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 Charles P. Reiffel  (1862 - 1942)

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Lived/Active: California/Connecticut/Indiana / Europe      Known for: modernist landscape and marine painting, lithography

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Ad Code: 2
Charles P Reiffel
from Auction House Records.
Rainy Evening, 1937
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Indianapolis, IN on April 9, 1862, Charles Reiffel was a self-taught artist.  He began his career in Cincinnati at Stowbridge Lithography Company and continued that business in New York City and England in 1891.  While in Europe he studied briefly with Carl Marr at the Munich Academy.

After six years in Europe, he returned to Buffalo, NY at the turn of the century. It was during this time that his modern approach to painting began to attract favorable notices. In 1912 he bought a home in Silvermine, CT and then commuted to NYC to tend to his lithography business.  About 1921 Reiffel gave up lithography to devote full time to easel painting.

In 1925 he and his wife visited San Diego and were so enchanted with the area they opted to remain.  His landscapes of California brought him national acclaim before his death in San Diego on March 14, 1942.

Arts Club of Washington, DC; Cin’ti Art Club; Conn. Society of Artists; Contemporary Artists of San Diego (co-founder); Salmagundi Club; San Diego Art Guild (pres. 1928); Silvermine Artists Guild; Hoosier Salon; North Shore AA.

Exh: Buffalo Society of Artists, 1908 (prize); PPIE, 1915; AIC, 1917 (silver medal); PAFA, 1920; Int'l Expo (Pittsburgh), 1922; Carnegie Inst. (Pittsburgh), 1922, 1931; LACMA, 1923, 1926, 1929 (prizes); Hoosier Salon, 1925, 1938 (grand prize); San Diego FA Gallery, 1926, 1927, 1928 (prizes); Stendahl Gallery (LA), 1927; Arizona State Fair, 1928; Ebell Club (LA), 1928; Calif. Art Club, 1928 (gold medal); Newhouse Gallery (LA), 1928; Calif. Statewide (Santa Cruz), 1929 (grand prize); Herron Art Inst., 1929 (1st prize); Calif. State Fair, 1930 (1st prize), 1934; Painters of the West, 1929-30 (gold medal); Pasadena Art Inst., 1930, 1931; Ilsley Gallery (LA), 1932; Foundation of Western Art (LA), 1934; Laguna Beach AA, 1934; Biltmore Hotel (LA), 1934; Calif.-Pacific Int'l Expo (San Diego), 1935; GGIE, 1939; Montecito Country Club, 1940.

CGA; San Diego Museum; LACMA; Phoenix Municipal Collection; Santa Cruz Art League; Memorial Jr. High School (San Diego); Irvine (CA) Museum.
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
American Art Annual 1919-33; Who's Who in American Art 1936-41; Who's Who in California 1942; Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors & Engravers (Fielding, Mantle); Plein Air Painters (Ruth Westphal); Southern California Artists (Nancy Moure); Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs, et Graveurs (Bénézit, E); Los Angeles Times, 12-29-1935 & 4-5-1942 (obituary).
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A modernist landscape painter and lithographer who became prominent in California, Charles Reiffel was born in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Early in his career, he worked in Cincinnati for the Stowbridge Lithography Company.

He studied briefly with Carl Marr in Munich and, mainly self-taught, traveled for six years throughout Europe, sketching and studying in museums.  He did commercial art in England and then worked as a lithographer in Buffalo, New York, and in 1912 in Silvermine, Connecticut where he purchased a home.  About 1921, he abandoned lithography for easel painting. In Silvermine "Charles Reiffel was a member of the artist colony The Silvermine Group of Artists, "The Knockers" and first exhibited with them in 1913 (New Canaan, Norwalk & Wilton, CT). They would meet every Sunday in Solon Borglum's barn and discuss their work. He was a founding Member of the Silvermine Guild in 1922 an Art school still in existence." (Vollmer)
In 1925, Reiffel and his wife went to Southern California and were so taken with the countryside, they moved near San Diego. His landscapes of southern California brought him fame, and he also painted the Grand Canyon and other Southwest landscapes. 

He died in San Diego on March 14, 1942.

Peggy and Harold Samuels, The Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West
Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940
E. Vollmer, Email to AskART

Biography from Art Cellar Exchange:

“…His art sprang spontaneously from his heart; it gave to us, in vitally vibrant patterns, living songs of what he felt about life.  They carried the spirit of music that uplifts and inspires impersonal and beautiful thoughts.”   --Mrs. Maurice Braun

Although a resident of the east coast for the first sixty years of his life, Charles Reiffel’s true passion for painting thrived during his twilight years in San Diego, California.  While traveling throughout the west by train in 1925, Reiffel was rerouted to avoid a snowstorm and fell immediately in love with the virtually untouched backcountry of San Diego.  Residing here until his death 17 years later, he devoted his life to capturing the beauty of the southern California landscape. Viewers can gaze at his canvases and imagine the San Diego countryside that once was, but is now becoming scarcer every day.

In conjunction with friends and fellow artists Charles A. Fries, Alfred Richard Mitchell, and Maurice Braun, Reiffel was passionately committed to promoting the arts in San Diego.  He was a member of many Southern California art groups including the California Art Club, Contemporary Artist of San Diego, The Laguna Beach Art Association, The San Diego Press Club, and the San Diego Art Guild.  “Acidulous and Credulous” was featured in the eighth annual Southern California Art Exhibition in 1934 that was organized by the Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego.  Exhibitions of Reiffel’s works were also held at the Art Cellar, which was owned by San Diego artists Mr. and Mrs. Foster Jewell.  Ironically, this Art Cellar has no connection to the Art Cellar Exchange where the work is currently being sold.

Typical of many great artists, Charles Reiffel did not receive great financial reward for his California paintings within his own life.  The merits of Reiffel’s work, however, were recognized while Reiffel was living.  The artist was awarded multiple prizes from The San Diego Fine Arts Gallery, the Los Angeles County Museum and many other institutions nationwide. Today, his paintings can be found in the collections of The Corcoran Art Gallery in Washington, D.C., Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and The Municipal Collection of Phoenix, Arizona. 

Biography from William A. Karges Fine Art - Carmel:
Charles Reiffel was a largely self-taught landscape painter who worked for several lithography companies in Cincinnati, New York, and England, all the while painting in his bold, modernist style.

In 1912, Reiffel purchased a home in the artist’s colony of Silvermine, Connecticut. Finally abandoning the lithography business in 1921, Reiffel turned to easel painting full time.

In 1925 Reiffel moved to the warmer climate of San Diego, where he was a prolific painter of the area’s wide-open back-country. Painting in a wild, rich impasto, Reiffel’s bright landscapes brought him national acclaim before his death in 1942.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

Charles Reiffel is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
The California Art Club
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915
California Painters

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