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 Mary Augusta Mullikin  (1874 - 1964)

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Lived/Active: Ohio / China      Known for: Oriental and African landscape painting, portraits

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Mary Augusta Mulliken is primarily known as Mary Augusta Mullikin

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Ad Code: 4
Mary Augusta Mullikin
from Auction House Records.
A View of Shanghai
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:

Transcribed form a clipping from the Christian Science Monitor, Women Today Section, 8/29/1949, by David W. Brown 7/25/2009.

The article was accompanied by a photograph of Miss Mullikin taken by a Christian Science Monitor staff photographer. (note: the correct spelling of her last name is Mullikin)

"American Artist ‘Painted’ Way in China

African Village Life, Too, Depicted by Miss Millikin (should be Mullikin)

by Jessee Ash Arndt
Women’s Editor of the Christian Science Monitor

To most artists, the opportunity to spend two years in Nairobi, Kenya Colony, East Africa and paint there, would seem a priceless adventure.  To Miss Augusta Millikin (Mullikin), who has just returned, it was but one of many she has had in the past 30 years.

It was not in the search for adventure, however, that she left Boston for a six months visit to China in 1920. It was a desire to see her sister, whose husband, Edward K. Lowry, was in the export-import business in Tientsin, that took her there.

She found the country practically a paradise for a painter, because if offered such a variety of unusual subjects.  So she stayed on for many years.  Finally she was obliged to remain -- as were her sister and brother-in-law -- after the Japanese occupation.  Then what painting she did was part of the struggle to survive.

Paintings Reach America

Just a month before Pearl Harbor, her niece, Mrs. Robert M. Taylor, and Mr. Taylor, who is in the United States consular service, were returning from China to the States, and brought with them a number of her pictures.  Others, which she managed to keep despite the hardships of the Japanese occupation, have finally reached America safely also.

Among those brought over by them, was a group of pictures showing the earliest Buddhist sculpture of the Yun Kang caves.  An exhibition, which included these was held at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, and the Philadelphia Academy, and the pictures were used to illustrate an article which appeared in the National Geographic Magazine.  These were also published in The Studio, in London.

Miss Millikin and the Lowrys meantime were living in Tientsin.  Because neither Mr. nor Mrs. Lowry was in good health, the three were allowed to remain in their home instead of being sent to a concentration camp, buty they received no ration cards.

Painted Chinese Portraits

This meant that they had no way of obtaining food except through the generosity of friends or on the black market.  Miss Millikin (Mullikin) gave painting lessons, painted portraits for Chinese families from photographs of honored ancestors, and sold various belongings which would bring in needed funds.

Mr. and Mrs. Lowry passed on during this period and then she took into her home a British family who had been turned out of theirs.  After a year the Japanese demanded that they leave this house, too, and Miss Millikin (Mullikin) then found refuge with another British family who still had a place of residence.

Chinese friends and friends there who were nationals of neutral countries showed great kindness during the trying years, she says, and without their help it would have seemed impossible to survive.

Returned to England

It was long weeks after the liberation before arrangements were finally made to return the British residents of Tientsin to England and Miss Millikin (Mullikin) had permission to leave at the same time. American Marines escorted the party of nearly 1200, protecting them from possible bandit attacks, from Tientsin to the North China port of Chin Wang Tao. They boarded a ship of normal 150-passenger capacity for the six and a half weeks passage to Southhampton.

Miss Millikin (Mullikin) was not in one of the ship’s dormitories, but in a cabin.  However, it was a cabin which normally would have accommodated about four and there were 14 in it, nine of whom were children.

But after three and a half years, what were a few weeks of such discomfort?  She was safely on her way to here niece and nephew at the United States Embassy in Paris.  From there, she returned with them to the United States two years ago for a visit during his furlough, and then set off for Africa, where he served as consul general.  He is now located in Washington, so Miss Millikin (Mullikin) is again making her home in America.

Village Life in Nairobi

While in Nairobi, she added to her collection of some 200 paintings done in China, interesting pictures of native African villages, and a few of the natives themselves.  Because of their primitive superstitions about having their pictures made, she could not do many of the native people, she says.  It was hard to persuade them to pose.

Although she had ample opportunity to see wild animals of that area, she did not paint them.

“We could look out at breakfast,” she related, “and see a whole family of baboons going along the fence making straight for our garden.”  Just 13 miles away was the famous game preserve and they often drove over there to see the animals.  Eight lions were the most she ever saw at one time, she recalled.

As her heavy baggage has only just arrived, Miss Millikin (Mullikin) has not had access to all her paintings and no exhibition of her most recent ones has yet been planned."

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