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Events > Marjorie Stevens: Painted Ladies and Other Subjects

Marjorie Stevens

Marjorie Stevens was a talented watercolor painter of the 1945-1975 period, whose favorite subjects were the colorful Victorian and Edwardian buildings erected in San Francisco between 1880 and 1915. These “Painted Ladies,” as they are called today, were celebrated in some quarters as aesthetic masterpieces in the late nineteenth century, but this style of architecture soon became denigrated by advocates of the arts-and-crafts and modernist movements as being laden with absurd decorative flourishes. This latter view prevailed for several decades in the twentieth century, but starting in the 1950s, a nostalgic re-appreciation of these buildings took place, and Marjorie Stevens, who lived in a “Painted Lady” at 1550 Haight Street, jumped on the bandwagon. Her paintings both extol their beauty, at the same time as they create humorous exaggerations, making the houses look as if they would be suitable habitations for the Addams family. Stevens captures a certain feminine charm in the curlicues and flounces found in these façades, and her feminine touch can also be seen in the other major subject of her watercolors, still life paintings of flowers. A student of the W.P.A. artist, George Post, Stevens painted a third category of subjects—industrial sites, like railroad yards and waterfront environments. The major medium for representational art of this period was watercolor, and “California Style” has become the term that describes these bright, informal, but well-drawn works that have all the energy of modernist abstractions, while portraying whimsical and poignant aspects of our culture. In addition to being an artist, Marjorie Stevens was a licensed chiropractor.

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San Francisco Bay from Telegraph Hill

Gold Country House


Foebe the Cat


Vase of Flowers





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