Harriet Fielding Whedon Biography

Harriet Whedon was born in Middletown, CT on Dec. 7, 1878.

Not much is known in regards to her early education. In 1908. at the age of 30, Whedon moved to Pasadena. Little is known of her time there. In 1922 she relocated to San Francisco where she was initially employed in the art department of the Chronicle.

While in her early forties, she began art studies at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco, under the early modernist painters and muralists Otis Oldfield (1890-1969), Lee Randolph (1880-1956), and Ray Boynton (1883-1951). Boynton and Oldfield were one of 26 artists selected by the federal government to paint murals in Coit Tower.

It is evident through the artist’s scrapbook, that Wheedie, as she was affectionately known, became very much a part of the early modernist scene in the San Francisco Bay Area through the 1920s and 30s. Her close friends included artists such as Gottardo Piazzoni, Otis Oldfield, Lee Randolph, Rinaldo Cuneo, Hamilton Wolf, Adeline Kent, and many more.

Whedon left San Francisco about 1940 to continue her artistic career first spending a number of years in New York City then later moving to Chicago before returning back to the Bay Area where she spent her remaining years. She died in Burlingame, California on July 22, 1958.

Now considered very scarce, are these rare depictions of American urban life in the 1930s and 40s. Much of Harriett Whedon’s oeuvre captures an intimate glimpse of urban life, whether it be a local park scene, children playing, a busy restaurant, ironing day, talking by the window, or a cold winter snow scene.  

Exhibited: Oakland Art Gallery, 1932-39; San Francisco Art Association, 1932-41; Pasadena Art Institute, 1933; San Francisco Art Center, 1934; San Francisco Museum of Art, 1935, 1939 (solo); Foundation of Western Art, Los Angeles, 1937-39; Golden Gate International Exposition, 1939.

In the collection of: Santa Barbara Museum; Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Source: Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"; census; WWA/1940-56; SF Examinier; Obituary.