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Marion Kavanagh was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 10, 1876 into an artistic family.  Marion's mother was an artist and her great-grandfather was a Royal Academician in London.  She studied at the Art Institute of Chicago under Vanderpoel and in New York City with William Merritt Chase.  For several years Marion taught at the Art Institute of Chicago and established a reputation as a competent portrait painter.  A commission from the Santa Fe Railway Company to paint scenes in their ticket offices brought her to California.  Arriving in San Francisco in 1903, she became a pupil of William Keith.  Learning of her proposed move to Southern California, Keith urged her to contact an artist he knew and respected for further instruction.  The artist he recommended was Elmer Wachtel.  A romance blossomed and the two married in 1904. After her marriage, she dropped the ''u'' in her surname and spelled it Kavanagh. After Elmer's death in 1929 Marion was inactive for a few years but continued to live in their Arroyo Seco home.  By the Early 1930's she was painting and exhibiting again. Regular exhibitions with both New York and California clubs made her work popular on both coasts.  Marion died in her home on May 22, 1954.