Marion Kavanagh Wachtel (1870-1954) was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 10, 1870. Her mother was an artist, and her great-grandfather was a member of the Royal Academy in London. Marion Wachtel (also known as Marion K. Wachtel) studied at the Art Institute of Chicago under Vanderpoel and in New York City with William M. Chase (1849-1916). She was a teacher for several years at the Art Institute of Chicago and was popular for painting portraits in Milwaukee.
She earned a commission from the Santa Fe Railway to create paintings in their ticket offices and this enticed Marion Kavanagh to move to California. When she arrived in San Francisco in 1903, Marion Kavanagh became a pupil of William Keith (1838-1911). She visited the Cooper Ranch in Santa Barbara that same year and stayed as a guest for a few months. The Cooper Ranch was owned by Ellwood Cooper who was a brilliant agriculturist and a major proponent of the eucalyptus tree.
Surrounded by groves of tall, elegant eucalyptus trees in the Cooper Ranch, Marion Wachtel acquired a passion for the tree and she would paint it in a large number of paintings throughout her life. When William Keith learned of her proposed move to southern California, he suggested Marion study with Elmer Wachtel (1864-1929). A romance blossomed between Elmer and Marion and they married in 1904.
Elmer & Marion Wachtel built a studio-home in the Mt. Washington area of Los Angeles. They remained there until 1921 when they moved to the Arroyo Seco area of Pasadena. As inseparable painting companions, they traveled throughout Southern California and the Southwest. Marion Wachtel was a confirmed Tonalist painter. As a student and admirer of her husband, Elmer Wachtel, there is little in her work to even suggest an interest in Impressionism. Her adherence to Tonalism, the preference for the "earth tones" of browns, deep reds and olives tones is unmistakably manifested in nearly all her watercolor paintings. A weaker case can be made with her oil painting, where one occasionally sees a brilliant array of bright colors and active brush stroke more typical of Southern California Impressionism.
Marion Wachtel exhibited with both the California and New York watercolor societies and this made her works popular on both coasts. Her early works are tighter and more meticulously detailed than those produced after 1920.
After her husband's death in 1929, Marion Wachtel temporarily lost interest in painting. She resumed working around 1931, painting landscapes around her home on the Arroyo Seco, the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, and several views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, many of which are oil paintings.
Marion Wachtel died at home in Pasadena, California on May 22, 1954.
Marion Wachtel Painting Exhibitions
1907-09 Del Monte Art Gallery, Monterey, California
1907 Anderson Gallery, Chicago, Illinois
1908, 1912, 1915 Steckel Gallery, Los Angeles, California
1911 Daniell Gallery, Los Angeles, California
1915, 1917 (solos) Los Angeles Museum of History, Science & Art, Los Angeles, California
1917 (solo) Milwaukee Art Institute, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
1921-27 California Watercolor Society, Los Angeles, California
1923 Leonard's, Los Angeles, California
1925 Biltmore Gallery, Los Angeles, California
1928 Kanst Gallery, Los Angeles, California
1935 (solo) Stanford University, Palo Alto, California
1936 (solo) University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California
Marion Wachtel Memberships
Academy of Western Painters, Los Angeles, California
Pasadena Society of Artists (Founding Member), Pasadena, California
Friday Morning Club, Los Angeles, California