Her talent came at an early age, as did her death

Born in Jacksonville on Nov. 5, 1891, to Dr. James W. and Sarah "Tillie" Robinson, Regina Dorland Robinson began taking art lessons at age 5.

Her father was an amateur painter who encouraged her keen interest in art. By the time she was 12, she was a student of Peter Britt, learning to paint with oils.

Her early childhood scholastic education was at the Covenant of the Holy Name in Jacksonville.

At age 15, she was taken to Berkeley, Calif., to further her education. The year 1907 found her studying in Portland, where the Oregon Sunday Journal newspaper declared the 16-year-old a "prodigy." Her first art exhibition was in September 1907 in Grants Pass.

She later studied art at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia and watercolor and landscape in Oakland, Calif.

Her work was shown at the San Francisco Art Association's spring exhibition in 1912 and 1913.

While living in the Bay Area, she joined the San Francisco Sketch Club, which included women artists who were considered movers and shakers in the avant-garde movement.

In early 1916, Robinson, then living with her parents in Jacksonville, exhibited 35 art pieces in a one-woman show in Medford.

It was in California later that year that she met Charles Pearson, a traveling salesman with the Yale Lock Co. They were married in fall 1916 in Portland. After visiting Jacksonville, they traveled to New York City.

However, they were divorced on Jan. 9, 1917, less than three months after the wedding.

She returned to the San Francisco Bay Area, where she reportedly suffered a nervous breakdown.

By early April, the artist and her mother were boarders in a home in San Mateo, Calif. Her mother found her dead in her room of a gunshot wound to the head on April 7. The San Mateo Times newspaper on April 14, 1917, reported she was found clutching a revolver. A coroner's jury concluded she shot herself "by her own hand while temporarily deranged, suicidal."

She was buried in the Jacksonville Cemetery, where her two older siblings are buried. They both died in 1890 of diphtheria before Dorland was born.

Pearson, who served as a U.S. Army officer in World War I in France, died in New York City in 1968.

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 541-776-4496 or email him at pfattig@mailtribune.com.

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