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Mystery Model
updated: Oct 07, 2012, 11:11 AM

By Edhat Subscriber

I found this portrait in my Mom's garage. No one in the family knows the name of the subject. The artist is Josephine Spaulding. She lived in the Santa Barbara area and finally in Carpinteria in the 40s 50s and 60s. My guess is that this painting is from the 40s. To Josephine she may have been a model, but there is a history also. Does anyone know who she is?

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Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 328857 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-10-07 11:33 AM

Wow, that is beautiful...hope you can solve some of the mystery.


 COMMENT 328917 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-10-07 01:45 PM

Looks like the black dahlia! Same time period and area.


 COMMENT 328945 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-10-07 03:14 PM

I agree that the style is 1940s. The placement of the figure is a little odd. Most artists, I think, would have placed her, not in the center, but an inch or two toward the center.


 COMMENT 329011 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-10-07 06:45 PM

Seldon Spaulding was a famous local painter, long time companions of Kit Tremaine. Maybe a relative?


 COMMENT 329020 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-10-07 07:19 PM

What a neat find. I found a portrait by E. V. Lopez in the laundry room of a rental house once. Nobody claimed it so I've hung onto it for close to a decade.


 COMMENT 329044 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-10-07 08:18 PM

Denny Spaulding was a famous painter who grew up in Mission Canyon. His father, Edward, was the headmaster at Laguna Blanca School. Across town and unrelated, Josephine Spaulding (nee McManus) was the wife of physician Albert Quincy Spaulding. They lived in Montecito. Josephine died in 1954, so that should help date the painting.


 COMMENT 329045 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-10-07 08:18 PM

Very flattering "Butterfly Lighting" used here for the female face as opposed to "Rembrandt Lighting" more often used on males.

Nice find!


 MTNDRIVER agree helpful negative off topic

2012-10-07 09:53 PM

Lovely, whoever she was.


 COMMENT 329091 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-10-08 06:12 AM

At first I thought this might be Josephine's daughter Gwennie. However, my eyes are growing dim with the passing years and my memory has faded, so I'm not sure now. The person who could have solved this mystery would certainly have been Josephine's daughter Gwendolyn. Gwennie was born in 1922, grew up in Montecito, and was one of the first three graduates of Marymount. She was quite the swimmer and appeared in some of the Esther Williams water ballet films. She was a stewardess on the Pan Am China Clippers and was on one of the last flights off mainland China in 1949 as the Maoists took control. Gwennie and her husband Pete, a WW II aviator, lived on Telegraph Hill in San Francisco for many years before moving to Sausalito. Well into her 70's, Gwennie would often swim in San Francisco Bay. Sadly, the bell tolled for Gwennie in 2009, so the beautiful woman in the painting must remain unnamed a bit longer.


 COMMENT 329118P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-10-08 07:53 AM

It is not Gwennie. (091: Great history of her -- thanks!) Josephine's son, Albert Jr., still lives in Montecito, but does not know the subject either.


 COMMENT 329120 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-10-08 07:56 AM

Wow, I am impressed. I am the original poster.
I did show the painting to Gwennie's brother. He could not provide more information.
Family history slips away.....


 COMMENT 329128 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-10-08 08:15 AM

...but maybe someone in town has a photograph of the lady in their family album? Try contacting the local commercial news media...maybe they would print/show the picture? These days, human interest stories are few and far between.

It really is a lovely and refined painting!


 COMMENT 329131P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-10-08 08:16 AM

is there a local collection of HS yearbooks from the 40's one might check?


 COMMENT 329132 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-10-08 08:24 AM

Lindabird Johnson.


 COMMENT 329144 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-10-08 08:48 AM

Good suggestion to check the SB High School Yearbooks in that era (1940 ish to 1960 ish).
During that time there was only one public High School and what we used to call "Catholic High" at the corner of Mitcheltorena and Anacapa which was quite small. (The forerunner to Bishop Diego High School) The photo's taken for the yearbooks during that time involved similar portraiture tecniques.


 FLICKA agree helpful negative off topic

2012-10-08 09:15 AM

144, The school you refer to, "we called Catholic High" was, in fact, Santa Barbara Catholic High. The beautiful woman in the portrait reminds me of Elizabeth Taylor. Check with David Redmon at the Historical Museum, he might have a file on the Spaulding family, well known here. Maybe there would be a picture.


 SLIPROCK9 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-10-08 09:28 AM

A place that might have those yearbooks to check is the Genealogical Society at the corner of Castillo and the Freeway. The people there would be most happy to have you look -- if they have those copies. Worth a try.


 COMMENT 329207 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-10-08 10:10 AM

To the OP. If you do find the answer, please post it on EH.


 COMMENT 329229 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-10-08 10:41 AM

The orthodontist off alamar has a collection of yearbooks in the waiting room.


 MOARTS51 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-10-08 06:21 PM

Maybe Michael Redmon, the librarian @ the SB Historical Society could shed some light on the woman in the painting. Beautiful piece!


 COMMENT 329500 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-10-08 11:28 PM

I'm 99% sure that the SBHS library keeps copies of all the Olive & Gold yearbooks.


 FIRST DISTRICT agree helpful negative off topic

2012-10-09 12:57 AM

You might want to go to the Santa Barbara County Genealogical LIbrary where there is quite a collection of high school and collge yearbooks.


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