Exquisite landscapes by the forgotten California Impressionist Albert Thomas DeRome recapture the beauty of the Northern California coast in a traveling exhibition curated
Using delicate coloration and glowing atmospheric effects, DeRome, whose mentor and friend was the prominent landscape artist William Keith, quietly worked every day to capture the unearthly beauty of the California coastline and various inland landscapes around Monterey and Pacific Grove. DeRome, whose insurance settlement in a major automobile accident precluded him from selling most of his paintings, did intensive visual research on his paintings, ranging from pencil to ink drawings, hundreds of photographs, and small-scale watercolors. He wrote extensive notes on coloration and composition on the back of his studies, and on the back of his finished paintings even wrote the names of art critics, artists and other notables who liked a particular work of art.
Luminous autumnal colors are on delicate display in the landscape “Mouth of Carmel River, Artichoke Field.” In a scene of shifting values of cool and warm, dark and light, the misty landscape is fluidly captured. Other autumn scenes are filled with golden light and purple hills, such as “On Quinn Road Near Los Gatos” and “Autumn Poplars Near Los Altos.” These glowing landscapes display his innate ability to depict the brilliant and fleeting light of a wintry day.
Noteworthy also is “Spring Flowers Near Asilomar,” a deftly rendered scene of pale pink flowers and luminous ivory sand in the foreground, and delicate striations of blue and purple water in the background. His mastery of ocean scenes ranges from the calm of a silvery pink sunset in “Pines at Sunset, Evening Pines, Asilomar,” to crashing surf swirling around a rugged rocky point in “Point Lobos.”
Also exquisite are his watercolors such as “Shipyard, Oakland Estuary,” a complex composition of intersecting masts and rigs, all permeated with the billowing purple smoke of a busy shipyard. “Cathedral Rocks, Yosemite” aptly captures the staggering beauty of those steep, monumental crags in deep lavender hues, which is then contrasted with the shimmering yellow grasses and bright green foliage.
Another glowing landscape, “Carmel Mission, Point Lobos in Distance,” recreates a light filled afternoon of an archetypal California scene. Using a muted palette, DeRome adeptly paints the mission in a few fluid strokes, while the gold, green and tans of the landscape bask in the late afternoon sun. In the distance, a luminescent ocean becomes one with the sky in barely perceptible tones of blue and purple. This lovely painting shows DeRome at his best, as a true visual poet celebrating the stunning and rapidly disappearing beauty of the California landscape.