Watercolor Sketches by Eva Scott Fenyes (1849-1930) — Early 1906
In early 1906 in Pasadena, California, Eva Scott Fenyes was planning her second Orange Grove Avenue mansion; and, being a woman who immersed herself in her building projects, she stayed close to home where she could oversee the design of her new domestic vision. For many people this would be an all consuming task, but for Eva a single project could barely sustain her energetic nature. She was an active and a creative woman, and her interests were varied. Among them she nourished a deep-seated, lifelong need for travel, observation, and learning. So while planning her mansion and working with her architect from January through April, she also roamed the nearby countryside exploring California’s history, talking with the local people, and painting en plein air.
Yet this field work was not merely a hobby meant to while away some time. Study and art were never idle pastimes for Eva, who observed the world and articulated her life and her perceptions through her paintings. She was a student and an artist whose talent developed in childhood and evolved throughout her life.
Shown here are several of her early 1906 watercolor sketches¹ demonstrating her art and one of her keenest interests, the history of California, its common structures, and the preservation of its heritage.
Next to her sketch of the Dalton adobe, Eva wrote, “The large Adobe House of the Dalton’s is destroyed – ‘this is the only adobe near Azusa.’ So says an old Mexican from Guadalajara who has lived 52 years in Cal. & whose hut now stands near the adobe. This house was built by a man named Flowers for Henry Dalton in 1856.”Next to her sketch of the Purcell house, Eva wrote, “This house was built by the Padres—so says Mrs. Purcell who has owned the house 25 years. It is on the Rancho de las Tunas. The Craigs owned it before the Purcells. Mrs. Purcell says that at one time it had a Brea roof. They still pick out pieces to burn in the fire places.”
The name noted on the Agua Mansa sketch is Ignacio Villardi.
¹Eva Scott Fenyes collected most of her paintings and drawings into 14 folio sketchbooks dating from 1866 to 1928. Each sketch is identified by number, location, and date, and many have additional annotations.
Julie Stires, Project Archivist
Pasadena Museum of History
470 W. Walnut St., Pasadena CA 91103
See the newly renovated Feynes Mansion; tours Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Info here.
Pasadena Museum of History’s “I Do! I Do! Pasadena Ties the Knot” exhibit continues through July 14th.
The Finnish Folk Art Museum may also be toured, as well as the gardens.