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 Virginia B. Woolley  (1884 - 1971)

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Lived/Active: California      Known for: coastal landscape, figure, etcher

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Ad Code: 3
Virginia B Woolley
from Auction House Records.
Eucalyptus Coastal
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following biographical information has been provided by Lisa Rubin Rail
(b. 1951), the artist's great niece:

VIRGINIA WOOLLEY was born in 1884, in Selma, Alabama. She had three siblings: Frances (Woolley) Farmer, and James Albert Woolley, Jr. (my grandfather), and Andrew Price Woolley. She studied art in Chicago, then
later abroad, chiefly in Paris.

By the late 1920's or early 1930's she had settled in Laguna Beach, living for many years in a large wooden house on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Coast Highway. She later bought a house at 615 Seaview, where she lived till her death in 1971.

She made a living by working in the Knox Leidy Pottery factory at 1936 S. Coast Boulevard in Laguna Beach. On Sundays, she and other local artists displayed their paintings in Heisman Park. She was instrumental in forming the basis of what was to become the Annual Festival of Arts. In today's Laguna Art Museum, there is a miniature of the museum's original building, with perhaps a dozen tiny framed paintings lining the interior walls. Two at the front of this diorama are signed by Ms. Woolley.

Over the years, a number of themes prevailed--New Mexico townscapes,
missions, and churches; New Orleans street scenes; Laguna Canyon mountains, orchards, and eucalyptus trees; and local houses, churches, and the local lumber yard. While her early works were usually en plein aire, most later paintings were of still life subjects, incorporating flowers and fruits from her garden--white geraniums, Matilija poppies, and Meyer lemons. I believe she made all her own frames.

Her niece, Jean Woolley Rubin, was a great favorite, and they were close
since Jean's infancy. As an adult, Mrs. Rubin purchased numerous paintings
for her own home. One of these was a remarkable portrait--a profile of an
old woman, painted in the Dutch style. This painting was last seen in Santa
Rosa, CA, and probably now resides in Bellevue, WA, with my cousin, Ann
Woolley Graham.

Ms. Woolley never married and had no children, yet she adored young people, and founded the Children's Art Section at the Sawdust Festival.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Selma, AL on Aug. 27, 1884. Woolley grew up in Atlanta, GA. Having opted for an art career, she moved to Chicago in 1904 to study at the AIC under Freer and Vanderpoel, and from there continued her art studies for three years in Paris with Jacques Blanche, Lucien Simon, and Richard Miller. While in Paris she sketched throughout the countryside and exhibited at the Paris Salon. After returning to Atlanta, she taught art at Woodbury School. Having visited Laguna Beach years before by means of stage coach, she decided to make it her home in 1923. Woolley taught adult outdoor classes and gave free lessons to children at the Art Gallery where she was curator. She was a founder of the Festival of Arts in 1932 and active in Laguna until her death on Feb. 15, 1971. Exh: Atlanta AA; Southern States Art League; Laguna Beach AA, 1923-62; Pasadena Art Inst., 1928, 1933; Calif. Statewide (Santa Cruz), 1931; Palos Verdes Library, 1931; Laguna Festival of Arts, 1932-70; Calif. State Fairs; Atlanta (GA) Artists Guild, 1934; Bank of America (Laguna Beach), 1938; Woman’s Club (Pasadena), 1940; Riverside AA, 1941; Laguna Beach Museum, 1944 (solo); Arts & Crafts Club (San Clemente), 1960. In: Laguna Museum; High Museum (Atlanta); Orange County (CA) Museum.
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
So. Calif. Painters 1890-1940; Southern California Artists (Nancy Moure); American Art Annual 1913-33; Who's Who in American Art 1936-62; Women Artists of the American West; Los Angeles Times, 7-19-1970; Laguna News Post, 2-17-1971 (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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