Joan Irvine Smith, an arts patron and the great-granddaughter of James Irvine, founder of the Irvine Co. real estate and development firm, announced late last month that she will donate her entire California Impressionist painting collection to the University of California-Irvine campus
The collection, valued at $17 million, is composed of approximately 1,200 works and is currently housed in the Irvine Museum.
It was established by Smith in 1993 to exhibit California Impressionist works that reminded her of the undeveloped Orange County of her youth, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Irvine Museum is dedicated to the preservation and display of California art representative of the state prior to its heavy growth (1890-1930),
“The Irvine Museum is embracing a principal role in the education and furtherance of this beautiful and important regional variant of American Impressionism that has come to be associated with California and its remarkable landscape,” according to information found on the museum’s website.
The museum has sent portions of its collection on numerous displays around the world over the past two-plus decades and published 16 books featuring California’s Impressionist paintings done during the 40-year period beginning in 1890.
A new museum is expected to be built on the UC Irvine campus to house the collection, which includes works by Guy Rose, William Wendt, Granville Redmond, Arthur Mathews and Edgar Payne.
Smith’s goal wasn’t simply to build a new museum, but to highlight issues related to the environment, particularly those facing southern California, according to her son, James Irvine Swinden, president of the Irvine museum.
(Top: Flowers Under the Oaks, Granville Redmond, Irvine Museum.)