Edith HAMLIN (1902-1992)

Well to the fore among women artists in San Francisco, is Edith Anne Hamlin. She is both interested and successful in fresco mural painting. Her works are distinguished by a sensitivity to design, color and form. She is noteworthy as a pioneer in her decorative treatment of American desert subjects, which she presents through various media.

A few years ago Miss Hamlin and some of her friends, revived the use of the “textile mural,” or, as it is known in Europe, the “toile peinte.” These murals were the result of the better interior decorators’ revolt against so called art spurious easel paintings of the past and poor ultra modernism. It was about 1920 that these arbiters of good taste decreed blank walls rather than a clutter of inharmonious pictures. However, Edith Hamlin and her associates realized that California homes needed warm color treatment for large wall spaces, and the development of painted fabric hangings wasthe result.

Miss Hamlin’s idea is to allow the basic tone of her fabric to determine the key of her painting with opaque and transparent glazes. In a technique which she has developed to meet her needs. Whether her design be dramatic and rugged, or poetic and pastoral her painting remains a faithful translation of what she sees in nature.”

Read Edith Hamlin‘s biography in California Art Project, volume 16.CARA_V16_HAMLIN

At a glance

Birth :  June 23, 1902, in Oakland, California (United States)
Death : February 18, 1992, in San Francisco, California (United States)
Arrival in San Francisco Bay area : Native
Married to : Albert Barrows (1934-1936), Maynard Dixon (1937-1946)
Skills : Painter, muralist


Art education, teachers : Ray Boynton, Gottardo Piazzoni, Lee Randolph and Rudolph Schaeffer at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco; Ethical Culture School under Peppino Margravite and Colombia Teacher’s College in New York
Relations : Ansel Adams,  Albert Barrows, Joseph Danysh, Ray Boynton, Maynard Dixon, Dorothea Lange, Gottardo Piazzoni, Lee Randolph and Rudolph Schaeffer
Institutions, clubs, venues : California Society of Mural Artists, San Francisco Art Center
WPA Projects : “Hunting in California” Coit Tower Mural, San Francisco Mission High School, Post Office murals in Tracy (San Joaquin Valley, California)


1924-1925 San Francisco Art Association, San Francisco, California
1925 San Francisco Art Association
1926 Fine Arts Gallery, San Diego, California
1926 San Francisco Society of Women Artists, San Francisco, California
1928 El Prado Gallery, San Diego, California
Followings exhibitions (1924-1936)

Resources in the Bancroft Library


Edith Hamlin: California artist : Davis, Calif. : typescript, 1981. Interview. Hagerty, Donald J., Interviewer. BANC MSS 83/133 c. Catalog Record
Maynard Dixon Papers, [ca. 1896-1946] BANC MSS 73/81 c Catalog Record

Data visualization : mapping of Edith Hamlin’s biography

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