Before there was television and of a time when film was still in its infancy, N. C. Wyeth’s illustrations electrified the stories he visually shaped and annotated. Yet it takes a painting such as California Mission to give a broader appreciation for the authenticity of the characters that populate N C Wyeth’s visual narratives. Here, there is no bravado, but a deep sense of time, place, and character. It is revealed in the beatific countenance of Father Serra and as well, his devotional attitude and relationship to the child upon whose head he places a hand of faith and trust. Beyond that respective narrative, a distanced one that shows productive endeavor suggesting the impact of Catholicism and European values in early California.
Painted in 1918, California Mission served as an illustration for Essentials of American History by Thomas Bonaventure Lawler; a painting that provides further appreciation for one of the true virtuoso painters in oil. In the annals of American art, no one was better.