. . . The results of an indirect request to Miss Klauber of his desire to “paint interesting people,” included a number of exotic types that she selected for him. In her studio Henri had offered a demonstration. The resultant oil sketch of an unknown Chinese girl called Mukie was presented to the San Diego Museum of Art years later by Miss Klauber.

. . . She had assisted the artist by preparing the canvas with a thin gray coat of benzene. Her notes on the demonstration revealed that Mukie was eight years old and that the sketch was completed in one sitting. The child’s crying interrupted the pose for a half-hour. The artist worked for about ten minutes more and he painted “at most 40 minutes.”

Robert Henri, Mukie, 1914, oil, SDMA collection.

. . . Henri finished ten portraits while vacationing in La Jolla in 1914. Exotic models, children of Spanish, Black American and Chinese heritage, posed as subjects. With the exception of The Beach Hat, a portrait of his wife and dedicated to Miss Klauber and a portrait of Violet, his sister-in-law, Delaware Art Museum collection, the paintings included Chinese Girl (Chow Choy), Indian (Indian Girl I), Ramon, Mexican (Ramon Vasquez), Machu (Chinese girl-Minnie), Indian Girl II, Chinese Girl (Chinese girl with fan), Tam Can (Chinese girl-Grace), Sylvester (Negro Boy), and Jim Lee WoI. 41 According to the artist’s records, he cut down Machu from 32 x 26 Inches to 24 x 20 later. They may be seen in collections throughout the country including the Buffalo Museum of Fine Arts and the Amon Carter Museum, Ft. Worth, Texas. A folio of photographic reproductions of the paintings was published. Local architect Luis Gill, nephew of the better-known Irving Gill, took the pictures of the photographic reproductions.

Robert Henri, Marjorie ‘O’, 1914 oil, with dedication to Miss Klauber, SDMA collection.

. . . For unknown reasons, the planned seven-month stay of Henri was cut short and by October the artist and his retinue had returned East. Correspondence between Henri and Miss Klauber, who were appointed co-chairpersons of the Fine Arts Committee for the forth coming Exposition, expressed a concern for the exhibition from its inception to the opening. The exhibition was representative of the movement in modern painting most directly in touch with American life and ideals of the day. It was in no sense meant to be ultra modern. A letter to invited artists, undoubtedly recommended by Henri and Alice Klauber, was extended by Dr. Hewett on October 10, 1914. They included George W. Bellows, 1882-1915, Guy Pene DuBois, 1884-1958, Arthur B. Davies, William Glackens, 1870-1938, Childe Hassam, 1859-1935, Ernest Lawson, 1873-1934, George Luks, 1867-1933, Maurice Prendergast, 1859-1924, Joseph Henry Sharp, 1859-1953, John Sloan, 1871-1951, and Carl Sprinchorn, 1887. Davies declined. His action did not seem to disturb Henri who regretted the fact since Davies played such a significant role in the famous Armory Show, but he felt, “he was not essential to the success of the exhibition.” 42 His only concern was that Davies might influence Prendergast not to exhibit.

. . . The exhibition was held in the south wing of the California Quadrangle. The details of the installation were based upon Henri’s recommendation. The main picture Gallery was in a single room 136 feet long by 26 feet wide, lighted by ranges of clerestory windows setup in arches of quadripartite vaulting. The walls were painted soft warm gray to best compliment the works. The arrangement was a one-line installation with ample space for each canvas. This one-line and wide spacing plan was the selling point Henri used to persuade his colleagues to participate. Dr. Hewett had asked artists to submit from two to six woks. Henri had suggested five each making a total of fifty-five. Sprinchorn submitted one, later destroyed by fire with others he painted while vacationing in Coronado in the 1920s; Prendergast sent two; Lawson sent three; Bellows and Hassam submitted four; Glackens sent 5; and Henri, Du Bois, Luks, Sloan and Sharp were represented by six. Many of the paintings are represented in major American museum collections today and have become classic examples by this generation of artists. Even though Henri had requested in a note, December 14, that there be no special mention of his part in forming the show, the factual details of the installation were of deep concern for Henri as evidenced in several of the letters exchanged between him and Miss Klauber following his departure from the area. His minor complaint seemed to be limited to the fact that he felt Du Bois’ paintings were not displayed in a good place in the exhibition.

. . . The catalogue for the exhibition of paintings was co-edited by Miss Klauber and Mrs. Ivor N. Lawson, Sr., and contained an essay on modern art by Jerome Eddy, Modern American Painting, 1915. 43 Both editors felt the essay provided a good introduction to the group whose work was being shown. Miss Klauber also chaired the Fine Arts Committee and assumed charge of the gallery. She and her committee were called upon to design rooms and decorate them as places to relax for the weary visitor at the Exposition. Five years earlier her studies in interior decoration had been put to good use in the Wednesday Club’s new clubhouse, designed in 1910 by Mrs. Hazel Waldo Waterman, San Diego’s first major woman architect and a Gill student. The exhibition was at a disadvantage from the start. Emphasis on the Exposition’s architectural splendors and the art of Aboriginal American cultures subjugated the modern creative arts to a secondary position. Christian Brinton, who recorded in brief dismissal his impressions of the painting exhibition in International Studio, June 1915, remarked, “On comparing these latter with the canvases devoted to native type and scenes by Mr. Robert Henri, Mr. Joseph H. Sharp, and others in the Fine Arts Building, one is forced to conclude that the capacity for pictorial representation has diminished rather than increased with the advent of our later art schools and teachers. You can hardly expect perfection even in such an exposition as that at San Diego, and its choice of painting for the same Fine Arts Building that one may point to a certain lapse from an otherwise consistently maintained standard…” One anonymous “Onlooker” in a January 23, 1915, unidentified newspaper edition made reprimand: “We have a really distinguished exhibition of paintings in our fine arts building and though nothing like it has happened in San Diego before, no one has taken any special notice as yet of the event. We have no awards to offer, but have we no appreciation?” There were some detractors who criticized the Fair on general principles.


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