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 Lucy Martha Taggart  (1880 - 1960)

About: Lucy Martha Taggart
 

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Lived/Active: Indiana      Known for: figure, portrait, landscape, genre

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BIOGRAPHY for Lucy Taggart
Facts/Data
Birth
1880
 
Death
1960

Lived/Active
Indiana

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figure, portrait, landscape, genre

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following information is from material developed for Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, Indiana by Tom Davis:

The Taggart name looms so large in Indiana political history that Lucy
Taggart's career in art might seem but a footnote to her father's career in politics. But in her 1921 book, "Art and Artists of Indiana," Mary Q. Burnet describes Lucy as a "conscientious work in portraiture, often painting in a high key with a dash that holds the observer . . . [depicting the] sitters with a subtle grace, and a wealth of radiant color peculiarly rich in quality" (p. 237).

Lucy was born in 1880, when her later rich and famous father was still only a clerk at the Union Depot Dining Hall. With his outgoing Irish charm he would soon own this dining hall and be on his way to a career which included county, state, and national chairman posts in the Democratic Party, three terms as mayor of Indianapolis, being appointed U.S. Senator, and the ownership of at least four hotels, including the large French Lick Springs Hotel.

Lucy made an early demonstration of her artistic talents by designing dinner cards for the invitations to her prominent familys parties, and in her classes at May Wright Sewall's Girls Classical School. She managed to stay mostly out of the limelight until her older sister was tragically killed in a yachting
accident in the Gulf of Mexico in 1899. Lucy then began to make more social and political appearances on behalf of her father.

But in addition to her duties as 'first daughter' to a rising political influence, Lucy began studying art in earnest. In the fall of 1899 she moved to New York City so that she could study with William Merritt Chase, the former Hoosier who was doing so well on the national scene. She also enrolled in William Forsyth's classes at Herron in 1906-1907 and 1908-1909. From 1905 to 1929, she lived an artist's life, becoming proficient in oils, pastels, and watercolors, painting primarily portraits and some landscapes and still lifes, with an occasional bust or sculpture.

Her works were frequently exhibited throughout the Midwest and the East, and her paintings were included in five Hoosier Salons in the 1920s, an important annual show which at that time was exhibited in the Picture Galleries of Marshall Field and Company in Chicago.

She painted less and less after her father's death in 1929, but she did teach at Herron from 1931 until 1943, and was a member of its board from 1915 until 1958. She and fellow board member Booth Tarkington fought the creeping advance of modernism into the school during the 20s and 30s in favor of more traditional art. Tarkington was a life long friend, and Lucy was the godmother of Tarkingtons only child, Laurel, who had been born in Rome while the Tarkingtons and Taggarts were in the midst of extended travel throughout Europe in 1905 and 1906.

Her family and social ties enabled Lucy to have many opportunities in her life that even her successful career in art would not have entitled her to. One of these occurred on November 7, 1931, when, using a bottle filled with a mixture of White River and Fall Creek water, she christened the cruiser USS Indianapolis, the ship that fourteen years later would transport components of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in its last mission before being sunk by the Japanese in a tragic end in which 880 of its crewmen would die.

copyright 2000 by Tom Davis


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