This pair of miniature portraits of an unknown couple are by the American artist Rosa Hooper (19 Jul 1876-11 Mar 1963). She was born in San Francisco which makes her unusual as a miniature painter from the West Coast as most artists were from the East Coast. She was the founder of the California Society of Miniature Painters in 1912 which continued to exist until 1972. There are several miniatures in this collection by later presidents of that society, including Martha Baxter and Katherine Starr.
Although the sitters are unknown, the portraits were acquired from Palo Alto where Hooper lived. The sitters would have been wealthy residents of the area, so it may be possible to find contemporary portraits in social pages or family albums that would enable the sitters to be identified.
Hooper began her art studies at the Mark Hopkins Institute and continued under Mne. de Billemont in Paris and Otto Eckhardt in Dresden. She wed Chas A. Plotner in 1903 but divorced him to marry Wm Lyon in 1911. She was a resident of San Francisco, Palo Alto, La Jolla, and died in Millbrae, CA on March 11, 1963. Member: SF Women Painters; Spinner's Club (SF); San Diego Art Guild. Exh: SFAA, 1900-1912; Sketch Club, 1907; Alaska-Yukon Exp.
The Rootsweb site includes a lot of information about her kindly collected by other researchers;
From: Oakland Tribune, Oakland, California November 7, 1908
OVER THE CUPS OF THE KEENEY TEA.
"Miss Kathleen de Young's Persian lamb coat attracted a great deal of admiration at the Keeney tea. Mrs. Selby Hanna and Mrs. Rosa Plotner were among the most colorful and animated pictures there. ..."
From: Oakland Tribune October 7, 1908
..." Mrs. Charles Plotner, who was formerly Miss Rosa Hooper, is one of the society girls of San Francisco who has developed her talent charmingly and is now a leading member of the artistic world of this city. Her miniature work has won her much fame and a number of beautiful women have been exquisitely portrayed by her." ...
From Oakland Tribune, Oakland, California July 2, 1910
PLANS THAT ENDED IN DIVORCE
"The bit fire caused countless upsets in countless callings in San Francisco and the husband quickly discovered that there are few congenial vocations open to a retired army officer unacquainted with another profession. Husband and wife fondled the deceptive notion that with their experience in living in a hotel they could conduct one successfully. Mrs. Plotner was enthusiastic over an idea of her own to make the care and happiness of the children in a captivating playground the special feature of the new hotel. So the San Margo was leased with a large part of her funds. It proved an unfortunate venture. She returned to miniature painting and gave teas in her studio to which society dutifully responded. Later the domestic friction impelled her to go to Honolulu. She returned from there not long ago and began to lay plans to open up a studio in the city of New York. Of late she has been dividing her time between her stepmother's ranch at Mountain View and the office of her attorney in this city while preparing the divorce on the ground of failure to provide. There is one child a boy. After the hotel failure the husband tried his hand for brief seasons in the motor business and in the jewery line. He is now somewhere in the oil fields - The Wasp. "
From Oakland Tribune, Oakland California May 8, 1921
"Rosa Hooper-Lyon, whose new studio at 1551 Emerson street, Palo Alto, has become a rendezvous for artists visiting at Standford, exhibited her miniatures yesterday at a studio tea, a portrait of Miss Mary Creed Howard, her newest bit of work. Several other portraits on ivory were presented, all characteristic of the artist who had made a distinctive place for herself before The Fire wiped out her studio."
From Oakland Tribune, Oakland California October 1, 1922
"Rosa Hooper Lyon will exhibit the miniature portrait of Mrs. P. L. Seamans of Palo Alto today at the studio of the painter, 2348 Hyde street in San Francisco."
A clipping from the Republican dated October 13, 1922 invites Fresnans to see an exhibition of California landscapes by Bertha Stringer Lee and portrait miniatures by Rose Hooper Lyon in the Hotel Fresno. It apparently was the first art show in Fresno open to the public.
From Place Names of the High Sierra (1926) by Francis P. Farquhar - ROSE LAKE - named by R. B. Marshall, U. S. G. S., for Rosa Hooper, daughter of Major William Burchell Hooper, of San Francisco, and sister of Selden S. Hooper, an assistant of the U. S. G. S. Miss Hooper is now a miniature painter in New York.
From Daily Herald Middletown Times Press, Middletown, New York August 6, 1927
MINIATURES TO FORM PART OF FAIR EXHIBIT
"A choice collection of valuable miniatures has just been announced by Miss Anna M. Walling, superintendent of the domestic department, as one of thenew exhibits at the Orange county fair, which open August 15.
These miniatures are the work of Rose Hooper, of San Francisco and New York, who has been spending part of the summer with Dr. and Mrs. Joseph G. Yocum at their home in Middletown.
Mrs. Hooper is a miniature portrait painter of note and many times a medalist. She won the golf medal at the Panama Pacific Exposition and also at the Lewis Clark Exposition at Seatle. She has studied extensively abroad and exhibited her work in all important exhibitions, both in this country and in Europe."
SS BARBARA Sailing from San Juan Puerto Rico Dec 16 or 18, 1939, Arriving at Port of Philadelphia, PA Dec 21, 1939
Rosa Hooper, 53 years, 5 months, single, born San Francisco, Cal. July 19, 1886. Address in US: % Lt. S. G. Hooper, U.S.S. Boris, Norfolk, Va.
Exhibition of Miniature Paintings by Rose Hooper at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C. April 18, 1940 to May 4, 1940.
As mentioned above, one of the artists she trained with was Otto Eckardt and there are a number of miniature portraits by him in this collection including an important Marmet family group of nine miniatures; 20C - American Miniature Portraits: Eckardt, Otto - portraits of ... other examples by him in the collection are 20C - American Miniature Portraits: Eckardt, Otto - portrait of Jane and 20C - American Miniature Portraits: Eckardt, Otto - portrait of John 1462, 1463