Elsie Whitaker Martinez

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Elsie Whitaker Martinez
Elsie Whitaker.jpg
This portrait of Elsie Whitaker was taken around 1907 by Laura Adams Armer.
Born Elsie Whitaker
(1890-03-01)March 1, 1890
Manitoba, Canada
Died January 31, 1984(1984-01-31) (aged 93)
San Francisco, California, United States
Known for Bohemian artist, muse
Spouse(s) Xavier Martinez

Elsie Whitaker Martinez (1 March 1890 – 31 January 1984) was renowned for her beauty in youth and old age, a muse of many famed writers and artists and an associate of most people in Northern California's Bohemian community.[1] Piedmont Bohemian George Sterling called her "the Blessed Damozel."[2]


Elsie Whitaker was born on March 1, 1890 in Manitoba, Canada, daughter of novelist and war correspondent Herman Whitaker.[1]

She and her family moved to the hills of Piedmont, California in 1902. By age 16, Whitaker was a "free-spirited artist."

Whitaker met painter Xavier Martinez at Coppa's Restaurant in San Francisco. Finding her a perfect subject, he sketched her and began his Elsie series. After the earthquake of 1906, Martinez moved to Piedmont. Months later, he proposed to an 18-year-old Whitaker, who had already promised to marry at least four other men, who were friends of her father. Choosing Martinez, she said, "I decided to pick the one who would give me the most interesting life." Martinez, at 37, was only two years younger than Elsie's father Herman Whitaker. The couple married in October 1907.[2]

Xavier Martínez and Elise Whitaker Martinez had a daughter on August 13, 1913, Micaela Martinez (1913–1989) became a fine artist. Micaela studied with Victor Arnautoff and sculpture with Ralph Stackpole; she later studied stone cutting with Ruth Cravath. In 1944 she married artist Ralph DuCasse and changed her name to Micaela Martinez DuCasse.[3]

In 1962 and 1963, Elsie was interviewed extensively for the Regional Oral History Office as a part of a series on San Francisco Bay Area artistic and cultural history. The interview was undertaken at the request of James D. Hart, Professor of English, who served as faculty advisor.[4]

She moved to San Francisco in 1981, after living for many years in Carmel.[1]

She died on January 31, 1984 at St. Anne's Home in San Francisco following a brief illness. She was 93.[1] She is buried at San Carlos Cemetery in Monterey, California.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Mrs. Elsie Martinez Dies at 93, Obituary". Monterey Peninsula Herald. February 3, 1984. p. 4. 
  2. ^ a b Piedmont Community Calendar 1997. Historical information about Piedmont written by Ann Swift. Printed 1996 by the City of Piedmont.
  3. ^ "Micaela Martinez DuCasse (1913 - 1989)". AskART. AskART. Retrieved September 28, 2014. 
  4. ^ "San Francisco Bay Area Writers and Artists, Elsie Whitaker Martinez".

External links[edit]