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George Gardner Symons (1861-1930)

Previously owned by The Redfern Gallery in Laguna, San Gabriel Valley is currently available for guests to view on the Jonathan Club’s 3rd floor. Furthermore, on Wednesday, July 31 at 6 PM in the Main Lobby, Symons’ painting will have its official unveiling ceremony, where it will be presented alongside Joseph Kleitsch’s Jeweled Hills (c. 1922), another recent acquisition.

George Gardner Symons was born in Chicago in the early 1860s. An American Impressionist best known for his snowy New England landscapes, he was also a member of the influential California Art Club and lifelong friends with painter William Wendt. It is believed that Symons’ artistic education started at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, which is where his association with the largely self-taught Wendt began. He studied across Europe, including Munich, Paris, and London, and spent time at the St Ives artists’ colony in Cornwall, England, which led him to adopt the Impressionist method of painting en plein air. Around 1903, he returned to California with Wendt and established a workshop in Laguna Beach, although splitting his time between Laguna and his studios in the Northeastern United States.

Symons output received a significant amount of critical acclaim. Work like 1909’s The Winter Sun was marvelled at for the uniquely American quality of its “forceful breadth,” making a favorable impression on US audiences. In the same year, the National Academy of Design bestowed Symons with the Carnegie Prize for An Opalescent River, with the Museum of Modern Art in New York City promptly snatching up the accomplished painting.

Symons’ artistic practice, as described by Lincoln Glenn Gallery and reiterated in the detailed vibrancy of San Gabriel Valley, offers “a panoramic sweep of scenery” full of vigorous brushwork and bright colors. He served for a few years on the National Academy Council before his death from a long illness in 1930. The Academy council members went on to eulogise him as “first and foremost a student of nature. All his canvasses, even those of very large dimensions, were produced in the open.” It is this commitment – tenaciously rendered in his work – that makes Symons one of the most compelling of the Southern Californian Plein-Air painters

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