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 Abby (Abigail) Tyler Oakes  (1823 - c. 1898)

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Lived/Active: New York/California/Massachusetts      Known for: landscape painting

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Ad Code: 4
Abby Tyler Oakes
from Auction House Records.
Harlem River
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Abby Tyler Oakes (1823-c. 1898)

Born in New York state, Abby Oakes shares with Mary Park Seavy Benton the attribution of being California's first professional woman artist.  According to her birth certificate, she was born in 1823 in Charleston, Massachusetts.  She was raised in that town.  At age 19 in 1845, married William Harrison Oakes who was from Boston and was a music engraver and printer of newspapers.  The couple had two sons, one who died in infancy in 1847.  In 1856, she left Boston and joined her husband in San Francisco, where he was working for the San Francisco Bulletin.  She was active for several years in the Bay Area as an artist, including exhibiting at the Mechanics Institute in 1857.  During her brief stay in California, she received high praise from local newspapers for her studies of Yosemite and other Sierra Nevada scenes.

She then settled with her husband in New York City where she continued her art career and did dramatic writing and he, who lived until 1890, formed his own engraving business.  From 1865 to 1886, she exhibited at the National Academy of Design, and in 1868, studied in France with Emile Charles Lambinet.  She lived in the city until about 1891 when it is thought that she returned to Charleston where she died about 1898.  However that date is undocumented.

Her painting subjects in New York state include Hudson River locations, and among the titles of her work were The Clove and Catskill Mountains.  In France and England, she also did landscapes such as On the Marne, France and Near Hampton, England.  California titles include View of Mission Dolores, Great Yosemite Falls, California, and Ocean Beach, San Francisco.

Sources include:
Phil Kovinick and Marian Yoshiki-Kovinick, Women Artists of the American West
Artists in California, 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes

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