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Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Mrs. Armitage Forbes
"California's Bell Lady"

Portrait by Orpha Mae Klinker

Acquired by Campo de Cahuenga
April 2007

Phyllis Hansen, board member of the Campo de Cahuenga Historical Memorial Association, knew she had seen the pastel portrait of Mrs. Armitage Forbes somewhere before. Fortunately she had in her files, a 56-year-old clipping about a "Ceremony to Pay Honor to (John C.) Fremont" from the January 11th, 1951 Los Angeles Times.

There in the news article, about ceremony honoring the role that Fremont played in the signing of the Treaty of Cahuenga, was a photograph of the California artist, Orpha Klinker with a painting of Fremont, the soldier who would become the first Republican candidate for the Presidency of the United States. And, to the right of the painting was a pastel portrait of Mrs. Armitage Forbes, the woman who spearheaded the creation of California's famous El Camino Real bells.

With great excitement, Phyllis Hansen told her fellow Campo board members of her discovery; she had found the pastel portrait of Mrs. Forbes and it was for sale!

Acting quickly, the Acquisitions Committee of the Campo de Cahuenga Historical Memorial Association authorized the pastel's purchase from a Riverside estate-sales company. On April 16, the pastel along with a preliminary sketch of her painting of John C. Fremont, was shown for the first time in over a half century at Campo de Cahuenga, at the site Mrs. Armitage Forbes helped preserve for generations yet to come.

The pastel portrait of Mrs. Armitage Forbes is being framed and will be on display after the completion of the Campo's renovation now underway.

Orpha Mae Klinker, is an important California artist. Her series of color portraits, Speaking of Pioneers, created a wide spread respect for her talent and subject matter. Orpha held a lifelong commitment to preserving the site where the
Treaty of Cahuenga was signed in North Hollywood, ending the Mexican-California War of 1847.
She was vice president of the Campo de Cahuenga Association and was "one of the best qualified and most genuinely interested historical painters in California."


Rambling River said...

Phyllis Hansen has a Great Gift of Communication and is a constant Inspiration ~ Thanks so much for caring and guiding this work to a place where it can be protected and enjoyed.

Museum of San Fernando Valley said...

Thanks to Phyllis Hansen for letting me know the correct spelling of her name.
I agree with "Rambling River" that Phyllis is "a constant inspiration."
Jerry Fecht

Museum of San Fernando Valley said...

Campo de Caheunga representatives met with a professional framer today to get the pastel of Mrs. Forbes framed.
Jerry Fecht

love818 said...

Campo certainly is fortunate to have Phyllis Hansen on its Board.

Museum of San Fernando Valley said...

I was reminded yesterday by Richard Bogy at our Museum Board meeting that Mrs. Forbes was a key person in the preservation of the California Missions.