circa 1926-1934, 1962. [Women] [Art] [California]
Blanche Collet Wagner papers, circa 1926-1934, 1962
Three groups of typed drafts for an unpublished work: pp. 99; 131; 10. 11 x 8½”. Very good: a few pages with light edge wear, creasing and toning. Includes three original drawings, in very good condition.
Carpenter, Henry H. "Henry R. and Blanche C. Wagner: An address delivered on September 13, 1962, before the Orange County Historical Society..." 9” x 6”. Stapled wrappers. Signed by Carpenter: “Thanks to the Wagners for their encouragement.” Very good: light creasing to wrappers.
8” x 5 ¾” portrait on glossy 11” x 8½” photo paper with handwritten notes and newspaper clipping adhered to verso. Good: several scratches and light creases.
4 pp. typed biographical material; handwritten table of contents for the work. 11” x 8½”. Very good.
A small collection (about five inches of manuscript, biographical and printed material) pertaining to Blanche Collet Wagner, early, active, and versatile California artist. The bulk of the collection are drafts of a manuscript, entitled “A French Bride Travels Through The Americas,” which was written for the popular automotive periodical Touring Topics but never published.
Blanche Collet Wagner was born in Grenoble, France in 1873, the daughter of a sculptor and architect. After his death she had worked in Chicago but soon went to California and later to Mexico, where she met noted historian and book collector Henry R. Wagner. They were married in 1917, lived in Berkeley and frequently traveled to New York, Europe, the West Indies, Mexico, and Central America. In 1921 she began painting lessons with Clinton Peters and was accepted as a pupil by the Spanish master, Alfonso Grosso in 1923. Henry Wagner authored over 170 books and articles and was a prolific collector of books on American frontier, Spanish exploration and colonization of Mexico. His best-known work, published in 1920, "The Plains and the Rockies" has seen several revisions with assistance from Charles Lewis Camp and is now simply known as "Wagner-Camp."
The couple moved to San Marino, California in 1927; she designed and supervised construction of their new home, earning recognition by the Southern California chapter of the National Institute of Architects. She quickly became a catalyst in local literary and art circles. By December 1928, she had organized the Pasadena Women’s Art Association and served as Art Chairman. She was also organizer and president of the San Marino Women’s Club, and served various art associations including the California Art Club, Women Painters of the West, the Friday Morning Club, Ebell Club, National League of American Pen Women, and Hollywood Writers Club. She was known for her oil paintings as well as her applique painting on silk; she could hardly fill the demand for the latter works, fashioning fans, screens, wall hangings and tapestries. Her art was exhibited dozens of times through the mid 1920s and 1930s, throughout California and in New York, Spain and Mexico.
In 1935, Blanche Wagner presented the first Book and Art Fair, sponsored by the National League of American Pen Women and held at the Biltmore Hotel. She wrote poetry, most of which was published, and wrote and illustrated a children’s book, "The Tales of Mayaland," published in 1938 by the San Pasqual Press. Her continued work of research and painting of Mayan art and “Women’s Headdresses Through the Centuries” led to her giving dozens of lectures and showings at town halls, museums and universities until the 1940s. She died in San Marino in 1957.
This collection contains three groups of typescript drafts for a work relating Wagner’s travels with her new husband through Mexico, Central and South America. They include her handwritten notes and corrections as well as three of her original drawings. The work was written for Phil Townsend Hanna, former editor of the Los Angeles Times, and longtime editor of Touring Topics starting in 1926. Touring Topics became Westways in 1934, allowing us to attribute the date of the manuscripts. Also present here are a handwritten table of contents for the work; four pages of biographical material on Wagner; a portrait of her on glossy photo paper with notes and a newspaper clipping adhered to the verso; and printed ephemera relating to the Orange County Historical Society (OCHS). In 1962, Edwin H. Carpenter, longtime bibliographer at the Huntington Library, addressed the OCHS on the history of Henry and Blanche Wagner; the publication for this event, with a 1962 OCHS newsletter laid in, appears in the collection.
Rare manuscript materials created by an accomplished female California artist and writer. Small collections of Wagner materials can be found at UC Irvine, Yale, and the Autry Museum of the American West, but none appear to hold anything related to this work. OCLC also lists no holdings of the OCHS publication. Item #370