Guy Rose occupies a unique position among California’s early landscape painters. One of the few born in California, he was also the most dedicated disciple of French Impressionism, having trained in the academies of Paris, having met Monet, and having lived and painted in Giverny, the mecca of French Impressionism. His influence was later recognized as a major factor in the development of the impressionistic style among California’s painters.
Born in San Gabriel, California on March 3, 1867 on his family’s Sunny Slope estate, Guy Rose was the seventh of eleven children. His father, L.J. Rose, brought his family over the Santa Fe Trail and became a highly successful rancher in the San Gabriel Valley. Their second ranch, “Rosemead,” a race horse stud farm, became the namesake of the founding of the town of Rosemead and also gave the name to the present large boulevard of the San Gabriel Valley.
In his boyhood on Sunny Slope, Rose revealed a talent for drawing while convalescing from a near-fatal gun accident. He received his first art instruction from Mrs. Cordelia Penniman Bradfield while in school. Although he received art instruction, his exposure to art and painting was minimal.
In 1885 after graduating from Los Angeles High School, at 18, Rose began his art training at the School of Design in San Francisco under Virgil Williams and Emil Carlsen. Carlsen made a profound impression on the young artist and earned his life-long respect and gratitude. In 1888, he studied in Paris under Jean Joseph Benjamin-Constant, Jules Lefebvre, and Jean Paul Laurens at the Academie Julian. In 1890, Rose’s works were accepted into the Salon de la Société. These works were created independently of the outdoor paintings in which Rose was becoming increasingly preoccupied with. While visiting Giverny, Rose fell in love with the countryside and did not return to the Académie Julian nor did he enroll at the École des Beaux-Arts. While Rose’s works would eventually show the influence of Monet and Impressionism, the change was a gradual process.
Rose returned to California fall of 1891 and presented his work in Los Angeles at an exhibition at Sanborn, Vail & Company. In 1894, he received an award from that prestigious institution. While he loved easel painting, he found it necessary to seek commercial work. Returning to New York City in the mid 1890’s, Rose worked on illustrations for Harper’s, Scribner’s, and Century magazines. In 1893, Guy participated in the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition and served on the served on the selection committee to choose a representative of California art. Easel painting and the yeasty, artistic milieu of Paris, however, lured him back. He kept his commercial contacts, making short trips on illustration assignments, but his main concern was painting and further study at the Julian. He distinguished himself in 1894 when both paintings he submitted to the Salon were accepted and hung “on the line.” One, Flight into Egypt, won an Honorable Mention, distinguishing Rose as the first Californian to receive a Salon honor. Rose and Ethel Boardman married in Paris January 3, 1895. He taught at Pratt Institute in 1896 twice a week. It was while teaching at Pratt that guy’s illness was determined to be lead poisoning. From 1897-1907, Rose focused purely on illustrations and avoided oils.
In 1899 he bought a cottage in Giverny, France and it was there that he was greatly influenced by the French Impressionists. He became a member of the American art colony in Giverny and associated with artists Richard Miller, Lawton Parker, and Frederick Frieseke. The four artists would later exhibit in the New York in 1910 as “The Giverny Group.” Although not a formal student of Monet, Rose met him and received his criticism and suggestions, and became a dedicated disciple. He suffered from recurring lead poisoning which affected his vision and crippled his hands, and was unable to paint for various periods of time.
In 1912, he returned to New York, and two years later made his final move back to Pasadena, where he taught and served as the director of the Stickney School of Art. Rose’s presence in California contributed to the consolidation of American Impressionism. In 1921, he was left paralyzed after a stroke but continued to paint, exhibiting widely and selling numerous works of art. He died on November 17, 1925. In those final years, Rose transformed his French style into his own uniquely California brand of impressionism. The special light, the coastal fog, the unique features of land and sea became the passionate challenge of the highly talented and assiduously trained artist. His oeuvre includes coastal scenes, missions, figures, and landscapes of California and France for which he is internationally known.
Member: California Art Club; Laguna Beach Art Association; Painters and Sculptors of Los Angeles; Ten Painters of Los Angeles.
Exhibited: California State Fair, 1882; Sanborn Vail Gallery, Los Angeles, 1891; Paris Salon, France, 1890, 1891, 1894: San Francisco Art Association, 1892; Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA, 1896; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1916, 1918, 1919; Stendahl Art Gallery, Los Angeles, 1926.
Awards: Atlanta Exposition, GA, 1895; Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, NY, 1901; Panama-Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, 1915; Panama-California Exposition, San Diego, 1915; California Art Club, 1921; Paris Salon, 1894.
Works held: Bowers Museum, Santa Ana; Cleveland Art Museum, OH; Irvine Museum; Laguna Art Museum; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Oakland Museum of California; Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach; Pasadena Art Institute; San Diego Museum of Art; Terra Museum of American Art, Evanston, Illinois.