Selected Mission Era Paintings
Most of today's visitors to the California mission have grown up in an era where full color images are not only commonplace, they are expected. Most of the ‘drawn from life’ illustrations or contemporary renderings we have of mission-era places and events are a handful of drawings and oil paintings done by talented visitors or expedition artists in the 1800's, and the original religious art of the missions that has survived. However we can also envision this era "in color" through the splendid mission-era revival paintings done by such artists as Edwin Deakin and Henry Chapman Ford, and through murals, dioramas and large-scale models on display at selected California museums. This gallery displays a sample of each of these categories of art.
We first introduced this gallery five years ago. We have now expanded it to include twenty representative full-color images. (Additional event drawings are in the Dodge and Harmer Gallery). Each image in this gallery provides information on the artist, the location and the scenes being depicted, when available.
The Land Expedition to Alta California arrives at the Bay of San Diego
In 1769, after a splendid watercolor by Lloyd Harting, now in a private collection.
This painting appeared in The Call to California, one of several books on California’s early history sponsored by James S. Copley some sixty years ago.
First Mass in Monterey in 1770
After a painting by Leon Trousset [1838-1917].
The Mass was said by Fr. Junípero Serra, spiritual leader of the “Sacred Expedition.”
Portola Exploring the California Coast in 1769
After a mural by Robert Evans, published with permission of the artist.
This contemporary mural is on display in the City of Laguna Hills, California. While Portolá was unsuccessful in finding the Bay of Monterey he discovered many promising mission sites.
Mission Carmel Borromeo in 1792
After an original drawing by John Sykes. © 2014 Pentacle Press.
Padre Teaching at an Indian Village
A diorama at Mission San Juan Capistrano.
The Franciscans did not stay isolated in their missions. They went to Indian villages to minister to the sick and seek new converts.
Indians Making Adobe Bricks
One of an extensive collection of drawings by Escobar- Keith, on display at Mission San Fernando.
The building at most mission was almost continuous during the first several decades after their founding.
Traveling Between Missions
After a bank mural no longer available.
The missionaries usually travelled by donkey or on horseback (when they were experienced riders), accompanied by soldiers.
Fr. Narciso Duran and His Indian Band
After an original pen and ink drawing by Alexander Harmer © 2014 Pentacle Press.
Fr. Duran had both a boys’ choir and an Indian band at Mission San José, where he served for twenty-seven years. He developed both those institutions at Mission Santa Barbara.
Chapel at Cieneguitas
Site of Kaswa’a Village, after a painting by Henry Chapman Ford [1828-1894].
This village was located near Santa Barbara.
Mission Santa Barbara in 1794
After an original drawing by Alexander Harmer. © 2014 Pentacle Press.
This image shows the mission as it appeared before the stately neoclassical church was built in 1820.
Argentine Privateer Hippolyte Bouchard
In 1818, Hippolyte Bouchard, attacked Alta California.
After attacking Monterey, Bouchard pillaged Rancho del Refugio, north of Santa Bárbara, an event captured in this colorful painting by Theodore Van Cina. Santa Bárbara itself escaped harm due a truce between Bouchard and Comandante José la Guerra.
Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Rafael
One of the many splendid paintings preserved at Mission Santa Bárbara is this depiction of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Rafael.
The largest collections of late 18th and early 19th century religious art are at Missions Santa Bárbara and Mission Santa Ines, both of which survived secularization and became the site of Franciscan seminaries.
Station III of the Exceptional Via Crucis
(Stations of the Cross) Paintings done by the neophytes of San Fernando in early 1800s. The Via Crucis paintings are now in the museum of Mission San Gabriel.
A depiction of the Archangel Rafael
Done by mission Indians. This rare painting on canvas is now at Mission Santa Inés.
Mission Santa Cruz
After a circa 1902 painting by Edwin Deakin [1838-1925], who was admired for the accuracy and detail of his paintings.
The Santa Cruz church was destroyed in an earthquake in 1857, and this painting recreates how it looked during the mission era.
Santa Clara Mission built in 1825
Sadly, this mission burned to the ground in 1926.
Mission San Carlos Borromeo and the Bay of Carmel
A lithograph of a painting by William Smyth, 1827. Originally published 1839 in A History of Lower and Upper California by Alexander Forbes, and subsequently colorized.
Mission San Antonio de Padua
Looking north, after an 1881 painting by Henry Chapman Ford.
The original oil painting in the Collection of the Mission Inn Hotel and Spa in Riverside California.
Indians Leaving Their Mission After Secularization
After an original drawing by Alexander Harmer © 2014 Pentacle Press.
The missions were secularized 1834-36. Many of the neophytes were disoriented and reluctant to leave the only home they had known, as this painting suggests.
The Mission Play
During what was called the ‘mission revival era’ a 3-hour long extravaganza was staged to tell the story of the founding, success and ultimate decline of the California missions.
Authored by John Steven McGroarty, it ran for over 20 years.