Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Native California Painter: M. DeNeale Morgan

Mary DeNeale Morgan
Springtime Carmel Valley
Oil on Masonite
8 x 10 inches
n.d.
          During the research process for both this blog and my dissertation, I discovered that most of the female artists working in the West during the nineteenth century were from Europe, Asia, and the Eastern/Midwestern United States. With the exception of Native Americans, few women were born and remained in western America before that time. When travel and tourism became increasingly popular during the nineteenth century, women also explored the regions around them despite the constraints of societal expectations of proper behavior and dress.

          As previously discussed, in the 1800s, the numbers of practicing women artists increased dramatically, as educational and exhibition opportunities available to them widened considerably, and notable female artists were awarded public commissions and prizes. But, success for the female artist often came at significant personal cost: reconciling the traditional and expected role of wife and mother with the demands of being a professional artist. [1]

          Opportunities for study varied widely in the East versus the West. Established art schools, art colonies, and art groups in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, existed before those in Portland, San Francisco, Carmel, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and Laguna. The discussion of art in California, in particular, must address the differences between the Northern and Southern regions of the state, because each area is distinct geographically, climatically, and culturally. Although the north and south have no legal borders, for the purposes of this blog Southern California refers to the lower third of the state, with its primary boundaries from south to north being: the cities of San Diego, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara, (each founded during the Spanish period) Palm Springs, the Mojave desert, and the southern Sierra Mountains. Northern California encompasses the region beyond Santa Barbara including San Luis Obispo, the Monterey peninsula, San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, and the northern Sierra Nevada mountain range.

Mary DeNeal Morgan
Path to Town
Watercolor
10 1/2 x 7 1/4 inches
n.d.
Southern California is climatically different from the north, with a much more temperate climate and mostly sunny days, which attracted health seekers, winter tourists, artists, and those seeking to “reinvent” themselves. According to Henry Hopkins, museum director, curator, and educator, the colors most representative of the painters in the southern area of the state are white, blue, and yellow, and the art in general is “clean, intellectually clear, high-colored, light filled.” [2] The natural setting of San Francisco encompasses the bay, green and gold hills, forested ridges and foggy coastline. The colors used in general by the artists reflect the climate in richer, more saturated colors of silver, gray, and green. In both areas, according to Hopkins, the paintings have always expressed the ambiance of light. [3] As the fashion in landscape painting moved away from large Romantic panoramas of dramatic scenery, smaller canvases of intimate pastoral themes became popular, themes of which included inland farms and towns that celebrated the taming of the land.

Mary DeNeale Morgan was a pastelist, a painter, and an etcher. She was born in San Francisco, California on May 24, 1868, grew up in Oakland, and studied for a number of years at the California School of Design (1884-92 and 1895). While she was a student there, DeNeale studied under well known artist/instructors of the day such as Emil Carlsen, Amedee Joullin, and Arthur F. Mathews. She studied informally with William Kieth from her youth until his death in 1911, and later, in 1914, she spent some informal time with William Merritt Chase in Carmel. [4] 1894 Morgan exhibited her work in that year’s California State Fair. In 1895 she began exhibiting with the San Francisco Art Association and again saw her work hung in the state fair. [5] DeNeale opened her own art studio in Oakland in 1896 and a second in Carmel in 1904 following a visit to the art colony the year before. DeNeale survived the 1906 earthquake that devastated much of San Francisco and did a series of pastel studies of the devastation there.
 
Mary DeNeale Morgan
Ruins of St. Patrick's Church
Mission Street near Third
Pastel
n.d.

Mary DeNeale Morgan
Ruins of Townhome
California and Taylor Street
Nob Hill
Pastel
n.d.

Mary DeNeale Morgan
Ruins 1906 San Francisco
 Earthquake and Fire
n.d.


In 1910, DeNeale made Carmel her permanent home and became an integral part of the colony and its arts organizations first, as an art instructor, then as director of the Carmel Summer School of Art, from 1917 to 1925. In 1927, she was a founder of the Carmel Art Association. DeNeale was honored in 1928 as Scribner's Magazine named her as one of the nation's foremost women artists. During World War Two she made weekly visits to nearby Fort Ord to sketch the servicemen.


Mary DeNeale Morgan
Two Cypresses
Oil on Masonite
22 by 28 inches
n.d.

DeNeale created an enormous body of work in oil, pastel, tempera, and watercolor in which she captured the beauty and architecture of the Monterey peninsula including the iconic cypress trees, dunes, old adobe structures, and seascapes. An accomplished artist and instructor, she was a member and exhibitor in the following organizations: National Ass'n of Women Painters & Sculptors; San Francisco Art Ass'n; California Watercolor Society; Laguna Beach Art Ass'n; American Federation of Artists; Carmel Art Ass'n; Carmel Arts & Crafts Club. Exhibited: Oakland Industrial Expo, 1896; Mark Hopkins Institute, 1897-98; Hahn Gallery (Oakland), 1907 (solo); Del Monte Art Gallery, 1907-12, 1934 (solo); Berkeley Art Ass'n, 1908; Alaska-Yukon Exposition (Seattle), 1909; Panama Pacific International Exposition, 1915 (silver medal); Hotel Oakland, 1925 (solo); Pasadena Art Institute, 1929 (solo); Carmel Art Ass'n, 1934 (solo). Works held: California Historical Society; Monterrey Peninsula Museum; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Del Monte Hotel; University of Texas; Stanford University; University of Southern California; Union High School (Monterey); Monterey City Hall and Presidio; Sunset School (Carmel); Salinas High School; Harrison Library (Carmel); Society of California Pioneers. [6]

At eighty years old, Mary DeNeale died in her beloved Carmel on October 10, 1948, with an unfinished canvas on her easel. 
 

 
1. Noble, Nancy. History of Women Artists in the United States: 19th Century to the 1960s. Resource Library, New Britain Museum of American Art, January 13, 2011.
2. Harry Hopkins, Fifty West Coast Artists: A Critical Selection of Painters and Sculptors Working in California (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1981), 10.
3. Ibid., 10, 12.
4. Kovinick, Phil and Marian Yoshiki-Kovinick. An Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the American West. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1998), 226.
5. Morseburg, Jeffery. The Windswept Beauty of Mary DeNeale Morgan. http://marydenealemorgan.wordpress.com/. (Accessed December 29, 2012). 
6. Hughes, Edan Milton. Mary DeNeale Morgan 1868-1948. http://www.edanhughes.com/biography.cfm?ArtistID=465. (Acessed December 29, 2012).