Field Notes

Who Was Nellie Gail Moulton?

Who Was Nellie Gail Moulton? exhibit at Casa Romantica highlights an Orange County pioneer’s history. As the matriarch of Moulton Ranch, she oversaw this nearly 22,000 acres operation. It was comprised of sheep, cattle, and agricultural enterprises. Nellie was an en plein air artist and philanthropist. She studied art with Southern Californian masters such as William Wendt, Anna Hills, Frank Cuprien, and Edgar Payne. Her paintings are paired with sketches and historical images in the gallery.


The Moulton Museum created this guided tour with Jane Barnes, Nellie’s granddaughter.

“One of the founders of the Laguna Beach Art Association, which later became the Laguna Art Museum, Moulton was one of the first female artists to join the Laguna Beach art colony in the early 1900s. From a family of pioneers who moved to El Toro (present-day Lake Forest) in 1902, she painted mostly plein-air landscapes of the rancho and farmers tending their livestock. This is the first exhibition of her art in more than 50 years.”

It will be open until November 15, 2020 at 415 Avenida Granada, San Clemente. Call ahead at 949-498-2139 or visit their website for COVID-19 guidelines.

While you’re there, enjoy a tour of this historic house. It belonged to Ole Hanson, the San Clemente founder. The gardens have a breathtaking view of the pier. Support this 501c3 non-profit by becoming a member and purchasing items from their gift shop.

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