San Diego Fine Art Collection


With more than 1,500 paintings, sculptures, drawings, lithographs and etchings, the San Diego Fine Art Collection is considered historically and artistically significant, particularly works by renowned early 20th century plein air painters. The collection is a regional repository for fine art that exemplifies San Diego’s rich cultural and artistic heritage. Notable artists in the collection are Maurice Braun, Alfred Mitchell, Charles Fries, Belle Baranceanu, Charles Reiffel, Alice Klauber and Donal Hord.

The San Diego Fine Art Collection is not available for viewing in our Research Archives. For questions about our Art Collection:
The History Center welcomes inquiries regarding donations of artwork to our collection. To donate, please forward a photographic image with complete information, or to schedule an appointment:
Artwork brought to the History Center without review will not be accepted.



Female Puma with Cub
Arthur Putnam (1873-1930)
Bronze, 1910
Considered the “American Rodin,” Putnam mastered the technique of lost-wax bronze casting. His renowned animal sculptures were sinewy and highly expressive.

Flower Show in Balboa Park
Alfred R. Mitchell (1888-1972)
Oil on Canvas, c. 1925
One of the group of plein air artists who called San Diego home, Mitchell also completed still-life’s, portraits and city scapes. This painting is one of his most vibrant and spontaneous early works.

Still Life with Lobster
Charles Fries (1854-1940)
Oil on Canvas, c. 1905
Charles Fries arrived in San Diego in 1897 and was one of the first professional artists to establish himself in the city. Although primarily known as a landscape painter, Fries completed a number of still-life paintings in the early 20th century.

Landscape, San Diego Backcountry
Maurice Braun (1877-1941)
Oil on Canvas, c. 1915
Typical of Braun’s work, this landscape exhibits his distinctive short brushstrokes and color palette, with its tendency toward purple-blues, olive greens and russets.


Belle Baranceanu (1902-1988)
Oil on Canvas, c.1932
Milkweed is an excellent example of Baranceanu’s carefully designed compositions. It was accepted along with two other works (more than any other artist) for the San Diego Art Guild’s 8th Annual Exhibition in 1933.

Untitled Landscape (Mission Bay Causeway Bridge)
Alice Klauber (1871-1951)
Oil on canvas, c.1930s
Klauber was San Diego’s first native artist and began her studies at the Art Students League in San Francisco. Later her studies included painting under Hans Hofmann, William Merritt Chase and Robert Henri. She was also one of the major forces behind the cultural advancement of San Diego during the first half of the 20th century.

Charles Reiffel (1862-1942)
Oil on Canvas, late 1920s
Reiffel is considered an important American Post-Impressionist. His work was exhibited throughout the U.S., winning many national awards, and he was often referred to as the “American Van Gogh.”