Short Biography: Douglas Tilden

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Douglas Tilden
Douglas Tilden was born on May 1st, 1860 in Chico, California. At the age of four he lost his hearing due to scarlet fever. His parents wanted him to still have an education so two years later; he was enrolled in the California School for the Deaf which was located in Berkley, California. Douglas graduated from the school in 1879 as an honor student as well as receiving a teaching position. He accepted the position and taught there for eight years.

Throughout the eight years of teaching at the school, he began to create figures by using clay. Other staff members started to notice the talent he had for sculpting and started a fund so he could go to New York and Paris to further his knowledge for sculpting. In 1887 they gathered up enough money, and sent him to New York for eight weeks. Then in 1888 he received grants from the Durham Fund, administered by the California School for the Deaf. He then took off to Paris to further his education and love for sculpting. He got to study under several famous sculptors, but mostly Paul Chopin who was also deaf. The time in Paris was nothing but success for Douglas. Not only did he gain more knowledge about sculpting, he also won many sculpture design contests and had his work installed all over the world.

After five years of schooling in Paris he returned back to California and continued teaching at the California School for the Deaf. In 1896 he married Elizabeth Cole, and quit his teaching job to be a full time sculptor. The faculty at the school was upset to find out about his resignation. They felt that he owed them by either staying a teacher at the school or reimbursing them for the cost of his education since they had paid for his schooling in Paris. Douglas was under the impression that his education had been a gift, and he felt he shouldn’t have to pay them back. The California School for the Deaf decided to confiscate one of his sculptures, “The Bear Hunt”, as payment for his tuition. This...
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