Master of the poppyfields

September 24, 2020 § Leave a comment

A wall of poppy paintings by Granville Redmond.

ON MARCH 2, 1903, the California Legislature declared the golden poppy the state flower, prompting its proliferation on objects of all kinds, including paintings. That Granville Redmond started painting poppies in earnest just as the legislature made the flower’s status official was surely not coincidental.

The golden poppy, Eschscholzia californica, provided a distinctive, seasonal burst of color, enlivening yellow-green hills and meadows following winter rains. The poppy was more than a flower, however. It was a symbol of California itself, its golden hue emblematic of the state’s history of mining, its importance as an orange grower, its perennial sunshine, and its amber hillsides in summer. It appealed to locals and tourists alike.

In Redmond’s day, great profusions of poppies thrived throughout the state, but were especially notable in the San Gabriel Valley, where Redmond often worked. In 1904, Redmond started to focus on poppies, and he became incredibly skilled at doing so. Soon no other artist in California could match his aptitude for painting the flower in its natural environment. Like his colleagues, Redmond would come to depict poppies and other wildflowers in combination, pairing them most frequently with lupine, which provided a perfect, blue-purple complement to the poppy’s orange-yellow hue.

In many of his paintings, Redmond maintained what he considered to be a self-respecting balance between color and quiet, with poppies animating landscapes that were subtly hued. The poppies and lupine nestled within the otherwise tonal expanse provide orchestrated bursts of seasonal color — often just enough to leave the viewer longing for more. Redmond himself remained personally inclined toward quieter paintings, preferring, as he told an art critic for the Los Angeles Times, to paint pictures of “solitude and silence.” And yet, he confessed: “Alas, people will not buy them. They all seem to want poppies.”

MORE: “Granville Redmond’s quieter side

— Excerpted from Granville Redmond: The Eloquent Palette, by Scott Shields and Mildred Albronda.

Granville Redmond’s quieter side

January 10, 2005 § Leave a comment

Granville Redmond | January 2005


Filled with sunshine and color, the landscapes of California’s early plein air painters have soared in popularity and price in recent years. Few are more coveted than Granville Redmond’s paintings of springtime hillsides ablaze with golden poppies and purple lupines. They have become icons of the California landscape. Less appreciated, in every sense, is Redmond’s tonalist work. While he painted hundreds of fields of poppies in the early days of the 20th century — in demand then as now — he also retreated throughout his career to the quieter moods of sunrise and sunset, twilight and moonlight. These were his favorites.

Read more: “Granville Redmond’s Tonalism

You can hear it

August 31, 2004 § Leave a comment

The Coming Storm | Granville Redmond

A discerning visitor saw this Granville Redmond painting from 1907 in the gallery and was astonished. “You can hear the wind,” he said. True. And all the more amazing given that Redmond was deaf.

‘Twilight and Reverie’ in Monterey

March 5, 1996 § Leave a comment

Landscape | Granville Redmond

Those who missed the Oakland Museum’s first-rate tonalism exhibit last year have another chance to see “Twilight and Reverie: California Tonalist Paintings, 1890-1930.” The exhibition is now at the Monterey Peninsula Museum of Art in downtown Monterey.

“The Tonalists studied nature and light intently, not to reproduce it in an exact way, but in order to intensify the experience of nature,” the museum says in describing the show. “Rejecting the bright, midday sun so beloved by the Impressionists, they depicted the subtle light of evening and morning, sometimes adding sharp points of gaslight or a glimmer of moon reflected on water. Eliminating hard edges and softening contrasts, they unified the elements of the scene by reducing their palette and using gradations of one dominant color — the ‘tone’ that gave the group its name.”

Oakland senior curator Harvey L. Jones, who organized the show, says it was originally conceived as a companion to the major Arts & Crafts show presented by the Oakland Museum in 1993.

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