Featured 1886 Oil on Board with Incredible Frame - Octavia Sturgis?

Discussion in 'Art' started by gimbler-dave, Dec 6, 2017 at 7:04 PM.

  1. gimbler-dave

    gimbler-dave Well-Known Member

    This piece recently came in, and it gets raves from anyone who has seen it. The frame alone is incredible, and I hope my picture captures some of its glory. We weren't sure on the signature, but one of the photo enhance features on my photo editor (Photoscape) made it pop out, and viewers so far think it reads "O. Sturgis" followed by 1886 (2nd pic shows the enhanced version).

    askART knows of an Octavia Sturgis, born 1855, who exhibited at the Mechanics' Institute in San Francisco in 1889, but I haven't found any of her work yet. The date of this piece certainly fits when she was active.

    The frame is 24 inches high by 17 inches wide. The art is 17 inches high and 13 inches wide.

    I'm looking for any comments, or leads on her work. The askART bio referenced a book "Artists in California 1786-1940" by Edan Hughes, so maybe there is a picture of her art there. I am searching for the book as well (or at least confirmation that it contains a picture of her art). Thanks! ... Dave
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  2. Debora

    Debora Well-Known Member

  3. Debora

    Debora Well-Known Member

  4. Debora

    Debora Well-Known Member

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  5. gimbler-dave

    gimbler-dave Well-Known Member

    The book just contains biographies per a description I found a short time ago. Amazingly, the Mechanics' Institute (San Francisco) has digitized versions of their annual reports available online which include lists of the exhibiting artists. Unfortunately, I haven't found her name listed yet after checking the 1889 edition plus 4 of the surrounding years.

    The other biographic information from askART says she lived in Contra Costa, Tuolumne, and Stanislaus County, if that helps at all.
     
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  6. Debora

    Debora Well-Known Member

    You can find some information on a "T.W. Sturgis" if you add "Ventura" which was a previous residence.

    Debora
     
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  7. Debora

    Debora Well-Known Member

    Tuolumne is Yosemite. Stanislaus County is next county over to me. She may have died in Modesto.

    Debora
     
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  8. Debora

    Debora Well-Known Member

    Had a son in Modesto, J. H. Sturgis. Modesto News-Heald gives her residence in 1932 as Sonora (county seat of Tuolumne.)

    Debora
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2017 at 9:21 PM
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  9. gimbler-dave

    gimbler-dave Well-Known Member

    Thanks Debora! T.W. was the husband according to askART. That clears up one question I had, whether she would be listed under Sturgis in the Mechanics' Institute list of the artists that exhibited that year. I would think so, since she was using Sturgis on the actual art in 1886. I will have to go through the lists again.

    For anyone curious, the index to the Mechanics' Institute reports covering the late 1800's is here: https://archive.org/details/mechanicsinstitutesf
    There are 30 years available, and each report can be downloaded. Each has a financial report, list of all the categories of exhibits, list of the exhibitors, and reports on the winners. It is not just the winners, so I am a bit stumped as to why Sturgis is not listed -- I am hoping to find the title of the work she exhibited, and maybe be able to compare it with the work above, to provide more support for my guess that it is the same artist.
     
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  10. Debora

    Debora Well-Known Member

    There is nothing else on the internet identifying her as an artist. Strange, no? Just middle initial 'R." And interesting... T. W. was from Nantucket and he was only 5'4" tall. Applied for passport for him and wife in 1911. Wonder where they were going. Oh, and you've got the wrong reports. The Mechanics' Institute held a number of annual exhibitions. One was Industrial; another was Art.

    Debora
     
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  11. Debora

    Debora Well-Known Member

    You can call the Institute's library and speak with a librarian and see if she can help. Here's the contact information:

    https://www.milibrary.org/contact

    Debora
     
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  12. Debora

    Debora Well-Known Member

    Europe and South America. They were back home in Ventura in 1913.

    Debora
     
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  13. Debora

    Debora Well-Known Member

    Middle initial "R." Maiden name "Rice."

    Debora
     
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  14. gimbler-dave

    gimbler-dave Well-Known Member

    Nice research Debora! Yes, odd nothing else of hers anywhere. She obviously started art before 1886 when she did this piece, and carried on for several years, at least past the 1889 exhibit. I'd love to know the whole story!
     
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  15. gimbler-dave

    gimbler-dave Well-Known Member

    I was going to give up for tonight, but thought I would look over the 1889 "Twenty-Fourth Industrial Exhibition" booklet. It does have an entire section dedicated to art, by type (e.g. Oil, Watercolor, ...). When I was looking before, I was paying most attention to Oil, since that is what we have.

    But I realized she might have done something different. On page 54, under "Crayon and Pastel", there is a "Mrs. T.W. Sturges"! Her work is titled "Orpheus and Eurydice".

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  16. Debora

    Debora Well-Known Member

    Well found! Given her penchant for the -- how shall we say -- the dramatic, would love to see her 'Orpheus and Eurydice."

    Debora
     
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  17. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member


    Could easily be a typo, but according to catalog, Mrs. T.W is Sturges, while painting signature looks to me very much like Sturgis.

    It would be consistent of the author of your painting also did something as 'dramatic', as Debora put it, as Orpheus & Eurydice. Think this will turn out to be another fictional character. I thought maybe Lohengrin because of the swan, but not a good fit or a case of extreme artistic license.
     
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  18. gimbler-dave

    gimbler-dave Well-Known Member

    Thanks for pointing out the spelling discrepancy Bronwen, I missed that. Yes, I agree with your take on the spelling on the painting I show - I see the "dot" over the i as well and think it is "Sturgis".
     
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  19. Bev aka thelmasstuff

    Bev aka thelmasstuff Well-Known Member

    I thought Lohengrin as well. It surely looks like he should have a sword in his upraised hand
     
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  20. gimbler-dave

    gimbler-dave Well-Known Member

    Any ideas on the frame itself? I can't believe the artist did the frame too, but I don't know. Is that another avenue to pursue?
     
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