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Frances Baldwin (1907 – 1999)

Yellow Hills, c. 1930/40s, oil on board, signed lower right, 5 ½ x 6 ½ inches, exhibited San Francisco Art Association Solo Exhibition, San Francisco Museum of Art, 1943 (label verso); presented in an older frame


About the Painting

Frances Baldwin was known for her small scale oils and watercolors. Writing about her 1943 solo exhibition at the San Francisco Art Museum, which included Yellow Hills, The San Franciso Examiner, reported approvingly, “Frances Baldwin’s little studies in landscape, still life and genre have an individual touch of realistic mood and of charm . . . .” In Yellow Hills, Baldwin captures the dusty arid slopes of California’s ranchlands. Her desolate vista and mysterious totemic tree stumps suggest a western version of the type of diminutive Magic Realist works painted by Chicago’s Gertrude Abercrombie. With its spare rendering and limited palette of grays, browns and ochres, Yellow Hills also shows the influence of Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Baldwin’s teacher at the Art Students League.

About the Artist

Frances Baldwin was a California painter who was born into a prosperous San Franciso family. Her father, Alexander Richards Baldwin was a lawyer and President of the Western Pacific Railroad. She studied with an illustrious list of artists including Yasuo Kuniyoshi at the Art Students League in New York, Fernand Leger at Mills College and Otis Oldfield at the California School of Fine Art, where she was a member of the Board of Directors from 1957-1960. She also studied with Maurice Sterne and Mark Rothko. Baldwin was a long-time member of the San Francisco Art Association and Association of San Francisco Women Artists, serving as President in 1951-52 and often exhibiting at their exhibitions. She had a solo exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Art in 1943. Throughout the 1930s and 40s, Baldwin also exhibited at the National Gallery of Art (Washington DC), the Oakland Art Gallery, the Portland Museum (Oregon) and the California State Fair. During World War II, she served in the WAVES. Baldwin traveled extensively in Asia and became a well-respected docent at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington DC). Baldwin is listed in Who was Who in American Art and all other standard references.


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