Muriel Mitchell Branegan Bacon Biography

Muriel Mitchell Branegan Bacon




Painter and watercolorist Muriel Branegan Bacon was born in Grass Valley, California in 1909, to descendents of Gold Rush settlers. After graduating as an honor student from Grass Valley High School in 1928 her formal art training began in San Francisco, having received a scholarship to study painting at the California School of Fine Arts. There, she studied painting and sculpture. She was then awarded a National Scholarship, allowing her to travel to New York and enroll at the Art Students League, studying under Kenneth Hayes Miller. Following her time in New York, Bacon traveled to Paris, where she completed her formal studies at the Academie Julien.

It was during her time at Academie Julien that Bacon became immersed in the technique and style of the Fauvists. Once she had completed her studies she took to the road, sketching and painting in Hawaii, Africa, Pacific Oceania, Europe, California and the American Southwest. Around the late 1930s she married - changing her last name to Bacon - and settled in Sausalito, California, where she continued to work and exhibit. By this time Bacon had established a style that, while Fauvist in nature, with themes of lush tropicality and Gaugin-like figurative work, also belied an appreciation for the works of artists such as Diego Rivera and other WPA-era artists. 

In 1939/'40 she exhibited at the Golden Gate International Exposition, and in the late 1940s and 1950s she maintained a studio in San Francisco. She began to exhibit frequently in the Bay Area and beyond, including at the prestigious Paul Elder Art Galleries (five solo shows); the Rotunda Gallery, San Francisco (another five solo shows in the 1950/'60s ); two solo exhibitions in Honolulu; a show at the Oehlschlager Galleries, Chicago; and three major solo shows in the 1960s at the renowned Maxwell Galleries in San Francisco. In the early 1970s her painting, "Child with Fish", was selected to hang in the entrance of the International Child's Art Center in Ghirardelli Square, San Francisco.

Bacon moved north to Sonoma County in the 1960s and established a studio in Sebastopol. From that time there are no mentions of exhibitions during her lifetime and her work gradually fell into obscurity. She died in Santa Rosa on August 10, 2002.

Bacons' works have been honored with one-woman exhibitions at the Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, California; The Dallas Museum of Art and the California Palace of the Legion of Honor Museum, San Francisco ( 1955 ); the Paul Elder Gallery, San Francisco and the City of Paris Gallery, San Francisco (1950). 

Some information found in a brief biography written by Maria Gonzales, art researcher; also the Union Times, Nevada City.