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 Mary Leicester Wagner  (1850 - 1934)

About: Mary Leicester Wagner


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Lived/Active: Michigan/California/Ontario / Canada      Known for: china and miniature painting, ceramics

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BIOGRAPHY for Mary Wagner
1850 (Oakville, Ontario, Canada)
1934 (Santa Barbara, California)

Michigan/California/Ontario / Canada

Often Known For
china and miniature painting, ceramics

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Mary Leicester Wagner was a ceramic artist in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She maintained studios in Detroit, New York, Saratoga, Mankato, Minnesota, and Santa Barbara.

She was born on Aug. 7, 1850 in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, to Matthew Belsaigne Hornibrook (1805-1895) and Charlotte Mannix Greaves (1815-1888). Her parents originated from Bandon, County Cork, Ireland.

Mary's brothers and sister were Thomas (1835-1874), Bessie (1836-1933), John (1838-?) and James Hudson (1840-1890).

Mary married tobacco merchant Robert Wagner (1840-1894) of Detroit, Michigan, in 1868 and had four children: Charlotte (1869-1915), James Richard Hawley (1870-1944), Rob Leicester (1872-1942) and Clarence (1880-1898).

Mary worked extensively in ceramic, china and miniature art and was a judge of several art exhibitions. She was chairwoman of the Keramic League at the Paris Ceramic Art Exhibition in 1900 and served as an exhibition judge.

She was president of the Detroit Keramic Art Club.

She exhibited her work at the Detroit Club in Michigan in 1901-02. In Seattle, she exhibited her work at the Alaska-Yukon Pacific Expo in 1909. She also served as a correspondent for Keramic Studio magazine, a popular ceramic art periodical published in the early 20th century.

When her brother, James Hornibrook, a saloon owner, built his large mansion in Little Rock, Arkansas, she added painted ceramic flourishes to the interior, including designing the fireplace. The residence remains standing today as an historic landmark and now serves as a bed and breakfast. Her artwork remains intact.

Mary Wagner often collaborated with her sister-in-law, Arietta Wagner, in designing ceramic art. They shared a firing studio in the dingy basement of the Mankato (Minnesota) Post Office because it was the only building equipped with gas. Arietta Wagner, a china artist in her own right, exhibited Mary's work her studio in Los Angeles after she moved to the city in 1889.

Mary lived with her sister, Bessie Hornibrook Tinnng, and daughter, Charlotte Wagner, in Santa Barbara, California.

Mary died on May 15, 1934.

Researched, written and submitted by Rob Wagner, great, great grandson of the artist. His sources included Keramic Studio magazine and family interviews.

These Notes from AskART represent the beginning of a possible future biography for this artist. Please click here if you wish to help in its development:
Born in Canada in 1851, Mary Wagner, from Detroit, was in Los Angeles in 1895 when she exhibited in the studio of artist Arietta M. Wagner. 

She was a resident of Santa Barbara from 1905 until her death on May 15, 1934. 

Exhibition: Alaska-Yukon Pacific Expo (Seattle), 1909. 
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
City Directory; Census; Death Records
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

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