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 Sara Kolb Danner  (1894 - 1969)

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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania/California      Known for: town-landscape, still life, genre

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Sara Kolb Damner is primarily known as Sara Kolb Danner

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Ad Code: 3
Sara Kolb Danner
from Auction House Records.
Artists in a Park
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following biography was contributed by Peter Kolb Danner, the son of the artist:

Sara Kolb Danner experimented with a variety of media, producing watercolors, ink drawings, and steel engravings, as well as oils. Her work was heavily influenced by the French Impressionists (her favorite artist was Cezanne), although she adopted a more lacquered look in her later years. She was also a poet, as well as a painter. Her poetry was regularly
published in "The Saturday Review," and a book combining both paintings and
poetry called "Gallery Tour" was published by Stanford University Press in 1952.

Danner was born October 2, 1894 in New York City (Morrisania, now part of The Bronx). Her birth name was Sarah Ethel Kolb, but she always spelled her
first name Sara, since, as she once remarked, "With the 'ah' it looked too
much like Sahara Desert."

Her parents were both of German descent. Her mother was one of five sisters (the youngest one blind) whose father had died in 1883 leaving a widow with five young children to support. Her father, Emanuel Gottlieb Kolb, was a native of Philadelphia, where the family operated a commercial bakery.

Sara inherited her interest in art from her father. The only one of seven
brothers not to enter the baking business, Emanuel (Mannie) had won a
scholarship to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and studied with Thomas Eakins (clearly before 1886 when Eakins resigned). Emanuel spent several years working for a lithography firm before becoming successful in real estate. He abandoned art completely after his marriage (1892) on the urging of his Victorian wife, who considered the practice of art bohemian.

My mother (Sara) and her family moved to South Philadelphia when she was two and lived several years at 1318 Ritner Street, where her sister was born in 1902. Around the age of six, my mother contracted diphtheria, which left her with a punctured right ear drum and chronic mastoiditis. This condition would trouble her for the rest of her life. The sale of the Kolb Bakery to the
General Baking Company in 1913 made the family relatively wealthy, allowing
Mannie to build a large house on Gowen Avenue in the suburb of Mount Airy.

With the encouragement of her father, Sara Kolb entered the Philadelphia
School of Design in 1912, where she was a pupil of Henry Bayley Snell and also
enrolled in the summer program at the Pennsylvania School of the Fine Arts.

In 1914, she met her future husband, William Mason Danner, Jr., when his father came to Philadelphia to speak on missions to the lepers at her local church. For the entire year before their marriage in 1917, her mother forced her to quit art school to concentrate on domestic pursuits. Like his father, Mason Danner was involved in the work of the YMCA, at that time an important institution for social change.

A graduate of Harvard University in 1913, my father was put in charge of the Boston YMCA and during the First World War did welfare service throughout New England. During this period my mother studied at the Massachusetts Normal Art School under George L. Noyes. She first exhibited publicly at this time.

In 1919, my father was posted to the YMCA in South Bend, Indiana, where they
lived until 1924. In 1923, my mother won a prize at the Indiana State Fair,
held a one-woman show, and had her paintings exhibited the Art Institute in
Chicago. The following year she was operated on for her mastoid condition
with serious consequences, for she was hospitalized for the next seven

Partly for health reasons, therefore, the couple was happy to accept
a YMCA posting in Santa Barbara, California, where they moved in 1926. Here,
they were welcomed into the local art community, discovering a fellow
Philadelphia artist, Colin Cooper, and the portrait painter Giovanni Troccoli, who had been their next-door neighbor in Boston.

When Clarence Hinkle moved to Santa Barbara in 1935, they became close friends, Hinkle serving as a mentor for the rest of Sara's life. Her first one-woman show in Santa Barbara was held in 1928. A son, Peter, was born in 1936.

A one-woman show in Santa Barbara in 1942 was held over an extra month due to its popularity. The same year a painting called "Eucalyptus" won first prize at the annual show of the Women Painters of the West. In 1943 her painting "Second Grade" took best of show honors at the largest WPW show held to that time (at the Los Angeles Museum).

This painting, incidentally, is called "The Schoolhouse," auctioned by Butterfield in 1992 (apparently without selling) shown in the images section of this site. Other prizes followed including several at the California State Fair.

After 20 years of Y work, my father decided to do post-graduate work in
psychology and enrolled in Stanford University under Lewis Terman, receiving a Ph.D. in 1943. The Danners divided their time from 1934 and 1943 between Santa Barbara and Palo Alto. My mother was extremely active during the war years, painting, arranging one-man shows, and winning prizes.

On the death of her husband in 1946, my mother was undecided on living in
Santa Barbara (where her friends were) or Philadelphia (where her family
lived). The next several years were spend moving between these two locations. My family lived in New Hope, Pennsylvania in the years 1949-1950 and the studio they rented was the upstairs flat in the home of Fern Coppedge (1883-1951), the well-known New Hope Impressionist and fellow student of Snell.

The paintings of these years consequently feature both East and West Coast
subjects. 1952 was a particularly productive year, when she rented a studio
in New Hope, Pennsylvania. Her painting "Lambertville" won the best-of-show prize at the Hoosier Salon in 1951.

Sara Kolb Danner remarried in 1956, becoming Mrs. Edward Logan Campbell. She continued to paint until just before her death in Santa Barbara on January 5, 1969.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in NYC on Oct. 2, 1894.  As a child Sara Kolb was taught to paint by her father who was an artist and student of Thomas Eakins.  She grew up in Philadelphia where in 1917 she wed William Danner.  The Danners moved from South Bend, IN to Santa Barbara in 1926 and remained.

She studied under Henry Snell at the PAFA (the Sara Kolb Danner Theatre there is named for her), Philadelphia School of Design for Women, Massachusetts Normal Art School under George L. Noyes, CCAC, Stanford University (1938), and UC Santa Barbara (1956).

Her early work depicts Pennsylvania mining towns and some city views.   After settling in southern California, she turned her brush to the beauty of the local landscape.   Her style was greatly influenced by Cezanne and the French Impressionists.  Mrs. Danner also wrote poetry which appeared regularly in The Saturday Review.  The Stanford Press published a book combining her paintings and poetry entitled Gallery Tour in 1952.  Following her husband’s death she wed Edward L. Campbell. She died at her home in Santa Barbara on Jan. 5, 1969.

Philadelphia Art Alliance; Palo Alto Art Club; League of American Pen Women.

Hoosier Salon, 1919, 1951 (prize); AIC, 1927, 1932 (solos); Santa Barbara Museum, 1928, 1945 (solos); Stanford Museum, 1929, 1934, 1941 (solos); Calif. WC Society, 1930; Calif. State Fair, 1930, 1951; Calif. Art Club, 1931-59; Santa Cruz Art League, 1934; Calif. WC Society, 1934-46; GGIE, 1939; Women Painters of the West, 1942, 1943 (1st prizes); LACMA, 1943 (solo); Philadelphia Art Alliance, 1953 (solo); Laguna Blanca School (Santa Barbara), 1960.
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
American Art Annual 1923-33; Who's Who in American Art 1936-62; Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs, et Graveurs (Bénézit, E); Southern California Artists (Nancy Moure); Women Artists in America (Collins & Opitz); Santa Barbara News Press, 1-7-1969 (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.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

Sara Damner is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
The California Art Club

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