Rainy Evening, 1937 signed and dated 'Charles Reiffel 1937' (lower right) and signed and titled (on the reverse) oil on board 36 x 48in overall: 43 x 55in
PROVENANCE: Private collection, San Diego, California Private collection, Wyoming
EXHIBITED: San Diego, California, Little Gallery, Charles Reiffel, no. 19. San Diego, California, The San Diego Museum of Art, Second Nature: Four Early San Diego Landscape Painters, June 1 - August 18, 1991. San Diego, California, The San Diego Museum of Art, Charles Reiffel, An American Post-Impressionist, November 10, 2012 - February 10, 2013.
LITERATURE: Petersen, Martin E., Second Nature, Four Early San Diego Landscape Painters, San Diego, 1991, p. 159, pl. 93, illustrated full page color. Plotek, Ariel, Charles Reiffel, An American Post-Impressionist, San Diego, 2012, p. 155, pl. 74, illustrated full page color.
In late 1925 Charles and Elizabeth (Frankie) Reiffel planned a trip through the Southwest. Bad weather forced them to change those plans and they found themselves in San Diego by winter of that year. They chose to wait out the season there in a rented house which proved to be a fortuitous decision as the artist discovered the area so ideal for painting that they never left. Charles Reiffel became an integral part of the developing art community. His arrival on to the art scene spurred one writer to comment: "Reiffel comes to us, not as another painter of pretty pictures, but as a real artist who has a rare and intelligent appreciation of what a picture should be...he does create, and is not merely an imitator of nature."
Reiffel's painterly style is unique in the California plein air school. He combines impressionism with expressionism. His thick, busy and aggressively applied brushwork has often been compared to those of Edward Redfield, Ernest Lawson, Chaim Soutine and even Vincent Van Gogh.
As he did in the East, Reiffel exhibited in and won medals in numerous painting shows. In 1928 he became president of the San Diego Guild. He went on to exhibit in shows in Washington D.C, Chicago, Phoenix, Tucson and Los Angeles.
Unlike many artists, whose best works were often completed in their earlier years, Reiffel painted many of his best works late in life. Rainy Evening was painted five years before the artist's death. It depicts First Avenue looking south towards San Diego Bay. It is popularly considered his masterpiece. It incorporates a rich variety of elements; the wet streets, the early evening light of the sky and the streetlights, the view over the smokestacks and rooftops to the distant bay, and the idle conversations of the locals, all captured by the unseen painter. This evocative painting is reminiscent of the great Ash Can paintings of New York.