Media Oils, tempera,
watercolors, sculpture, murals, mosaics, frescoes
Artistic Focus Equally
skilled in oil, tempera, and watercolor, Dorothy Puccinelli was an early
San Francisco Modernist who had a diverse oeuvre and was the creator
of many stunning works of art. Difficult to categorize, her subjects
primarily were figurative and most often evoked emotion in the viewer.
• Born Dorothy Wagner in San Antonio, Texas, in
1901, Puccinelli came to California with her mother at age five. They
settled in Half Moon Bay, and at age 18 Dorothy enrolled in the California
School of Fine Arts in San Francisco, where she learned fresco technique
by watching Diego Rivera paint the school’s mural.
• Puccinelli went on to study at the Rudolph Schaeffer School of Design
with Beniamino Bufano, and worked in the commercial art field, including
book illustration, store window displays, sets and costumes for the Children’s
Theatre, and also wrote an art column for Arts and
• In the 1920s and 1930s Dorothy Puccinelli exhibited her work with the
San Francisco Art Association, the San Francisco Museum of Art, and in
the San Francisco Women Artists show, where she won first prize in 1932.
• In 1928 she married sculptor Raymond Puccinelli (they later were divorced).
• In association with the Public Works of Art Project, Dorothy Puccinelli
completed two murals with Helen Forbes: one in 1937 in the Merced post
office, and the other in the Mother’s House of San Francisco’s Fleishhacker
Zoo. Painted on a 28-foot wall and a 68-foot wall, the murals depicted
Noah’s Ark and its animals.
• Puccinelli also created murals for the towers of the Homes and Gardens
building at the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition.
• In 1941 Dorothy Puccinelli married physicist Austin Cravath, the brother
of her best friend, sculptor Ruth Cravath, and the couple and their daughter
made their home in Berkeley.
• In 1962, Puccinelli’s expertise as a fresco painter was called upon
to assist in restoring San Francisco’s Coit Tower murals.
• Dorothy Puccinelli passed away in Berkeley in 1974.
Additional biographical material and full bibliographic
references are available upon request.
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