Ludmilla P. Welch

Ludmilla Pilat Welch (1867-1925) grew up in Ossining, New York, the daughter of a well-born Austrian political refugee who had been part of the unsuccessful republican uprising led by Carl Schurz.  While a teen-ager, she met Thaddeus Welch when he was sketching in the woods near her home.  Welch had moved to upstate New York to be near his major patroness, Mrs. L. Dennison.  Welch soon became friendly with the Pilat family, taking many meals with them and eventually falling in love with Ludmilla.  On July 14, 1883, when she was sixteen and he thirty-nine, they were married.  Part of their mutual attraction was Ludmilla’s talent for drawing which Thaddeus encouraged and developed.  After many vicissitudes in Chicago and Los Angeles, Ludmilla and Thad moved to Marin County in 1894 and set up house in a rustic cabin at Steep Ravine on the western slopes of Mount Tamalpais.  The first few years they scratched out an existence in the wild, growing much of their own food.  Thad’s paintings of Marin County scenery soon attracted a substantial patronage when exhibited in San Francisco.  In 1902 Ludmilla and Thad moved to a cottage in the San Geronimo Valley where the weather was warmer and amenities were closer at hand.  In 1905, with his asthma worsening, Thad and Ludmilla moved to Santa Barbara, but continued to paint Marin County landscapes based on their collection of field studies.  Throughout their marriage, they painted side by side in a style so similar that it is a feat of connoisseurship to tell her paintings from his when they are not signed.  Ludmilla tended to work in smaller formats and had a slightly broader, softer touch with her brushstrokes.