Laurette Lovell arrived in Tucson with her family from California at the age of thirteen. The budding artist responded positively to the vastness of the landscape and the richness of the desert flora, as well as the romantic Spanish missions, Papago women and Apache warriors. However, she was particularly inspired by the ollas, or clay pots, crafted by the Tohono O’odham people, and began to decorate them with intricate scenes of ancient ruins and missions, Native American figures, and detailed desert scenery.
Although her unique works attracted immediate attention in and around the Tucson area--she even taught her technique to local students--National recognition of her efforts didn’t come until 1887, when one of her ollas was presented to General Nelson A. Miles as a reward for his part in the surrender of the Apache warrior Geronimo. The large vessel featured four separate Native American vignettes painted from photographic images provided by well-known “Wild West” photographer Camillus S. Fly. The piece was enshrined at the Haye Foundation Museum in New York and eventually gifted to the U.S. Military Academy Museum at West Point where Miles graduated.
In 1891, Ms. Lovell was appointed Lady Manager from the Territory of Arizona for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The Exposition prominently featured a heretofore unheard of Women's Pavilion, which housed examples of women's artwork from around the world. The exposition not only proved to be a major advancement for the recognition of women as fine artists, but served as a springboard for their advancement in social, business and political arenas as well. Suffrage leader Susan B. Anthony said that the event did more for the woman’s movement than the previous twenty-five years of agitating.
Over time, Ms. Lovell’s own artwork expanded to include more traditional paintings on canvas, as well as designs on fine china and even wallpaper. Following her marriage to Will Francis in 1895, she settled in Los Angeles where she remained until her death on February 26, 1936.
Her works can be found on public display at the Heritage House Museum in Riverside, CA and the Arizona Historical Society in Tucson.
Why am I writing this? I am the great-great-grandson and besides my sister, the only living survivor with any direct connection to her.
Notes About Works:
Native American PotterOil on Canvas early 20th Century. Approximately 14" high by 18" wide unframed and 17 1/2" by 21 1/2" framed.
Additional Information and Value Characteristics: The painting features a Native American Tohono O'odham potter surrounded by several bowls, ollas, and woven baskets. It is presented within a copper-colored period frame ornamented with fleur de lys. The composition is in good condition with the exception of some minor vertical cracking, likely the result of the canvas being rolled. The work is signed "L.L. Francis" in the lower-left corner of the composition. Value $ 8,500
Native American Women Hiding Behind Fallen Tree
Oil on Canvas circa early 20th Century. Approximately 22" high by 28" wide unframed and 26 3/4" by 32 3/4" framed.
Additional Information and Value Characteristics: The painting depicts a series of Native American Tohono O'odham women, hiding behind a log, while burden baskets and broken pottery, perhaps dropped in haste, adorn the foreground. It is framed in ornate gold period moulding, with significant chips and gouges in its corners and other spots along its surface. The painting has minor cracking at multiple spots within the composition, and a small section of paint loss in its lower left quadrant. In addition, there are approximately four pinhole sized punctures in the canvas (at various locations), and a small white paint splatter mark within the composition at the base of a tree on the left side. Work is unsigned. Value $10,500
Oil on Canvas circa early 20th Century. Approximately 14" high by 18" wide unframed and 17.5" by 21.5" framed.
Additional Information and Value Characteristics: The painting depicts a man in a wide brimmed hat alongside a burro carrying firewood. It is framed within a badly blemished, gold wood period frame with baroque-styled border. The painting itself has minor cracking throughout its surface, and minor paint loss (about the size of the head of a pin), at certain spots within the composition. Work is unsigned. Value $4,500
Floral Still Life
Oil on Canvas circa early 20th Century. Approximately 6" high by 14" wide unframed and 9 3/4" by 17 3/4" framed.
Additional Information and Value Characteristics: The painting depicts vibrantly colored flowers before a blue bowl. It is displayed within a gold wood period frame with baroque-styled border. It is badly blemished with numerous chips and gouges, particularly in the corners. The painted composition is in good condition; however, some minor vertical cracking, likely the result of the canvas having been rolled, is evident upon inspection. Work is unsigned. Value $1,500
Family Notes - We have always spelled her name Laurette and have only recently come across this spelling. These works have survived several earthquakes and many cross country moves which explains the frames and paintings condition along with age of course.
Thanks to Bruce Hilpert for his proofreading and corrections of some of the dates and places.