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Marion Ida Kavanagh Wachtel

 (1870 - 1954)
Marion Ida Kavanagh Wachtel was active/lived in California, Wisconsin.  Marion Wachtel is known for landscape, figure, portrait, and floral painting.

Marion Ida Kavanagh Wachtel

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for Marion Ida Kavanagh Wachtel
Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 10, 1870 into an artistic family Marion Wachtel was born to a mother who was an artist, and her great-grandfather was a Royal Academician in London.  She studied at the Art Institute of Chicago under Vanderpoel and in New York City with William M. Chase.  For several years she taught at the Art Institute of Chicago and was popular in Milwaukee as a portrait painter.

A commission from the Santa Fe Railway to paint scenes in their ticket offices brought her to California.  Arriving in San Francisco in 1903, she became a pupil of William Keith. Learning of her proposed move to southern California, Keith suggested that she study with Elmer Wachtel.  A romance blossomed and they married in 1904.

After her marriage, the artist dropped the "u" in her surname and then spelled it "Kavanagh." Regular exhibitions with both the California and New York watercolor societies made her works popular on both coasts.  Her early works are tighter and more meticulously detailed than those produced after 1920.

After Elmer's death in 1929, she was inactive for a few years but continued to live in their Arroyo Seco home; by the early 1930s she was painting and exhibiting again. Mrs. Wachtel worked only with watercolor until after her husband's death.

She died at her home in Pasadena on May 22, 1954.

Academy of Western Painters (LA); Pasadena Society of Painters; Friday Morning Club (LA).

Del Monte Art Gallery, 1907-09; Anderson Gallery (Chicago), 1907; Steckel Gallery (LA), 1908, 1912, 1915; Daniell Gallery (LA), 1911; PAFA, 1913; LA Museum of History, Science & Art, 1915, 1917 (solos); Milwaukee Art Inst., 1917 (solo); Calif. WC Society, 1921-27; Leonard's (LA), 1923; Biltmore Gallery (LA), 1925; Kanst Gallery (LA), 1928; Stanford University, 1935 (solo); USC, 1936 (solo).

Los Angeles County Museum; California State Bldg (LA); Woman's Club (Hollywood); Friday Morning Club (LA); Cedar Rapids Museum; Fremont High School (LA); Gardena (CA) High School; Irvine (CA) Museum; Orange County (CA) Museum; Santa Fe Railway; LA County Museum of Natural History.

Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
American Art Annual 1909-29; Southern California Artists (Nancy Moure); Who's Who in American Art 1936-53; Women Artists in America (Collins & Opitz); Artists of the American West (Samuels); Art in California (R. L. Bernier, 1916); Calif. Design 1910; Artists of the American West (Doris Dawdy); California Impressionism (Wm. Gerdts & Will South); Los Angeles Painters of the 1920s; Plein Air Painters (Ruth Westphal); Women Artists of the American West; Pasadena Star News, 5-25-1954 (obituary).

Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

Biography from
Biography provided courtesy of California Watercolors 1850-1970 By Gordon T. McClelland and Jay T. Last.

Marion Kavanaugh Wachtel (1876-1954): Born: Milwaukee, WI
Studied: Chicago Art institute
Member:  California Water Color Society, New York Water Color Club.

Marion Kavanaugh Wachtel studied art with John Vanderpoel at the Chicago Art Institute and with William Merritt Chase in New York City.  For two years, she taught art at the Chicago Art Institute and then in 1903; traveled to Northern California.  She continued her studies there with William Keith and began exhibiting watercolors in the San Francisco Art Association exhibitions.

By 1904, she was living in Southern California and was married to artist Elmer Wachtel.  Their home was in an art community near the Arroyo in Pasadena, a favorite location for landscape painters of that era.  There were beautiful oak, sycamore, and eucalyptus trees lining the valley, and a clear view of the Sierra Madre Mountains.  These local scenes became the subjects for many of her watercolors.

Both of the Wachtels were pursuing careers as full-time fine art painters so they were able to take extended painting trips to remote areas of California.  Often they camped out and explored areas near the coast and inland valleys, seeking out California's beautiful landscape and unique natural light.  The works of art they produced on these excursions were sold at art galleries in Los Angeles.

By the 1920s, she had developed a personal style of watercolor painting and mastered a technique of slowly building transparent washes of color.  After the paint dried, she went back into the work with pastels to blend shapes, soften edges and add highlights.  This was to be the height of her career and at this time she was one of the premier watercolorists in Southern California.

When the California Water Color Society formed in 1921, she was a founding member.  Her works were often singled out for special mention in reviews of the period, particularly those published in the Los Angeles Times.  When her husband died in 1929, she stopped exhibiting for several years, then began showing oil paintings and watercolors after the mid1930s.  She continued to produce watercolors and teach painting into the early 1950s.

Biographical information:

Who Was Who in American Art

Plein Air Painters of California.

Biography from Edenhurst Gallery
Marion Kavanagh Wachtel was the painter wife of Elmer Wachtel, both notable early California artists from the southern part of the state. She was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1876. Her career in art began early, and after studies in Chicago at the Art Institute, she gained a reputation as a fine portraitist.

Wachtel was in San Francisco by 1903 and upon the suggestion of artist William Keith, went south to Los Angeles for further artistic training. It was here she met and married fellow painter Elmer Wachtel and the two embarked on a life-long career as a painting duo. In deference to her husband, she painted exclusively in watercolors, but after his death in 1929 she painted in oils, brightening her palette considerably.

Wachtel's work was popular on both coasts and she exhibited regularly in many local venues including the Los Angeles Museum, the New York Watercolor Club, Stanford University, and the Laguna Beach Museum. Her watercolors were softly atmospheric, often utilizing tonal devices of shadowy foregrounds, but by the early 1930's her palette in oil took on a bright, sometimes bold richness of color. Her renderings of the California countryside in its lyrical compositions of oak and eucalyptus trees have become California icons. She died in Pasadena in 1954.

Biography from DeRu's Fine Arts
Marion Kavanagh was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 10, 1876 into an artistic family. Marion's mother was an artist and her great-grandfather was a Royal Academician in London. She studied at the Art Institute of Chicago under Vanderpoel and in New York City with William Merritt Chase. For several years Marion taught at the Art Institute of Chicago and established a reputation as a competent portrait painter. A commission from the Santa Fe Railway Company to paint scenes in their ticket offices brought her to California.

Arriving in San Francisco in 1903, she became a pupil of William Keith. Learning of her proposed move to Southern California, Keith urged her to contact an artist he knew and respected for further instruction. The artist he recommended was Elmer Wachtel. A romance blossomed and the two married in 1904. After her marriage, she dropped the "u" in her surname and spelled it Kavanagh.

After Elmer's death in 1929 Marion was inactive for a few years but continued to live in their Arroyo Seco home. By the Early 1930's she was painting and exhibiting again. Regular exhibitions with both New York and California clubs made her work popular on both coasts. Marion died in her home on May 22, 1954.

Biography from Artistic Gallery
Marion Kavanaugh Wachtel (1875-1954) was a plein air painter in watercolors and oils who lived and worked with her artist husband Elmer Wachtel in the Arroyo Seco near Pasadena, California, in the early 20th century.  Her work was valued in her own day, and her works were exhibited across the United States.

Like most of the American Impressionistartists now known as California Impressionists, Wachtel relocated to Southern California after first establishing her career in the eastern US.  She trained at the Art Institute of Chicago, and under William Merritt Chase in New York.  Later, she taught in public schools and at the Art Institute of Chicago.  In 1903 she journeyed to California, where she studied under William Keith, and Elmer Wachtel, whom she married in 1904.

She painted primarily landscapes of the dramatic Californian and Southwestern terrain. Her medium of choice was watercolor, but she began painting in oils after her husband's death.

Wachtel was active in arts organizations, including the California Watercolor Society (founding member), the Academy of Western Painters, the California Art Club, and the Pasadena Society of Artists.

Biography from William A. Karges Fine Art - Carmel
Marion Kavanaugh Wachtel was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1876.  Extremely well educated in the arts, Wachtel began her studies at the Art Institute of Chicago, followed by work with William Merritt Chase in New York, and William Keith when she moved to San Francisco in 1903.  It was Keith who introduced Marion Kavanaugh to her final teacher, Elmer Wachtel, who would become her husband in 1904.

Settling along the Arroyo Seco in Pasadena, Elmer and Marion Wachtel would become two of the most recognized names in early California painting, with Elmer working in oils, and Marion in watercolors to avoid competition between each other.

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About  Marion Ida Kavanagh Wachtel

Born:  1870 - Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Died:   1954 - Pasadena, California
Known for:  landscape, figure, portrait, and floral painting

Essays referring to
Marion Ida Kavanagh Wachtel

The California Art Club
Impressionists Pre 1940
Women Artists