It takes a gifted artist to become a great teacher and those who dare to teach never cease to learn.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The California Legacy of Albert R. Valentien

(Matilija Poppies, Albert Valentien (1862-1925) gouache and watercolor on paper, 24x19 ½ inches, Private Collection)

The Cincinnati-born Albert R. Valentien (1862-1925) was one one of the leading American art pottery decorators of his day. Albert was also awarded a Gold Medal for his decorations at the prestigious Universal Exposition in Paris (1900). In order to relax he started painting wildflowers and this passion for floral painting later led to a second career and much critical acclaim as a painter. In the spring of 1903 Albert produced a series of 130 detailed studies of the local flora in San Diego, CA. These studies are now part of the collection of the Cincinnati Art Museum.

In 1908 Albert accepted a commission from noted philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps to paint the entire California flora, which he estimated to be about 1,000 different plants. The Scripps commission would occupy ten years of Albert and Anna Valentien's lives, from 1908 to 1918. Anna, Albert’s wife collected and Albert painted every specimen of California plants and wildflowers they found. In the end, the series numbered just under 1,200 paintings, all produced on sheets of light grey-green 14” x 20” paper. The Valentien paintings of California flora are in the collection of the San Diego Natural History Museum.

Albert died in his home at 3905 Georgia Street, in San Diego, on August 5, 1925. Anna Marie Valentien who was a renowned pottery artist survived him by more than twenty years and died in San Diego on August 25, 1947, at the age of 85. Both Albert and Anna were prominent in the American Arts and Crafts movement.

[Plant Portraits, the California Legacy of A.R. Valentien by Margaret N. Dykens et al. (2003) is avalibale through the Irvine Museum].

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