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The Carmel Mission in Art

In the Mora Chapel Gallery through December 31, 2008
The first depiction ever made of California was a pen & ink rendering of Carmel Mission receiving a visiting French Count and members of his round-the-world expedition. Carmel Mission Basilica is arguably the most painted structure in California and the West, thanks in part to Hotel Del Monte which, from 1880, made the Mission the destination of its 17-Mile Drive. The Mission’s appeal to artists of every type continues undiminished to this day.

The Carmel Mission in Art Retrospective is organized into three phases of six months each. In addition to featuring very special works of art never before brought together, each phase endeavors to tell a particular story. Phase I, "The Carmel Mission in Photography" made palpable the 100-year history of restoration of the Carmel Mission complex:

  • From a roofless ruin in the 1870s through the 1884 re-roofing of the church under Father Casanova
  • The 1920s expansion by Father Mestres and artist-sculptor Jo Mora
  • The 50 years that master-craftsman Harry Downie dedicating to reconstructing the large quadrangle

Phase II, "The Carmel Mission in Painting" recapitulated the history of painting in California from the days of the maritime explorers, through the most significant 19th and 20th century styles, right up to the present day, since each month featured the work of a different living artist selected through a juried competition.

Phase III, “The Carmel Mission: Works on Paper, 1786-2008” is currently underway. It features drawings, watercolors, prints and pastels, and emphases the Mission's tradition of extending hospitality to visitors from around the world. Our guest curator Dr. Julianne Burton- Carvajal has included 35 paintings from institutions, galleries and collectors across California and represents painters of six nationalities. Given the 220 year historical span of the Mission, Phase III is the most ambitious of the three phases. It will be on view in the Jo Mora Chapel Gallery through December 2008.

Works on Paper’ south wall display case

Display of the notes and sketches of Bernard Maybeck from his work at Carmel Mission

A collection of rare books about Carmel and other California Missions