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HENRIETTA MARSHALL LATHAM DWIGHT (1840-1909)

One Room Adobe, c. 1891

9 x 11.75 inches  |  watercolor on paper

Henrietta Marshall was born to Charles Manchester Marshall of England and Henrietta Cole of Kentucky on October 21, 1840 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The date of her arrival in California is unknown. However, on November 27, 1860, she was in Oakland, California, when at the age of twenty she married James Hoge Latham of Columbus, Ohio. Latham's brother was Milton S. Latham, California's sixth governor and a prominent California senator. Milton S. Latham came to California in 1850, shortly after the Gold Rush began, and made his fortune before he was thirty. It may be that his brother James came to California with him in 1850.

James & Henrietta (Marshall) Latham had three children: Charles in September 1861, Milton in January 1863, and a daughter Edith, who was born in Virginia City, Nevada in October 1866. Their daughter's birth in Virginia City, an important mining town, may indicate an involvement in Gold Rush activities. James Latham died aboard a ship in June 1876, widowing Henrietta and leaving her with children aged 10, 13 and 15. Sometime before 1882 she married a Mr. Dwight, about whom little is known. As Henrietta Latham Dwight, she purchased Thrulow Lodge, an impressive fifty-room mansion in Menlo Park built by Milton S. Latham (her former brother-in-law) while he was at the height of his success.

By the artist's dates on watercolors in the Sullivan Goss collection we know that Dwight was in San Francisco and Santa Barbara in 1890 and 1891. We also believe that sometime after 1906 she resided in Paris, France. Her works are signed variously as Henrietta Latham Dwight or initials HLD, or monograms with HMD, for Henrietta Milton Dwight. She died in Paris, France on February 6, 1909 and was buried in Oakland, California in September 1910.

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AN ANALYSIS OF THE ARTIST'S WORK

The twenty-five known watercolors can be grouped into four locales: Santa Barbara, San Francisco, unknown locations (two scenes), and Paris.

It would seem likely that Dwight would have received her training in either California or France. It may be that she received some training in both locations. All of these watercolors show a trained hand working in a professional style. The watercolors in this collection are dated so early in the development of California watercolorists that Dwight could only have been influenced in San Francisco by either Christian Jorgensen (1860-1935) or Lorenzo Latimer (1857-1941). Although the Englishman John Evey (1842-1910) was teaching at this time, his classes were confined to Los Angeles and there is no record of her ever having been that far south in California. Both Jorgensen and Latimer taught at the San Francisco School of Design in the 1880s. Jorgenson conducted classes in San Francisco and across the bay in Oakland, where it is thought that Dwight lived.

However, Dwight's work is significantly different from each of these younger influential male artists. The composition of her work in California is always focused on a single subject surrounded by an atmospheric setting: a lone boat, an individual rock outcropping, a solitary adobe, a sentinel tree. This is markedly different from the lush, complex and dense compositions of Jorgensen and Latimer. Dwight's later work, the Parisian pieces, demonstrate a much more developed style: every part of the surface is planned and covered with compositional values.

Alfred Harrison, Jr. of North Point Gallery in San Francisco is the leading authority on California watercolorists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It is his opinion that Dwight's California work shows the influence of Christian Jorgensen as her teacher. He remarked that her attention to architectural details is reminiscent of Jorgensen's work as an architectural draftsman, an influence commonly seen in his watercolors of missions. Jorgenson was fond of the panoramic view that Dwight used in her Rise at East Beach and Boat on Blocks. Harrison also found similarities with Jorgensen's work in Dwight's depiction of sky and water elements. Reviewing his archives, Harrison located a copy of the San Francisco Evening Post, May 25, 1891 (page 4, col. 3) which reads as follows:

"Chris Jorgenson, the leading water colorist, will leave on Sunday for Santa Barbara, where he will spend the month of June sketching. He will be accompanied by his San Francisco and Oakland classes, numbering about twenty."

It may be that Dwight was one of the twenty. She was married in Oakland and after her death she was buried there. Perhaps she was a member of his Oakland class. If she was in this session it would explain the 1891 dating on many of her Santa Barbara watercolors. The signature and date on the Sailboat in Marsh which is detailed above and difficult to read, may be dated "Jun. 1891."

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