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People - Douglas Tilden - Famous Deaf Sculptor

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Updated March 05, 2009

The Young Acrobat by Douglas Tilden

The Young Acrobat by Douglas Tilden

Smithsonian Institution

Birth...and Death:

Douglas Tilden was born May 1, 1860 and died in 1935. He was born hearing, but lost his hearing to scarlet fever at the age of five.

Growing Up Deaf and Becoming a Sculptor:

Tilden attended the California School for the Deaf (CSD), and after graduation he worked at CSD. While working there, he began sculpting. Then he moved to France for awhile, and met a deaf sculptor there who taught him more about sculpting.

Sculptures in San Francisco :

Tilden made many sculptures, most of which are in San Francisco. Some of the sculptures are known by more than one name. Below are the best-known San Francisco scultpures and their locations, along with web photo sources.
  • Admission Day
    • Photo
    • location: Market-Post-Montgomery Streets
  • California Volunteers
    • Photo
    • location: Market and Dolores Street
  • The Baseball Player
    • Photo
    • location - Golden Gate Park
  • Mechanics Monument
    • Sandow Museum
    • location: Intersection of Market, Bush, and Battery streets

Sculptures Elsewhere:

These sculptures are elsewhere:
  • The Bear Hunt
  • The Football Players
  • Solders' Monument (Oregon Volunteers)
    • location: Lownsdale Square, SW. 4th Ave., between SW. Salmon and SW. Main Sts in Portland, Oregon
  • The Tired Boxer
    • Photo source
    • The De Young museum in San Francisco has a reproduction of the sculpture. The original was destroyed in an earthquake in 1906.
  • The Young Acrobat - The Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC has this sculpture.

Deaf Community Involvement:

Tilden found time out from sculpturing to be involved in the deaf community. He was:
  • A vice president of the World Federation of the Deaf
  • A president of the California Association of the Deaf

Books and Chapters on Tilden:

Books have been published about Tilden, plus chapters in deaf history books.
  • Douglas Tilden: Portrait of a Deaf Sculptor (compare prices)
  • Sculptor to the City. (Chapter)in: Movers & Shakers: Deaf People Who Changed the World. by Cathryn Carroll & Susan M. Mather. (compare prices)
  • Nelson-Rees, Walter A. Douglas Tilden: The Man and His Legacy (compare prices).
  • Great Deaf Americans. Deaf Life Press (chapter).

Detailed Online Biographies:

There are detailed online biographies of Tilden.

Miscellaneous Tilden :

Tilden also did Medusa heads for the George W. Gibbs historic residence's portico, at 2622 Jackson St., San Francisco. He made a statue of senator Stephen White, in front of the Cabrillo Beach Museum in Los Angeles. The University of California, Berkeley library has the Douglas Tilden papers. Finally, the Oakland Museum of California, in Oakland, CA has a sculpture court, which may have Tilden statues, and the Hearst Art Gallery at St. Mary's College of California may also have Tilden works.
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