Marion Wachtel

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"Arroyo Seco"
20 x 32 inches

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Marion Ida Kavanaugh Wachtel was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on June 10, 1876 into an artistic family. Wachtelís mother and great grandfather both attended the Royal Academy in London. Early in her life she studied with her mother, Jean (Johnston) Kavanaugh, a leading Milwaukee painter and teacher, then later with Henry Spread in Chicago until his death in 1890. Afterward, she spent many years at the Art Institute of Chicago, under John Vanderpoel, Pauline Doane, and Fredrick Freer, gaining a reputation as a successful and talented portrait painter. She also was a pupil of Richard Lorenz in Milwaukee and William M. Chase in New York.

Marion taught at the Art Institute of Chicago for several years while pursuing her career as a portrait painter; she also created landscape sketches and paintings. A scene in the mountains of North Carolina was seen by a Santa Fe Railway vice president, who offered her free passage to California in exchange for future paintings of western scenes. Unhappy in the classroom, she quickly accepted the proposition. Upon arriving in California in 1903, she became a pupil of William Keith, sketched the coast of Santa Barbara, and exhibited at the home of Oscar K. Cushmans in San Francisco. During which she met Elmer Wachtel. A romance blossomed and they married in Chicago in 1904. They returned to California and settled in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles area, specifically Pasadena from 1922, remained her home, but much of the West and Mexico became her studio. During the twenty-five years with her artist husband she traveled first on horseback and later by car to remote areas in search of subject matter. Influenced by the scenery, she became primarily a landscape painter, although she featured figures in many of her views of Mexico and the Southwest. After her husbandís death in 1929, she was inactive for a few years but continued to live in their Arroyo Seco home. By the early 1930ís she was painting and exhibiting again. Marion worked exclusively with watercolor until after her husbandís death and then used both watercolor and oil. Her early works are tighter and more meticulously detailed than those produced after 1920. After her marriage, the artist dropped the "u" in her surname, spelling it as Kavanagh.

In the 1920s, Wachtel was involved in the formation of the Pasadena Society of Painters and the California Water Color Society. She was an elected member of the New York Watercolor Society in 1922. Her works were shown individually and jointly with her husband in various galleries and were often exhibited at the Cannel and Chaffin galleries from 1921-1926. Regular exhibitions with both the California and New York Watercolor Societies made her paintings popular on both coasts.

Marion Kavanaugh Wachtel passed away in her home in Pasadena on May 22, 1954.

Member: Academy of Western Painters, Los Angeles; California Watercolor Society; Friday Morning Club, Los Angeles; New York Watercolor Society; Pasadena Society of Painters; Ten Painters of Los Angeles.

Exhibited: Del Monte Art Gallery, Monterey, California,1907-09; Anderson Galleries, Chicago, Illinois, 1907; Steckel Galleries, Los Angeles, 1908, 1912; Los Angeles Museum of History, Science, and Art, 1915, 1917 (solos); Milwaukee Art Institute, Wisconsin, 1917; Leonardís, Los Angeles, 1923; Biltmore Gallery, Los Angeles, 1925; Pasadena Society of Painters, 1925; Kanst Gallery, Los Angeles, 1928; Stanford University, 1935, 1936; University of Southern California, Los Angeles, 1936; City Art Museum, St. Louis, MI; Herron Art Institute, Indianapolis, IN; Detroit Museum of Art, Michigan; Art Institute of Chicago; Arizona State Fair, Phoenix; Rhode Island School of Design, Providence; Brooklyn Art Museum, New York.

Works held: California State Building, Los Angeles; Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, Iowa; Fremont High School, Los Angeles; Friday Morning Club, Los Angeles; Gardena High School; Irvine Museum; Laguna Art Museum; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History; Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach; Womanís Club, Hollywood; Santa Fe Railway Company, Chicago; Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site, Ganado, AZ; Syracuse University, NY; John H. Vanderpoel Art Association, Chicago.

Hughes, Edan M. Artists In California 1786-1940. 3rd ed. Vol. 1. Sacramento: Crocker, Art Museum, 2002. N. pag. 2 vols. Print.
All Things Bright and Beautiful: California Impressionist Paintings from the Irvine Museum by the Irvine Museum.
St. Gaudens, Maurine. Emerging from the Shadows: A Survey of Women Artists Working in California, 1860-1960. Vol. IV. 2015. Print.