top of page

The Last Picture Show

LONG BEFORE ELITE GOLFERS began swinging their way to glory at Pebble Beach, many of the best impressionist painters came to the California coast to plant their easels and depict the dramatic landscape en plein air. “The combination of rocks, cypress, and the light lends itself to this style of painting,” says Josh Hardy, owner of Josh Hardy Galleries in Carmel. “The great American impressionists came to the Carmel coast.”

The most notable of the California artists, Guy Rose, made his first trip to the Monterey Peninsula in 1918, the year before Samuel F.B. Morse, a painter in his own right, bought and began developing Pebble Beach.

As Pebble Beach Company celebrates its centennial — and the return of the U.S. Open — one particular Rose landscape will likely garner more attention than usual: Carmel Dunes presents a view toward what are now holes 10 through 13 at Pebble Beach Golf Links.

“It’s very representative of Guy Rose and the purest form of French impressionism, with that quick, feathery brushwork; softened, dissolved forms; dappled light; and subtle, mottled tones that all speak to his mature works,” Hardy says.

Carmel Dunes was one of six Rose paintings in the collection of an oil executive who traveled the world and owned several homes. “The paintings stayed in the family for 99 years, until last year,” says Hardy, who acquired the 24-by-29-inch oil on canvas. “They were well-to-do folks who never had to sell them.”

Rose, a protégé of Claude Monet and a catalyst for impressionism’s expansion to the western United States, was the first Los Angeles–born painter to gain international importance. His paintings now sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. His record sale came in 2001, when Early Morning Summertime hammered at auction for $1.2 million.

Connoisseurs favor Rose’s work for the technical skill and the “feminization” he brought to the American impressionist style, suggests Nancy Moure, author of California Art: 450 Years of Painting & Other Media, pointing to the artist’s work during his 1904– 1912 residence in Giverny. “These exhibit a brushwork similar in shape to Monet’s ‘fishhook’ and perspective compatible with the region’s moist atmosphere and delicate colors. Rose continues this style when he turns to painting California’s landscapes in 1914, but updates the soft tones with brighter colors as seen in the dryer atmosphere of the state.”

Rose, born in San Gabriel, was the son of an influential California senator (the city of Rosemead was named for his family). He began sketching and using watercolors when he was 9 years old while recovering from an accidental gunshot wound to the face he sustained on a hunting trip with his brothers. He attended the California School of Design in San Francisco, went to Paris in 1888 to train at the Académie Julian, and returned to the United States in 1891 to work as an illustrator.

He and his wife, Ethel Boardman Rose, bought a cottage in Giverny in 1904, but he had contracted lead poisoning from a white oil pigment and avoided painting for several years. When he resumed, he created landscapes as well as figural works that he exhibited in 1910 in New York. When the Roses returned permanently to Southern California in 1914, he began his most productive period, and his paintings won numerous prizes, including the gold medal at the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition.

During his visits to the Monterey Peninsula, Rose painted Point Lobos and Carmel Point, Hardy notes. Another painting named Carmel Dunes, from around the same time as the one at Josh Hardy Galleries, is in the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Rose worked until a stroke partially paralyzed him in 1921 and died four years later in Pasadena at the age of 58.

Today, it’s hard to find a Rose painting for sale. Collectors and institutions pursue them with the same passion that golfers exude on the fabled links of Pebble Beach.

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2019 issue of Pebble Beach: The Magazine.

Featured Posts
Check back soon
Once posts are published, you’ll see them here.
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
No tags yet.
Follow Us
  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon
bottom of page