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Mary Sarg Murphy

by on September 12, 2015

Deceased English-American Impressionist (UK 1911 – USA 1986)

Mary Sarg Murphy was born on April 24, 1911 in London, England. She was a painter, illustrator and decorative artist who was strongly influenced by her fun-loving father, Tony Sarg, a decorative artist, illustrator and puppeteer. Mary began her art career decorating boxes and furniture for the Tony Sarg Shops in New Hope and in Nantucket, where the Sarg family spent their summers from 1923 on. She later designed fabrics, wallpapers, children’s clothing and towels for the shops. Mary became an accomplished portrait painter, and at one time did a series of portraits with the sitters dressed in colonial costume, advertised as “You are Your Ancestor.” In the 1930s, she was well-known for her illustrations in such magazines as Today, Woman’s Day, and Mademoiselle, as well as illustrating children’s books. She created a popular series of cartoons based on Nantucket characters, which ran in two Nantucket papers and were later published as a collection called the Nantucket Blue Book. Mary Sarg Murphy died on May 23, 1986 in Siesta Key, Sarasota, Florida.


Education and Training:
London, England, portraiture
Sorbonne, Paris, France
Art Students League, New York, New York, 1930-1933
Phoenix Art Institute, Phoenix, Arizona
New York School of Applied Design for Women, New York, New York

Teachers and Influences:
At the Art Students League she studied with DuMond, G. Wright, M. Young, and William McNulty, and Bridgeman for illustration.
Her father, Tony Sarg. He wrote several children’s books using young Mary and her cocker spaniel “Freckles” in his illustrations.

Connection to Bucks County:
Mary Sarg Murphy came to New Hope in 1938 to run the Tony Sarg Shop. The shop sold Sarg-designed linens and toys as well as Mary’s own designs on fabric, wallpapers, and other objects. She lived in New Hope until 1958. She and her husband, John, moved permanently to Sarasota, Florida and Nantucket, Massachusetts in 1960.

The paintings by Mary Sarg Murphy were purchased by Peter and Vicki Arnot directly from Mary when she was in her Nantucket studio during her life.  All paintings are available for purchase from the Arnot Gallery Collection.

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