|American Paintings — Raymond Dabb Yelland - Road in the Redwoods, Santa Cruz Mountains, CA|
|Raymond Dabb Yelland - Road in the Redwoods, Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Signed “R.D. Yelland” lower left Inscribed with title reverse (before restoration) “1890”
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 21 ¼” x 13 ¼”; 32” x 24” framed
Raymond Dabb Yelland (American, 1848-1900)
In the 1880s a number of well-trained and widely traveled landscape painters settled permanently in the San Francisco Bay area. These artists adopted a loose and expressive brushwork style in their views of California landscapes, influenced by the Impressionistic style that was popular in Europe.
Raymond Dabb Yelland, known as a distinguished artist and dedicated art instructor, was one of the stalwarts of the San Francisco art world. Born in England, his family brought him to America at age three. He studied at the country’s leading art institute, the prestigious National Academy of Design in New York City. In 1874, at the age of 25, he moved to Oakland, California as a professor of drawing and painting at Mills College. He quickly gained a fine reputation as a teacher, and later assumed additional academic positions in the Bay area, including assistant directorship of the San Francisco Art Association, founded in 1871, and the directorship of the California School of Design. A beloved teacher, he was a decisive influence on a younger generation of California artists. Among the many who worked with him directly were Gottardo Piazzoni, Grace Carpenter Hudson and James Everett Stuart.
Yelland was trained as a technically adept painter of the academic tradition of realism. He excelled with paintings in the American “luminist” mode, portraying quiet stretches of water and sky bathed in the delicate light of early evening. Yelland’s works are the best west coast examples of this style developed in the east by Kensett, Gifford, Bricher and Silva. The meticulous realism captured in paintings of this mode was created through tiny brushstrokes that obliterate any sense of an artist’s hand at work. Yelland is best known for his coastal scenes at sunset, but often visited and painted views in the Monterey area.
In 1886, Yelland went to Paris to exhibit in the Salon. It appears that both the French Impressionists, whom were having their eighth and final exhibition in Paris that year, and the French Barbizon painters, known for their impressionistically painted landscapes, influenced Yelland. This particular painting has a painterly style that is reminiscent of Pissaro and Monet. And, one of the Barbizon painters’ favorite subjects was the wood interior, portraying ancient trails through the oaks in the Forest of Fontainebleau near the village of Barbizon.
Yelland’s painting takes this fashionable subject of the woodlands, and adapts it to California, capturing the majestic beauty of the Redwood Forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains south of San Francisco. Yelland creates here, a pleasing harmony of warm tones in matching the orange tints of the foreground earth to the bark of the giant trees. This painting was most likely completed in 1890, when other Yelland paintings of Santa Cruz subjects were exhibited at the San Francisco Art Association.
Incidentally, this piece was also included in a special “California Artist” exhibition, which was part of the California Midwinter International Fair of 1894, held in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.
In 1900, Berkeley poet Charles S. Greene wrote the following poem about Yelland and his legacy.
They fill the long, long hall, the works that he
Has spread his heart on; for he loved his art,
And though clear eye and skillful hand had part
In all he painted, yet their witchery
Could not alone have made the things we see,-
The mystic redwoods where the sunbeams dart,
Great Shasta’a snowy cone, the very heart
Of stormy waves that dash resistlessly
Upon the rocks that ever beat them back,-
And dearer yet to him and so his best,
The gentler scenes about his home that lay,
The oaks, the lowlands where in wandering track
The sluggish waters creep, the glowing west,
As daylight fades across the shining bay.
PROVENANCE: Artist's estate to Mrs. E.D.V. Gould
Mrs. Taylor to her grandson, private collection, Longview, Washington