E. Charlton Fortune, “Drying Sails, St. Tropez,” 1926, oil on canvas, 38 1/8 x 48 1/4 inches, Monterey Museum of Art

The Crocker Art Museum will soon be opening a significant exhibition surrounding the bold, vigorous, and confident paintings of this famed California Impressionist.

On view January 28 through April 22, 2018, “The Colorful Spirit” is a magnetic display of works by famed California Impressionist E. Charlton Fortune (1885-1969) at the Crocker Art Museum. “[Fortune] came of age during a time when women began to redefine their roles in society,” the museum states, “pushing boundaries of what was expected of them and challenging the status quo. Fortune, unmarried and of independent spirit, often rode her bicycle to find the perfect setting to paint in plein air. The resulting landscapes were not delicate, soft, or feminine but bold and vigorous — and often thought to have been created by a man.

E. Charlton Fortune, “Feeding Chickens,” 1918, oil on canvas, 28 x 26 inches, Crocker Art Museum
E. Charlton Fortune, “Picking Apples (Above the Town),” circa 1920, 22 x 30 inches, Collection of John and Patty Dilks
E. Charlton Fortune, “Edinburgh Castle,” circa 1921, oil on panel, 12 7/8 x 16 1/8 inches, Collection of Harry Parashis
E. Charlton Fortune, “Above the Town (Monterey Bay),” 1918, oil on canvas, 30 1/8 x 40 1/8 inches, Collection of Stephen Diamond

“Fortune’s paintings have frequently been labeled Impressionist, though they moved well beyond the style. Her signature works were strong in color and rugged and gestural in execution. She spent many of her active years working in and around Monterey, California, where she maintained a home, and then, in the 1920s, lived and painted abroad for extended periods in St. Ives, England, and Saint-Tropez, France. Upon her return to California in the late 1920s, she founded and directed the Monterey Guild, a group of skilled craftspeople who, under her direction, created original, modern artworks and furnishing for churches.”

To learn more, visit the Crocker Art Museum.

This article was featured in PleinAir Today, a weekly e-newsletter from PleinAir magazine. To start receiving PleinAir Today for free, click here.


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