Artist Biography

1852 - 1899

Joseph Dwight Strong, Jr. was born in Westport, Connecticut on September 15 1853, the son of a Congregational minister. He lived in Honolulu with his family for a few years before moving to Oakland, California in 1859. Artistically inclined at an early age, he later enrolled at the California School of Design. At that school Virgil Williams had a profound influence on him as a budding young artist. His portrait of the mayor of Oakland was so favorably received that the residents of Oakland raised sufficient funds to send him to Munich for four years of further study under Carl von Piloty and Alexander Wagner. After his return in 1877, he briefly shared a house in Monterey with his sister Elizabeth but was soon back in San Francisco where he was much sought after as a portraitist. In 1879 he married Isobel Osbourne, the daughter of Robert Louis Stevenson's wife. The newlyweds lived in San Francisco briefly before joining the Stevensons on an extended voyage to the South Seas. They lived in Samoa and Hawaii where Joseph was commissioned by the Spreckels to paint scenes of the Islands. The marriage ended in divorce and he returned to San Francisco in 1895; however, his artistic output after his return was very limited. In June 1898 he wed Elizabeth Haight but died ten months later on April 5, 1899. His portraits and landscapes are rare. Exhibited: Mechanics' Institute (San Francisco), 1878-80, 1895; California State Fair, 1880, 1894, 1896; California Midwinter Int’l Expo, 1894; Bohemian Club, 1897, 1898. Works held: Silverado Museum (St Helena, CA); Bishop Museum (Honolulu); Bohemian Club.

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