Anna Wilson, “Mrs. Webster” (1936) SOLD P924

Stunning portrait of a 1930s Los Angeles society woman at the height of her powers. Oil on canvas. Image, 29″w x 36″h, 34″w x 41″h with frame.

Anna Wilson

1904 –unknown 

Anna Wilson was a portrait and landscape artist. Little is known of this talented and dynamic artist. According to the 1940 United States Census for Los Angeles she was born in 1904 in California. Earlier newspaper articles from the 1930s indicate that she moved to Los Angeles in 1933.

Arthur Miller, writing in a 1939 Los Angeles Times article presented this description of Anna Wilson and her art: “Twenty portraits vying with each other in vivacity and presentation of personality form the September exhibition which Miss Anna Wilson offers in the StateExposition Building at Exposition Park. They bring forward the most rewarding talent for portraiture disclosed here in recent years. Miss Wilson has shown here once before, but no such galaxy of good portraits as in the present display. She brings to her work draftsmanship, boldness and unconventionality in attack and arrangement, brilliant color keyed into schemes of exceptional luminosity, and– that all important thing–concentration upon character as expressed in the living head and figure. The majority of her sitters are women and most of these actresses. They naturally put their best attributes forward and lend themselves to pose and lively expression. But she can paint men too as witness the several represented here. And if the artist’s weakness is to run a bit too far forward fashionably frou-frou as in the Mary Jordan, her strength is seen at the full in the rich and dignified likeness of Lucile Watson. The majority of her canvases lie safely between these two in a zone of freshness and capability. Miss Wilson was born in San Francisco, learned her craft at the Art Students League (New York), the National Academy Schools and in Paris. She has been painting in Hollywood for the last six years.” Additional articles from the 1930s and 1940s go on to list other notable individuals and Hollywood personalities who had their portraits painted by Anna Wilson. 

She was a frequent exhibitor at the Frances Webb Galleries in Los Angeles. In reviewing a 1937 Frances Webb exhibition, Arthur Miller described Anna Wilson’s work by saying: “Her dashing style is convincing because she knows how to draw. The landscapes (in this show) form a quiet contrast to the figures.” In addition to the aforementioned, Anna was a member and frequent exhibitor with the Society for Sanity in Art (Logan Medal recipient, 1940), the San Gabriel Artists’ Guild and the Laguna Beach Artist Association.  In 1940, she exhibited at the Oakland Art Gallery and her entry Dorothy was described in the Oakland Tribune as “a girl in red; an excellent exercise in vigorous, spontaneous brush work.” Dorothy is in the collection of the Chaffey Community Museum of Art, Ontario, California.

The copyrighted biographical information was compiled by Joseph Morsman which will appear in the forthcoming publication: Emerging from the Shadows; A Survey of Women Artists Working in California, 1860-1960, edited by Maurine St. Gaudens, and published by Schiffer Publishing Spring 2015. 

The address on back of the painting indicates Anna Wilson lived (and painted?) at the famed Villa Carlotta, an outstanding example of a Spanish Revival apartment building (that’s still standing) at the corner of Franklin and Tamarind in Hollywood.

Price on request