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 Anna Weatherby Parry Speakman  (1868 - 1933)



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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania/Connecticut      Known for: book illustration, marine scene painting

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Ad Code: 3
Anna W Speakman
from Auction House Records.
Sunny Day at the Beach
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following information is from Monica M. Dalide.

I own an A.W. Speakman painting - I wanted to know more about Speakman than I could find in the scant biographies on the Internet, so I conducted exhaustive research about her through public records. I have pieced together her education, her career, located her artist's studio and discovered when she first appeared in Philadelphia.  

First and foremost, Speakman did not die in Stamford, CT, nor did she ever reside in Connecticut. She passed away from "thrombosis of the basilar artery" in Presbyterian Hospital in Philadelphia, on February 20, 1933 per a Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Death Certificate.  I'm attaching a copy of that for your reference. You can see that she was the widow of Henry Speakman, whom she married in 1903. Her certificate lists her as being born in Illinois; but a 1900 census lists her state of birth as Ohio. Per that death certificate, her parents were John Parry and Anna Smith. The death certificate lists her as "retired." Her last known address from whence she was admitted to Presbyterian is 5112 Regent Street, in the Kingessing neighborhood of Philadelphia. She is buried in Friends Cemetery in Concordville, PA in Grave #444 with her husband, T. Henry Speakman, a Philadelphia lawyer and a member of the Friends Church - this information was obtained from church burial records. There is no evidence that she ever left the City of Philadelphia permanently to reside elsewhere.

Anna first appears in Philadelphia census records and city directories in 1899, where she is listed as "Anna W. Parry, Artist. Home: 4131 Cambridge." She was in Philadelphia, however, much earlier than this record. She is thereafter listed in Philadelphia city directories from 1909 through at least 1921 under the "Artist" category as "Anna W. Speakman, 524 Walnut Street." She apparently held studio space there, along with a number of other Philadelphia artists. As an aside, The Philadelphia Sketch Club used this address as a temporary home as early as 1874 through around 1902, when it moved to Camac Street. ( is but one guidebook resource corroborating this)

Speakman appears in the 1900 US Census living in Ward 24 in Philadelphia, living with her mother and her grandmother.  She is shown as "Anna W. Parry" and she gives her occupation as "artist."  

As for her career - I'm sure you know that she was an illustrator. She illustrated two books: The Rexworth Mystery in 1911 and The Mystery of Mary in 1912. She illustrated prolifically for various ladies home journals for much of her time in Philadelphia. Her earliest appearance as an illustrator is in the School Catalog of The School of Industrial Art for 1891-1892, where she lists her employer as Strawbridge & Clothier and her occupation as illustrator. She continued to illustrate well into the teens.  

Which brings me to her education. She was enrolled at The School of Industrial Art, obviously as early as 1891, making her arrival in Philadelphia at least 1891. Per the bulletin of the Pennsylvania Museum on JStor, she exhibited her works while in school as "Anna W. Parry." She attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) in 1915 and exhibited at PAFA between 1920 and 1925.  

Her achievements are many. She was a member of The Plastic Club, which you note in the other biography of this record. She was a member of the National Association of Women Artists. She was a member of the Fellowship of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Her name appears in the 1917 Society of Independent Artists (New York, NY) in its 1917 roster. She exhibited there as noted in the First Catalogue of the Annual Exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists, April 10 - May 6, 1917. She had two (2) pieces in this show: The Baptism and The White Dish. She is listed in Who Was Who in America Artists. She is listed in the Getty Union list of Artist Names. She exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC. She exhibited frequently throughout Philadelphia as a member of The Plastic Club - loads of mentions in the Inquirer.

Interestingly, and certainly not something you would be inclined to mention in an artist biography, her husband's obituary from the Philadelphia Inquirer on October 22, 1907 (they married in 1903) does not mention Anna as his wife, or at all. No mention of his siblings either. Only his parents. Anna and Henry traveled to England just a few months before his sudden death, and arrived home very shortly before his sudden death. They weren't married long - from 1903 to his death in 1907.  

And, that about covers it.  I've grown to love this woman's art, and I want her biography, where ever it is to be found on the Internet to reflect correct information.

Biography from Jim's Of Lambertville:
Anna Weatherby Parry Speakman was born in Springfield, Illinois, in the late part of the nineteenth century. Yet another artist of obvious talent, there is little known information about this Philadelphia woman. What we do know is that she studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts around 1915. She exhibited at the Academy between 1920-1925 and was a member of the Fellowship of the Pennsylvania Academy.

Speakman was also a member of the Plastic Club and the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors. She exhibited with the Society of Independent Artists and at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in the early 1920s.

Speakman lived in Philadelphia from 1915-1929 and then resided in Stamford, Connecticut, where she passed away in 1937.

Her body of work appears to be small, as her paintings are scarce. The illustrated work, Crowded Harbor, Nantucket, is formerly from the collection of the Detroit Institute of Fine Art. As only a handful of Speakman's paintings have surfaced in recent years, what has been seen signifies her as a fine Pennsylvania Impressionist painter.

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