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 Margaret Augusta Murphy  (1908 - 1991)

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Lived/Active: Georgia      Known for: sea-landscape, marine, teacher

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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.


Margaret Augusta Murphy, the fourth of seven children born to Lucile Desbouillons and Christopher Patrick Hussey Murphy, was born on June 24, 1908. Margaret’s only permanent residence throughout her life was the house that her parents purchased at 11 East Perry Street in Savannah shortly before her birth. Her parents provided her first artistic training, as well as a home environment in which she enjoyed access to an abundant supply of materials, books, and magazines pertaining to art.

Her formal art education began at Rochester Athenaeum, and she graduated from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, in 1931. She returned to Savannah and taught in the Chatham County Public School system where she eventually became the first art supervisor for the elementary schools, a position she held until 1944. That year she switched to teaching art at the public high school, where she ended her teaching career in 1971.

Already well established as a teacher and exhibiting artist, “Miss Margaret,” as she was known to her students, continued to pursue further education while regularly exhibiting with the Savannah Art Club and the Association of Georgia Artists. She studied with Lamar Dodd at the University of Georgia, where she earned a bachelor of arts degree in 1942, and she pursued further instruction from Clifford Carleton in oil painting and Eliot O’Hara in watercolor techniques when they came to Savannah as visiting instructors at the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences.

She was awarded a Ford Foundation Fellowship in 1952 and spent an academic year in New York followed by a summer in Europe. She received a master of arts degree from Columbia University, New York, in 1955, and a master of education, specialist in art, from the University of Georgia in 1971. During the summer she continued to teach, serving as an art instructor in Chatham County, and at Georgia Southern Teacher’s College (now Georgia Southern University), Mercer University, and Armstrong College (now Armstrong Atlantic State University). Her versatility was reflected in the diverse media in which she worked and taught including oil, pastel, watercolor, ceramics, and handicrafts.

Margaret Murphy, a tireless advocate for art education in the public school system, died on May 16, 1991.

She is represented in the permanent collection of the Morris Museum of Art by fifteen watercolors, nine oils, two drawings, and one mixed-media work, the earliest of them dating from 1931.



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