Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Bertha Stringer Lee: A California Impressionist


Bertha Stringer Lee
Amidst the Lupines also Yellow and Purple Lupines
Oil on Canvas
18 x 14 inches
n.d.

Bertha Stringer Lee
1869-1937
 Bertha Elizabeth Stringer Lee was born into a wealthy San Francisco family that, fortunately for her, encouraged her pursuit of making art. At only 14 years old, Stringer mounted her first exhibition. She grew up as a socialite in San Francisco and attended the University of California at Berkeley. After graduation, Stringer studied privately with William Keith and with Arthur F. Meadows at the California School of Design. [1]

As a young woman of means, Stringer had the freedom that most other young female artists of her time did not and that is, the ability to paint and study with the best instructors wherever she chose, including in New York, Germany, and Paris. She did marry in 1894 to a young electrician, Eugene Lee, who further encouraged Lee in her work.


Bertha Stringer Lee
Golden Gate Park
Oil on canvas
 8 x 4.75 inches
n.d.
 Stringer Lee's preferred medium was oil, and she painted primarily California Impressionist landscapes and tonal scenes, generally of the San Francisco Bay or the Monterey Peninsula. Financially secure, she never felt the need to commercialize her work so, most of her pieces were given as gifts to friends and family members. Sadly, a great number of her  artworks were lost in the fires that directly followed the San Francisco earthquake of 1906.[2]

Lee claimed that "one could find all any artist could demand in variety and beauty of subject" in California. [3] She sketched and painted not only the Bay Area and the Monterey peninsula, but Lake Tahoe and other scenic areas in the state as well.

An impressive list of exhibitions by the artist included the Mark Hopkins Institute of Art, the San Francisco Society of Women Artists, M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, the Alaska-Yukon Exposition, the World's Colombian Exposition in Chicago, the Sequoia club, the Golden Gate Park Museum and the Richelieu Gallery. Her work is included in the permanent collections of St. Mary's College, the Oakland Museum and the De Young Museum, Mills College, Oakland, and the Shasta State Historical Monument, California.

A lifelong resident of San Francisco, California, Lee died on March 19, 1937.


Bertha Stringer Lee
Carmel Beach, California
Oil on canvas
20 x 30 inches
n.d.


Bertha Stringer Lee
Carmel By the Sea
Oil on canvas
16 x 24 inches
n.d.
















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1. Kovinick, Phil and Marian Yoshiki-Kovinick. An Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the American West. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1998), 186.
2. Taos and Santa Fe Painters. Bertha Stringer Lee: 1869-1937. http://www.berthastringerlee.com/. (accessed January 1, 2013).
3. Kovinick. An Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the American West. 186.