Charles Reiffel was an American artist who represented post-impressionism. His plein-air landscapes and lithographs depicted the picturesque views of Californian nature.

His father, Jacob Reiffel, came to the United States from Bavaria at the end of 1840s, and his mother, Nancy Ellen Marshall, was born in Virginia. Reiffel was born on April 9, 1862, in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Reiffel spent his childhood in Indianapolis and in Kansas City, Missouri and attended public schools in Kansas City, Missouri, and Indianapolis. As to the artistic education, he was mostly an autodidact. The only formal training he received was at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich where he was briefly taught by the painter Carl von Marr. 

Reiffel started his professional career at the age of seventeen when he worked as a clerk in a clothing store and expressed his painting abilities making ornamental designs for envelopes or on wrapping paper.

Later, Reiffel earned his living at the Stowbridge Lithography Company where he made theatrical posters. He pursued this commercial activity in Europe and England where he spent six years. While in Nottingham, Reiffel joined the staff of the Stafford Company. He worked on poster designs for English business persons. In his leisure time, he communicated with local artists and sketched a lot.

At the beginning of the new century, the artist came back to the United States and settled down in Buffalo, New York. He participated at the exhibition of the Buffalo Society of Artists in 1908. Four years later, he relocated to Silvermine community in Norwalk, Connecticut. While there, he joined the Knocker’s Art Club and exhibited for the first time at their show in 1913. Reiffel came to New York City with an intention to pursue his lithographical activity.

Early in the 1920s, the artist gave up lithography and concentrated on painting. In 1922, he co-founded the art school called ‘Silvermine Guild’.

Three years later, Reiffel traveled for vacations to San Diego with his wife. The couple was so impressed by the region that they decided to live in the city. It was there where  he produced the most part of the landscapes which provided him with an international acclaim.

From then on, the artist widely exhibited his artworks in various art places, including Carnegie Institute, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, San Diego Fine Arts Gallery, California Art Club, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and elsewhere.

Among the most important shows were the International Exposition of 1922 in Pittsburgh and the California Pacific International Exposition in 1935.

Charles Reiffel was a prolific painter who contributed to the development of art in California. Although the late start of his artistic journey, he created a lot of wonderful landscapes of the region recognized by the art world.

Widely exhibiting, he received many awards, including the Buffalo Society of Artists Prize, California Art Club Gold Medal and others.

Reiffel’s artwork can be found in private and various public collection: the San Diego Museum of Art, the San Diego History Center, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, both in Washington D.C., the Art Institute of Chicago. Some canvases are held in San Diego County Municipal Building.

In 2007, a painting by Reiffel titled ‘Autumn Design number 2’ was purchased at Christie’s in Los Angeles for $73,000.

Indiana Federation of Artists , United States; North Shore Arts Association; Buffalo Society of Artists; San Diego Art Guild;Cincinnati Art Club; Contemporary Artists of San Diego; Salmagundi Club; Silvermine Artists Guild.

Charles Reiffel: An American Post-impressionist The book proposes a fresh assessment of the artist, firmly reestablishing his place as a national figure in the canon of American painting and shedding light on a splendid page in the history of American post-impressionism and expressionism

Skip to content