressionism peaked in the 1920s but lasted well into the period of the Great Depression. In the 1930s, American artists looked away from nature and began to look toward material objects and industrialized metropolitan centers for inspiration, greatly impacting the style and subjects of American art forever.
“All Things Bright and Beautiful: California Impressionist Paintings from The Irvine Museum” is curated by William H. Gerdts, and features paintings by artists such as Maurice Braun and William Wendt, who believed in the spiritual power of nature. Braun was linked to the Theosophical Society, a transcendental group who believed that every object, particularly those of or relating to nature, has a spiritual value, and should be celebrated, praised and preserved. Wendt viewed himself as an interpreter of nature, which he believed was full of symbolism from God.
The exhibition also features works by Guy Rose, one of the most renowned California Impressionists and the founder of the movement, which blends distinctly European and American styles of Impressionism together.
“All Things Bright and Beautiful: California Impressionist Paintings from the Irvine Museum” is on a nationwide tour that will end at The Irvine Museum in California.
The New Britain Museum of American Art is at 56 Lexington Street. For information, www.nbmaa.org or 860-229-0257.
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