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 Marie Goth  (1887 - 1975)

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Lived/Active: Indiana      Known for: portrait, figure, still life

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Ad Code: 3
Marie Goth
from Auction House Records.
Roses in Black Bowl
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Considered a premier portrait painter of Indiana, Marie Goth was much influenced from childhood by her father, Charles Goth, who encouraged her to read and draw pictures.  She attended Manual Training High School, where Otto Stark, her father's cousin and a Hoosier painter, was the head of the art department.  By age sixteen, she had won first prize in a design contest sponsored by the city.  After her High School graduation, she served as an assistant for three years to Stark.

She also took classes at the John Herron Art Institute, and spent a summer in Cincinnati studying at the Art Academy with Vincent Nowottny.  From 1909 to 1919, she attended on scholarships the Art Students League in New York, and lived with other young female students from a variety of schools at the Three Arts Club on West Eighty-fifth Street.  To earn money, she painted small portraits, and received $15.00 for each one.  She also received $100.00 for completing an illustration for the Lyons Toothpaste Company.

Most of her study at the League was with Frank Vincent DuMond.  Of his influence she said: "After a few sessions, I know that portraits were to be my future." (51) Later she was criticized for being too much under his influence in that her work looked strikingly like his.

During World War I, she applied luminous faces to wristwatches and to the dials on weapons, completing about 250 per day and earning $100.00 per month.  It was dangerous work, and some of her co-workers suffered radium poisoning.

In New York City, she fell in love with Italian born fellow art student Varaldo Cariani, and they did much painting together in the city environs.  In May 1919, Marie Goth returned to her hometown of Indianapolis and set up a studio in her family home.  While she had been away at school, her career was followed closely by many local friends and was much supported by her father who turned the home into an art gallery of her paintings.

Marie Goth had a special bond with her older sister, Genevieve, who sent part of her salary to Marie every week she was in New York to help with her education.  One of the many positive gestures Genevieve made for her sister was purchasing a cabin in Nashville, Indiana---"a gift that would forever change the life of each sister" (54) Their father made furniture for the cabin, and by 1923, they were ready to move in.

Meanwhile Cariani had left the Art Students League in 1917 to enlist in the Army during World War I.  A very religious person, he had experiences that caused him much post-war depression.  He returned to his hometown of Springfield, Massachusetts, and Marie Goth, trying to find a way to lift his spirits, hatched a plan with her father to hire Cariani as a stone carver for the Goth family Crown Monument Company in Indianapolis.

Cariani helped with the move to the Brown County cabin, and then stayed there during the week, painting.  The sisters, living in Indianapolis with their parents, came out on weekends.  However, the desire for less distraction led to Marie moving to the cabin, and being decorous, Cariani built a studio home nearby.  However, they spent most of their time together. He did the cooking and generally took care of her and the place.  Friends described them as being very much in love but ever maintaining the appearance of propriety.  However, they never married because she was a Christian Scientist, and he was a devout Catholic and would not marry outside his religion.

Marie Goth's career flourished as a portraitist.  Among her early subjects was writer James Whitcomb Riley in Indianapolis.  In 1926, she won first place for a portrait entry in the Hoosier Salon, and in 1931, her portrait Florence won the Julia A. Shaw Memorial Prize of $300 at the National Academy of Design in New York.

Goth lived a relatively simple life of hard work, routine and frugality, usually wearing hand-me-down clothes.  As she aged, local people looked out for her.  Her sister, Genevieve, married to artist Carl Graf, died in 1961, and eight years later, Marie was devastated by the death of Cariani.

Marie Goth died in 1975 at age eighty-seven.  She had been bitten by a brown spider and likely feeling ill, fell down a stairway in her cabin.  She died from head injuries. She left most of her estate of $600,000. 00 to the Brown County Art Guild with the agreement that a museum be built and maintained to exhibit paintings by her, her sister, Cariani and Carl Graf.

Several years before her death, she had written that she considered "it a privilege to live and work in Brown County where I've already spent fifty of the happiest years anyone can hope for". (59)

Judith Vale Newton and Carol Ann Weiss, Skirting the Issue, pp. 48-59

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