Anni Von Westrum Baldaugh (1881-1953)

annibaldaughb. Holland August 10, 1881
d. El Cajon, California August 8, 1953

Born into an affluent family, Anni was the youngest of eight children. Much of her youth was spent in the Dutch East Indies where her father, a naval officer, was a representative of the Dutch government. Returning to Europe, Anni studied art under Petrus Johannes Arendzen in Haarlem. 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.

Moving to the United States in the 1910s, Anni was listed in San Francisco in 1915, and in New York in 1921. It was probably about this time that she married Frank Baldaugh, a retired German army officer. Both of their families suffered greatly in the first World War, and Anni spent the remainder of her life in reduced circumstances. She appears to have moved to the West Coast in the early 1920s, settling in Los Angeles where she immediately began to receive major awards for her work. She became a member of the California Watercolor Club; California Society of Miniature Painters, Bookplate Association International, Laguna Beach Art Association and the San Diego Fine Arts Society. She won numerous awards for miniatures, watercolors and oils.

Reginald Poland, director of the San Diego Fine Arts Gallery, saw her painting Donna in a show in Pasadena and persuaded a local patron to buy it for the museum. In the late 1920s, Anni made the decision to move to San Diego. Beatrice Krombach, who operated the Little Gallery on Fourth Street invited her to have a solo exhibit there in January of 1930.

The Depression years were hard on the Baldaughs, both of whom had been brought up in a life with few financial cares. Frank got a job as an instructor in a C.C.C. camp in the Laguna Mountains, and spent most of his time there. Anni set up a studio in the New Mexico building in Balboa Park and taught art classes to supplement her income. At the California Pacific International Exposition in 1935, she exhibited her portrait Murial. After the exposition, she moved into one of the studios in the Spanish Village, commuting between there and her residence in the Casa de Bandini in Old Town; occasionally on foot. As Jeanne Rimmer remembers, Anni was forced to paint “pot-boilers” to keep from starving, and whenever she won some prize money or was paid for a commission, her husband always seemed to show up to claim the money.

Anni’s paintings are spontaneous and bold with an immediacy that comes from working quickly and directly without reworking. One critic wrote ” . . . the spontaneous method in which her paintings are produced, under the strain of emotional and spirited sensation, are always the best.” The characteristic bravura of her brushwork demonstrates her confidence and skill, and her use of color was often the source of favorable comment among reviewers. She was able to simplify her subjects, and then render the essentials with great facility.

When World War Il started, Balboa Park was taken over by the Navy, and all artists had to vacate the Spanish Village. Everett Gee Jackson recalls the story of Anni trying to obtain a job at Convair during the war. When they learned that she was an artist, they asked her if she could draw accurately. Her response was that she never wanted to draw accurately. Her husband died about 1946. She continued to exhibit throughout California until the late 1940s.

[from Kamerling, Bruce. “Painting Ladies: Some Early San Diego Women Artists.” The Journal of San Diego History 32.2 (Summer 1986): 147-149.]

Above image:
Painting by Anni Von Westrum Baldaugh

See also:

Kamerling, Bruce. “Anni Baldaugh.” The Journal of San Diego History 40.3 (Summer 1994): 83-95.

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