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 Matilda Secor McCord Roper  (1886 - 1958)

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Lived/Active: Virginia/New Jersey      Known for: life-size portrait w floral background

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Ad Code: 4
Matilda Secor McCord Roper
from Auction House Records.
Portrait of Mrs Lendall
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Matilda Secor Roper (1886-1958), whose full name was Matilda Secor (nee McCord) Roper came from an illustrious line of American artists, and from the time she was a small child studied with her famous father, the well known landscape and marine painter, George H. McCord A.N.A. (b.1 Aug. 1848 -d. 6 Apr. 1909), an artist of the Hudson River School.

She was born in Morristown, New Jersey on 7 May 1886. "Uplands" at Morristown was her permanent home, and her father maintained a studio there. M. Secor Roper was proficient in all media as was her father and mentor. Like Andrew Wyeth, she grew up in a studio and was educated in Brooklyn Public Schools. She gave up high school to study under Emil Carlsen at the National Academy of Design and under the tutelage of Oscar Miller when she first went to Paris. She and her mother and sister traveled widely with her father in North America and abroad as he executed his many commissions. She did not seriously begin to paint until she was 18 years old.

Her expertise was in life-size portraits with background treatments of lace and floral fabric for which she was particularly noted. Oscar Miller's influence can be seen in this work and Carlsen's influence can be seen in her still lifes. Her sister, Elizabeth S. (nee McCord) Pitts,(1880-1963), was primarily a still life artist who combined her work with portraiture. She signed her work, Elizabeth Maccord. Elizabeth's spouse was Lendall Pitts (1875-1938), a graphic artist and landscape painter, who was also a portraitist. The Pitts lived and worked in a Paris studio for over forty years.

In 1906, (M. Secor Roper) went to Venice, for two years with her father, and they studied there together. When they returned home they lived and pursued their art in a Long Island studio for about five years. Immediately preceding World War I, the family moved to Paris and maintained a studio there for the next fifteen years. After the war, she continued to paint and kept a studio in Paris until 1924, when she then married George W. Roper, founder of the Norfolk Shipbuilding and Drydock Corp.

From the time of her marriage onward, she lived and pursued her art from a studio in Norfolk, VA at 320 W. Freemason St. The building is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Her work was exhibited both in the United States and abroad. Several of her works are/were in the Sloane Collection of the Hermitage Foundation in Norfolk. Her paintings and watercolors were exhibited contemporarily in Norfolk, Richmond, New York City, Detroit, Santa Fe, Paris, Venice and Algiers. It can be said she flourished from 1920 to the 1950's. She died in Norfolk, Va. on 29 December, 1958.

Submitted January 2004 by John Howard McClellan, writer of the biography

Personal Interview with the Artist, July, 1939
Peter Falk, "Who Was Who in American Art",1999 Edition
Jacobsen's Biographical Index of American Artists, 2002 Edition
Matthew Wiggins, Librarian, Chrysler Museum. Norfolk, VA. 2003

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