Point Lobos, Carmel

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Point Lobos, Carmel

United States, 1914
Paintings
Oil on canvas
28 5/16 x 36 3/16 in. (71.91 x 91.92 cm)
Mr. and Mrs. William Preston Harrison Collection (29.18.2)
Not currently on public view

Curator Notes

California scenes by Hassam are not common; references suggest that there may not be more than a dozen....
California scenes by Hassam are not common; references suggest that there may not be more than a dozen. Hassam began traveling to the West Coast in the early years of this century, first to spend time with a patron in Oregon. Later he visited California several times. Hassam definitely visited the San Francisco area in 1914, to complete a lunette mural for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915. While in San Francisco he stayed at the Bohemian Club but made excursions to the favorite painting spots of local artists in the neighboring areas, among them Carmel. Point Lobos, Carmel was the result of a sketching trip that Hassam took with the California landscape painter Francis J. McComas (1874-1938). McComas’s second wife recounted to Kent Seavey the amusing story of how McComas became upset by Hassam when he insisted on turning his back upon a beautiful view of the coast to paint the scene from memory. Hassam’s painting method may account for the similarities between this Carmel view and his coastal scenes of Maine. Carmel was a favorite painting locale for artists, but Hassam may have found it especially attractive because it reminded him of his beloved Appledore in New England. Northern California shares with Maine a rugged coastline, and Hassam seems to have approached both shores in similar terms. He focused on the weather-hewn boulders, constructing them with the same forceful, short, vertical and diagonal brushstrokes and rich, contrasting, dark and light hues that appear in his Maine paintings. Only the cypress, bent from the ceaseless pounding of the ocean winds, alludes to a western locale. When a group of Hassam’s California landscapes was exhibited in the winter of 1915-16, they were considered "striking" and generally praised for their "remarkable effects of filtered sunlight" (American Art News 14 [December 4, 1915]: 5). Point Lobos, Carmel, however, describes a brilliantly sunny day.
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About The Era

The late nineteenth century witnessed a growing cosmopolitanism and sophistication in American culture....
The late nineteenth century witnessed a growing cosmopolitanism and sophistication in American culture. Great riches were amassed by railroad tycoons and land barons, and along with this came the desire for a luxurious standard of living. Collectors filled their homes with European as well as American works of art. American artists, generally trained abroad, often painted in styles that were indistinguishable from their European counterparts.
Most Americans who studied abroad did so in the European academies, which promoted uplifting subject matter and a representational style that emphasized well-modeled, clearly defined forms and realistic color. Academic painting served American artists well, for their clients demanded elaborate large-scale paintings to demonstrate their wealth and social positions. With an emphasis on material objects and textures, academic artists immortalized their patrons’ importance in full-length portraits.
Academic painting dominated taste in Europe throughout the century. But in the 1860s impressionism emerged in France as a reaction to this hegemony. By the 1880s this “new painting” was still considered progressive. Mary Cassatt was the only American invited to participate in the revolutionary Paris impressionist exhibitions. Despite her participation and the early interest of several other American painters, few Americans explored impressionism until the 1890s. Impressionist painters no longer had to choose subject matter of an elevated character but instead could depict everyday scenes and incidents. Nor did impressionists have to record the physical world with the objective detail of a photograph. Artists were now encouraged to leave their studios and paint outside under different weather conditions. American impressionists used the new aesthetic to capture the charm and beauty of the countryside and the city as well as the quiet delicacy of domestic interiors.
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Bibliography

  • About the Era.
  • Peterson, Brian H., ed. Pennsylvania Impressionism. Doylestown, PA: James A. Michener Art Museum, 2002.
  • Fort, Ilene Susan and Michael Quick.  American Art:  a Catalogue of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Collection.  Los Angeles:  Museum Associates, 1991.
  • About the Era.
  • Peterson, Brian H., ed. Pennsylvania Impressionism. Doylestown, PA: James A. Michener Art Museum, 2002.
  • Fort, Ilene Susan and Michael Quick.  American Art:  a Catalogue of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Collection.  Los Angeles:  Museum Associates, 1991.
  • Davis, Bruce. Master Drawings in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Stevens, Matthew, ed. Los Angeles : Los Angeles County Museum of Art; New York : Distributed by Hudson Hills Press, 1997.
    Click here to purchase this catalog
  • Gerdts, William H. "New Hope Among the Impressionist Colony." In Pennsylvania Impressionism, edited by Brian H. Peterson, 70-90. Doylestown, PA: James A. Michener Art Museum, 2002.
  • LACMA: Obras Maestras 1750-1950: Pintura Estadounidense Del Museo De Arte Del Condado De Los Angeles. Mexico, D.F.: Museo Nacional de Arte, 2006.
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