Who, though, was Ellis Moore, who signed the check? Ellis Moon, originally from San Jose, California, married Claus Spreckels and the newlyweds were subsequently given a home in Coronado, California as a wedding gift from the groom’s father, John D. Spreckels. The Spreckels Family owned local newspapers, a ferry company, and the Hotel del Coronado, among many other businesses. Ellis and Claus had four children and were highly regarded in San Diego social circles. In addition to businesses and their social standing, the family’s philanthropy is recognizable today in San Diego in the Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park and the Reading Room at the Coronado Public Library, both generous gifts of the Spreckels Family.
After Claus Spreckels died, Ellis remarried Dr. Clarence Moore of Los Angeles in 1936. The announcement of their engagement made front page news in the San Diego Union on October 14 of that year. Moore was a well-known surgeon and the couple maintained residences in Coronado and in Los Angeles.
Several years later, the couple travelled to Mexico and commissioned the portrait. The accompanying photographs show Dr. Moore posing in Rivera’s studio. By coincidence, The San Diego Museum of Art’s other Rivera painting, La Mandrágora, 1939, can also be seen in the background, behind Dr. Moore.
Project Curator for American Art