“Douglas Donaldson was one of the most influential proponents of the Arts & Crafts movement in Los Angeles.”
– The Arts & Crafts Movement in California / Oakland Museum 1993 / Page 177
“I cannot think of any two in better position to render a splendid service to teachers and students.”
– Ernest Batchelder commenting on the 1921 Sumer School program of Donaldson & Schaeffer
“The following pieces of silverwork by Douglas Donaldson came from my late husband, Donaldson Wade Heller’s mother, Margaret (Wade) Tuttle Heller who was a cousin of Douglas Donaldson.”
– Dietgart Heller, Corona del Mar, CA. September 16th, 2015
This collection of objects by Douglas Donaldson was recently discovered in the private home of Dietgart Heller. Her husband, Donaldson Wade Heller, passed away (obituary
) in August of 2015. Donaldson (named after Douglas Donaldson) was the son of Margaret Wade Tuttle, who married into the Heller family. Margaret was a cousin of Douglas and moved to Los Angeles to study with her uncle presumably at the Manual Arts High School where he taught metalworking. Her work is featured in many exhibitions alongside his during the mid teens; in 1915 she is listed in a Summer School advertisement as a teacher alongside Douglas and his wife Louise. The two remained close for the remainder of their lives in Los Angeles and this is the personal collection of his work as given to her by Douglas Donaldson and passed down to her son. Dietgart noted that Douglas was a very humble craftsman and rarely signed his objects which may explain why so much of his potential work has gone largely unattributed. Currently, there are only a handful of known objects in existence, most held in museums (LACMA, Cranbrook, Metropolitan Museum of Art) and institutions (Harvard). His lineage from the Handicraft Guild in Minneapolis to working with Batchelder in Pasadena to running the LA Manual Arts High School to overseeing the decorative arts exhibit in the 1915 San Diego Worlds Fair (where he won the Gold Medal) to partnering with Porter Blanchard to being awarded Master Craftsman status from the Boston Arts & Crafts Society, it is easy to see why he is considered one of the most important figures in the history of California decorative arts and the Arts & Crafts Movement in America. This collection offers a tremendous opportunity for the decorative arts world to study his designs & forms, see the depth of his work and finally realize the importance of Douglas Donaldson.