Many American and European artists traveled to France to study with the French Impressionists, and were inspired by the en plein air style of painting. An influx of French-trained Impressionists settled in California around the turn of the 20th century, finding that between the similarity in lighting and colors to the French countryside and the vast expanse of varying landscapes to explore, California provided an endless supply of painterly inspiration.

California Impressionism flourished as a distinct subset of American Impressionism, notably brighter, sunnier, and more upbeat than their East Coast counterparts in keeping with the climate and feel of the California landscape. They depicted the state’s exceptional beauty with a focus on the coastlines of Laguna Beach, the canyons and deserts of inland oasis Palm Springs, and the craggy mountains and fertile valleys in between. Artist colonies, communities, schools, and exhibition spaces popped up around them as more and more artists flocked to the area. Their influence helped to define the culture and attitude of the state and the cities in which they lived and worked.

The works in the exhibition are of beautiful figurative and landscape scenes, examples of Impressionist portraiture, and as a whole represent this historical movement. Artists represented include John Frost, Joseph Kleitsch, William Wendt, Jessie Arms Botke, Gehring Cressey, Paul Lauritz, John Marshall Gamble, Millard Sheets, and Jack Wilkinson Smith.