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 Oriana Weatherbee Day  (1838 - 1886)

About: Oriana Weatherbee Day


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Lived/Active: California/Massachusetts      Known for: Spanish colonial genre, missions

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Listed as an artist in Boston in 1865, Oriana Day was one of eleven children of George and Sarah Briggs Weatherbee and grew up in Marshfield, Massachusetts.  Later moving to Scituate, she married William E. Rice, a physician, in 1860 and had one daughter.  She divorced Rice and subsequently married John Adams Day, a clerk from Scituate, and the couple lived in Boston.  In 1874, three of her painting were exhibited there at the Twelfth Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics Association: Lady at Toilette; Interior; and The Fortune Teller.

In 1877, the couple moved to Vallejo, California where her husband was a clerk at the Mare Island Naval Yard.  She took on the project of doing a series of mission paintings at the suggestion of Dr. Platon Vallejo, son of the founder of Vallejo, General Mariano Vallejo.   She drew on the General's deep knowledge of the area, studied numerous documents, and became familiar with the extensive research and drawings of Edward Vischer, who died two years after her arrival in the area.

For her mission depictions, Oriana Day received little ongoing recognition, nor did her canvases serve as illustrations for a book on the history of the missions, which the Vallejo men had planned to write.  That project was suspended because of the death of the wife of Platon Vallejo.

In 1882, Day moved to  San Francisco and died six years later on May 28, 1888. 

Her work is in the Vallejo Home State Historical Park in Sonoma, California; the M.H. de Young Museum in San Francisco; the Bancroft Library and the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum.

Phil Kovinick and Marian Yoshiki Kovinick, An Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the American West

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Marshfield, MA on Sept. 9, 1838. Oriana married William Rice in 1860, divorced him, and married John Day in 1868. She worked as an artist in Boston until 1877 when she moved to Vallejo, CA where her husband was employed at Mare Island Naval Yard. During 1877-84 she traveled El Camino Real to record on canvas all of the 21 California missions in their unrestored condition. In 1882 she established a studio in the Phelan Bldg in San Francisco. Mrs. Day died there on May 28, 1886. Although she painted several portraits, she is best known for her historical genre of life in California during the Mexican rule. Exh: Mass. Mechanics' Ass'n, 1874. In: Vallejo Home State Historical Park (Sonoma); Marin County Historical Society; De Young Museum (21 oils of the missions); CHS; Society of Calif. Pioneers; Bancroft Library (UC Berkeley).
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Census; City Directory; SF Examiner, 4-15-1882 & 5-29-1886; California History Nugget, Feb. 1929; Women Artists of the American West; SF Chronicle, 5-29-1886 (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.

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