Francis Murphy

(1853-1921)

Francis Murphy was a largely self-taught artist, although he studied briefly at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. He was a leading Tonalist painter who was concerned with capturing the emotive poetry of landscapes. He used layers of translucent glazes to create an atmospheric effect. Symbolic subject matter was worked in with bare trees and marshy terrain. In 1866 Murphy worked in Chicago as a scene painter for theater sets and his first oil paintings appeared in 1870. Murphy took an inspiring trip in 1874 to Kenne Valley in the Adirondacks and had to sell most of his paintings to finance his travels. The following year Murphy moved to New York City and worked as a magazine illustrator and an artist for a greeting card company. His paintings were usually started with an overall tone on the canvas that he allowed to dry for up to a year. He worked in a palette of pink and grayish-green with golden browns. His best known work "Landscape" (MET) was sold at an auction in 1918 for $15,600. Murphy died in 1921.