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Marion Wachtel

(1870 - 1954)

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 10, 1870 into an artistic family Marion Wachtel was born to a mother who was an artist, and her great-grandfather was a Royal Academician in London. She studied at the Art Institute of Chicago under Vanderpoel and in New York City with William M. Chase. For several years she taught at the Art Institute of Chicago and was popular in Milwaukee as a portrait painter.

A commission from the Santa Fe Railway to paint scenes in their ticket offices brought her to California. Arriving in San Francisco in 1903, she became a pupil of William Keith. Learning of her proposed move to southern California, Keith suggested that she study with Elmer Wachtel. A romance blossomed and they married in 1904.

After her marriage, the artist dropped the "u" in her surname and then spelled it "Kavanagh." Regular exhibitions with both the California and New York watercolor societies made her works popular on both coasts. Her early works are tighter and more meticulously detailed than those produced after 1920.

After Elmer's death in 1929, she was inactive for a few years but continued to live in their Arroyo Seco home; by the early 1930s she was painting and exhibiting again. Mrs. Wachtel worked only with watercolor until after her husband's death.

She died at her home in Pasadena on May 22, 1954.


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