Crocker Museum assembles largest collection of Granville Redmond paintings in 30 years

Mitchel Bobo

The Crocker Art Museum is showing the first collection of paintings from California Impressionist Granville Redmond in more than 30 years, which will be housed in the museum’s halls through May 17.

“Granville Redmond: The Eloquent Palette” brings together over 80 pieces owned by the Crocker and other museums, with a majority of pieces coming from private collections across multiple states. The exhibit is filled with Redmond’s renditions of the Golden State’s coastal scenery from areas such as Monterey and San Francisco, in addition to Parisian landscapes captured during his time abroad such as “Matind’hiver” (Winter Morning).

As a child, a bout of scarlet fever left Redmond deaf, which led his family to move to California, where he was enrolled in the California School for the Deaf in Fremont, formerly known as the California Institution for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb, and the Blind in Berkeley. The staff at the school encouraged Redmond and his peers to pursue the arts.

“Though he had been completely deaf since early childhood, this was not as debilitating for Redmond as it was for many at the time,” said Crocker Chief Curator Scott A. Shields. “Redmond’s artistic talent combined with a jovial personality, made him popular both among deaf and hearing communities.”

This much is evident as Redmond enjoyed a success outside of painting in the silent films of close friend Charlie Chaplin, where he frequently appeared uncredited and inaudible to large audiences.

According to Shields, who describes Redmond as “one of the most beloved early California painters,” the collection has been three years in the making, coinciding with the release of a scholarly publication written by the late Mildred Albronda and Shields.

Albronda’s work was focused on deaf California artists, which was expanded upon by Shields after her death to represent the dichotomy of Redmond as an artist and man. That dichotomy is apparent in the third-floor exhibit, where visitors move past the artist’s more subtle and somber nocturnes to reach Redmond’s work as the pre-eminent painter of California poppies.

With regard to the former, Redmond once wrote, “Alas, people will not buy them. They all seem to want poppies.”

According to Shields, Redmond’s penchant for capturing poppies allowed him a financial stability that eluded many artists during the Great Depression.

“Everybody loves poppies,” Shields said.

The exhibit opened January 26 and will remain open to the public through May 17, before traveling to the Laguna Art Museum.