Euphemia Charlton Fortune (1885-1969) was born in Sausalito, California and would become an important California Impressionist painter. She did not like the name of Euphemia and was known as "Effie" to her friends. Charlton was the family name of her grandmother and her paintings were typically signed Fortune, E. Fortune or with the signature E Charlton Fortune, but never using Euphemia. Her father passed on his Scottish heritage to Euphemia Fortune and also a cleft palette which was a prominent deformity for her. E Charlton Fortune never had children and it is suspected that her desire to not pass on this deformity was a reason for never marrying and having children.
Most artists in the early 20th-century were men and E Charlton Fortune was on the leading edge of women painters. As a child she was influenced by her visits to her father's home in Scotland. Later, her family had trouble understanding her desire to become and artist as this did not follow the old world values they had attempted to instill in her.
Her father died in 1894 and Euphemia Charlton Fortune and her brother moved to Los Angeles some time later. Subsequently, she was sent back to Scotland to attend a Roman Catholic girls' school which she attended for 6 years. As a child she suffered the ridicule of other children because of her cleft palette. Her Scottish aunts took her to a dentist who fitted her with dentures and this greatly improved her appearance. During this time in Scotland, Eupemia Fortune received a great deal of exposure to art and paintings at the National Gallery in Edinburgh.
When E Charlton Fortune returned to California she settled in San Francisco with her mother and brother and studied painting at the mark Hopkins Institute under Arthur Mathews. Euphemia Fortune became an active part of the art and painting scene and fraternized with many men who would become well known artists. Among these were Maynard Dixon, Armin Hansen and Maurice Logan.
E Charlton Fortune and her family suffered significant property damage from the earthquake of 1906 and all the paintings she had created up to that time were destroyed. Following the earthquake, Euphemia Fortune and her family moved to New York where she studied with the Art Student's League. She especially liked her teacher, Frank Vincent DuMond who encouraged his students to use their own style in expressing themselves. Another favorite was Luis Mora, a brilliant painter and illustrator from South America, who saw to it that she had the qualities of a good illustrator. Over time E Charlton Fortune developed her own unique style of using light, movement, and continuous lines to achieve her own impressionist style.
In 1910, Euphemia Fortune and her mother returned to San Francisco where Luis Mora had used his influence to get her a job illustrating for Sunset Magazine. In 1913, she and her mother spent the summer on the Monterey Peninsula and they continued this for many succeeding summers. Between 1916 and 1920, E Charlton Fortune held her own painting workshops in Monterey, however she was not a popular teacher because she had trouble explaining her theories and lessons in a concise fashion.
E Charlton Fortune alternated between living in San Francisco and Monterey and was known as a unique individual in both locations. She often wore a tan corduroy suit and Belgian shoes with shining buckles. She habitually rode a bicycle on which she transported her painting supplies in a special carrier. Later she bought a car and was reportedly a scary driver. Although she was active with the Red Cross, this did not stop her from painting many coastal landscapes and town views.
In 1920, E Charlton Fortune was elected to the National Academy of Design. She then settled in Monterey which she loved for the Plein-Air painting views and reasonable cost of living. In 1927, an exhibition of her work was held at the Beaux Arts Gallery and was highly acclaimed, however when shown at the Oakland Gallery, her works were criticized for being too beautiful and not focusing on social realities.
From that time forward, Euphemia Charlton Fortunes' paintings were controversial and some critics labeled them as outdated. E Charlton Fortune spent the later years of her life doing religious paintings and some of these were to decorate St. Angela's Catholic Church in Pacific Grove.
E Charlton Fortune Painting Exhibitions
Del Monte Art Gallery, 1907-28
San Francisco Art Association, 1913-34
California Art Club, 1914
Panama-California Exposition (San Diego), 1915 (silver medal)
Panama Pacific International Exposition (San Francisco), 1915 (silver medal)
Helgesen Gallery (SF), 1918, 1921 (solos)
National Academy of Design 1921-32
Paris Salons, 1923, 1924 (silver medal), 1934
Galerie Beaux Arts (San Francisco), 1927 (solo)
Crocker Museum (Sacramento), 1927 (solo)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1928 (solo)
Santa Barbara Art League, 1928 (solo)
Carmel Art Gallery, 1928 (solo)
San Diego Fine Arts Gallery, 1928 (solo)
California State Fairs, 1928-30 (1st prizes)
Golden Gate International Exposition, 1939
Oakland Museum of Art, 1981
Monterey Peninsula Museum of Art, 1992