Guy Rose is revered as one of the most important American Impressionists of the turn of the 19th century and is arguably the most significant California painter who worked in the plein-air tradition. A native of San Gabriel, California, Rose began his formal artistic education at the California School of Design in San Francisco, where he studied with Raymond Dabb Yelland and Emil Carlsen, before leaving for Paris in 1888 to study at the Acadèmie Julian for three years. In the spring of 1889, Rose visited Giverny, in the south of France, for the first time. The picturesque setting of the quaint artist's colony moved Rose, compelling him to write: "When I first saw the French country at Giverny, it seemed so queer and strange, and above all so wonderfully beautiful, that the first impression still lasts; so that whenever I think of France that is the way I always see it . . . Here the beautiful days come and go, -- each changing season, each hour, more full of fascination than the last." (G. Rose, "At Giverny," Pratt Institute Monthly, December 1897, p.81)
Rose returned to the area on several occasions throughout the last decade of the 19th century and in 1904, he and his wife Ethel purchased a cottage in Giverny, where he established his studio. Painting alongside fellow artists such as Theodore Butler, Frederick Frieseke and Willam MacMonnies, among others, Rose "painted landscapes and figures, and combinations thereof, with a mature sensitivity to the interpretation of transient color and fugitive light." (Guy Rose: American Impressionist, p. 40) Tamarisk Trees, Southern France, dates from this period between 1904 and 1912, when Rose was living and working in Giverny, painting poetic interpretations of the French countryside, heavily influenced by Claude Monet. Also present, particularly in works such as Tamarisk Trees, Southern France, are the less often noted overtones of the work of James McNeill Whistler. Rose's subtle gradations of tone throughout his almost monochromatic palette of lilac and periwinkle hues echo the Tonalist aesthetic championed by Whistler. Peyton Boswell noted, "It is design that makes this work so alluring and unforgettable. Seldom in art has the silhouette been used to subtly and so effectively. A silvery and evanescent tonality enhances the poetry of the scene, creating a dream-sea before which the two figures seem held in wonder and admiration. Whistler would have delighted in painting this subject." (Catalog of the Guy Rose Memorial, Los Angeles, California, 1926, p. 25)
This work will be included in the catalogue raisonné on the artist's work being compiled by Roy Rose and the Irvine Museum.