Fanny Adele Watson Biography

Fanny Adele Watson




Fanny Adele Watson, who used "Adele Watson" as an artist, was born in Toledo, Ohio on April 30, 1873. Her family moved to Pasadena, California in 1880 after the death of her father. She moved to New York as a young adult in order to pursue art, studying at the Art Students League. She later traveled to Europe where she studied with French painter Raphael Collin (1850-1916). She met and became friends with poet/artist Khalil Gibran, author of The Prophet, who had an affect on her world view. After returning to America her work began to be influenced by Symbolism and Mysticism and admiring artists such as Arthur B. Davies and William Blake. Her work after 1925 began to incorporate and merge the human figure into the landscape. She worked primarily as a painter and a printmaker, but also worked in mosaic, murals and frescoes, and illustration.

Of particular focus in her art career was the landscape of Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks in Utah, USA. Her penchant for the anthropomorphic symbolism seen in nature drew her to the unusual rock formations found in these arid deserts, and many of her compositions take note of their human likeness. Said Arthur Millier, art critic for the Los Angeles Times in 1933: “Miss Watson's work, recently described in these columns, consists principally of landscape, which, seen by the artist's imagination, discloses figures flying in the clouds, struggling for release from desert rocks or lying gracefully along the valleys. Miss Watson's vision are convincing and, at their best, quite beautiful. Her work has no parallel in this region.” 

Watson exhibited at the California Liberty Fair in 1918; Painters and Sculptors of Los Angeles, 1925; American Artists Professional League, NY; National Academy of Design, NY; and the Pasadena Art Institute, CA, 1953 (retrospective). Additional exhibitions of her work took place at the Toledo Museum of Art, the San Diego Museum of Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and a painting of hers was included in the 2022 exhibition Dawn of a New Age: Early Twentieth-Century American Modernism at the Whitney Museum, New York.

Adele Watson died on March 23, 1947 in Pasadena, California. Her work can be found in the Whitney Museum, NY and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA.