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Augusta Rathbone

American, 1897 - 1990

Rathbone, Augusta Payne

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According to The Annex Galleries, Santa Rosa, California:

"Augusta Rathbone, painter, and printmaker, was born in Berkeley, California on December 30, 1897. Her aunts raised her in San Francisco until the fire following the 1906 earthquake destroyed the city. Rathbone eventually returned to San Francisco where she attended Miss Hamlin’s School for Girls and Young Ladies.

In 1921, upon graduating from the University of California at Berkeley, Rathbone left for Paris to continue her studies at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. She also studied with Lucien Simon and for seven years with the Spanish artist Claudio Castelucho y Diana. Rathbone returned to France for extended periods of time over the next eighteen years and her studio was located at the University Women’s Club now known as Reid Hall.

Painting and sketching were her main interests until her introduction to printmaking in 1927 by the artist Nora Hamilton of Chicago. At the suggestion of Hamilton, Rathbone took her plates to the Parisian atelier of Monsieur Alfred Procabeuf who instructed her in the proper methods of measuring acid and biting the plate sufficiently for aquatint. Some of her first prints were Sierra landscapes and urban scenes of New York and San Francisco.

In the mid 1930s Rathbone produced a series of twenty color aquatints of the villages along the French Riviera. She later joined forces with Juliet and Virginia Thompson to co-author the book French Riviera Villages, which was published in 1938 by Mitchell Kennerley. Twelve of Rathbone’s color aquatints were reproduced in pochoir.

After World War II, Rathbone returned to Paris to discover that the shop of her printer had been sold and it was under the new ownership of Monsieur Leblanc. Due to the expense of professional printing and the difficulties she encountered with Monsieur Leblanc, she eventually taught herself to print.

Augusta exhibited at the Salon de Nationale, Paris, in the spring of 1930 and 1931 and in the autumn salon of 1937. Her work was included in the exhibition American Color Prints at the Brooklyn Museum in 1933, and a solo exhibition of her work was mounted at the San Francisco Museum of Art in 1940. Shows of her work were hung in galleries in Hartford, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. Augusta and Elizabeth Ginno exhibited together in 1952 at the California State Library in Sacramento and again in 1954 at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. At the end of her life, Rathbone’s work was included in A Spectrum of Innovation: Color in American Printmaking, both a book and exhibition written and curated by David Acton of the Worcester Art Museum.

Her artistic affiliations included memberships in the California Society of Etchers, the San Francisco Women Artists, American Artists Professional League and the National Arts Club. Her work is represented in numerous private and public collections, including the Brooklyn Museum, the California Society of Etchers, the de Young Memorial Museum, Rutgers University, and the Worcester Art Museum.

Augusta Rathbone died in Palo Alto, California on March 19, 1990."

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