Description: Guy Rose (1867 - 1925 Pasadena, CA)
Study for "Windswept Trees, Laguna"
Oil on canvas
Signed lower right: Guy Rose
18" H x 15" W
Provenance: Private Collection, Los Angeles, CA.
Notes: Framed size: 24" H x 21" W x 2.75" D.
Guy Rose, the San Gabriel-born master of impressionism, studied in Paris beginning in 1888. From 1904- 1912, he spent eight years living and painting in Giverny, France where he was strongly influenced by his friend Claude Monet and other impressionist painters working there. When Guy Rose returned to California in 1914, he brought with him an intensified focus on light that can be seen in his execution of California landscapes and coastals from this period. By early 1915, Rose began making multiple trips to the Laguna environs where he executed the present painting circa 1917. There, Rose '…painted the coastline [and landscape] with a complete command of the impressionistic strategies he had mastered at Giverny' (W. South, 'Guy Rose: American Impressionist', Oakland, CA, 1995, p. 62). The present work is the smallest, and likely original, composition that Rose repeated in two larger versions, all circa 1917. Considered seminal Laguna-area compositions by the artist, the paintings all depict spindly, swaying eucalyptus trees set against a piercing blue and cloud-filled sky. The largest, 'Laguna Eucalyptus' (40' H x 30' W), is in the collection of The Irvine Museum, and 'Windswept Trees, Laguna' (29' H x 24' W), was exhibited at Stendahl Galleries and remained in the family of Jessie Yarnell Kimball until it was sold in a John Moran Auctioneers, Inc. auction in March 2014. Rose largely maintained the structure and atmosphere of the scene in each work but played with subtle changes in compositional details noticeable principally in the foreground, clouds and tree trunks. Successfully exhibiting regularly on both US coasts with the top American art dealers, Rose was at the prime of his career when the present work was executed. When Rose's New York dealer, William Macbeth, complained that he had no time for 'any of that damned brown California stuff ', Rose responded that he didn't see his native state that way and validated his vision in the best way possible – his work (as quoted in South, p. 66). 'Rose clarified for Macbeth [epitomized in examples like the present painting] just how California appeared to his eyes with this monumental image of an expansive, cloud-filled sky streaked with towering eucalypti. The emerald clusters of leaves on the trees echo the shape of the clouds, which themselves restate the curve and sweep of the foreground hill. The trees surge upward in the composition and the clouds outward, pushing empty space to the fringes' (South, p. 66). Further, Will South writes: 'With 'Laguna Eucalyptus' [and the other versions including the present painting] Rose not only reinstated pictorial themes refined in France but materialized on canvas a number of long- and widely held assumptions regarding California as the newest and greatest Eden, where nature is everywhere resplendent, pleasing, and plentiful' (South, p. 66). The present painting has the immediacy of an artist's first-hand observation of the landscape. It showcases Rose's virtuosity with light, and his confident, rapid brushwork. Dark trees, not fully shadowed so subtle color fluctuations create a naturalistic impression, are juxtaposed against a dynamic cloudy sky that is bright despite a lack of direct sunlight. Rose's keen awareness of, and ability to balance and restrain, fractured light patterns presents a calm but controlled, intimate but rich composition that is purely Rose and purely California.
Condition Report: Visual: Generally good condition. Craquelure scattered throughout. Blacklight: A 2" scattered line of touch-up upper center. A .25" x .75" area of touch-up lower left. Small spots of touch-up scattered throughout, including one just below the signature lower right. Two pea-sized spots of touch-up in the center with corresponding patches verso.
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