Painting on the rocky coastline at Lands End, San Francisco, 1915.

The Legacy Project

Tilden Daken’s Granddaughter is Preserving His Legacy

“The actual is more astounding than the imaginary,” Tilden Daken once said of his life. Famous in his day, he was one of the most adventurous painters in the West and his art is revered by thousands of collectors, yet most know little about his past. Now his incomparable life and substantial oeuvre is being brought to the forefront by the granddaughter he never knew, Bonnie Portnoy. Over the past two decades, she has gathered a treasure trove of stories about his past, visited his favorite haunts, discovered his art, and unraveled his mysteries.

A Book is in the Works

Bonnie has written her grandfather’s biography and is seeking publication. The account is based on family lore, hundreds of newspaper articles, letters he wrote to public figures, and autobiographical short stories he penned. His story reveals not only his unrivaled adventures and personal struggles but the many notable people with whom he mingled—politicians, activists, Hollywood celebrities, naturalists, writers, journalists, and other California Impressionists.  Set in the cultural and historical context of his time–California at the turn of the 20th century–his story captures the many intriguing, little-known sides of the artist and the extremes he endured to capture his scenes on canvas.

Granddaughter Bonnie Portnoy

A native Californian born in Marin County, Bonnie held senior management positions in merchandising, marketing, and operations for four respected San Francisco Bay Area-based specialty retail companies, and traveled extensively in Europe and Asia. As art historian for her grandfather, she has established the Tilden Daken Legacy Project, leading her to art historians, authors, museum curators, galleries, auction houses, and the many passionate collectors who have joined in her mission to secure his place in history. Bonnie often speaks at public and private venues about Tilden Daken and welcomes your questions!


Bonnie wants to hear from Tilden Daken collectors!

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Upcoming: Bonnie Portnoy speaks at Novato History Guild in Novato, CA, August 14, 2019, 7:00 p.m., City Hall

April 2019:

"California Impressionist and Adventurer's Legacy Kept Alive"    Marin Independent Journal interviews Tilden Daken's granddaughter.

April 2019:

"Tilden Daken--The Mill Valley Years"    Bonnie Portnoy, First Wednesday Speaker Series, Mill Valley Historical Society.

January 2016:

"Sonoma's Depot Park Museum takes visitors back in time." Santa Rosa Press Democrat reporter, Dianne Reber Hart, writes about “A Brush with the Past,” an exhibition of works by Sonoma County artists including Tilden Daken. Bonnie Portnoy lectures at the museum about his life and art.

"Sylvia Crawford shares the latest news from Glen Ellen."  Sonoma Index-Tribune, “A Brush with the Past.” Crawford writes: "Among the artful offerings in that show is Tilden Dakin’s beautiful view of Sonoma Creek in Glen Ellen. Long one of my favorite historical paintings, I bet posters of that piece would sell wildly in our town."

"A Brush with the Past at Sonoma's Depot Museum."  Sonoma Valley Sun, a review of Tilden Daken's life and his works exhibited in "A Brush with the Past."

May 2014: 

Glen Ellen Historical Society  Tilden Daken Glen Ellen painting chosen as its Facebook avatar.

September 2013: 

A retrospective on Tilden Daken in "Lines and Colors." Charley Parker,  plein air painter, webcomics artist, cartoonist, illustrator blogs about Tilden Daken.

February 2013:

"Safe Haven for Painter Daken."  Sonoma County Historical Society newsletter, Sonoma Historian, article by Bonnie Portnoy.

December 2012: 

"How Author London, Artist Daken Met."   Sonoma County Historical Society newsletter, Sonoma Historian, article by Bonnie Portnoy.

July 2012:

Save the Redwoods League displays Tilden Daken's "Stroll Through the Redwoods" as their Facebook cover photo. reporter Sylvia Crawford reports on Glen Ellen Historical Society meeting and slide show of Tilden Daken paintings.