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 Lucile Desbouillons Murphy  (1873 - 1956)

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Lived/Active: Georgia      Known for: watercolor floral still life, interior

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Ad Code: 4
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Flowers: Cosmos
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from Morris Museum of Art:
The following biography has been provided by Karen Towers Klacsmann, Adjunct Assistant Curator for Research, Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, Georgia.

Savannah-born Lucile Desbouillons was one of four children born to French émigrés Aristide Louis and Louise Merckling Desbouillons. Although her father was trained as a physician in France, he established a jewelry store in Savannah, which also provided a home for his family above the store. Lucile’s first art instructor was Carl Brandt, the director of the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences, which opened in 1886. Art classes followed the model of the French Academy, which emphasized drawing from plaster casts and copying famous paintings. During the summer of 1895, Lucile and another Savannah artist, Emma Cheves Wilkins, traveled to Paris, where they resided at the American Girls' Club while studying at the atelier of Gustave Courtois. Additionally, they received criticism from the artist Bernard Boutet de Monvel and visited museums. Lucile, fluent in French, was already well acquainted with Paris, having visited relatives there prior to her summer as an art student.

In January 1902, Lucile married Christopher Patrick Hussey Murphy, and their first child, Christopher Aristide Desbouillons Murphy, was born in December of that year. Within a decade another six children were born. Lucile, though trained as an oil painter in the French academic style, switched to watercolor, a medium better suited to her busy lifestyle as the matriarch of a large family. Few works survive from her early period, but numerous undated watercolors of flowers, the interior of her home in Savannah, and views of Hendersonville, North Carolina (where she spent several summers), attest to her skill and productivity. Lucile and her husband were their children’s first art teachers, and two of them, Christopher and Margaret, chose to pursue careers as artists. Although her work was rarely exhibited, two of her watercolors of flowers were included in the fourth annual exhibition of the Southern States Art League, which was held at the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1924. Although she painted to the end of her long life, her obituary failed to mention her skill as a watercolorist, while identifying her husband and two of her children as artists. However, it did note that she had taught French at Saint Vincent’s Academy in Savannah.

Lucile Desbouillons Murphy is represented in the permanent collection of the Morris Museum of Art by twenty-six watercolors, most of them floral still lifes.

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