by Bob Bahr, Editor PleinAir Today
The Joseph Kleitsch painting “The Drugstore,” depicting Laguna Beach in the mid-1920s, is on view at the Irvine Museum through January 19. The rare piece was featured on the TV show “Antique Roadshow” on August 9, 2014.
Kleitsch (1882-1931) died at age 49, and only began painting his wonderful California impressionist paintings in 1920, making this large piece quite rare. “The Drugstore” depicts Rankin Drugstore, which stood at the site painted on the then-unpaved Pacific Coast Highway. Incidentally, the painting was appraised on “Antique Roadshow” at $500,000. It was purchased from the artist’s widow in 1939 for $100, and only sold once, to John and Patricia Dilks, in 2016.
“This is the most important painting by Kleitsch to have come to light, because of the subject, the size, and its unrivaled beauty,” said Jean Stern, executive director of the Irvine Museum, located in Irvine, California.