Golden Dawn member Theodosia Moore Durand (1863-1949). The years 1914 to spring 1926.
It’s extraordinary how much information you can find online, even on people who left hardly any records of their own, and were never famous. I’ve had to divide Theodosia Durand’s life-by-dates file into two. This is the first part. As with my life-by-dates of GD member Isabel de Steiger I shall be typing what happened in Italics, and the sources and my comments in my usual Times New Roman. Thanks for lots of the information given below, to Ted Harwood of California who found most of it on www.newspapers.com and other similar websites.
I begin with 1914 because in that year, Theodosia went back to the United States from Europe. From that time until her death in 1949, she lived in California apart from one or two return visits to Paris. You can find her life after the end of this file, in a file on my GD index page under the sub-heading
- Theodosia: life-by-dates 1927 to 1949.
There are also two other files on Theodosia’s life, at these sub-headings on my index page:
- In the GD; with a biography of James Madison Durand
- the Moore family; and Theodosia as an artist.
Theodosia exhibited some paintings in France, works which the catalogue described as done in pastel paints on stone, and washable.
Comment by Sally Davis: I’m not sure I’ve translated the French correctly but I think this is the earliest reference Ted and I have found to Theodosia work as a painter of murals. Further on in these two life-by-dates files there are number of references to Theodosia doing murals in pastel paint on cement and on asbestos. This 1914 reference, in a French magazine, might also be to works Theodosia said she had exhibited at the Paris Salon. The catalogue numbers are certainly high enough for the Salon, which was always a huge show.
Source: seen online and only as a snippet so I couldn’t see what exhibition was being discussed:
L’Architecture volume 27 1914 p209 concerning catalogue numbers 2361 to 2363 by Theodosia Durand. I give the French hoping for someone to send me a better translation than mine. Theodosia’s exhibits were “en pastels pierre lavable...au coloris bien pâle et comme effacé”…
8 APRIL 1914
Theodosia sailed on the Olympia from Southampton, bound for New York. She was travelling without her husband James Madison Durand, though she may have known one of the other passengers and actually have been travelling with her.
Comment from Ted Harwood in an email 16 September 2020: he regards this passenger list as evidence that Theodosia’s marriage to James was over. If they met again before James’s death (which was probably in 1920) there is no record of it, and Theodosia never mentioned it.
Source: passenger list sent by Ted Harwood 16 September 2020. All passengers were required to give a forwarding address. Theodosia gave the address of Durand and Co: 49-51 Franklin Street, Newark, New Jersey. James Madison Durand was a grandson of the firm’s founder and it was still being run by cousins of his. However, it was an accommodation address only; Theodosia was travelling to California.
Comment by Sally Davis: also on board the Olympia were two Italians: artist Stefania (she Americanised it to Stephanie) Pezza, and sculptor Giovanni Battista Portanova. Stefania was about Theodosia’s age – born in Turin in 1864 – and was a painter of landscapes, still lifes and pieces of china. She was living in California by 1900 when she was the owner of the Roman School of Fine Arts, at 1565 Bush Street, San Francisco. She and Portanova had been living together, but they split up, perhaps during the Olympia’s trip across the Atlantic. Stefania later brought a case for compensation and damages against Portanova, and Theodosia was called by Stefania as a witness to what happened between them on the Olympia. I’m suggesting here that Theodosia may have known Stefania before the trip to New York, and been travelling on the Olympia with her. It may have been Stefania who told Theodosia about the Panama-Pacific exhibition, due to take place in San Franciso in 1915.
Sources for Stefania (Stephanie) Pezza:
A small amount of information at www.askart.com taken from Artists in California 1786-1940.
That Pezza and Portanova had been living together came out in the trial:
Shadows, Fire, Snow: The Life of Tina Modotti by Patricia Albers 2005: p36. Tina Modotti was also called by Stefania Pezza as a witness.
There’s more on Pezza v Portanova below.
I can’t find any direct evidence for this but I think that Theodosia was living in San Francisco; though she had family in Santa Rosa and Berkeley.
Theodosia exhibited four “decorative plaques” at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) in San Francisco, in its Palace of Fine Arts venue.
Newspaper snippet sent by Ted Harwood 11 September 2020; newspaper not named and there’s no date but it was not contemporary with the PPIE.
Comment by Sally Davis: the PPIE took place on the northern shore of San Francisco and ran from 20 February to 4 December 1915 on a site covering 636 acres. The theme was ‘modernity and progress’ though the PPIE’s wikipedia page criticises the way women and people who were not white were depicted in commissioned art works. Most of the buildings were demolished after the Exposition ended but the wikipedia page has some photographs of them and aerial views of the site.
With the help of a cousin, attorney Randolph V Whiting, Theodosia began divorce proceedings against James Madison Durand.
Source: legal summons in case 69774 issued by the Court of the State of California, City and County of San Francisco and served 17 November 1915; published 18 November 1915 in San Francisco newspapers and possibly elsewhere. In case 69774, Theodosia Durand was the plaintiff and James Madison Durand the defendant. The Summons didn’t actually state that the case was a divorce case. It just required James Madison Durand to appear to answer the plaintiff’s case, warning him that he would be liable for damages if he didn’t.
That Randolph Whiting was a cousin of Theodosia: personal communication, Ted Harwood in email 13 September 2020. Ted’s a descendant of one of Theodosia’s cousins; possibly of this one.
Comment by Sally Davis: evidence from Paris in 1914 indicates James Madison Durand was probably still in Europe, or possibly Turkey, in 1915. It’s likely he never knew about the Summons; but because he didn’t appear as the Summons required, Theodosia wasn’t able to get her divorce for three years.
Theodosia gave a talk on the Science of the Beautiful.
Source: seen at //cdnc.ucr.edu the California Digital Newspaper Collection: San Francisco Call and Post volume 99 number 67 issued 18 March 1916. Theodosia’s audience were members of the Channing Auxiliary Program Drama Group.
Comment by Sally Davis: this is the earliest reference to a talk by Theodosia that I have found. She lectured regularly in San Francisco and elsewhere in the 1920s and 1930s, often – though not always - to women’s groups. The reputation she gained from the talks led Theodosia to a second career as a newspaper columnist, covering much the same subjects - art, aesthetics and her time as an artist in Paris. Theodosia had an ‘in’ at the San Francisco Call and Post, and the paper gave her talks a lot of coverage in the next few years: her brother-in-law Tom Gregory had worked for the paper as a reporter and had also published some poetry in it.
See the WHAT’S THE HEADING? Family file for more on Thomas Jefferson Gregory 1853-1914, who married Theodosia’s sister May Maud Moore.
Theodosia was commissioned to make four murals for the new Yolo County courthouse in Woodland, Sacramento.
Comment by Sally Davis: it’s the date of the commision I’m not sure about. Theodosia definitely did do four murals for the courthouse – there’s plenty of coverage of them and a photograph of one of them on the web. There might be a connection between the works Theodosia exhibited at the PPIE and this commission: which would have been exactly what Theodosia was after in 1915.
Theodosia opened her studio to visitors. On show were paintings and designs from her all-but-finished work on the Yolo County courthouse commission; and other works including some portraits done in pastel paint. The studio was at 1565 Bush Street San Francisco.
Sources for the exhibition and what was in it: //cdnc.ucr.edu the California Digital Newspaper Collection: evening newspaper San Francisco Call and Post volume 103 number 20 issued 25 January 1918. The item noted that during the exhibition, the dancer Ingeborg La Cour would do “some interpretive dances” illustrating Spring.
American Art News 16 February 1918: which led me up the garden path: it was a New York magazine and didn’t know who was being referred to in a one-paragraph report it printed on Theodosia’s open studio. The one work referred to in the paragraph was a pastel portrait of the daughter of “General N S Webb”. Much effort on the web resulted in my believing that General N S Webb didn’t exist; and that the portrait in question was commissioned by a couple that Theodosia knew, perhaps very well: Ulysses S Webb, the Attorney-General of California, and his wife Grace. Theodosia must have been fed up about American Art News’s mistake: if they had got it right, the paragraph would have highlighted a rather eye-catching commission.
Sally Davis on the connection between Theodosia and the Webbs:
Ulysses Sigel Webb was born in West Virginia in 1864. Arriving in California, he settled in Quincy, studying law there and working in John Daniel Goodwin’s law practice from 1891 to 1902. In 1895 he married Goodwin’s daughter Grace. They had three children: Hester; Sigel; and Grace.
Theodosia’s family lived in Quincy from the early 1860s to 1873. Theodosia was born there in 1863. Grace was probably born there too, in 1869, as her father was practising law in the town from 1867. In such a small town, Theodosia’s parents Armstrong Porter Moore and Annie must have known Grace’s parents John Daniel Goodwin and Martha; and Theodosia must have known Grace, though Ulysses Webb arrived in town too late for her to have known him at that time.
On the day of the US census of 1900, Ulysses and Grace, their three children and one servant were living in Plumas; but in 1902 Ulysses was appointed Attorney-General of California and they moved away. He was elected to the post and then re-elected continually until 1939.
Ulysses and Grace Webb are the only people I know about who commissioned a work from Theodosia. They didn’t keep the portrait, though; perhaps they didn’t like it. For her ‘open studio’ event, Theodosia borrowed it from its then owner, Dr Phillips.
Sources for the Webbs:
USGenWeb at files.usgwarchives.net
Illustrated History of Plumas, Lassen and Sierra Counties 1882; its Official History of Plumas County. Posted online by Joy Fisher 2006.
Online Archive of California at //oac.cdlib.org. Introduction to the papers of John Daniel Goodwin now in the California State Library Sacramento.
Wikipedia page of Ulysses Sigel Webb, California’s 19th attorney-general and by a long way its longest-serving one. He was known for his prosecutions of dubious property deals.
Via Familysearch to - California Marriages 1850-1945; GS film number 1310590
- voter registrations Quincy California, 1890s
- NARA records of US Census 1900; GS film number 1240096
- NARA records of US Census 1930; GS film number 2339937.
General comments on the open-studio event by Sally Davis: ‘spring’ was the first in the sequence of four murals Theodosia painted for the Yolo County courthouse; the others being – obviously - summer, autumn (not Fall) and winter. I’ve mentioned above (1914) that 1565 Bush Street San Francisco was Stefania Pezza’s Roman School of Fine Arts in 1900. By 1907 it was the headquarters of the Sequoia Club, which had been founded in 1892 as a club for men and women having connections with the arts, either as practitioners or as sponsors. I couldn’t track down how long the Sequoia Club was there, though it was still there in the 1920s. It’s now a car show-room.
Sources for the venue and the dancer.
At www.askart.com: entry for Stefania Pezza.
American Art News volume 6 number 7 issued 30 November 1907 has the Sequoia Club at 1565 Bush St.
At //oac.cdlib.org Online Archive of California: introduction to the records of the Sequoia Club now at the San Francisco Public Library.
I couldn’t find much information on the dancer Ingeborg La Cour.
At //commons.wikimedia.org there was a photograph of her, looking pensive. The photograph was originally published facing p413 of Camera Craft volume 26 issue of November 1919.
American Annual of Photography volume 36 1922 p31 may refer to the same photo; the photo is on p61.
Is this her? - www.geni.com named an Ingeborg Barfod La Cour, born Denmark 1897 died 1995; married Niels-Eilert Holme-Halved and used the surname La Cour Halved.
5 FEBRUARY 1918
Theodosia’s four murals were installed at the Yolo County courthouse: Spring; Summer; Autumn; Winter; each being 60” by 30” and painted in pastel shades chosen to complement the rest of the interior decoration, They were painted in pastel, on cement.
Comments by Sally Davis on the Yolo County courthouse, which is now on the USA’s Register of Historic Places. It is in Woodland, the county capital; now part of greater Sacramento. The courthouse was built and elaborately decorated in 1916-17 in the Beaux Arts style – a style Theodosia will have been very familiar with from buildings in Paris. Theodosia’s murals were commissioned for niches in the rotunda which stretches up from the 2nd to the 3rd floor.
there are black-and-white photographs taken 1985 and 1986 of the courthouse’s interior; including one of Theodosia’s murals; the one described at the website as ‘harvest’, but which I presume is ‘autumn’. Theodosia was there to see them installed, and gave an interview to the local paper in which she said that her murals blended in with the rest of the decoration even better than she had hoped. She also said that her murals were the first of their kind to be exhibited in public – meaning, I suppose, that she had painted them using the new technique she had developed.
Source for details of the murals and the date of their installation: Woodland Daily Democrat 5 February 1918 p1 announcing that the murals would be installed “today”. The report waxed lyrical but not necessarily accurate about Theodosia, decribing her as not only French, but also “Famous”, and not just of San Francisco, but also “of Paris”. The report also noted that “competent critics” had judged the murals to be some of the finest works on their subjects. Item sent to me by Ted Harwood in August 2020.
Theodosia’s new mural-painting technique was also mentioned in the paragraph in American Art News 16 February 1918.
Theodosia was required to sign a deposition as a witness in the legal case in which Stefania Pezza was suing Giovanni Battista Portanova.
Comments by Sally Davis: Theodosia was being asked to remember various events from her transatlantic trip in April 1914, now that the former relationship between Pezza and Portanova had ended up in court. I don’t think Theodosia appeared in court in person, but Tina Modotti did, and there is coverage of what was in dispute in biographies of her. Pezza was demanding that Portanova honour an agreement they had reached several years before and he had renaged on; by which she paid for him to travel from Italy to the United States in return for half his subsequent earnings. She also alleged that, having offered marriage, he had left her at the altar. Pezza won her case.
At //cdnc.ucr.edu the California Digital Newspaper Collection: Italia volume 32 number 58 issued 27 February 1918 apparently in Italy and definitely in Italian.
Stefania (Stephanie) Pezza:
At www.askart.com: entry for Stefania Pezza Hendricks, elaborating on information originally in Artists in California 1786-1940. By the time of the court case Stefania had married Orville Hendricks. In 1921 she moved to El Cerrito, in the San Francisco suburbs, to teach art at the Grant School there. Like Theodosia, she exhibited with the San Francisco Artists Association.
Two biographies of Tina Modotti (1896-1942) who left Italy for California to join her father, in 1913. Later she was an actor in silent movies, and a photographer; and active in Communist politics in México. It’s not clear from the coverage I’ve found of Stefania Pezza’s case whether Theodosia and Modotti knew each other.
Shadows, Fire, Snow: The Life of Tina Modotti by Patricia Albers 2005: p36.
Tina Modotti: Between Art and Revolution by Letizia Argenteri 2003: p39
At www.findagrave.com Stephanie Pezza is buried at the Golden Gate National Cemetery. She died
in 1951. Her husband Orville O Hendricks was still alive when she died, but his name is not on her gravestone; perhaps they had separated.
Theodosia’s divorce from James Madison Durand was finalised.
Source: tiny item looking like a small ad published in The [San Francisco] Recorder of 28 June 1918: in case 69774, divorce of James M Durand by Theodosia Durand on grounds of “wilful neglect”.
Comment by Sally Davis: Theodosia never referred to herself as divorced; she always called herself a widow. Her husband probably died in New York in 1920 (‘probably’ because I’m not quite sure of the identification, though Ted Harwood is convinced).
Theodosia was appointed Director of the University of Washington’s Fine Arts department. This involved a move to Seattle.
Via archive.org to San Francisco News Letter issues January-June 1919. Issue of 4 January 1919 p13 saying that she’d been appointed “last fall”.
Seen by me at //cdnc.ucr.edu the California Digital Newspaper Collection: San Francisco Call and Post volume 104 number 152 issued 28 December 1918 mentioned the appointment.
Comment by Sally Davis: something, somewhere went wrong, and Theodosia spent less than a year in the job. There seems to be some debate about her job title: most sources give it as ‘director’ but a Washington State directory of people in education called her “Assistant Professor of Fine Arts”. If she was an assistant, who was she assistant to? - perhaps this was at the core of the problem.
She was there long enough to make it into some university publications:
Washington Educational Directory issued by the State of Washington 1919 p72 in which she’s listed as Madame (sic) Durand, a form that adds to the general impression Theodosia wanted to give, that she was French, not American.
At www.mocavo.uk you can see several University of Washington Seattle Handbooks from the period. Only one had Theodosia’s name in it: in 1919 she was on a staff list as Assistant Professor of Fine Arts.
Seen at archive.org, the TYEE a publication for students of the University of Washington; issued1919. Theodosia Durand and one other woman member of staff were listed as honorary members of the university fraternity called Lambda Rho.
DECEMBER 1918-JANUARY 1919
Theodosia had a one-woman show at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. She came down from Seattle to attend the opening, which was on 29 December.
Comment by Sally Davis. A one-person show is the aim of most artists: it indicates that they have Arrived. Theodosia had been offered the show by the Palace’s new director, J Nilsen Laurvik, and he had arranged for it to be seen in several other cities after its month in San Francisco. I wish I knew where else the exhibition had gone; none of the other cities were named in the coverage I found. The show’s main features were the designs and studies for the Yolo Courthouse murals. There were also works in paint on cement; and designs for stained glass and tapestries. Though her life had 30 years to go, I think you can see this show as the apogee of Theodosia’s career as an artist. Obviously, any artist with works on show would hope for more commissions; it’s not clear to me, though, whether more commissions did materialise for Theodosia. Times were hard, and got harder. Over the next few years she began to look for other ways to add to her income; at least, I presume she was paid for some of her talks and newspaper articles.
Seen by me at //cdnc.ucr.edu the California Digital Newspaper Collection: San Francisco Call and Post volume 104 number 152 issued 28 December 1918.
Via archive.org to San Francisco News Letter issues January-June 1919. Issue of 4 January 1919 p13: a review of Theodosia’s show, perhaps by someone with some art experience, rather than a reporter. The reviewer saw the influence of Puvis de Chavannes in Theodosia’s Yolo Courthouse designs, but also that of Giotto. Theodosia might have seen Giotto’s murals when she was living in Italy; but no newspaper account of an interview with her said that she had done so.
Quick word on Giotto (died 1337) from Sally Davis: his wikipedia page emphasises how little is known for certain about his life, and which works he actually painted; though the murals in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua (also known as the Arena Chapel) are considered to be definitely by him, completed around 1305. Some murals in four family chapels in Santa Croce, Florence, are by him; though exactly which of them he painted is less certain than with the Padua chapel, and some have been destroyed.
Theodosia started to give life classes, on Saturday afternoons at 1565 Bush Street.
Comment by Sally Davis: I think this is the earliest advert Ted and I have found for Theodosia giving art lessons. The advert for the lessons gave these credentials: exhibitor, Paris Salon; medallist PPIE; and “late” University of Washington.
Source: small ad in an unidentified newspaper, probably one published in San Francisco. It was sent to me in an email by Ted Harwood in September 2020. He couldn’t date the small ad but the reference in it to 1565 Bush Street suggests Theodosia probably put it in the paper as part of her return to San Francisco and putting the University of Washington behind her.
9 DECEMBER 1919
Theodosia gave a talk on the “subconscious art of painting, music and poetry” as part of an exhibition of items from the Crocker collection, on show at San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel.
Source including the quote, with its hint that by now, Theodosia knew something about the works of Freud: item from the San Francisco Examiner Tue 9 December1919 p14.
Sent by Ted Harwood 11 September 2020.
Comment by Sally Davis: I’m assuming that the talk was given in San Francisco, probably in the hotel; and that it means Theodosia had left her job at the University of Washington.
On the Crocker collection: it has as its basis a mass of paintings, drawings and ceramics bought by Edwin B Crocker of Sacramento, and his wife Margaret, during a trip to Europe that they made from 1869 to 1871. The collection as it is now also includes art from America, Asia, Africa and Oceania; and is housed in the Crockers’ family home. I couldn’t find any evidence from the time about the exhibition at the Fairmont Hotel – what was in it, how long the items could be seen there. The hotel is at 950 Mason Street San Francisco at the top of Nob Hill. I imagine Theodosia must have known that when the building was repaired after the 1906 earthquake and fires, the architect/engineer in charge was a woman, Julia Morgan, and she chose to shore-up of the building with reinforced concrete to protect it against future earthquake damage. It worked: the hotel is still standing, where it was built.
Wikipedia on the Crocker Art Museum, founded 1885 with pictures of some items in the collection; and its own website at www.crockerart.org.
Fairmont Hotel: tripadvisor and other holiday websites; and its wikipedia page. It’s now on the US Register of Historic Places.
Theodosia began to offer ‘life’ classes in her studio at the Sequoia Club; on Saturday afternoons.
Source and comments by Sally Davis: no date on this one it’s a newspaper snippet sent by Ted Harwood 11 September 2020. I’ve dated it to soon after her ‘open studio’ event because the address is the same: 1565 Bush Street San Francisco. Perhaps part of the reason for opening the studio to visitors was as a piece of stage-setting for the classes. I don’t know what the local art teachers would have made of it: Theodosia was offering lessons to them as well as to students. It’s this newspaper item that describes Theodosia as having won a medal at a Paris Salon exhibition; something I haven’t found any other evidence for. Theodosia’s advert also indicates that she was moving with the times in her search for work: she was on the phone, at Prospect 4939.
14 JANUARY 1920
On the day of the 1920 US census, Theodosia was living with her mother Annie Moore at a rented house in district ED225 of San Francisco.
NARA United States census 1920 residents of District ED225 sheet 6b; which doesn’t give the actual address. Seen at Familysearch.
Theodosia went to a meeting of the Western Arts Association. The meeting had been called to discuss finding new premises for the Association, with better gallery facilities.
Seen by me at //cdnc.ucr.edu the California Digital Newspaper Collection: San Francisco Call and Post volume 107 number 127 issued 2 June 1920 though the report got the name of the WAA’s founder wrong.
Biographical Dictionary of American Educators ed John F Ohles 1978 p115: what became the Western Arts Association was founded by Charles Edwin Bennett as the Western Drawing and Manual Training Teachers’ Association, in the wake of the Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893.
The Eye, the Hand, the Mind: 100 Years of the College Art Association ed Susan Ball. New York and New Brunswick New Jersey: College Art Association and Rutgers University Press 2011. On p257 footnote 8 states that the name ‘Western Arts Association’ wasn’t used until 1919; and that the WAA has branches all over the United States.
Comment by Sally Davis: I guess that means that Theodosia was a member of the WAA. Perhaps she joined when she took the job at the University of Washington.
JUNE TO NOVEMBER 1920
Theodosia gave a series of talks on the history of sculpture in ancient Greece. The talks all took place at the the Fine Arts Building of the Golden Gate Park Memorial Museum.
Comment on the name of the venue, by Sally Davis: the Fine Arts Building is now known as the de Young Museum, after Michael H de Young, the founder of the San Francisco Chronicle. It opened in 1895 and moved into a new building in 1919.
Venue’s website at //deyoung.famsf.org.
San Francisco Chronicle 7 June 1920 p11. The mention of Theodosia’s forthcoming talk was part of a wider report on the exhibition in the Golden Gate Park Memorial Museum. This report didn’t mention that Theodosia was giving any more talks on the subject. The rest of the series was seen by me at //cdnc.ucr.edu the California Digital Newspaper Collection: all advertised in the San Francisco Call and Post:
- volume 107 number 141 issued 18 June 1920.
- volume 108 number 26 issued 6 August 1920 in which Theodosia was one of several speakers.
- volume 108 number 62 issued 17 September 1920
- volume 108 number 86 issued 15 October 1920: by which time Theodosia had reached the “transitional period of Greek art” - between the kore/kouroi and the great naturalistic period.
- volume 108 number 98 issued 29 October 1920
- volume 108 number 110 issue of 12 November 1920 p14, announcing the last in the series.
Theodosia went to Stanford University to give a talk called Visits to the Modern Potters of México as part of the opening events of the Maya-Aztec Applied Arts Exhibition. She took with her a sketch of the same name which was on display during the opening ceremony.
Comments by Sally Davis: Theodosia had first gone to México in 1897, with her husband James Madison Durand, intending to found a colony of artists and live there permanently. That plan came to nothing but years afterwards, Theodosia told various newspapers (though without dates) that she had lived in México for three years; and had made other, shorter, visits including one when she spent several weeks lodging in a convent in Guadalajara.
At //newspaperarchive.com, the Stanford Daily 28 April 1921 p4.
At stanforddailyarchive.com The Stanford Daily volume 59 number 46 4 May 1921.
Santa Rosa Press Democrat 9 January 1936 p8 for her visit to Guadalajara.
Works by Theodosia were shown at an exhibition in the San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts.
Comment by Sally Davis: the publicity given this exhibition focused on the fact that there had been no scrutiny of submissions by a hanging jury. The San Francisco Argonaut suggested that the lack of any jury had encouraged young artists to exhibit. There would be 200 works in the exhibition, sent in by 100 artists from all over the State. Apparently thinking its readers needed reassurance as to the quality of the art they’d be seeing, the Argonaut gave a list of those artists in the exhibition whose names the readers might have heard of. Theodosia was on that list.
The [San Francisco] Argonaut 14 May 1921 p318 3rd Jury Free Exhibition. The report wasn’t a review, it was a notice of forthcoming attractions; so it didn’t give the names of any of the exhibits.
Theodosia led the protests against the hanging committee’s choices for the forthcoming annual San Francisco Art Association (SFAA) exhibition.
Comments by Sally Davis: Theodosia was named by several newspapers as the spokes-person for a group who were now voicing in public grumblings they had been making in private for several years. They had all been invited to send works to this exhibition, works which had then been rejected. This was not a case of works being rejected by a committee of men because they were by women: the San Francisco Chronicle named the members of the hanging committee, some of whom were women. On behalf of the hanging committee, K Spencer Macky rejected the accusations voiced by Theodosia. The director of the SFAA, J Nilsen Laurvik who had given Theodosia her one-woman show a couple of years before, assured the Press that the works chosen for the exhibition were chosen on merit: they were not the works of what Theodosia was describing as a narrow-minded little clique of members selecting their own works and no one else’s. At one stage, Theodosia was saying that those artists who’d had their work rejected would be setting up their own exhibition. I couldn’t find any evidence of a rival exhibition that year; Laurvik’s comment that these revolts against the choices of exhibition hanging committees never lasted long seems to have been right.
Via www.newspapers.com to San Francisco Chronicle issue of 22 Oct 1921 p3.
Seen by me at //cdnc.ucr.edu the California Digital Newspaper Collection: San Francisco Call and Post volume 110 number 92 issued 22 October 1921: War Breaks over Fine Arts Jury Selection.
On the San Francisco Art Association, by Sally Davis: it had been founded as long ago as 1871, to hold exhibitions and to establish a school of art in the city. It was not narrow-minded about what was ‘art’: photography was always an important part of it, and in 1874 it also founded a school of design. In the years after the first World War it helped found San Francisco’s art museum. It existed until 1966 when it merged with another organisation. You had to pay to be a member and it was expensive – in 1874 it was $100 per year. For a few years after 1915 the SFAA and the Society of San Francisco Women Artists (SSFWA) were merged; though the women went back to having their own organisation in 1926.
Sources: wikipedia and the SSFWA’s sfwomenartists.org – it still exists.
CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR 1921-1922
Theodosia went to stay with her sister, May Maud, and her niece Virginia. While she was there she held a dinner party for 12 guests, with a bridge party afterwards.
Comment by Sally Davis: just a brief glimpse of Theodosia spending the Christmas holiday with her family, courtesy of the social chit-chat column in the local paper. May Maud’s first husband, Tom Gregory, had died in 1914; Virginia was his daughter, born in 1900. Lately (I couldn’t track down quite when) May Maud had remarried. Her husband was a Mr E F Martin, about whom I couldn’t find out anything.
Source: seen by me at //cdnc.ucr.edu the California Digital Newspaper Collection: Santa Rosa Press Democrat volume XLIX number 157 issued 1 January 1922.
Theodosia gave a talk to the Borrowed Times club. Her subject was her travels in México, France and Egypt.
Searching in //cdnc.ucr.edu the California Digital Newspaper Collection, I think an advert for the forthcoming talk came up as being in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat volume L number 9 issued 11 July 1922. But when I searched the page, I couldn’t find it; perhaps I missed it, in the small ads.
1923 and 1924 saw the deaths of both Theodosia’s sisters.
Theodosia was still living in San Francisco.
Source: Plumas Independent published in Quincy; Thurs 25 January 1923 p1.
May Maud Martin died.
Source: death notice in Plumas Independent published in Quincy; Thurs 25 January 1923 p1.
Theodosia was amongst several guests who read their own poetry at a meeting of the California group of the American Literary Association. The meeting was at 673 Waller Street, San Francisco, the home of poet Gladys Wilmot Graham.
Comments by Sally Davis: the poetry readings were part of the evening’s entertainment, which also included selections from opera, a violinist and tales from a raconteur. I couldn’t find out much on the web about either the American Literary Association or the California Poetry Club. There were mentions of the Club in newspapers and magazines during 1923 and 1924; but not before or afterwards. The American Literary Association existed as early as 1807. In 1919 it published the American Poetry Magazine, volume 1 of a series – volumes 4 and 5 were also available on Amazon; as was an anthology, from 1927. I don’t think the American Literary Association exists any more; it may have been subsumed in the American Literature Association which was founded in 1989.
There was not much on the evening’s hostess, Gladys Wilmot Graham, either but she had poetry published in the San Francisco Newsletter in 1924 when she was described as a member of the California Poetry Club.
If Theodosia published any poetry, I haven’t come across it; it may have been published anonymously, though I must say that anonymity wasn’t like her.
San Francisco Examiner of 18 February 1923.
San Francisco Newsletter issue of 23 February 1924 p13 seen at archive.org.
Charles Brockden Brown and the Literary Magazine: Cultural Journalism in the Early American Republic by Michael Cody. Jefferson North Carolina and London: McFarland and Co Inc, Publishers 2004; p124, p182 footnote 62.
Theodosia’s other sister, Maud Moore Peck, died.
Sources for this death: www.findagrave.com and seen at //cdnc.ucr.edu the California Digital Newspaper Collection: Healdsburg Tribune number 91 issued 18 February 1924.
Comment by Sally Davis: Maud Moore Peck died unexpectedly, in Santa Rosa where she had gone from her home in Berkeley to look after her mother Annie Moore.
FEBRUARY and MARCH 1924
Two articles by Theodosia were published in the San Francisco Newsletter.
Sources, seen at archive.org:
- San Francisco Newsletter 23 February 1924 pp6-7 article by Mme Theodosia Durand: Our Place in History.
- San Francisco Newsletter 8 March 1924 pp8-9 article by Mme Theodosia Durand: Billboards, Monuments and other Obtrusive Things.
Comments by Sally Davis: though Theodosia was introduced to the readers as “Madame” Durand, former director of arts, University of Washington, neither of the articles was about art or her time living in France. So as well as being the earliest newspaper columns I’ve found that are by her; they represent a departure for Theodosia into new subjects – though she did manage to drop in mentions of travels in Italy and Switzerland. The first was called Our Place in History. The second was about journeys by stage coach that Theodosia had made through Marin and Sonoma counties; urging that they not allow billboards to be put up next to the roads, as they would prevent passengers from admiring the countryside.
Theodosia gave a series of talks at the Gallerie des Beaux Art at 116 Maiden Lane San Francisco. The gallery was owned by Beatrice Judd.
Comments by Sally Davis: Theodosia was described in the announcement of the first of the talks as a speaker well-known for her “clever, humorous outlines of the lives of the famous art students whom she remembers from ateliers of Paris” and a gallery named with Paris in mind was a very good setting for her. In the final talk, the described one of the highlights of cultural life in Paris, one I should imagine she went to several times – the Paris arts ball.
Beatrice Judd must have been at the outset of her long career as a mover and shaker, and arts administrator, in California. She’s more well known as Beatrice Judd Ryan. Her Gallerie des Beaux Arts was the first privately-owned gallery in San Francisco; it was also the first to show only contemporary artworks; though both the sources I found for it say that it opened late in 1925, which must be wrong.
For the talks; though they were ‘forthcoming attractions’, I didn’t find any coverage of what Theodosia actually said. Seen at archive.org:
- San Francisco Newsletter 7 June 1924 p17
- San Francisco Newsletter 28 June 1924 p17.
Sources for Beatrice Judd Ryan:
At www.artsy.net there’s a profile and mention of an autobiography: The Bridge Between Then and Now published in 1959.
Art in the San Francisco Bay Area 1945-80 by Thomas Albright 1985: p4 notes that the Gallerie des Beaux Arts operated for 8 years, exhibiting and selling art by “progressives”. As far as I know, Theodosia never showed any works at it.
A new art school opened in San Francisco at 1360 Post Street; with Theodosia as the head of its teaching staff.
Comment by Sally Davis: I’m rather puzzled by this opening, because I can’t identify the art school in question. It’s not the California School of Design; that had been founded many years ago though in 1916 it had changed its name and widened its reach, as the California School of Fine Arts. In speaking to the Press about it, Theodosia emphasised that the new School would focus on teaching commercial artists, something rather unusual at the time; classes would be timed so that they could attend them after work. The Press report emphasised Theodosia’s time at the University of Washington and said about her that she had “twenty-five years” of experience “in foreign schools”. I’d question that, at least as quoted: I haven’t found any evidence that Theodosia ever taught in a foreign art school – though that doesn’t mean she never did, of course, just that I can’t find out about it - and surely she wouldn’t have been a pupil for 25 years. I think it’s just another example of Theodosia embroidering a basic truth to make something in which she features more grandly.
San Francisco Newsletter 9 August 1924, sent to me in an email by Ted Harwood August 2020.
On the San Francisco Art Institute, the latest name for the institution founded as the California School of Design: enacademic.com.
Theodosia was one of 24 members of the San Francisco Society of Women Artists whose work was shown in an exhibition at the San Francisco Palace of the Legion of Honor. Theodosia showed two portraits.
Comments by Sally Davis: the SFSWA had been founded, as the Sketch Club, as long ago as 1887; and perhaps Theodosia had been a member when she began her artist’s training. It had been holding exhibitions regularly ever since, despite having its premises destroyed by the 1906 earthquake. In 1925 it had just set up as an independent organisation again after ten years of merger with the San Francisco Art Association. From 1926 it held separate exhibitions and began to have regular meetings for members at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. In 1932 a work by Frida Kahlo was included in an SSFWA exhibition, the first by her to be shown anywhere in the USA. The SSFWA changed its name to its current one, San Francisco Women Artists, in 1946; and finally got its own premises again in 1985.
Seen by me at //cdnc.ucr.edu the California Digital Newspaper Collection: Mill Valley Record volume 27 number 14 issued 30 May 1925: an item headed Women Artists Recognised, published when the exhibition was about to close. Work by members of the San Francisco Arts Association also featured in the show.
//cdnc.ucr.edu the California Digital Newspaper Collection: Santa Rosa Press Democrat volume 51 number 279 issued 20 November 1925.
A very helpful timeline of the organisation now known as San Francisco Women Artists.
Comment by Sally Davis: it was a wise move by any woman artist to join a group of them, in the mid-1920s; though probably Theodosia had been a member of the SFSWA for many years by then.
Times were hard for all artists; and of course over the next years they got harder. Artistic styles were changing, too. It would be really helpful to know whether Theodosia changed with them or resisted the changes; but without seeing more of her work I haven’t a clue whether she did or not.
BY AUGUST 1925
Theodosia had moved out of San Francisco, to 930 Cherry Street, Santa Rosa. She started advertising French lessons in the local paper.
Comment by Sally Davis: the sudden death of her sister Maud Peck had left Theodosia as the only surviving daughter of Annie Mastin Moore, who was now in her 80s and an invalid. So Theodosia moved back to 930 Cherry Street, which had been a family home for a number of years – Theodosia’s brother-in-law Tom Gregory had died there in September 1914. At least to start with, Theodosia made the best of it and she may not have been looking after her mother alone. An undated snippet found by Ted Harwood suggests her niece Virginia Gregory, now in her 20s, may also have been living with Annie Moore.
Source for the lessons: seen by me at //cdnc.ucr.edu the California Digital Newspaper Collection: Santa Rosa Press Democrat volume 51 number 209 issued 30 August 1925 p8: an advert for the French lessons, taking care to remind readers that Theodosia could be described as “of Paris”.
On the address: at //santarosahistory.com a posting 2011 by Jeff Elliott about Tom Gregory.
Via www.newspapers.com to Santa Rosa Press Democrat 7 August 1936 by that time 930 Cherry Street was the home of Harry and Ann Kyle.
The undated item seen by Ted Harwood mentions Annie Moore and Virginia Gregory as if they were living together. Theodosia had been to see them. Ted couldn’t find out which newspaper it was in, though the Santa Rosa Press Democrat seems the most likely.
One oil painting by Theodosia was in the San Francisco Women’s Art Association’s exhibition at the Hobart Gallery in San Francisco.
Source for the exhibit: at //cdnc.ucr.edu the California Digital Newspaper Collection: Santa Rosa Press Democrat volume 51 number 279 issued 20 November 1925: an item in the social chit-chat column reporting Theodosia’s return to Santa Rosa after a visit to San Francisco. The item mentioned both the SFWA’s show and a second one at a gallery associated with Ray Coyle. This newspaper report is the source for a painting by Theodosia called The Remorse of Cain.
Sources for the other references in the SRPD’s news item: I could see on the web plenty of galleries called the Hobart Gallery but none in San Francisco or roundabout, in the 1920s. I also found plenty of references to Ray Frederick Coyle including an entry in Artists in California 1786-1940 p105: born 1886 exhibiting in San Francisco in 1916 and 1924.
NOVEMBER 1925 to JANUARY 1926
Theodosia put a series of adverts in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, offering lessons in French and drawing.
Source: seen by me at //cdnc.ucr.edu the California Digital Newspaper Collection. The same advert, repeated in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat in its issues of: 21 November 1925; 5 and 6 December 1925; 12, 13, 14, 16 and 17 January 1926. Details of ad from volume 52 number 7 issued 16 January 1926 p9: Theodosia was once again reminding local readers of her credentials: the advert described her as “of Paris”; and as having won a medal at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) in 1915. The lessons would be at 930 Cherry Street, in the afternoons and evenings.
A work by Theodosia was entered as catalogue number 6361 in that year’s Catalog of Copyright Entries.
Catalog of Copyright Entries 1926 Part 4: Works of Art New Series: p108, p387. I don’t know what this work is.
27 FEBRUARY 1926
Theodosia had an advert in the local paper advertising lessons in French, and commercial drawing.
Source: Santa Rosa Press Democrat 27 February 1926 p9; item sent in an email September 2020 by Ted Harwood.
Comment by Sally Davis: this was the last of the series of adverts Theodosia had placed for her lessons in French and drawing. I haven’t seen any such adverts from later than February 1926, so either Theodosia’s classes were full; or she was giving up the idea for lack of a response. The advert from the 27 February was the only one of the set to specify that Theodosia’s art lessons would focus on commercial drawing.
Theodosia went to San Francisco to hear a talk by Lucien Labaudt.
Source: seen by me at //cdnc.ucr.edu the California Digital Newspaper Collection: Santa Rosa Press Democrat volume 52 number 31 issued 14 February 1926 p9: though the speaker’s name was spelled Fabaudt.
Comments by Sally Davis on Lucien Adolph Labaudt 1880-1943: costume and stage designer; teacher of design; organiser of art exhibitions and artists’ balls; and muralist, with murals done in San Francisco during the 1930s.
Labaudt had begun a training in design at a school in Paris in 1896 – shortly after Theodosia and her husband went to live in the city. He left, though, without completing the courses, because the methods and materials used seemed old-fashioned to him; and thereafter he was largely self-taught. Being quite a few years younger than Theodosia, he mixed with a different set of artists and designers, being influenced by Seurat and having Matisse as a good friend. Labaudt arrived in the United States in 1906 and was soon having designs published in magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. In 1908 he came across reproductions of paintings by Cézanne, which influenced his own style. He settled in San Francisco in 1910. He taught costume design at the California School of Fine Arts and in 1920 opened the California School of Design which specialised in costume design.
So: a French couple who had lived in San Francisco since 1910 and were active in the artistic life of the city. Lucien Labaudt and his wife Marcelle were the sort of people Theodosia would either be delighted to know; or anxious to avoid in case her own Paris credentials might be called into question by them.
Sources for Lucien Labaudt:
The best coverage I found of Labaudt’s early career was at //digitalassets.lib.berkeley.edu, California Art Research volume 19, edited by Gene Hailey and originally published by the Works Progress Administration, San Francisco, 1936-37. Article on Labaudt, Oldfield and Barnes.
At www.mutualart.com: Impressionist and Modernist: coverage of Labaudt’s murals for the Colt Tower; rediscovered after being lost for many years.
There are five works by Labaudt in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, all from 1927 or later: see www.sfmoma.org.
At artcontrarian.blogspot.com a posting from January 2017 on the murals at Colt Tower and the Golden Gate Park beach chalet (1936/37).
The beach chalet murals are the subject of an essay at www.foundsf.org, by Steven M Gelber: Labaudt’s Inspirational Beach Chalet Murals. Originally published in California History volume LVIII number 2 summer 1979 as part of series called Working to Prosperity: California’s New Deal Murals.
At yungee.com, coverage of a Lucien Labaudt Retrospective held 1946, illustrated with a photo taken in San Francisco in 1940: a group of artists including Labaudt and Diego Rivera. Labaudt’s widow Marcelle set up the Lucien Labaudt Art Gallery in San Francisco after Lucien was killed in a plane crash in India while working as a war artist. Works by him shown at the gallery included paintings, murals; costume and set designs.
The papers of Lucien and Marcelle Labaudt are now at www.aaa.si.edu, the Smithsonian Archives of American Art. They cover 1896-1987. At the side of the introductory web page there is a list of artists mentioned in the papers; Theodosia isn’t on the list.
Theodosia Durand’s life from this point on is in a file you can find on my GD index page under sub-heading
- Theodosia: life-by-dates 1927 to 1949
Copyright SALLY DAVIS
7 December 2020
Email me at AMandragora@attglobal.net
Find the web pages of Roger Wright and Sally Davis, including my list of people initiated into the Order of the Golden Dawn between 1888 and 1901, at: