Virginia Roberts - Composition 1936 (Portrait of a Woman) - oil on canvas
A knockout portrait, assured, jazzy, and psychologically vivid: all in all, a great example of between-the-wars modernist realism. Measures 18 1/2" x 24", frame 21" X 27".
Roberts, Virginia 1912–1983
Virginia Margaret (a.k.a. Margaret Virginia) Roberts was born on December 12, 1912, in Portland, Oregon, the daughter of Franklin M. and Sara (Murphy) Roberts. Although her early years were spent in Portland, she moved with her family to Berkeley, California, in the 1920s. Virginia was commonly known by her nickname “Virge,” which she used throughout her lifetime. Virginia graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1935, where she was a member of Delta Epsilon (Art Honor Society). A complete history of any additional art studies is lacking.
While at Berkeley she met her future husband, the artist Albin Fredrick Templeman. The couple married in the early 1940s and established a small hand-painted greeting card business in San Francisco. Although the business was initially a success, they could not compete with the larger national greeting card chains and eventually the business ceased operation. The couple continued their respective art careers, and each pursued teaching positions to supplement their incomes. The couple divorced in 1953, although they remained close and devoted friends.
One of her earliest teaching assignments was at Albany High School in the Bay Area. Beginning in the mid-1940s, Virginia joined the staff at the California School of Fine Arts as a teacher. Later, she continued to teach at Oakland City College (Merritt Campus) and at several other institutions in the Bay Area until the late 1970s. Virginia was married a second time in the 1950s, although some confusion exists as to her husband’s identity. It is believed his name was Thomas G. Morton; unfortunately, little is known of this marriage.
In addition to her career as an artist, she was an avid sports car enthusiast and pursued her love of sailing. Virginia was a member of the San Francisco Art Association and San Francisco Women Artists. Her exhibitions include several at the San Francisco Museum of Art: 1935, 1938, 1939 (solo), 1947 (solo). She also exhibited at the San Francisco Art Association in 1936 and Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco, 1939–1940.
Virginia Roberts Morton passed away on July 2, 1983, in Oakland, California.
Biography submitted by Maurine St. Gaudens
Emerging from the Shadows: A Survey of Women Artists Working in California, 1860-1960, Maurine St. Gaudens, Editor, 2016.