The Crocker Museum: A Tale of Two Daughters

David Lubin (Fotografie Fils d’Alexandria, Rome)

“Museum? Nonsense! Hideous idols, Indian clubs, scalps, old Patent Office reports, cranky models of impossible inventions, old mummies that have a suspicious smell about them, plaster-of-Paris men and women with no clothes on them, bottles with nasty worms so carefully preserved as to save them intact for the day of resurrection, and to add to this insult to common sense, long-winded names that would puzzle the very Chief of Hades to get into plain solid English. Trash and nonsense! No museum for me!” [1]

In his opening address at the fledgling California Museum Association’s first exhibition, President David Lubin spoke about the pushback he got when he was agitating to form a museum in the state capitol containing departments of painting, sculpture, ethnology, mineralogy and history. Lubin was an idealistic fellow who thought California had the potential to be the great empire state of the New World in artistic and philosophical genius, similar to Greece or Rome. The museum that he envisioned would be a channel for intellectual development, a true emancipator of the mind, and, “an institution in whose close proximity will spring up technical schools of art, science, music, literature, and industry… teaching the art of progressive peace.” [2]

Lubin swiftly dragged his directors, members, subscribers and volunteers along on his scheme, chained to the chariot of his own enthusiasms.

T. C. Marceau, Photograph of Margaret Crocker, n.d. Crocker Art Museum, 1885.664

Margaret Crocker, wealthy widow of Central Pacific Railroad tycoon, renowned abolitionist and State Supreme Court Judge Edwin Bryant Crocker, sent word that, if the association desired, the E.B. Crocker Art Gallery was at its disposal. On the 10th of March, 1885, the first Art and Curio Loan Exhibition ever held in Central California was opened.

In 1868, Judge Crocker’s family moved from their 7th St. home to a residence at Third and O streets in Sacramento, built in 1853 by Sacramento pioneer banker B. F. Hastings. In the summer of 1869, right after the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad and after suffering a debilitating stroke, Edwin left public life for an extended trip to Europe with his family. They rented rooms in Dresden, Germany at 17 Lüttichaustraße for at least a year of their nearly two-year European journey, which probably included tours of Italy and France. With the help of guides, antiquity dealers, and a few unscrupulous brigands, the Crockers acquired a deluge of paintings. All were exquisitely tasteful treasures. Judge Crocker had fine artistic instincts. Among his purchases were a number of genuinely rare works by a broader array of artists than even he realized. But some of the paintings, sold as masterpieces by Rembrandt, Rubens, Poussin, Salvator Rosa, and even Leonardo da Vinci, were later reattributed.

Advertisement for the Crocker’s first art show in 1871 in The San Francisco Chronicle

Paintings and drawings from Europe and the East Coast started to arrive by train car three days after coming home to California in May of 1871. Edwin formally proposed a new building to house his paintings two months later that would adjoin the old Hastings Manor. He was determined to establish a repository of art filled with imperial splendors that would be a “thing of joy forever,” and a matter of pride for himself, relatives, friends and fellow-citizens of the capital of the Golden State. E.B. first showed twenty acquisitions from his collection at the 18th Annual State Fair in September of the same year. [3] In October, the Crockers loaned 179 oil paintings to the Snow and Roos Gallery on Kearny St. in San Francisco for the benefit of the Howard Association of Sacramento. [4]

Seth Babson was selected as the architect. The gallery building would contain a sixty-foot-long ballroom, and was also to house natural history specimens and minerals, a library with elaborately carved bookcases, a skating rink, a bowling alley, an indoor swimming pool, a billiard room and a grand staircase for showing off his wife’s jewels and his daughters’ gowns. A veranda on the south side of the property was to be converted into a conservatory so Margaret could raise her exotic plants. Walls of the public rooms were to be decorated with gold-leafed, frescoed panels separated by long mirrors. The servants’ quarters in the basement were instructed to be luxuriously tiled and furnished. Stables and out-buildings for the family’s horses and carriages would occupy one of the lots. It was to be the apotheosis of all the pleasures of the American dream under one roof.

A force of never less than fifteen men and sometimes as many as forty were constantly employed on the gallery project for nearly three years. Meanwhile Edwin started collecting paintings from renowned California artists including Charles Nahl and Thomas Hill. The Judge purchased Hill’s masterpiece “Great Canyon of the Sierra, Yosemite” for an exorbitant $10,000 (200K today) before it was even finished.

“Great Canyon of the Sierras – Yosemite,” Thomas Hill, Oil on canvas, 1872

When the gallery was finished, in March of 1874, the Crockers opened their palace of art to the public to benefit the Sacramento Library. One thousand visitors swarmed the complex not only to view the art but to enjoy the skating rink and bowling alley. The Daily Bee declared Edwin’s acquisitions, which had grown to 694 paintings, to be the largest private collection in the country. [5] It was larger than the famous collections owned by contemporaries including Washington banker William Wilson Corcoran (who opened his gallery a few months before Edwin) and William Henry Vanderbilt. Judge Crocker had more paintings than the Metropolitan Museum of Art at the time. [6] [7] [8]

The E.B. Crocker family home and gallery

In the library, on the second floor, Judge Crocker would keep his collection of 1,344 studies, from eminent artists in all parts of the world, and some of the finest examples of lithographic work.  The Crocker collection of Old Master drawings is one of the largest early collections in the United States to have been made public, and may have been purchased originally with the idea of later being studied at a school of art, which was established at the gallery building in 1886. [9]

After his stroke, Crocker’s health never fully recovered. On June 24, 1875, he died broken-hearted in Sacramento, a few months after losing his daughter Katie to a kidney disease at aged 21. The Sacramento Daily Union eulogized, “His name will never fade from the bright place it occupies in the annals of this city, to which he was so devoted, nor from the history of his adopted State, where he achieved success and honor.” [10]

Loan Exhibition #1

E.B. Art Gallery postcards

There were 738 paintings on the top floor of the Crocker Art Gallery on display at the 1885 exhibition. Some were loaned by other collectors including Toby Rosenthal’s haunting, “The Trial of Constance De Beverley,” which garnished a lot of attention and inquiry. On the two floors below the art gallery, some 11,000 objects were on view. Other exhibition show-stoppers were youngest daughter Amy’s and her sister-in-law Mary Ann’s exhibit of decorative fans, Tom Thumb’s chair, Kit Carson’s moccasins and a genuine mummy, the first ever exhibited in the city of Sacramento.

In addition to her impressive collection of paintings, Margaret contributed old garnet sets, pearls, tortoise shell ornaments, carved lava, ancient rosary beads, a cup and saucer that once belonged to Napoleon, a toy set and silver used by Queen Victoria when she was a child, acorns from a tree planted by George Washington, an exquisitely beautiful set of chessmen cut from cornelian, a Roman mosaic jewel case, a collection of Confederate notes, a Nevada silver brick, a model of the facade of the court of the Alhambra, Mosaic table tops, statuettes, Dresden china… Among other interesting curiosities. [11]

The exhibition, extended to over two weeks, was a brilliant success.

After watching the show come together so nicely, Lubin hatched a new plan that became an obsession. He took the humble widow Crocker aside and painted a dire picture of a possible fate awaiting the building and its contents when she passed away. In his mind’s eye, he saw the palatial residence with its awe-inspiring contents divided by indifferent heirs, then auctioneers dispersing the treasures to a curious crowd of bargain seekers. To avoid this outcome David proposed that Mrs. Crocker present the building and its precious valuables to Sacramento, making it a lasting monument to the late Judge and to herself, a permanent benefaction to the city, “the seed whence the future artistic greatness of California was to spring.” [12]

Lubin’s fears were not unfounded. Daughter Jennie had a very full new life back East. She matriculated as a scholar in the prestigious Brooklyn School for Young Ladies and graduated with high honors. She then met and married the ambitious Jacob Sloat Fassett, a District Attorney of Chemung County in New York with a law degree from Heidelberg University in Germany, and the proprietor of the Elmira Daily Advertiser. He would later become a State Senator, a U.S. Congressman, and a very successful businessman. Jennie was a busy mother of three children under five years old and was pregnant with twins. She wouldn’t make the journey to the West to participate in the exhibition.

George Daniels Morse, Photograph of Jennie Fassett, n.d. Crocker Art Museum, gift of Susan A. Russell, 1885.679. I.W. Taber, Amy Crocker, n.d. I.W. Taber Art & Photographic Gallery, San Francisco. California State Library.

Twenty-year-old Amy Isabella was hanging with a fast set at war with prim and grim Victorian ideals. She met the controversial Oscar Wilde during his lecture tour three years earlier at a raucous party with some other local Bohemian legends Jules Tavernier, Theodore Wores, Julian Rix, Frank Unger, and Joseph and Isobel Strong. Isobel was the stepdaughter of literary god Robert Louis Stevenson. Wilde and Amy became fast friends. He took her up on an offer to go to the family gallery the next day. [13][14][15]

Margaret sent Amy back to Dresden to a finishing school at fifteen with the hopes of taming the decidedly boy crazy young woman. When the head mistress suddenly skipped town, the heiress had two romantic entanglements, with a German prince and a Spanish matador. Amy distressed her family and appalled high society in Sacramento and San Francisco when she eloped with law clerk Richard Porter Ashe on the heels of breaking an engagement with Charles Gillig, a travel agent she met on her way home from Germany. [16] It was rumored that Porter won Amy’s hand by winning a game of poker dice…

The marriage was short lived, but the Ashes would be blessed with a beautiful daughter, Alma Amy.

Amy’s name was splashed in the newspapers from coast to coast just one month after the wedding ceremony. On the way to a sunny honeymoon in Los Angeles, the newlyweds survived the world’s first runaway passenger train wreck at Tehachapi. There were 19 people in the car that Amy occupied. Sixteen perished leaving only Amy, her maid and her husband alive. A total of 21 people died that day. [17] A succession of high-test controversies would keep Mother Margaret and the rest of the world breathless for the rest of amorous Amy’s pyrotechnic life.

Margaret spent a night pondering Lubin’s proposition and considering his arguments.

According to Judge Crocker’s will, the art gallery and its contents were given in equal shares to his wife and children with the proviso that it should remain intact until Amy, the youngest, came of age, and then they were to make what disposition they saw fit of it. Amy was granted discharge of guardianship from Margaret in June of 1884. [18] Mother Margaret, Amy and Jennie, and Mary, the Judge’s daughter from a previous marriage, after some deliberation, decided to make a love-gift of their shares to the memory of Edwin Bryant Crocker and to Sacramento.

Margaret offered the Gallery building and its contents to Lubin’s California Museum Association on the condition that they raise $100,000 for staff, upkeep, etc. within four months. [19] A week later, the Directors of the Museum, fearing that fundraising would fall short of that goal, unanimously decided that, “the wiser plan would be to have the property come direct to the city, with the proviso that the Museum Association should occupy the property and superintend it, and devote itself to the work in it…” Another proviso would be that Mrs. Crocker would be made a life director. [20] Margaret signed off on the joint venture. Her sister-in-law Mary Ann Crocker, her brother-in-law William Dillman, her nephew Col. C.F. Crocker and blue jeans icon Levi Strauss were elected life members. [21][22]

The Floral Festival

After Edwin died, Margaret, then the wealthiest and most respected woman in Sacramento, would start the process of giving all of her wealth away and setting up charities for those in need. Mrs. Crocker’s benefactions were so broad, her gifts so well placed, her charities so admirably disposed, her kindness and generosity so proverbial that she had come to be known as Sacramento’s “Lady Bountiful” and good angel.

Thousands of grateful Sacramentans attended the “Grand Festival of Flowers” held in honor of Lady Bountiful in May of 1885, which acknowledged the gift of the Art Gallery as well as an endowment provided for the Marguerite Home for Aged Gentle-women, her generous expansion of the City Cemetery, now a national historic site, and the erection of the Bell Conservatory built to sell flowers to those who could afford them and give them away to those who could not, so that all could decorate the graves of relatives.

The Great Pavilion of the State Agricultural Society

The Great Pavilion of the State Agricultural Society—the largest public building in the State of California—was filled with magnificent floral tributes. The Victorian festival would shut down schools, banks, shops, and the railways. The entire population was invited to attend an afternoon procession of 3000 school children. Gardens were raided from Shasta to Los Angeles for their choicest blooms:

…simple violets blue and white, that “on the meadow grew,” “the tuberose, with her silvery light,” the “purple trilliums blooming rich and stately,” the “sweet verbena,” “the tulip’s petals that ” shine in dew,” “humble rosemary,” eglantine —”sweetbrier rose that blossoms by the wall,” the “May flowers pale and lone,” “immortal amaranthus,” ” fairy-formed anemone,” “tender sweet arbutus,” “lilies fair to see” cardinal flowers that “flame so red” chrysanthemum “in pure loveliness,” “Marguerites in gentle beauty,” heliotropes “with meekly-lifted brows,” jasmines thick-twined golden stars, the bluebell and roses in multitude and hues innumerable, ivy and evergreen, the fragrant pine and deep green cypress fragile ferns and velvety mosses, and many a trailing vine…” [23]

The flowers were woven into symbols of love and regard and gratitude. These ranged from a modest bouquet to spacious churches and towers and enormous allegorical designs, constructed entirely of flowers. The floral arrangements were a precursor to the Tournament of Roses Parade, a Pasadena wonder show that appeared five years later.

May pole dance at the Grand Festival of Flowers, 1885

The scene that was set was heavenly. Joyous children laid floral tributes at Mother Margaret’s feet. Eulogistic addresses and poems were recited; songs written for the occasion were sung. A May-pole dance by chosen misses was indulged in. Presentations by churches, fraternities and societies were offered to the esteemed honoree. An evening after party was attended by 20,000 people. “It was a higher tribute than King or Kaiser ever received. It was a tribute to the uncrowned royalty of a noble, self-sacrificing, humanity-loving, truly grand woman,” reported the Sacramento Bee. [24]

Loan Exhibition #2

In January of 1889 there was a second Loan Exhibition. It was a family affair. Amy and Margaret were executive directors of the event. Amy loaned a portrait in watercolor by the Italian artist Vittorio Matteo Corcos and an oil painting of a reclining figure by Benoni Irwin, a work of merit because of its warmth of tone and exquisite drapery effects. Margaret loaned two exquisite pieces of statuary, of Carrara marble. An obsidian (volcanic glass) dish, and a totem pole of obsidian, by Alaska Indians, was loaned by Mrs. Charles Crocker. Colonel Charles F. Crocker, Vice President of the Southern Pacific Railroad Company, submitted the last tie and the last rail laid on the completion of the first transcontinental railroad. They were placed on trestles immediately in front of Thomas Hill’s great historic painting “The Driving of the Last Spike.” [25]

Portrait of artists painting inside the
Crocker Art Gallery’s Sacramento School of Design, 1886

The works of the pupils of the newly founded Sacramento School of Design, a collection embracing over 200 pieces, would testify to the capacity of the school for thorough instruction and to the rapid progress of the pupils. Classes were held in the gallery itself, in the big ballroom with thoughtful instruction given in drawing and painting. For many years the school flourished, under the management of the Museum Association.

A demonstration of Edison’s new phonograph was the hit of the second Loan Exhibition at the Crocker.

The “Cabinet Department” of the State Library, a large collection of minerals, precious metals, and other geological items valued at $13,000 was moved to the Crocker Art Gallery in 1887 and was available to be viewed by interested parties. [26]

The hit of the exhibition was Edison’s new phonograph. “It is a woods that puts the telephone into the shade for marvelousness,” wrote one journalist. The exhibition was the first public one ever given in the State, all previous ones being private and limited. Mrs. E. B. Crocker was given the privilege of being the first to test the instrument. [27]

Trouble at the Capital

In 1891, an unpleasant controversy in Sacramento was suggested to have influenced Mrs. Crocker to leave her beloved Sacramento, the city where she had lived since 1852. Margaret moved to New York City after a court battle between Amy and her maid, who the heiress accused of stealing some jewels and fine frocks. Twenty-year-old Amelia Gehrling was arrested on a warrant taken out by her second husband Harry Mansfield Gillig and placed in the prison hospital. Amelia claimed that she was merely holding Amy’s finery at her command. The case was first heard in the police court at which time Margaret testified about the items in question.

The prevailing opinion was that Amelia was either irresponsible for her conduct by reason of ignorance of the law and what constitutes a crime, or else was a kleptomaniac. The Judge decided to hold her for the crime of grand larceny and bring the case before the superior court.

After posting bail, Miss Gehring ran to the press to tell them her story. She claimed that she was caught in the middle of marital discord caused by Amy’s habit of drinking brandy and Sazerac, a rye drink with Peychaud’s bitters and a dash of absinthe, and by the irritating presence of a young gentleman by the name of Frank Unger. Amelia further deposed that Mrs. Amy Crocker-Gillig, “did carry on real awful, which, being a lady, she hadn’t ought to…” [28][29]

The Gilligs claimed that they found in Amelia’s trunk and her drawers turquoise earrings, a diamond ring belonging to Harry (which was believed lost in London), silk scarfs and sashes, rare laces and other costly fabrics. The heiress also accused Amelia of plucking diamonds and other gems from her jewelry and having them set in her own. It was further reported in court that Amelia, the lady’s maid, made presents of Gilligs’ belongings to all their employees for Christmas. The coachman was awarded a necktie pin; one domestic was presented with two pairs of gloves, another with a handkerchief case, and still another a supply of perfume.

Amy was subjected to a vigorous and damning cross-examination from Gehrling’s attorney Clinton White, who characterized the prosecution as a “base conspiracy to send an innocent and good girl to the penitentiary,” and even accused the heiress of smuggling the property into the country. Amy’s lawyer, in his closing statement remarked, “Mr. White in his argument for the defense made a cowardly attack upon Mrs. Gillig. He was insinuating, insulting, and his conduct was unprofessional.” [30] White paid a high tribute to Mrs. E.B. Crocker, however, who, he said, had endeared herself to all of Sacramento.

The five-day trial attracted a crowd of 200 people. When the jurors returned to the courtroom after deliberations, Judge David of Marysville admonished the crowd to make no demonstration, whatever the verdict of the jury might be. When the foreman announced a not guilty verdict, there was a rowdy round of applause. The judge ordered the jury and defendant discharged. Another outburst of hearty applause ensued. The stamping of feet and clapping of hands drowned out the announcement of the adjournment of the Court.

Margaret believed the verdict and the crowd’s reaction was an insult to her integrity and to the reputation of her family. Mrs. Crocker felt aggrieved over this verdict, with its implications, and was annoyed at the lawsuit brought by the maid for $10,000 in damages for false imprisonment. This suit was later dismissed, but Mother Margaret became so distressed that right on the heels of the Amelia Gehrling verdict she advertised that her splendid mansion was for sale, together with the vehicles and horses in her carriage house. [31]

A jury of Amy’s (and Margaret’s) peers still thought of the heiress as frivolous and careless, spoiled and untrustworthy. All of the magnificent gifts that Margaret bestowed upon the city wouldn’t make up for having such a morally suspect daughter. Amy again hit the national news in 1887 when her husband Porter kidnapped their daughter Alma at Margaret’s home in Los Angeles. He was awarded custody in divorce court in spite of the kidnapping charge and a weapons charge. Margaret stepped in. She presumably paid off Porter, adopted Alma, and changed her name to Gladys Crocker. Later that year, a story broke that Amy was spotted in the City of Angels cavorting with Harry Gillig, the man who would become her second husband, in a male only, high-class nightclub where private boxes were available to engage female hostesses. [32]

On December 10, 1891, months after the Amelia incident, it was forgive and forget when the Ladies’ Museum Association, the California Museum Association, 200 guests, and daughters Jennie and Amy gave Margaret a surprise going away party. Jennie made the cross-country journey in spite of the fact that she had just given birth to her seventh child (two died as babies) and that her husband Jacob had just lost his bid to become New York’s 30th governor.

It was domestic reasons that principally influenced Mrs. Crocker to move her home to the East. She was a mother devoted to her children and a grandmother who took constant delight in the society of her grandchildren. Jennie lived in upstate New York as did an adopted son, her grand-nephew Ellwood. Step-daughter Mary lived in Massachusetts and New York. Amy moved to Manhattan with her husband Harry, a Harvard man and Lamb’s Club singer. Margaret purchased three homes, one at 41 East Forty-ninth street near Amy and two summer houses in adjoining lots in Larchmont, Long Island Sound. She gave the house on the old T.J.S. Flint estate to Amy. [33]

Margaret’s love for Sacramento wavered slightly but came back strong. She returned to the West Coast for extended stays in 1897 and 1899. In May of 1897, Margaret Crocker opened the whole of her handsome and spacious residence at the corner of Third and O streets (which was not sold but kept up by relatives) for a benefit for the Sacramento School of Design scholarship fund in the form of a “kaffeeklatsch,” a then novel day long entertainment that served coffee.

Lady Bountiful had several properties on the West Coast. She owned a boarding house in Los Angeles on Bunker Hill and a summer home “Idlewild” on Lake Tahoe. In 1900, Mrs. Crocker had a winter house built on the northwest corner of Franklin and Clay St. in San Francisco. Margaret would never occupy the house, which is now owned by the Golden Gate Spiritualist Church. The rumor mill had Amy as the reason Margaret sold that property as she was again getting some bad press, this time over her second divorce. [34]

The Peniel House

The original Crocker family home was gifted to the Peniel Mission by Margaret in 1900.

Margaret’s final gift to the city of Sacramento would be her 3rd & O St. home to the Peniel Mission, an interdenominational holiness rescue mission. Peniel was a reformatory home for the reclamation of erring, bold and reckless yet repentant girls started by Theodore and Manie Ferguson. As a rule, there were about fifteen girls and ten babies in the home. The Mission furnished Christian instruction and counsel in its everyday religious services and Sabbath meetings. They helped the girls in their schoolwork and gave them home economics training in the kitchen, the laundry, the bakery, the nursery and the hospital. Their goal was, “to give the innocent babies born under its roof a chance for good homes, care and education, so they may be saved from vicious and criminal lives,” reported Mrs. Isabella Scott, matron of the Peniel Rescue Home in 1906.

She continued, “In our work, as in almost all homes of like character, we use all our influence to awaken the mother love and encourage the young mother to keep her child as her one great comfort, and the best means under God of making her a good, useful woman.” [35]

Amy Crocker would change the spelling of her name to Aimée in 1910.

Margaret, Sacramento’s Lady Bountiful, died less than a year later. She lived to see Amy marry for the third time to Jackson Gouraud, a songwriter eleven years her junior, and to see his initials tattooed on her youngest daughter’s arm. Jackson was the son of Colonel George Gouraud, Thomas Edison’s flamboyant agent. The Penial House, Margaret’s final gift to the city, would serve as a message to the gossips and the press not to judge independent, spirited and wayward young women too harshly. It would also send a message to the bold and carefree and all too impetuous Amy (who needed to become a mother again to daughter Gladys) to get in touch with her maternal instincts. Amy would later step up and become a cherished mother and role model to not only Gladys but four adopted children. After helping the new E.B. Crocker Museum get off the ground, she would become a lifelong patron of the arts, a best-selling author, a princess, an international Bohemian muse, a Decadence Movement darling and an influential voice in the Victorian occult revival. [36]

Jennie Crocker Fassett. Photo courtesy of the Chemung County Historical Society, Inc., Elmira, NY.

Jennie Crocker Fassett would also become an art collector. When the Peniel House was showing signs of decay, Jennie and cousin Charles Dillman convinced the city not to condemn and tear down the house but to restore it and use it as an annex to the museum. They convinced the Fergusons to abandon the property so it could be reverted to Margaret Crocker’s heirs. They tracked down and convinced the globetrotting Amy and Gladys to sign over their claims to the property. Jennie pitched in $10,000 to give to the Fergusons and restore the family home, and the city matched that donation. [37]

Jennie later became a fierce advocate of child labor laws and women’s suffrage in Washington alongside her husband Congressman Fassett. She donated funds to build a dining hall and a library at Elmira College, the first college for women in America with a course of study equal in rigor to the best men’s colleges. For all of her work Jennie was bestowed an honorary doctorate of humane letters in 1933.

After Jennie’s husband died in 1924, following her mother’s example, she did not allow her art treasures which included Korean ceramics, fine jade, ivory and sculpture valued at $25,000 to be auctioned off by heirs but gifted them to the Crocker Art Museum’s permanent collection. She gave an additional $25,000 trust fund, bring the total value of her donation to the equivalent of over $742,000 in 2020.

The life of Mother Margaret Crocker, Sacramento’s angel and Lady Bountiful, became the grist of legend. The San Francisco Call summarized in their eulogy to Margaret, “Sacramento has sent from her city gates a long list of citizens who have distinguished themselves in the world, but none left behind a sweeter, purer memory than did the late Margaret Crocker. [38]

The Crocker Museum is now ranked in the top three percent of the nation’s 30,000+ museums. [39]

 

Interior photos of the Crocker Art Museum

_________________

  1. Olivia Rossetti Agresti, David Lubin A Study in Practical Idealism (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1922) 98.
  2. Agresti, A Study in Practical Idealism, 99.
  3. “Eighteenth Annual Fair,” Sacramento Daily Union, September 19, 1871, 3.
  4. “The Crocker Collection,” San Francisco Chronicle, October 18, 1871, 2.
  5. “The Palace of Art,” The Daily Bee, March 19, 1874, 3.
  6. The Corcoran Gallery of Art formally opened its doors on January 19, 1874 with an exhibition of 98 paintings and sculptures. By the end of the year, the collection had expanded to more than 300 works. http://www.corcoran.org/about.
  7. Vanderbilt formed his prodigious collection of over two hundred paintings by the foremost contemporary French, Belgian, German, Hungarian, English, Spanish, and Italian artists in less than four years (1878–82). Leanne Zalewski, “Art for the Public: William Henry Vanderbilt’s Cultural Legacy,” Nineteenth Century Art World vol 11, Issue 2, Summer 2012.
  8. The Metropolitan’s paintings collection began in 1870, when three private European collections, 174 paintings in all, came to the Museum. “Brief History of the Museum September 1999,” http://www.metmuseum.org.
  9. William Breazeale, A Pioneering Collection: Master Drawings from the Crocker Art Museum (Paul Holberton Publishing, 2010) 10-15.
  10. “Death of Judge E.B. Crocker,” Sacramento Daily Union, June 25. 1875, 3.
  11. “The Loan Exposition,” Sacramento Daily Union, March 18, 1885, 2.
  12. Agresti, A Study in Practical Idealism, 101.
  13. Oscar Wilde went to a party at the Tavernier-Strong studio April 7, 1882: “Local Brevities,” The San Francisco Examiner, April 9, 1882, 8.
  14. A full, detailed, eye-witness account of the Tavernier-Strong party is in Isobel Strong’s biography, which explains how Amy impressed the crowd:  Isobel Osbourne (Strong) Field, This Life I’ve Loved (New York: Longman, Green, 1937) 143-149.
  15. Oscar Wilde went to the Crocker Art Gallery the next day before heading East: “Social and Personal,” Sacramento Record Union April 10, 1992, 3.
  16. Aimée Crocker married five times in five different decades of her life, to Richard Porter Ashe, Henry Mansfield Gillig, Jackson Gouraud, Alexandre Miskinoff and Prince Mstilav Galitzine. All were in their twenties when she married them. Aimée had five children, four adopted.
  17. “Appalling Disaster,” Sacramento Daily Record, January 22, 1883, 1.
  18. “Superior Court,” Sacramento Daily Union, June 17, 1884, 2.
  19. “A Magnificent Gift,” The Weekly Bee, March 27, 1885, 7.
  20. “Museum Association Matters,” The Record Union April 6, 1885, 3.
  21. “The Floral Festival,” Sacramento Daily Union May 7, 1885, 8.
  22. “The E.B. Crocker Art Gallery,” The Sacramento Bee, May 23, 1865, 1.
  23. “The Floral Festival,” 1.
  24. “Mrs. E.B. Crocker,” The Weekly Bee May 8, 1885, 1.
  25. “The Loan Exhibition,” Sacramento Daily Union, February 14, 1889, 3.
  26. https://www.library.ca.gov/about/history/
  27. “The Loan Exhibition”
  28. “Mrs. Amy Crocker-Gillig’s Maid,” Oakland Daily Evening Tribune, March 10, 1891, 7.
  29. While Amy may have overindulged in alcohol in her 20s, she wrote that she quit drinking in her biography. “I ought to have mentioned that on my last trip home I had promised my mother that I would never drink alcohol in any form again. I never did. Otherwise I should not be alive to write this book.” And I’d Do It Again. (New York: Coward-McCann, 1936) 119.
  30. “Tit for Tat,” The Evening Bee, Feb 19, 1891, 1.
  31. “Amelia Gehring acquitted,” The Sacramento Record Union, Feb 19, 1891, 3.
  32. “In a Box. Harry Gillig and Mrs. Porter Ashe ‘Open Wine’ in the Club Theater, A Social Scandal,” San Francisco Examiner, September 10, 1887, 2.
  33. Judith Doolin Spikes, Larchmont (New York: Images of America, 2003), 104.
  34. “Sells the Home She Built and Never Saw,” San Francisco Examiner, November 14, 1900, 8.
  35. “Work of Isabella Scott and her Rescued Girls,” Sacramento Union, December 6, 1906, 7.
  36. Crocker’s relationships with Oscar Wilde and Edgar Saltus are detailed in her book, And I’d Do It Again. (New York: Coward-McCann, 1936). Her relationships with other key figures in the Bohemian, Decadence and Victorian Occult movements is the subject of the author’s next study. Amy (later Aimée) Crocker had many acquaintances, friendships, and romances with key figures in the mid to late 19th century Bohemian movement, the late 19th century Aesthetic/Decadence movement and the Victorian occult revival. Her first two husbands (she had five) were prominent members of San Francisco’s Bohemian Club as were several cousins (Charles Frederick, George, William H., Henry J.,  and Templeton Crocker). She was referred to as “The Queen of Bohemia” frequently because of her unconventional and indulgent lifestyle. Crocker was friends with San Francisco literary figures and painters including Theodore Wores, Charles Rollo Peters, Jules Tavernier, Julian Rix, Joseph and Isobel Strong, Charles Warren Stoddard who were also members of the club. Amy had a brief but meaningful friendship with Oscar Wilde; was acquainted with both Gabriele D’Annunzio, who she invited to her home in Paris and poetess Renee Vivien whose house she was invited to; and a three-year romance with Edgar Saltus–all key figures in the Aesthetic/Decadence movements. Amy had a friendship with Edmund Russell, a writer/actor/painter, Theosophist and disciple of occultist Helena Blavasky. Russell was an influential taste-maker, lecturer and columnists who was often referred to as “America’s Oscar Wilde.” Russell wrote frequently for Theosophic publications. Crocker had a ten-year, off-and-on romance and friendship with ceremonial magician and occultist Aleister Crowley. Saltus was a prominent voice for atheism in America in the late 19th century, but, after studying Theosophy became a convert.
  37. Deeds plus letters exchanged between Jennie Crocker Fassett and cousin Charles Dillman, California History Room, California State Library.
  38. “The Life Story of the Late Margaret Crocker,” San Francisco Call, Dec 15, 1901, 5.
  39. https://www.crockerart.org/oculus/crocker-ranked-in-top-3-of-nations-33000-museums