Yelland’s California Landscapes
Sacramento’s Crocker Art is currently exhibiting Raymond Dabb Yelland: California Landscape Painter. This is the first exhibition in more than 50 years to celebrate the life and work of this important 19th-century artist. From Yelland’s arrival in Oakland in 1873 until his death in 1900, he rendered beautiful views of West Coast scenery, incorporating changing fashions of landscape art into paintings that retain credibility as depictions of real places.
Born in England in 1948, Yelland was esteemed both for his career as a landscape painter and for his dedication to teaching. The landscapes in this exhibition illustrate his transition from the Hudson River School style of painting, which focused on topographically recognizable scenes painted with meticulous, albeit enhanced, realism, to a more loosely painted, evocative aesthetic popularized by the French Barbizon painters. Many of the paintings in the exhibition glow in the gentle radiance of late afternoon or evening, showcasing Yelland’s keen ability to capture light. These landscapes in particular manifest the artist’s familiarity with Transcendentalist ideas and suggest the spirituality he believed was inherent to California nature.
Coast scenes were only one aspect of Yelland’s repertoire. His trips to Oregon and Yosemite inspired depictions of mountain scenery that competed with similar paintings by Thomas Hill and Albert Bierstadt. Although out of fashion in the eastern United States by 1880, paintings of grand subjects like these were still appreciated in California … and these years later this remains truer than ever. The exhibit is on view until January 27, 2019.