Golden Dawn member Theodosia Moore Durand: her family, general introduction to her as an artist
There are several other files on Theodosia, at these sub-headings on my GD index page:
- In the Golden Dawn; biography of James Madison Durand
- Theodosia: life-by-dates 1914to spring 1926
- Theodosia: life-by-dates 1927 to 1949.
None of them would not have been possible without the input of Theodosia’s distant relative Ted Harwood of northern California: he sent me most of the references that are listed in the various ‘sources’ section, and dealt patiently with my further enquiries. Huge thanks to Ted. Theodosia remains an elusive, enigmatic figure; but a lot less obscure than she was before!
THE MOORE FAMILY OF PLUMAS AND SONOMA COUNTIES CALIFORNIA
Ted Harwood’s research into Theodosia’s wider family shows that relatives of hers started to move West as early as the 1849 Gold Rush; but that many – especially the men – died young, and violently. Such are the risks of pioneering.
Theodosia’s parents – Armstrong Porter Moore and his wife Anna (Annie) Elizabeth Mastin – were luckier. They were both newcomers to California; as were most people of European descent in the 1850s: Armstrong Moore had been born in Ohio, Annie Mastin in Mississippi. They met in Plumas County, California, and married there in December 1858. They had three daughters and two sons, Theodosia (known as Theo when she was a child) being the youngest daughter. Annie was a life-long 7th Day Adventist, though a letter written in Oakland in 1873 by Theodosia’s sister Maud Moore, to her cousin Eugenia Mastin, says that at that time, Annie and her husband were going to the local Methodist chapel on Sundays. Maud observed that her father was not an enthusiastic chapel-goer. She was rather bored by its Sunday services herself, and there’s nothing in Theodosia’s later life to indicate any strong religious beliefs.
When asked about her father by newspaper reporters in the 1920s and 1930s, Theodosia would reply that he had been a judge. This was impressive, and true as far as it went. More impressive still might have been that he was a cousin of President James Buchanan. However, in all the coverage of the Moore family that I found in the California newspapers, that relationship was never mentioned; it cropped up in an obituary of her brother who died in 1934. Perhaps the family as a whole didn’t know it until then; but reading about President Buchanan’s one term in office, it doesn’t sound as though being related to him was anything to boast about.
Armstrong Porter Moore certainly served as a judge in his time but what paid the bills when Theodosia was very young were the series of grocery businesses he managed, either for himself or for others, in several towns in northern California. The 1870 US census found the Moore family still at the Plumas County township and showed that Armstrong Porter Moore was already well-to-do, at least in local terms: he already owned real estate valued at $2000 and personal estate of $8000. His household on that day consisted of himself, Annie, Maud (10), May (9), Virgil (6) and Theo, born in Quincy in November 1863; plus one boarder; and a Chinese cook (a man, of course). 1873 began more than a decade in which Armstrong and Annie moved their family around with a restlessness Theodosia inherited from them. They went from Quincy to Oakland in 1873 so the children would get a better education; and then to Geyserville; to Healdsburg; and to Mendocino; before arriving in Santa Rosa where they started putting down some roots. On census day in June 1880 Armstrong and Annie were at Mendocino and their household was rather different from that of ten years before: their two eldest children were working (Maud was a telegraph operator, and May was a music teacher) but the Moores no longer had any live-in servants. Virgil and Theo were still at school; and the youngest child, the boy Alva was two.
The move to Santa Rosa came in 1886, when Armstrong left the grocery trade behind by being elected Recorder for Sonoma County. He was also deputy county clerk, and under-sheriff. After serving two terms as Recorder, he turned to yet another source of income, becoming the Santa Rosa agent for two San Francisco newspapers. News and newspapers became an important feature in the Moore family over the next few decades: Armstrong’s two sons and one son-in-law were newspaper reporters; Maud’s work as a telegraph operator will often have involved telegraphing news reports; and the youngest Moore, Alva, was killed in a train accident while researching a story for a newspaper he had founded. Theodosia, too, used newspapers to full effect in the 1920s and 1930s, writing in them, advertising in them, and giving reporters news items which promoted her work.
THEODOSIA: EUROPE, AFRICA AND AMERICA
Theodosia’s determination to be an artist took her away from her family in the late 1880s, to San Francisco, where she received enough basic training to realise that Paris was the place she needed to be. She went to New York where I think she didn’t do any art training but spent enough time to meet her future husband, James Madison Durand, a member of the New Jersey family of jewellers and engravers. They travelled to England together in 1891 (apparently as Mr and Mrs Durand though they weren’t yet married) and finally got to Paris in 1894 or 1895, only to leave it again in 1897 for México, where they hoped to found a colony of artists.
The México scheme never came to anything, though the Durands may have stayed in the country for several years. They were back in Paris in 1905 when Theodosia’s mother Annie Moore came to pay them a long visit, and lived there, in Italy and in Egypt over the next few years. Theodosia saw very little of her family between 1890 and the first World War, years in which her brother Alva was killed; both her sisters married and had families; her father died; and Virgil travelled the world before settling far from the rest of the family, in Kansas City.
The breakdown of her marriage to James Durand may have influenced Theodosia’s decision to return home; but she will also have heard that a world-fair was going to be held in her home state in 1915 – the Pacific-Panama International Exposition (PPIE). She returned to California in the spring of 1914, and took a number of steps to re-establish the West Coast in her mind as her home. In 1915 she began divorce proceedings against James Durand in the San Francisco courts, though it took until 1918 for the divorce to be made final. If Ted Harwood and I have identified the right man, Theodosia’s husband died in 1920, making another break with the past and enabling Theodosia to continually describe herself as a widow. Theodosia picked up the threads with her mother, and with sisters Maud Peck and May Gregory, later May Martin; though it seems she only met her brother Virgil once more, in 1932. As her siblings died and she survived, and perhaps inspired by her brother-in-law Tom Gregory’s interest in the subject, she started to research her family’s history, and gave a talk on it to the Sonoma County Pioneers’ Society.
NEEDS TO TELL READERS WHERE TO GO TO GET THE REST OF LIFE
Theodosia’s pioneering relations and their deaths at a young age: email sent me by family historian Ted Harwood 29 August 2020.
Theodosia’s father ARMSTRONG PORTER MOORE (1831-1905) and her mother ANNA ELIZABETH MASTIN MOORE (1843-1929).
At ancestry.com: basic family tree with dates. Theodosia was named after her mother’s mother, Theodosia Budd Keeler (1806-84).
The relationship to President James Buchanan: seen by me at //cdnc.ucr.edu the California Digital Newspaper Collection: death notice for Theodosia’s brother Virgil Moore, in the Sotoyome Scimitar volume 35 number 46 issue of 15 February 1934.
Familysearch California Marriages 1850-1945 GS film number 1310590: marriage of A P Moore to Anna E Mastin 27 December 1858 at Plumas. He was 27 and born in Brown County Ohio; she was only 17 and born in Monroe County Mississippi.
Details of Armstrong Porter Moore’s life as far as Geyserville were published in History of Sonoma County by Thomas Jefferson Gregory – Armstrong and Annie’s son-in-law Tom Gregory. Published Los Angeles: California Historic Record Co 1911.
Wikipedia on Plumas County; Geyserville; Sonoma County and Santa Rosa.
NARA US census data seen at Familysearch: households of Armstrong Porter Moore in 1870 and 1880.
Letter Maud Moore to Eugenia Mastin, written Oakland 26 March 1875: attachment to an email from Ted Harwood arrived 16 September 2020. On the letter’s p8 Maud said she’d got fleas!!
Via //cdnc.ucr.edu the California Digital Newspaper Collection to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat volume 31 number 89 Tue 21 March 1905 p1: obituary of Armstrong Porter Moore who had died “on Monday morning” [20 March 1905].
ANNA ELIZABETH (Annie) MASTIN MOORE
Annie Moore’s trip to visit relatives, after her husband’s death: via //cdnc.ucr.edu the California Digital Newspaper Collection to Santa Rosa Press Democrat volume 31 number 105 issued 22 April 1905: item describing the trip Mrs A P Moore was about to make, beginning in May. She was expecting to be away for one year, during which she’d spend time in Paris with Theodosia and James Durand; and visit other relatives, in England and on the US East Coast.
At www.findagrave.com there’s a page on the Moore family of Santa Rosa, saying she died on 3 January 1929. On the page is a newspaper cutting, giving some details of Annie’s life. The cutting doesn’t have a newspaper title or a date but I’m pretty sure it’s the Santa Rosa Press Democrat,
because I saw several references to the cutting’s writer, Herbert W Slater, as a reporter on SRPD. Details from the newspaper item: Annie had died at home in Cherry Street, Santa Rosa, a well-known local figure, though more or less house-bound for the past few years. Born Aberdeen Miss; family came to California via Panama in 1856. Life-long 7th Day Adventist.
See www.findagrave.com, for details of the Moore family’s plot in the Santa Rosa Oddfellows’ cemetery; though Virgil and May are not buried there.
Theodosia’s interest in her family history: undated newspaper snippet sent by Ted Harwood 11 September 2020. Item History of Pioneers Recalled at Meeting. Due to the difficulties of downloading from www.newspapers.com Ted didn’t note the date or newspaper the report was in. The meeting, of the Sonoma County Pioneers’ Society, was held at the Native Sons’ Hall.
The eldest child, MAUD MOORE PECK
Via Familysearch to California County Marriages 1850-1952 GS film number 10131224: marriage of Maud Moore to Harvey W Peck; 12 July 1882 in Sonoma County.
I could see several Harvey W Pecks online. I hope this is the right one: at www.geni.com a man called H W Peck with dates 1858-1927, died San Francisco. 4 sons 4 daughters. Family history website myheritage.com says that the H W Peck born 1858 was Harvey W Peck, born Illinois. There’s information at myheritage that looks wrong to me about one of the sons, Leland Ward Peck.
At www.findagrave.com: Maud Moore Peck: born September 1859; died 16 February 1924.
Seen at //cdnc.ucr.edu the California Digital Newspaper Collection: Healdsburg Tribune number 91 issued 18 February 1924: Maud Peck had died unexpectedly after a short illness. She had been in Santa Rosa at the time, looking after her mother. She had lived in Healdsburg when younger; and later at Berkeley. She left 4 sons and a daughter.
Next child, MAY MAUD MOORE; wife of Tom GREGORY (d 1914); and then of E F MARTIN
I couldn’t identify on Familysearch the marriage of May to Tom Gregory, but the birth of their daughter did come up: California Births and Christenings 1812-1988 GS film number 1031217: Virginia Anna Gregory born May 1900 at Santa Rosa. Father Thomas Jefferson Gregory, born Bloomfield California. Mother May Maud Gregory.
Via Familysearch to NARA US Census data for 1900 which showed May and Tom Gregory, and Virginia, living with Armstrong Porter Moore and Anna in Santa Rosa; the household was able to afford 3 live-in servants. They were probably living at 930 Cherry Street.
I found information on Tom Gregory at //santarosahistory.com a posting 2011 by Jeff Elliott in which he was trying to piece together some sense of Tom’s working life as a reporter; which was a real challenge as so much newspaper journalism was not credited at that time. Elliott found that Tom had been born in California in 1853. He had joined the US Navy but while still in it, had started to write for newspapers, sending items on the navy at war. Around 1879 he became the war correspondent of the evening newspaper, the San Francisco Call and Post and by 1895 had left the navy and was a professional newspaper reporter, widely published including by Santa Rosa Press Democrat, and the Republican. He also published volumes on the history of California. He was living at 930 Cherry Street Santa Rosa when he died, on 8 September 1914. He was cremated.
I’d just like to add here that in the 1920s, the San Francisco Call and Post printed a lot of small items on what Theodosia Durand was doing.
I couldn’t find the date of May Gregory’s second marriage, to E F Martin. There wasn’t much information on May’s second husband either, though he was still alive when she died.
Newspaper snippet seen at www.newspapers.com, sent as an attachment to an email from Ted Harwood 11 September 2020. I think the item was in the Plumas Independent published in Quincy Thurs 25 January1923 p1: a death notice for May Moore Martin and details of the forthcoming funeral. Item mentions 930 Cherry Street as the Moore family home.
Via //cdnc.ucr.edu the California Digital Newspaper Collection to Healdsburg Enterprise volume XLV number 21 issued 4 January 1923: item on the death of May Moore, Mrs E F Martin. The item noted that the Moores had moved to Healdsburg in 1876. It’s also the source for Armstrong Porter Moore being deputy county clerk and under-sheriff for Sonoma County.
930 Cherry Street Santa Rosa, on the corner with East Street:
Via //cdnc.ucr.edu the California Digital Newspaper Collection to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat volume XLIX number 157 issued 1 January 1922, which I think is referring to 930 Cherry Street: an item mentioning Theodosia as staying as the house guest of her sister May, Mrs Gregory Martin, and May’s daughter Virginia Gregory. Theodosia had held a dinner party for 12 guests at the house; with an evening of bridge afterwards.
But via www.newspapers.com to Santa Rosa Press Democrat 7 August 1936: 930 Cherry Street was the home of Harry and Ann Kyle by then.
Surviving brother VIRGIL MOORE
Via //cdnc.ucr.edu, the California Digital Newspaper Collection to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat volume XL number 219 13 September 1913: an item on Virgil Moore, a “well known Santa Rosa boy”. One of his songs had just won a song-writing competition in Los Angeles, leading to his having a write-up in the Los Angeles Tribune. Summing up the original article in the Los Angeles Tribune, it mentions 12 trips Virgil had made from Seattle to Alaska, in which Virgil was giving talks promoting life in California and urging people to settle in the state. While visiting Alaska, Virgil had collected some of the songs of the Klondike goldrush. Virgil had been writing songs since the 1880s. The report had very few dates in it but it did mention that Virgil had been living in San Francisco a year after the earthquake (so, 1907). The report described Virgil as “a lawyer, promoter, public speaker, poet and politician”.
Also seen at //cdnc.ucr.edu, the California Digital Newspaper Collection, an obituary in the Healdsburg Tribune number 88 issue of 15 February 1934 printing information supplied by Theodosia. Virgil had died in Kansas City the day bef this issue. This is the only source I’ve come across for Armstrong Porter Moore as a cousin of President James Buchanan. Theodosia had been researching the Moore family’s history; made she had made the discovery. Virgil: went to Alaska in the gold rush, with Jack London the well-known novelist. Fiction writer; writer of pop songs; reporter for the Kansas City Star. He and Theodosia had last met 2 years before (1932) when Theodosia was passing through Kansas City on her way back from Paris.
At //wc.rootsweb.com is the Ancestry of Bob and Mary Beth Wheeler. Virgil Moore is one of their ancestors: born 1864 California; died 14 February 1934 Kansas City. Married Allie Belle Hazzard 1918.
Newspaper snippet seen in www.newspapers.com and sent as an attachment to an email sent by Ted Harwood 11 September 2020: 2 items apparently from separate newspapers, both reporting on a meeting betw Theodosia Durand and her brother Virgil Moore; the first time they had met for 50 years. They met at the Union Station in Kansas City and spent two hours together. Theodosia was on her way to California.
At www.findagrave.com there’s more information on Virgil Moore who’s buried at Elmwood Cemetery Kansas City. There’s a quote from a letter of 25 June 1940 written by his widow Allie Hazzard Moore, to a woman called Olive. In it Allie calls Virgil a “newspaper man” and says that he’d crossed the Pacific 42 times; lived in China for 2 years and the South Seas for 10 years; and walked through Japan. He and Allie had owned a ranch in New Mexico. Allie was his 2nd wife. Below the long quote from Allie’s letter, there are details of Virgil’s parents and the name of his firstt wife. She was Ada Amelia Hayes Moore; she died in 1953 so they must have been divorced. Virgil and Ada had one daughter, Marjorie Moore Bouterious 1901-96.
ALVA PORTER MOORE 1877-1895
Email from Moore family historian Ted Harwood 29 August 2020, which I quote: “Alva had already started a local newspaper and was riding the rails around California in 1895 to gather info for an article on “The Tramp Life”, apparently he fell from a train in Los Angeles and was killed.”
THEODOSIA: FAMILY MATTERS
Theodosia Moore and James Madison Durand. Perhaps I should say here that I have no idea how, where or when the two of them met.
Attachment to an email from Ted Harwood 13 September 2020: a list dated July 1891 of passengers on a ship going from New York to Liverpool. On the list are James M Durand 29; and Mrs Durand 27; both of them lying about their age!
At web pages www.theislandwiki.org, are transcriptions made 2017 of marriages at St Helier, Channel Islands, 1584-1940: Theodosia Moore born c 1866 married James Madison Durand born c 1870 in St Helier Jersey on 28 June 1893. Ted Harwood then found the original page in the Marriage Register; sent in an email 13 September 2020 - marriages solemnised 1893: 28 June 1893 James Madison Durand, bachelor aged 23 and a “Painter”; and Theodosia Moore, spinster aged 27 and a “Painter”. There was no place on the page for the names of the witnesses unfortunately; I’d like to have known who they were. Note that the bride again scraped a couple of years off her age: Theodosia was actually 29 in June 1893.
Confirmation that Annie Moore went to stay with them in Paris in 1905:
Via //cdnc.ucr.edu the California Digital Newspaper Collection to Santa Rosa Press Democrat volume 31 number 105 issued 22 April 1905: report on Annie Mastin Moore’s proposed trip to Europe; it described Theodosia and James as having lived in Paris “for a number of years”.
1914: the end of the marriage.
Email from Ted Harwood arrived 16 September 2020: attachment showing a list of the passengers on the Olympia leaving Southampton 8 April 1914 for NewYork. On the list: Theodosia Durand; married woman; travelling alone; born Plumas County. Ref number: 301874. Theodosia gave a US address: c/o Durand and Co, 49-51 Franklin Street, Newark New Jersey but it was just an accommodation address.
Divorce proceedings begun 1915 in San Francisco:
Newspaper snippet seen at www.newspapers.com and sent as attachment to email by Ted Harwood 11 September 2020: legal notice dated 17 November 1915 and published 18 November 1915 in case number 69774 in which Theodosia Durand was the plaintiff and James Madison Durand the defendant. Issued by the Court of the State of California, City and County of San Francisco; at the request of Randolph V Whiting, attorney for the plaintiff. That the case was a divorce case was not actually stated. The notice was a summons requiring James Madison Durand to appear in court to answer the plaintiff’s case; he would be liable for money and/or other damages if he failed to appear.
That Randolph Whiting was a cousin of Theodosia Durand was confirmed by Ted Harwood in an
email sent 13 September 2020.
If you’ve read my file on the Durands and the Order of the Golden Dawn you’ll know that it was most unlikely that James Madison Durand ever knew of the summons. I daresay Randolph and Theodosia were aware that he would not answer it, as he was probably living in Europe or possibly Turkey at the time. Nevertheless, they had to go through the motions.
Source for Theodosia getting her divorce in 1918: tiny snippet, probably in the small ads of The [San Francisco] Recorder 28 June 1918: ending legal case 69774: Theodosia Durand v James M Durand, divorce proceedings on grounds of “wilful neglect”.
THEODOSIA AS AN ARTIST
Theodosia Durand is poorly and often inaccurately covered in those dictionaries of artists that even have an entry for her. And there just doesn’t seem to be enough of the usual information around for me to put together a list of artworks by Theodosia, with dates, where originally exhibited and where they are now; which is what I’ve done with the other GD members who were artists. There’s not even enough for me to do more than a sketch of where Theodosia learned her trade as an artist, what kind of work she produced, and what styles she worked in over a professional life spanning 1890 or thereabouts to the late 1930s at least.
LAUGHABLY SHORT LIST OF WORKS KNOWN TO ME THAT ARE OR MAY BE BY THEODOSIA MOORE DURAND
Laughably short because one source I found mentioned 300 works by Theodosia on show at her studio in Santa Rosa in 1932. There’s only a handful of them in the list below.
December 1890 Peace on Earth
Pencil drawing signed by Theodosia as Theodosia Moore and dated by her to Christmas Day 1890.
exhibited 1914 Three washable paintings in pastel paint, on stone.
These were exhibited in France, possibly at the Paris Salon.
exhibited 1915 Four “decorative plaques”.
These were shown at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) and won a medal. They may have been forerunners of the Yolo Courthouse murals.
1918-19 Yolo Courthouse murals. Four of them: Spring, Summer, Autumn*, Winter.
Pastel paint on cement.
These are Theodosia’s best-attested works: they got a lot of coverage at the time (see those years in the first ‘life-by-dates’ file) and are still in the place for which they were painted. *Note Theodosia’s choice of word: ‘autumn’ not ‘fall’.
By 1918 A portrait in pastel paint of a daughter of Grace and Ulysses S Webb.
This is mentioned as being one of the works on display when Theodosia opened her San Francisco studio to visitors, early in 1918. The Webbs had two daughters, Hester and Grace; I haven’t been able to discover which of them sat for Theodosia. At the time of Theodosia’s open-studio event the Webbs no longer owned the portrait; Theodosia borrowed it from a Dr Phillips.
By 1921 Sketch entitled Visits to the Modern Potters of México.
Theodosia took this to a talk she gave at Stanford University.
unknown; ?1920s Young Autumn
unknown; ?1920s portrait, with the sitter described in a press review as “a negress”.
These two paintings were part of an exhibition of works by Theodosia held at the Duncan Vail Co gallery. I couldn’t find a date for the exhibition.
By 1930 Youthful Heroes.
Described as a Frieze and so probably a mural. It had been bought by 1930 by Ernest Latimer Finley, owner and editor of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
1932 Three “canvases” which may have been landscapes
A newspaper report mentions Theodosia painting them for an exhibition in Santa Cruz.
unknown; by 1932 Remorse of Cain
I think may be a mis-attribution resulting from a misunderstanding by a newspaper reporter. There’s a painting with that title by Asher B Durand, who was a relation of Theodosia’s husband.
1940 The Picnic
Exhibited at Santa Cruz, it was a joint runner-up in a poll of visitors to the exhibition.
There must be more works out there somewhere, but as at 2 October 2020, those I’ve listed above are all that I know about. So if anyone reading this has a work by Theodosia in their possession, or knows the whereabouts of one, please contact me with details.
Sources for the list:
The 300 works on display in 1932: newspaper snippet, though without a date; sent in an email by Ted Harwood September 2020. Ted wasn’t able to send the newspaper’s name but it’s probably the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
Peace on Earth. Ted Harwood noticed the drawing for sale on Ebay in August 2020. He then found a reference to it being in an auction in 2014: Material Culture: Fine, Self-Taught and Outsider Art. Auction of works 18 July 2014 at 4700 Winnhickon Avenue Philadelphia. Catalogue Reference 204 is Theodosia’s Peace on Earth. Catalogue calls Theodosia Moore “(British, 19th C)”. Well, the second part is more or less right! The drawing was for sale at $100-200.
?Three pastels on stonework.
L’Architecture volume 29 1914 p209 re catalogue numbers 2361-63. This was just a snippet, in French, and I couldn’t see what exhibition was being reviewed.
Four “decorative plaques”.
Undated newspaper snippet; not contemporary with the PPIE. Title of the newspaper not known either but possibly the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
Yolo Courthouse murals see the first ‘life-by-dates’ file.
Portrait of Miss Webb: American Art News 16 February 1918.
Visits to Modern Potters...
A passing mention of it at stanforddailyarchive.com The Stanford Daily volume 59 number 46 issued 4 May 1921. This is the source for Theodosia’s sketch; but the report reads as though the sketch wasn’t a part of the exhibition, so I think Theodosia took it away with her when she went home. Her talk was part of the opening ceremony of the University’s Maya-Aztec Applied Arts Exhibition.
Young Autumn; “a negress”:
newspaper snippet seen at www.newspapers.com by Ted Harwood and sent to me in an email 11 September 2020. The item was about works by Theodosia which were on display at the gallery attached to one of the Duncan, Vail Co’s artists’ materials shops; possibly the one in Los Angeles. The item described Young Autumn as a portrait of a girl; and mentioned the painting’s rich colours. This snippet also mentioned a portrait of “a negress”; though it didn’t give the painting’s actual title so I’ve no idea what to look for.
I couldn’t find a date for this exhibition of Theodosia’s works but at ericmerrell.wordpress.com I saw a reference to a Duncan Vail Gallery existing in the 1920s.
Youthful Heroes: newspaper snippet seen at www.newspapers.com by Ted Harwood and sent to me in an email 11 September 2020. The snippet didn’t have the newspaper’s title though I’m pretty sure it was the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. The item has no date either, though other sources indicate it was 1930. The headline was: Mme Durand Frieze Exhibited at Library, suggesting that Youthful Heroes was a mural.
On E L Finley:
//digital.sonomalibrary.org, the host site for the Sonoma County Library Digital Collection has a photo of Finley, taken in 1941, and a short profile. Finley owned the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
See also santarosahistory.com, a post from January 2015: Ernest Finley Party Animal.
On Youthful Heroes: newspaper snippet sent by Ted Harwood attached to an email of 11 September 2020. The newspaper it was from was not identified but must be the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. Finley had loaned the Frieze as President of its Library Board; I think what’s meant is the Board of the Santa Rosa Library (founded 1904).
The three “canvases” exhibited in Santa Cruz:
Source: via www.newspapers.com to the Santa Rosa Republican issue of Tues 18 October 1932 p8, which described the paintings in question as “canvases”; so I think they weren’t murals.
Comment by Sally Davis: although my knowledge of Theodosia’s working life as an artist is so sketchy, I haven’t come across any evidence that she had exhibited in Santa Cruz before. The report in the SR Republican didn’t give any more details, either of the paintings or the show they were in. However, looking online I found that the Santa Cruz Art League had organised a Statewide Exhibition in 1928. It became an annual event and in April 2019 the 89th such exhibition was held. The SCAL had been founded to promote art featuring the landscapes of California. If the three works Theodosia submitted were landscapes, they are the only landscapes by her I’ve found any reference to.
Source for the likely exhibition: scal.org, the website of the Santa Cruz Art League.
Remorse of Cain.
Probable source of the mistake if there was one: Santa Rosa Press Democrat of 2 July 1932 p6 which also says Theodosia was a niece of Asher Durand.
At sandiegohistory.org, the web pages of the San Diego History Center, an article by Bruce Kamerling: The Start of Professionalism. Originally in the Journal of San Diego History volume 30 number 4 Fall 1984; published by the San Diego History Society. The article covers the career of the first professional artists to live in San Diego, beginning in the late 19th century.
Arts Magazine volume 15 issues 1-6 1940, p17. The Picnic was actually joint runner-up with a work by Clarence Hinkle. The winner was Diana Seated, by Los Angeles-based artist Onestus Uzzell.
Standard procedure on starting out to research an artist is to check their entries in the art dictionaries, which list artists by surname with a basic amount of information on them: dates between which they were exhibiting artworks; which galleries their works were shown at; and prizes won if any. Theodosia never claimed to have exhibited in the UK; and never lived in the UK when she was a practising artist. However, I did check her out, using the National Art Library’s references books. There were no entries for Theodosia, either as Moore or Durand, in any of the main dictionaries, which cover the major galleries in England, Scotland and Ireland. She also didn’t appear as an exhibitor in any of the lists of exhibitors published by the main galleries in those countries.
Theodosia did claim to have exhibited at the Paris Salon. Some of the catalogues of the exhibitions at the Paris Salon are now online at onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu, beginning with 1879, the first year in which a list of exhibits and exhibitors was issued. The University of Pennsylvania has 1890-1908 and 1910-11 (in one volume). It doesn’t have 1909 or anything after 1911; and there’s a note on the page saying the catalogues from 1914 onwards are hard to come by now. I went through the catalogues that the University of Pennsylvania does have. Neither Theodosia Durand nor her husband James Madison Durand are listed in any of them. It’s just possible that a reference to works by Theodosia that I came across in L’Architecture volume 27 1914 p209 is about that year’s Salon; but I couldn’t see enough of the article to be sure. I can’t think where I could follow up a reference in a French magazine, to find out more.
Theodosia also claimed that one or more works she showed at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition had won a medal. I’ve done some searching for what the works were, and which medal Theodosia won with them; but haven’t found any confirmation of her claim.
There is a short entry for Theodosia in Artists in California 1786-1940 compiled by Edan Milton Hughes. San Francisco: Hughes Publishing Co 1986 p139. That was a good starting point for Theodosia’s training but of course it is focusing on California. It begins its list of exhibitions she’d shown works at, in 1916. The information in Artists in California is the basis for her entry at www.askart.com, though the compiler there included a little more information.
There are a lot of websites for and by art dealers and collectors which list prices that works by particular artists have fetched in recent auctions. However, at www.artprice.com and other such webpages, there were no records for works by Theodosia.
THEODOSIA’S TRAINING AS AN ARTIST
Long after her training must have been over, Theodosia mentioned it when speaking to various newspaper reporters. The reporters were only after brief news items for their newspaper’s social or cultural columns; so the information that got printed was basic. Piecing it together I infer the following: Theodosia began her training in San Francisco. She continued it in Paris. She was particularly interested in mural-painting, studying with Alexandre Séon and seeing first-hand the wall-painting techniques of ancient Rome and Egypt. She studied anatomy at the Government Fine Arts School in Paris. And that as well as painting, she also studied design.
If Theodosia ever gave a reporter any dates for any of those stages, they didn’t make it into the newspaper items. However: her Peace on Earth, with its very specific date of 25 December 1890, indicates that she was drawing and had learned something about how to compose a picture by then. One reference she made to having anatomy classes with Dr Richer means that she was still doing some training, in Paris, after 1903. As far as I can tell she did no art training while she and her husband James Madison Durand were living in England, from 1891 to 1894 or 1895. They were in Paris from 1895 to 1897 but seem to have been focusing on their membership of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn rather than their art. They then left France early in 1897 for the United States and México, and I think they didn’t return to Europe for at least three years. They were living in Paris in 1905; and Theodosia left France to return to California in the spring of 1914. the periods she spent living in Egypt and Italy were probably between 1905 and 1914.
PARISIAN ‘ISMS’ IN THE 1890s
The French government’s art schools were still teaching a very traditional style of painting and sculpture – it’s often referred to as ‘academic’ - and a very narrow range of subject-matter in Paris in the 1890s; and still chose works in that kind of style for the exhibitions at the Paris Salon. Works painted in oil paints were another Paris Salon preference. However, by the 1890s there were many break-away groups. The artists in those groups are all far better-known now than their academically trained contemporaries. The group of artists known as the impressionists put on their first exhibition in 1874. In the 1880s, a younger group of artists began moving on from impressionism towards what’s now called post-impressionism: van Gogh, Gauguin, the Pointillists, Cézanne. That was one strand of art that challenged the academic style.
THEODOSIA’S ART TRAINING IN EUROPE
Theodosia chose to learn another strand of art that challenged the academic style: the style known as symbolism. Symbolism was more suited than impressionism and its descendants to a woman artist-to-be with an interest in the occult: meaning, in symbolist art works as in occult texts, is very elusive, it’s put over – if at all - through the use of myth and allusion. Figures in symbolist paintings tend to be types rather than individuals and there is a dream or nightmare-like quality about many symbolist paintings and also in its poetry. Symbolism had a wider reach than impressionism, which was very focused on the every-day, the use of paint, and what the eye sees. Symbolism had started as a literary movement (Baudelaire, Mallarmé) and encompassed music (Debussy) and theatre as well as painting. It wasn’t interested in the every-day. The symbolist painters were not such a close-knit group as the impressionists; they tended to work more independently.
Once she had made up her mind to start taking her art training seriously – which seems to have taken many years - Theodosia chose a teacher who would enable her to combine her occult understanding of the power of symbols, with her desire to learn more about mural-painting. She became a pupil of Alexandre Séon. Séon was born near Lyons in 1855. He began his training at the École des Beaux Arts in Lyons in 1872 and moved to Paris in 1877. From 1879 he worked with the great mid-century symbolist painter and muralist Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (another man from Lyons) on some of Puvis de Chavanne’s most famous works, the murals in the Panthéon and the staircase of the Musée des Beaux Arts Lyon. As well as being a painter, Séon was an illustrator and decorator. He taught drawing from the 1880s and in 1892 helped found the Salon de la Rose Croix which became an important exhibition space for young artists.
That Séon and his symbolist artist friends chose to call their exhibition space the Salon de la Rose Croix suggests they were interested in the occult themselves. Rosicrucianism – the study of the occult works based on the Rosy Cross - was a strand of late 19th century freemasonry and also featured in the symbolism of the GD. The two founders of the Order of the Golden Dawn – Samuel Mathers and William Wynn Westcott – were both members of a Rosicrucian group in England, the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (SRIA). Westcott gave a lecture on its history to GD members in August 1893 and once she had been initiated into the GD’s inner, 2nd Order (in 1895) Theodosia would have been entitled to know more of the symbolism of the rose cross; and how to consecrate her own rose cross design.
Giving interviews to newspapers late in 1918, Theodosia also claimed to have studied with Puvis de Chavannes himself. She would have had to have been quick: she reached Paris in 1894 or 1895 and left it again in 1897; he died in 1898. I think she was exaggerating, unless she meant that in training with Séon she was studying Puvis de Chavanne’s techniques at only one remove. The corner stones of Puvis de Chavanne’s work are the very simplified forms that he used in his paintings, his muted colours, and his liking for subjects taken from the Bible or Greek myth. One reviewer of murals by Theodosia done after the first World War saw the influence of Puvis de Chavannes in them; and also the influence of the pre-Renaissance mural painter Giotto whose works Theodosia could have seen on her trips to Italy. Séon lived until 1917 so Theodosia could have been a pupil of his after she and her husband returned to Europe; which was at some time before 1905. As well as painting, she also studied design with Séon: as a professional artist she did designs for stained glass and tapestries; and was described by a newspaper in 1919 as a “decorative artist”. In the 1920s and 1930s she taught design to commercial artists.
The newspaper item gave his name as Reicher; but Paul Richer 1849-1933 is the man Theodosia did her anatomy classes with. He was a trained anatomist and physiologist; but he was also a sculptor, exhibiting regularly and with pieces now in the Musée d’Orsay and elsewhere. He was assistant to Charcot at the Salpêtrière asylum from 1882 to 1896, working with him in his research on epilepsy, and the affect of hypnotism. However, if Theodosia had wanted to study anatomy with Richer as an art student she would have had to wait until after 1903 when he was appointed Professor of Artistic Anatomy at the Government Fine Arts School in Paris.
Mural work, Egypt and Pompeii:
At some point Theodosia will have had to admit that her instructors had no more to teach her, and to set out on a working life as a professional artist. I don’t know when that point was, but I would suppose her periods living in Egypt and Pompeii were when she had passed that point. She never suggested anyone was teaching her, in either place.
There doesn’t seem to be much symbolism and hidden meaning in murals at Pompeii; on the contrary some of the most infamous leave nothing to the imagination!
Egypt, though: the meaning of paintings on walls in ancient Egyptian tombs and temples is not always fully understood even now. At the time that Theodosia must have visited – probably between 1905 and 1914 – she may have had a greater understanding of what was depicted in the paintings than the archaeologists of the time. Egyptian magic was an important strand in the reading and rituals of the Order of the Golden Dawn and Theodosia had been particularly friendly with GD member Florence Farr, who had made a study of Egyptian magic, using texts and objects in the British Museum. Her Egyptian Magic was published in 1896, after Theodosia had gone to Paris, but Florence had been working on it for several years. The basis of Florence’s work was correspondences, the mystical connection between things not obviously connected in any physical sense; it is one of the cornerstones of esoteric understanding and something any artist who was a symbolist would have had no problem with.
In 1930 Theodosia wrote that she and her husband James Madison Durand had lived in the artists’ studios at 65 boulevard Arago in Paris for six years. She didn’t say which six years but they were probably at some point between 1900 and 1914. The studios were were also known as the Cité Fleurie. They were built in two long rows with a garden in between. Artists that the Durands might have had as neighbours during the six years included Rodin and Modigliani; but I think they arrived too late for Gauguin and left too early for Ford Madox Ford.
By 1918 – probably several years before – Theodosia was using her study of ancient mural painting techniques to develop a method for painting murals that would withstand bad weather and so be able to be sited or left outdoors. The technique involved the use of pastels, but Theodosia doesn’t seem to have told anyone exactly what the recipe for the paint was or at what stage she applied it (was the background very wet, a bit wet, or dry?); and the details of it seem to have died with her. She used the technique on stonework, cement, and asbestos.
Murals were a life-long interest for Theodosia but she also painted smaller works. I’ve found several references to portraits by her; and one reference to works that might have been landscapes. If she painted any allegorical works or any still-lifes I haven’t come across any references to them. Though pastel paints seem to have been a favourite medium, Theodosia also did paintings in oils. I haven’t seen any references to works in watercolours. She continued to produce art work until at least the late 1930s.
SOURCES for Theodosia’s training and professional career:
Newspaper snippet seen at www.newspapers.com by Ted Harwood and sent to me 11 September 2020 though without the newspaper’s name or date of issue. I think it was probably the Santa Rosa Press Democrat; and probably from 1932.
And a possible date for this very early phase; perhaps representing the end of it:
Material Culture: Fine, Self-Taught and Outsider Art. Auction of works 18 July 2014 at 4700 Winnhickon Avenue Philadelphia. Catalogue Reference 204 is Theodosia’s Peace on Earth.
Ted Harwood noticed Peace on Earth being for sale on ebay; 21 August 2020. Its title is written across the top and bottom: Peace on Earth. At the bottom left: “Theodosia Moore Dec 25th 1890”. Neither sighting of it suggested that it’s anything but an isolated specimen: if it was part of a set of works, it has become separated from the rest of the group.
To Europe; well, England: email from Ted Harwood arrived 13 September 2010; attachment: passenger list July 1891 for a ship going from New York to Liverpool includes James M Durand aged 29; and Mrs Durand aged 27. This begins the ‘GD’ phase of their lives in which they focused on a study of the occult – particularly the Kabbalah, numerology and (in James’ case at least) astrology, rather than art. For more on that see my file on the Durands in the GD.
Symbolists and Ancient Murals:
Most of the sources for this part of Theodosia’s life were published when her Yolo County murals could be seen by the public for the first time.
Rosicrucianism in the GD: see R A Gilbert The Golden Dawn Companion. On p115 Flying Roll XVI was Westcott’s lecture on the SRIA; so even if she hadn’t been able to get to the talk, Theodosia could have known what was said. On p112 is a list of the manuscripts given to newly-initiated members of the 2nd Order; including The Complete Symbol of the Rose Cross; Consecration of the Rose Cross.
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: Durand Murals Feature Fine Arts Exhibit. This is the source that states she studied with Puvis de Chavanne and Séon; and a renowned anatomist that the newspaper wrongly published as Dr Reicher. It also mentions the periods Theodosia spent in Pompeii and Egypt studying ancient mural-painting techniques.
San Francisco News Letter issues January-June 1919 seen at archive.org. Issue of 4 January 1919 p13.
San Francisco Examiner Tue 9 December1919 p14.
Healdsburg Tribune number 226 issue of 29 July 1932 p1.
Sources for Theodosia’s teachers:
Puvis de Chavannes and Alexandre Séon: their wikipedia pages; and an article on Séon at www.all-art.org.
Wikipedia on Paul Marie Louis Pierre Richer 1849-1933.
The Paris ‘isms’: wikipedia pages of impressionism and symbolism; and of the various artists who were prominent in those groups. The page on symbolism is illustrated by Puvis de Chavanne’s Young Girls on the Edge of the Sea.
At www.metmuseum.org an article on Symbolism by Nicole Myers, Department of European Paintings; posted 2007. Amongst the illustrations: Puvis de Chavanne’s The Shepherd’s Song.
65 boulevard Arago:
Undated newspaper cutting sent by Ted Harwood in an email September 2020. The cutting didn’t have the name of the newspaper on it but other sources show it was the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
Dawn of the Belle Époque: the Paris of Monet, Zola...and their Friends by Mary S McAuliffe. Rowman and Littlefield 2011: p80 in a section on Sarah Bernhardt.
Ford Madox Ford: A Dual Life by Max Saunders. Volume 2 Oxford University Press 1996 reissued 2012 with a new preface: p133 which covers events in 1923.
Modigliani’s wikipedia page doesn’t mention his having lived at 65 boulevard Arago. It does say that he arrived in Paris in 1906.
Medal at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE):
At www.sanfranciscomemories.com I found an article quoting Frank Morton Todd in 1921 on how important the medals were at a world fair. Todd stated that awarding medals was an integral part of the PPIE from the outset. There were six levels of medal, awarded on a points system. 20,344 medals were given out! - so I’m not sure if receiving one was anything to boast about.
At //panamapacificinternationalexposition.com there were lists of awards and award winners but I couldn’t see Theodosia on the lists.
At www.ebooksread.com there was a copy of the PPIE San Francisco Official Catalogue of the Illustrated and Fine Arts section; with lists of awards. Again, I couldn’t find Theodosia in the lists.
Theodosia’s murals: her new techniques
Newspaper snippet, though without a date; sent in an email by Ted Harwood September 2020. Ted wasn’t able to send the newspaper’s name but I think it must be one of the Santa Rosa newspapers. The report connected the opening of the studio with the new art school, supposing that Theodosia was showing her art work to prospective students.
Copyright SALLY DAVIS
7 December 2020
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