The Journal of San Diego History
Summer 1994, Volume 40, Number 3
Richard W. Crawford, Editor

Anni (van Westrum) Baldaugh (BALL-dough)

born: Holland, August 10, 1881
died: El Cajon, California, August 8, 1953

Images from this article

Of the three women discussed here, the least known is Anni Baldaugh. The daughter of Anthonius Hendricus Schade van Westrum, Baldaugh was born in Holland. She was the youngest of nine children. Her father was born in Amsterdam in 1829 and served overseas with the Royal Indonesian Forces before Baldaugh was born. After being posted with the infantry in East Indonesia in 1864, he achieved the rank of Captain Third Class and returned to the Netherlands. In 1870, at age 41, he was discharged in the rank of Captain First Class.

Baldaugh studied art in Haarlem under Petrus Johannes Arendzen. This was followed by study in Vienna under the miniaturist and caricaturist Theodor Zaschke. Later she studied in Munich with Lothar von Kunowsky, and also in Paris where she became a member of the Beaux Arts Institute. Baldaugh’s European studies cannot be dated precisely, but probably took place during the decade between 1900 and 1910. This was an exciting period of artistic change in Europe. In Vienna, Gustav Klimt broke with tradition and became the founder of modern painting in Austria, while the emerging talents of Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele were also creating much excitement. In France, the young blood included Jacques Villon, Roger de la Fresnaye, and André Derain. How much exposure Baldaugh had to any of these artists is a matter of speculation, but certainly the influence of Klimt shows up in much of her later work.

When Baldaugh left Europe is not known, but it may have been due to tensions that eventually led to war. She first appears in American Art Annual in 1913 with an address in Merchantville, New Jersey. In the 1915 edition she was listed as living in San Francisco where she presumably would have attended the Panama-Pacific International Exposition and seen the art exhibitions there. From 1917 through 1921 she was listed in New York. By this time, World War I had destroyed her family fortunes, leaving her to support herself.

In 1922, Baldaugh seems to have returned to the west coast as she received a gold medal in Los Angeles that year. The 1923 American Art Annual recorded her residence as Corona, California. It must have been early in 1924 that she married Frank C. Baldaugh. On August 24, 1924, a notice in the Los Angeles Times using her married name stated that she had moved to a new studio. Born in Saxony in 1884, Charles Frederick (“Frank”) Baldauf was a retired German army officer. He moved to the U.S. about 1914, just before the war. In 1921 he moved to California, but, like Anni, his family fortunes were destroyed during the war. The 1924 Los Angeles city directory listed him as a printer. The 1925 Los Angeles directory has a listing for Anni Baldauf, artist, and soon thereafter they seem to have dropped the ‘f’ and replaced it with “gh,” perhaps to make it sound less German after the war. Although their name was still technically Baldauf, they never seem to have used that name again. Anni remained in Los Angeles until her move to San Diego in 1929. Frank did not move with her and did not arrive in San Diego until 1939.

While in Los Angeles, she seems to have been able to support herself painting portraits, and sources record portraits of Mrs. Helen W. Bassett, Murial de Kruif, Mr. Jay Jameson, Mrs. Jameson and child, and Mrs. Norton. The unidentified but vivacious Woman in Pink is an excellent example of her portrait style with its vivid colors and facial expression. The costume helps date this painting to 1925-26. Baldaugh also sent paintings to exhibitions all over the country including San Diego, Sacramento, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia.

One of Baldaugh’s finest Los Angeles portraits and one of her most popular works was Murial which depicts Murial de Kruif.

Baldaugh first exhibited Murial at the Modern Art Workers Exhibition in Los Angeles in 1926. She must have thought it was one of her finest paintings as she sent it to art exhibitions all over the country creating a remarkable exhibition record. Murial‘s vivid colors, bold treatment, and casual pose create a spontaneity that gives the portrait a vibrantly life-like quality. The last recorded exhibition was in 1947 indicating that the painting continued to impress jurors over a period of twenty years.

In addition to her portraits, Baldaugh also created some decorative works such as the painting of the costumed dancer which must be the Margarita first exhibited in San Diego in 1929 (front cover). A partially obliterated pencil inscription on the reverse ends in “ita” and Reginald Poland’s description of Margarita as “dynamic” and a “splendid overmantle decorative panel” seem to support this conclusion. This truly astonishing painting is highly compelling in its vibrancy.

In 1929, Beatrice de Lack Krombach invited Baldaugh to have a solo exhibition at her Little Gallery in San Diego. Krombach arrived in San Diego at the time of the 1915 exposition and became a significant local art personality, writing the “Art & Artists” column for the San Diego Sun. In the fall of 1923, she opened the Little Gallery where she held exhibitions of the work of many prominent artists including Lockwood de Forest, Maynard Dixon, Stanton MacDonald-Wright, and local artists Maurice Braun, Charles Reiffel, and Alfred Mitchell among others. Besides artists, a literary “salon” gathered at the gallery to read Proust and discuss the changing exhibitions. Baldaugh painted a delightful portrait of Krombach showing her looking at a canary in its cage, the present whereabouts of which is not known. The Baldaugh exhibition included seventy pieces in a variety of media. Notices about the exhibition indicate it was open in October 1929 and ran into January 1930.

It must have been in the late summer or fall of 1929 that Baldaugh moved to San Diego. A review of her Little Gallery exhibit in the San Diego Union of October 20, 1929, states that she was now a resident of San Diego. She obtained studio space in the New Mexico Building (now the Balboa Park Club), one of the structures remaining from the Panama-California Exposition of 1915. Since her financial situation was already bad, one wonders what these early years of the Depression must have been like for her.

In 1931, Reginald Poland, director of the Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego, asked two local art patrons, Mrs. Ellis Bishop and Mrs. H. T. Horton, to purchase Baldaugh’s Donna for the museum’s collection. Like Murial, Donna is one of the artist’s strikingly direct and vivid portraits. Robert H. Patterson, assistant director of the San Diego Fine Arts Gallery, in an article in the San Diego Union(July 6, 1930) aptly described the work:

This is a colorful painting of a girl seated at a table, on which rests a bowl of flowers and a group of books, and the entire effect is one of great spontaneity and vivacious painting. A trailing scarf of brilliant orange has been swept in across the canvas with a mastery of stroke which Madame Baldaugh oft times evinces in her work. A simple background of tone grey and lavender react against this medley of pink and orange and red, which have been used so daringly and so successfully by the artist.

During the early 1930s, Baldaugh continued to send paintings to other cities including Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and San Francisco. In 1934 she spent some time in the desert as Ivan Messenger wrote (San Diego Sun, May 19, 1934) “Anni Baldaugh is back from Palm Springs–not that the heat, as we would think, drove her away from desert side-winders and desert portrait commissions, but that she has faith in San Diego.” Desert Palms and Desert Landscape presumably date from this trip. Through Anni Baldaugh’s eyes, the desert was full of color. Although she is generally thought of as a portrait painter, these two paintings demonstrate that she was an excellent landscape artist as well.

Soon after returning from Palm Springs, Baldaugh set up a studio in the Town Club building where she could work on portraits and still-life studies. In 1935, her Murial became part of the official art exhibition at the California-Pacific International Exposition. After the exposition, the Spanish Village, that had been created for the fair, was converted into the Spanish Village Art Center with studio and exhibit space for many artists. Baldaugh obtained studio space when it opened in 1937, and stayed there until all the park buildings were taken over by the military in December 1941.

Baldaugh’s portrait of Charles Reiffel must date to this period. Reiffel, the “dean” of local artists, had been closely involved with the development of the Spanish Village as an artists’ colony. The only currently known male portrait by Baldaugh, the colors are far more subdued than in her female portraits. With a few swift strokes she created a remarkable likeness of the elderly artist who casually holds a cigarette in his upraised left hand. Hopefully, additional male portraits by Baldaugh will turn up.

In 1937, Baldaugh exhibited a portrait of Kate O. Sessions at the Exhibition of Southern California Art. Sessions, San Diego’s internationally known horticulturist, was fondly named the “Mother of Balboa Park.” Baldaugh has depicted her neatly dressed and coiffed with a large cameo at her neck. Appropriately, the background consists of a wild array of flowers, and recalls some of Gustav Klimt’s landscape paintings.

In January 1939, Baldaugh had a joint exhibition with Georgia Crittenden Bemis at the Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego. Bemis was considerably younger than Baldaugh and may have been one of her students. The previous year, Bemis had received an award at the San Diego Art Guild annual for a portrait of Baldaugh. Reviewing the show for the San Diego Sun (January 1, 1939), Marg Loring wrote,

Madame Baldaugh is one of San Diego’s prominent painters, being one of the few top-notch artists to make her residence here. She comes before the public eye frequently when she paints interesting people, their children, or when she wins first prizes as she did at the Sacramento State Fair two years ago.

In the spring of 1939, the San Diego Art Guild sponsored a modern art exhibition at the Fine Arts Gallery. Baldaugh submitted a painting called Reincarnation which is completely unlike anything else in her work. Extremely German Expressionist in style, the jury was impressed enough to award it first prize. The painting is very broadly and flatly painted, but maintains her typical sense of color. In the San Diego Sun (April 23, 1939), Marg Loring wrote “Anni Baldaugh’s ‘Reincarnation’ is a very apt satire in which she gives a physical resemblance to the human and the animal for whom her type of personality is named.”

Somehow surviving the Depression, Baldaugh tried to get employment in the growing military industry during World War II. Everett Gee Jackson told the story that when the people at Consolidated Aircraft learned she was an artist, they asked if she could draw accurately. Her response was that she never wanted to draw accurately. Eventually she got a job working on one of the assembly lines which must have been the only steady employment of her life. San Diego artist Jeanne Rimmer, who had a studio in the Spanish Village before the war, recalled Baldaugh stopping by during the war years. “I remember she was dressed in blue jeans and a work shirt and a cap. Poor little Annie. She was an old woman and not built for jeans. But I think she felt proud to be ‘Rosie the Riveter’.” [letter to the author, May 13, 1992.]

During the war years Baldaugh exhibited rarely. A painting titled Poplars was included in the San Diego Art Guild Annual in 1945. Presumably this was one of the two paintings of that subject in the present exhibition. These two paintings demonstrate that she had lost none of her vitality or sense of vibrant color. The Fauve-like color scheme, with its wild pinks, oranges and greens, set against the brilliant yellows of the fall foliage makes a striking impact.

Frank Baldaugh died in San Diego on April 7, 1947. On his death certificate, Anni listed his “usual occupation” as engineer. He had worked as a C.C.C. instructor during the Depression and later was attached to the forestry service. It is interesting that on the death certificate, Anni, as informant, reverted to the original spelling Baldauf for both their names. When the Spanish Village reopened in 1947, Baldaugh began to cause trouble trying to get her old studio back. Rimmer stated (Ibid.) that “Anni was flighty and emotional, irrational, unreasonable. Her youth and young womanhood as a member of a privileged class did not prepare her for the life of privation she was leading when I knew her.” Rimmer continued,

She wanted to rent her former studio and became almost obsessive. I could not convince her that this decision was not mine to make, but the decision of the Board of Directors. No explanation, no matter how carefully laid out for her, could stop her expostulations, her incoherent accusations. I was ten years older than when I had first met her and a lot more tolerant and had a lot more sympathy for her. My reactions were a miserable melange of dismay, disgust, and a whole lot of pity. Short of ushering her bodily out of my office there seemed no way to stop the flow of abuse and complaints.

The final years of Baldaugh’s life must have been extremely difficult. Widowed and without any kind of income, she was forced to paint “pot-boilers” to keep from starving. These have not served to enhance her reputation as an artist. Some of the society women held teas to try to convince their friends to have Baldaugh make portraits of their children for twenty-five dollars, but they preferred photographic portraits. Rimmer suspected that wealthy local artists Hazel Brayton Shoven and Esther Stevens Barney supported her toward the end. In February 1952 the Sunset Gallery, a branch of the Fine Arts Gallery, hosted a solo exhibition of her work. After the exhibition, she donated her portrait of Charles Reiffel to the museum. She spent her final days in a rest home in El Cajon. In February 1954, the San Diego Fine Arts Gallery held a memorial exhibition of her art. Baldaugh left many of her paintings to Hazel Shoven, but these are now dispersed. As more of her paintings turn up, Baldaugh’s tremendous talent will become increasingly evident.