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Mary Sarg Murphy was a painter, illustrator, and decorative artist. She was strongly influenced by her fun-loving father, Tony Sarg, a decorative artist, illustrator, and puppeteer. Murphy began her art career decorating boxes and furniture for the Tony Sarg Shops in New Hope and in Nantucket, where the Sarg family spent their summers. She later designed fabrics, wallpapers, children's clothing, and towels for the shops. Murphy became an accomplished portrait painter, and at one time did a series of portraits with the sitters dressed in colonial costume, advertised as "You are Your Ancestor." In the 1930s, she was well-known for her illustrations in such magazines as Today, Woman's Day, and Mademoiselle, as well as illustrating children's books. She created a popular series of cartoons based on Nantucket characters, which ran in two Nantucket papers and were later published as a collection called the Nantucket Blue Book.
Mary Sarg Murphy. Image courtesy of the Michener Art Museum library.
Education and Training
London, England, portraiture
Sorbonne, Paris, France
Art Students League, New York, New York, 1930-1933
Phoenix Art Institute, Phoenix, Arizona
New York School of Applied Design for Women, New York, New York
Teachers and Influences
At the Art Students League she studied with DuMond, G. Wright, M. Young, William McNulty, and Bridgeman for illustration.
Her father, Tony Sarg, wrote several children's books using young Mary and her cocker spaniel, Freckles, in his illustrations.
Connection to Bucks County
Mary Sarg Murphy came to New Hope in 1938 to run the Tony Sarg Shop. The shop sold Sarg-designed linens and toys as well as Mary's own designs on fabric, wallpapers, and other objects. She lived in New Hope until 1958. She and her husband, John, moved permanently to Sarasota, Florida and Nantucket, Massachusetts in 1960.
Major Solo Exhibitions
Lobster Pot Gallery, Nantucket, Massachusetts
Main Street Gallery, Nantucket, Massachusetts
Major Group Exhibitions
Commerce Street, National Academy of Design, New York, New York, 1934
50th Anniversary Retrospective Art Exhibition, Phillips Mill, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 1979
Nantucket Historical Society, 1984
Sarasota Artist's Association
Artists Association of Nantucket
Children's Corner, 1935
Happy as Kings, 1936
Illustrator for Today, 1935 and 1936; Woman's Day, 1938; Jr. Red Cross News, 1939; Mademoiselle, 1939
Nantucket Blue Book (collection of cartoons), 1940s
Teaching and Professional Appointments
Design Guild, New York, New York
Keramic Society, New York, New York
Woman Artist of the Year, Sarasota Artists Association
She received many awards and prizes from Sarasota Artist's Association, Florida, and other regional and national shows for her classic portraits.
Affiliations and Memberships
Life member, Artists' Association of Nantucket
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