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Portraitist and landscape painter, Mary Smyth Perkins Taylor was born in Philadelphia. At fifteen, she entered the Philadelphia School of Design for Women (now known as the Moore College of Art). She received numerous awards from the school, including a fellowship, which allowed her to travel to Paris for a year, where the Paris Salon accepted Perkins self-portrait for its 1902 exhibition.
Perkins also studied and exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where her teachers included Robert Henri, leader of the group of urban realists known as "The Eight." She gained acceptance at the National Academy of Design in New York and the Corcoran in Washington D.C. An adventurous traveler, Perkins painted in the small Mexican town of Guanajuato in 1904 or 1905, and later headed the Art Department of Converse College in South Carolina.
Around 1906, Mary Smyth Perkins begun to study with William Lathrop at Phillips' Mill, the center of the art community in Bucks County. Here she met fellow painter, William Taylor, whom she married in 1913. In the 1920s she began making hooked rugs based on her paintings and done in a bright pointillist style. Few of her panels or tapestries survive today, as the colors from the natural dyes made by the artist herself from plants in her garden have faded over time. In 1931, Mary Smyth Perkins Taylor died of inoperable cancer.
Unidentified Photographer, Portrait of Mary Perkins Taylor as a Student, c.1905. Image courtesy of a Family Collection.
Education and Training
Philadelphia School of Design for Women (now Moore College of Art and Design), Diploma awarded for Normal Art Course, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1890-1897
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1899-1900
Lawton Parker School, Paris, France, 1901
Teachers and Influences
Studied with William Sartain at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women, Philadelphia
Studied under Cottet and Simon in Paris, France
Studied with Robert Henri, leader of the group of urban realists known as "The Eight" ( Ashcan School), at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia
Connection to Bucks County
Mary Smyth Perkins first came to New Hope around 1906, to study during the summer with William L. Lathrop at Phillips' Mill, the center of the arts community in Bucks County. At Phillips' Mill, she met fellow artists, William Taylor, whom she married in 1913. They settled on Cuttalossa Road near River Road in Lumberville, where she lived until her death in 1931.
Colleagues and Affiliations
Mary Smyth Perkins Taylor and her husband and fellow painter William F. Taylor were both friends and affiliated with William L. Lathrop and his family at Phillips' Mill. During the Depression, the Taylors ran Hard Times Tavern, which was located opposite the Cuttalossa Inn near Lumberville, Bucks County.
Unidentified Photographer, Marriage of Mary Smyth Perkins and William Taylor, 1913. Collection of E. Stanley Cope, M.D.
Major Solo Exhibitions
Rosenbach Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,
Her most famous hooked tapestries includes: Noah's Ark, The Circus, The Garden Party, and The Auction Sale
Major Group Exhibitions
Annual Exhibition, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1900-01, 1903-1909, 1912 and 1913
Paris Salon, Paris, France, 1902
Plastic Club, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1907
Biennial, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1910
Philadelphia Sesquicentennial Exposition, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1926, hooked rug Merry-Go-Round
National Academy of Design, New York, New York, 1929
50th Anniversary Retrospective Art Exhibition, Phillips Mill, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 1979
Michener Art Museum
Her portrait of James L. Miles hangs in City Hall, Philadelphia
Mary Perkins Taylor specialized in hooked rugs in the form of wall panels and tapestries. She became well known for these and wrote a book on this art form, using her own designs as illustrations.
Unidentified Photographer, Portrait of Mary Perkins Taylor, c. 1890. Collection of E. Stanley Cope, M.D.
Teaching and Professional Appointments
Head of Art Department, Converse College, Spartanburg, South Carolina, 1907-1910
Honorable Mention for Illustration, Philadelphia School of Design for Women, 1893
Honorable Mention for progress in Normal Art Course, Philadelphia School of Design for Women, 1893,1894
William L. Elkins European Fellowship, Philadelphia School of Design for Women, 1901
Mary Smith Prize, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1907
Popular Prize, New York Association of Women Painters and Sculptors, 1930s, for hooked panel The Garden Party
National Association of Women Artists
Affiliations and Memberships
Member of National Women Painters and Sculptors