San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature Connection
California's Native Grandeur


The beauty of California's natural landscapes has inspired artists for more than 100 years. Though many of the landscapes in these paintings have changed forever, others are being preserved for future generations.

Desert Flowers by Paul GrimmCalifornia's Native Grandeur features more than 40 oil paintings of California landscapes from the late 19th and early 20th centuries by artists whose works inspired early environmentalists. These light-filled canvases depict many visions of California, from the South Coast's gleaming beaches to the Sierra Nevada's rugged peaks. To view these paintings is to look through a window into an earlier time, before dams and development transformed the land.

The traveling exhibition divides the paintings into specific eco regions—the south coast, the central coast, the deserts, the great central valley, the Sierra Nevada, and the north coast and Shasta-Cascades.

Sponsored by The California Nature Conservancy and The Irvine Museum, this exhibition was inspired by a new book, Native Grandeur: Preserving California's Vanishing Landscapes, published by The Nature Conservancy with generous support of Joan Irvine Smith.

Preserve California, a conservation theme
The paintings in this exhibition celebrate a natural splendor that once seemed as endless as the sky. Though artists still paint California's breathtaking landscapes, increasing population and unplanned development have put severe pressures on resources that once seemed infinite: land, water, and even air.

There are still many places in California that are as wild and beautiful as the ones preserved in these paintings. But with the state's population increasing rapidly, it is more important than ever to safeguard these natural treasures for the future. Only by doing our part to preserve California's vanishing landscapes can we be sure that our grandchildren will experience these wild places first-hand.

The Nature Conservancy of California is working to save the state's natural lands, in cooperation with a wide range of partners: other conservation organizations, local land trusts, landowners, businesses, and public agencies. Their common bond is the love of nature; their common goal is to preserve our environment.

Native Grandeur |