Theme/Style – Modernism, landscape, townscape, still life
Media – Oils, pastels, graphite
Artistic Focus – Considered to be “first among the women landscape artists” in early 1900s Northern California, Isabel Hunter depicted scenes in both oils and pastels of the Monterey Peninsula, San Francisco, Alameda and other nearby areas. With “unusual finesse and quality of line,” Hunter unfailingly conveyed beauty and serenity in her work; and revealed herself to the viewer as a strong woman who found expression, joy and peace in her artistic pursuits.
Career Highlights –
- Isabel Hunter was born in 1865 in San Francisco, California and moved with her family across San Francisco Bay to Alameda in 1877.
- Hunter studied locally with William Keith, as well as at the Art Students League in New York (1889-1890), and for many years at the California School of Design, San Francisco, where she received the Alvord Gold Medal for Drawing at the school’s 16th Annual Exhibition at the San Francisco Art Association in 1889, and an honorable mention for oil painting in the annual exhibitions in 1894 and 1899. She also exhibited at the city’s Mark Hopkins Institute of Art in 1894, and would continue to exhibit both there and with the Art Association throughout the early 1900s, as well as at the California State Fair, Sacramento (1895, 1897) and the Alameda Art League (1896), and won a prize that same year at the Oakland Exposition.
- Hunter was living in San Francisco by around 1899, where there was an exhibition of her sketches at the Press Club in 1904.
- Nearly all of Hunter’s work was lost when her studio was destroyed in the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906. Having often taken sketching trips to Monterey, where she was counted as a member of the “artists’ colony” there as early as 1902, Hunter relocated there in 1907, where she had a home and studio until 1911.
- Hunter was included in the first exhibition at the newly-opened gallery in the Hotel Del Monte in Monterey in 1907, and served with a group of artists to manage the gallery and select artworks for shows there, including Arnold Genthe, William Keith, Evelyn McCormick, Gottardo Piazzoni and Will Sparks.
- Hunter moved back to Alameda in 1911, though she would continue to frequent the Monterey Peninsula, and exhibited at the Del Monte through the late 1920s.
- Hunter exhibited frequently in San Francisco, in shows at the Sketch Club, where she won the club’s Philopolis Prize for best in show in 1909 for her painting of a Monterey scene entitled “A Lonely Road.”; the Sequoia Club at the Fairmont Hotel in 1907; the Century Club, including a show of women artists there in 1912; the San Francisco Institute of Art and the Sorosis Club in 1913; and in several exhibitions at the Courvoisier Gallery between 1913 and 1915. Hunter also provided illustrations of California scenes for Sunset magazine between 1905 and 1925.
- Hunter’s work was included in San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915, and she also painted and sketched scenes outside among the buildings of the exposition. Hunter’s PPIE pastels were exhibited at the city’s Rabjohn & Morcom galleries in 1915 and in Oakland’s first municipal exhibition at the Oakland Auditorium and the newly-opened Oakland Art Gallery in 1916.
- Hunter would continue to exhibit at the Oakland Art Gallery, as well as in San Francisco at the Golden Gate Park Memorial Museum (now the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum); the Schussler galleries; the Hill Tolerton Print Rooms; the California Artists’ Gallery at the Hotel Richelieu; and the Mechanics’ Institute Fair; and elsewhere at the Thomas Welton Stanford Art Gallery at Stanford University; the Santa Cruz Art League; the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exhibition, Portland, Oregon; and the Hawaiian Academy of Design, Honolulu.
- Isabel Hunter passed away in Alameda, California in 1941.
- Hunter is represented in the collection of the Oakland Museum of California, and was included in a show there entitled “Twilight and Reverie: California Tonalist Paintings 1890 to 1930” in 1995; the show traveled to the Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, CA.
Selection of Works by this Artist
Bibliographic references are available upon request.