Theme/Style – Modernism, figurative, landscapes, genre scenes, still life
Media – Oils, gouache, watercolor, ink, color aquatints, etchings
Artistic Focus – August Rathbone was best known for her aquatint etchings, whose varied subject matter included Sierra landscapes and urban scenes of New York and San Francisco, as well as townscapes and landscapes from the many places in Europe to which she traveled. Marked by strong colors and a modern feel, Rathbone’s etchings and paintings never appeared labored, but instead imparted a sense of creative freedom and the hand of an extremely confident artist, at ease with both her art and her craft.
Career Highlights –
- Augusta Payne Rathbone was born in Berkeley, California in 1897, and was raised in San Francisco. After obtaining a degree in art from UC Berkeley in 1921, Rathbone continued her studies in Paris at l’Académie de la Grande Chaumière. She also studied with Lucien Simon, and with the Spanish artist Claudio Castelucho y Diana.
- Throughout her life, Rathbone moved between the U.S. and Europe, while maintaining her primary residence in San Francisco. In Paris Rathbone had a studio at the American University Women’s Paris Club, now known as Reid Hall.
- Rathbone was introduced to printmaking in 1927 by Chicago artist Nora Hamilton, and through the early 1930s her prints – color aquatints combined with line etching – were printed by the atelier of Alfred Porcabeuf in Paris. After World War II Rathbone taught herself to print, thereby avoiding the expense of a professional printer.
- Rathbone’s first solo exhibition took place at the Elder Gallery in San Francisco in 1930. That same year her work was included in the Paris Salon, and would continue to be included in the spring and autumn Salons in the years following.
- Her work was included in the exhibition “American Color Prints” at the Brooklyn Museum in 1933 and in another exhibition of etchings there in 1934. Rathbone had a solo show of her color etchings of European scenes and California’s high Sierras at Los Angeles’s Stendahl Galleries in 1936; and another show of her aquatints at the Moyer Galleries in Hartford, Connecticut in 1939.
- In the mid-1930s Rathbone produced a series of 20 color aquatints of the towns along the French Riviera, many of which were later reproduced in the book French Riviera Villages by Virginia Thompson, published in 1938.
- Rathbone was included in the 15th Annual Exhibition of the San Francisco Society of Women Artists at the San Francisco Museum of Art in 1940 along with artists such as Ruth Cravath, Helen Forbes, Leah Rinne Hamilton and Mine Okubo.
- Also in 1940, the San Francisco Museum of Art mounted a solo exhibition of Rathbone’s oils, and she exhibited prints with Elizabeth Ginno at the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco in 1954. Rathbone also was included in exhibitions at the Musée National d’Art Moderne, France; the California Society of Etchers at the California State Library; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the Oakland Museum, California.
- In 1990, Rathbone’s work was included in the important survey exhibition “A Spectrum of Innovation: Color in American Printmaking, 1890-1960,” at the Worcester Art Museum, MA.
- Rathbone was a member of the California Society of Etchers; San Francisco Women Artists; American Artists Professional League; and the National Arts Club, New York. Her work is in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, New York; the California Society of Etchers; the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco; and Rutgers University, New Jersey.
- Augusta Rathbone passed away in Palo Alto, California in 1990.
Selection of Works by this Artist
Bibliographic references are available upon request.