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Guy Rose

Born: 1867, San Gabriel, California, United States of America
Died: 1925, Pasadena, California, United States of America
Gender: Male


Painter and illustrator Guy Rose was instrumental in introducing into his native California the bright color, distinct brushstrokes, and emphasis on outdoor light effects associated with the manner known as impressionism. A scion of one of Southern California’s pioneer ranching families, Rose attended the California School of Design in San Francisco and studied there under Danish-born American artist Emil Carlsen (1853–1932). Following his teacher’s example, Rose went to Paris in 1888 for further training, enrolling at the Académie Julian, a private studio school, along with many other American aspiring artists of his generation. Three years later, Rose had two of his academic paintings of peasant subjects accepted into the salon, or annual exhibition, of the conservative Société des Artistes Français. In 1894, he was the first California artist ever to receive an honorable mention there.

In 1890 and again in 1891, Rose worked in the rural village of Giverny, in Normandy, where a colony of artists, most of them Americans, recently had taken root in the shadow of impressionist master Claude Monet (1840–1926). Rose followed Giverny’s prevailing practice of painting the local landscape outdoors rather than in the studio, but his real conversion to the loose brushwork, scintillating light effects, and bright color of impressionism came some years later. Rose returned to the United States in 1891 to work as an illustrator in New York City. His friendship with Theodore Robinson, a member of the Giverny colony, may have convinced him to return to Paris, which brought about his eventual return to Giverny. That summer, on a trip to Greece, Rose fell gravely ill with what later proved to be lead poisoning contracted from his use of a particular white oil pigment. Unable to paint for several years, Rose returned to illustration. He spent a few months in California before resuming work in New York creating illustrations for popular periodicals. He returned to Paris again in 1899 to work as an illustrator, traveled in Italy and Algeria, and began spending part of every year in Giverny.

In 1904 Rose and his wife, painter and illustrator Ethel Boardman Rose (1871–1946), purchased a stone cottage in Giverny, where they lived for the next eight years. As his health gradually improved, Rose resumed painting, creating both landscapes and figural works with the vibrant color and vigorous brushwork of impressionism. In 1910 he exhibited in New York with other members of the so-called Giverny Group. Two years later, Rose and his wife returned to America, where New York’s important Macbeth Galleries held a successful exhibition of his paintings. Rose’s most productive years as a painter came after he settled in Southern California in 1914. His many images of his native region’s scenic beauty garnered numerous prizes, including a gold medal at the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco in 1915. The artist served as an instructor and later director of the Stickney School of Art in Pasadena, which nurtured many of the painters who made California an important site for impressionist painting in the following decades. Acknowledged as California’s premier impressionist, Rose painted until a stroke left him partially paralyzed, in 1921; he died four years later at the age of fifty-eight.
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