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 Anna Maria Wells  (1804 - 1894)

About: Anna Maria Wells


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Lived/Active: California/Massachusetts      Known for: landscape painting, architecture

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Painter and teacher, Anna Wells was born June 7, 1804, in London, England, but grew up from childhood in America, living in New York, then Philadelphia. Only one of her works is known today, Ruins of the Old Adobe Mission Church, after the Earthquake, 1859, Santa Cruz, in the collection of The Society of California Pioneers, San Francisco. Wells was described in her obituary as creating "numerous souvenirs of the old Spanish Days in Santa Cruz."

Wells's education, as a young woman, emphasized art and literature. At nearly fifty years of age, her adventurous spirit manifested itself when she traveled to California by the Isthmus of Panama route, arriving in Monterey in May 1854. Her decision was influenced by her older sisters, Helen Mary Williams and Alice C. Boston. Before 1858, she moved with the Boston family to Santa Cruz, California, where she would live for almost forty years until her death on August 20, 1894.

Wells was one of the founders, in 1885, of the Society of Decorative Art of Santa Cruz, whose objective was the promotion of art and the establishment of "a depot where artistic products might be displayed and sold." For an extended period, Wells held private art classes in her home, and gave watercolor and drawing lessons in a Sunday school room at the Calvary Episcopal Church.

References include: Dawdy 3; Hughes; Noticias del Puerto de Monterey 1 (Sep 1957); Santa Cruz Surf, 8 Jun 1889, 5 Jun 1890, 12 Jun 1893, 21 Aug 1894; US Census 1820, New York County, NY, Pg 239; US Census 1820, Philadelphia County, PA, pg 258; US Census 1870, Santa Cruz County, CA, pg 404; death certificate; International Genealogical Index, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; A. Elkington, 1987.

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

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in London, England on June 7, 1804. Wells made the arduous trek across the Isthmus of Panama to California in 1854. Her first four years were spent in Monterey before settling in Santa Cruz. For many years she had a studio in her home where she taught drawing and watercolor classes. She was a founder of the Society of Decorative Art in Santa Cruz in 1885. A spinster, she died there on Aug. 20, 1894. In: Society of Calif. Pioneers.
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Women Artists of the American West; Santa Cruz Surf, 8-21-1894 (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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