Douglas Tilden (May 1, 1860 to August 5, 1935) was a world-famous sculptor. Tilden was deaf and attended the California School for the Deaf in Berkeley, California (now in Fremont, California). Tilden became deaf at the age of four after a severe bout of scarlet fever. After graduating from the CA School for the Deaf, he went on to attend UC Berkeley and studied with Francis Marion Wells, but then left to study art in Paris. Once in Paris, Tilden studied under Paul Chopin, another deaf sculptor. He made many statues that sit in San Francisco, Berkeley, and the San Francisco Bay Area.
He has many amazing artworks.
- Football Players(1900), which stands as one of the first permanent artwork on the University of California, Berkeley
- Bear Hunt(1892), a statue of a bear protecting her cub and wrestling with two Native Americans, and is featured in the California School for the Deaf in Fremont.
- Mechanics Monument(1901), San Francisco. It served as an inspiration for the city to rebuild itself. The fountain was removed at some point and the statue group has been moved a few feet several times.
- Admission Day(1897), is a part of a monument situated at Market, Post and Montgomery Streets in San Francisco.
- Spanish–American War Soldier’sMonument(1906),
- Portland, Oregon
Mechanics Monument 1899 Baseball Player Bear Hunt City of Fremont
On June 6, 1896 Tilden was married to Elizabeth “Bessie” Cole, a former student of his, also deaf. Although the union produced two children, a son Lee and a daughter Gladys, it was not to prove to be a happy one. Over the years Mrs. Tilden was subject to “melancholia spells” which, among things, placed a large amount of pressure on the relationship. They separated and Mrs. Tilden, who for years had managed their properties, rented out his studio to a theater group, forcing Tilden to do his sculpting in a shed. As they grew farther apart Tilden’s lawyer wrote: “Furthermore, the wife (Bessie) has knowledge of personal indescressions in the personal conduct of Mr. Tilden which would deprive him of any capacity to stand in court, as we say, “with clean hands.” Mr. Tilden claims that Mrs. Tilden has been indescrete. ” The marriage ended in a divorce in 1926.
Many detect a certain homoeroticism in his works because they feature young athletic men who are often unclothed. In the Football Players, many people have noted that the scene of two young football players, one is injured and resting on the shoulder of another, and the other is tenderly bandaging the wounds, shows the intimate male bonding in sports as of interdependence between the players. The gay and lesbian community has adopted the statue as representing the best ideal of the visible queer community on campus.
He was a member of the National Sculpture Society.
Tilden is buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, California.
- California Volunteers(sculpture), San Francisco
- Biography portal
- Guide to the Douglas Tilden Papersat The Bancroft Library
- The History of the Mechanics Monumentby R. Christian Anderson.
- Gay Bears: Douglas Tilden
- Douglas Tildenat Find a Grave