59 School Street, Box 1310, Edgartown MA 02539 - 508.627.4441
Martha's Vineyard Museum MV Museum

EOD2015

1949

Stanley Murphy (1922–2003)

Vineyard Haven

Tempera on wood panel

From the estate of Nancy Hamilton


Artist Stanley Murphy's landscapes and his perceptive portraits display both technical skill and the character of his sitters. They capture the look of the Vineyard and its people during the last half of the twentieth century.

Stanley Murphy and his wife, Polly, moved to the Island in 1948. Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, he had studied at the Art Students League in New York under the G.I. Bill after serving in the army during World War II.

He had only lived on Martha's Vineyard a year when he knocked on the door of a sprawling house between Vineyard Sound and Lake Tashmoo hoping to convince Katharine Cornell, the celebrity owner, to commission a painting. Cornell (1893–1974) was one of the most famous stage actresses of her day. In 1936 she rented a camp at Tashmoo and liked it so much she bought land nearby and began building a summer home, which she named Chip Chop.

Murphy's painting shows the house with Cornell in the front yard playing with her beloved dachshunds, the waters of the Sound in the background. Her commission helped him become one of the leading artists on the Vineyard.

In 2007 the Murphy family donated studies and sketches spanning decades of the artist's work. These documents of his working method, combined with the fine portraits and landscapes that other donors have generously contributed to the collection, make the Martha's Vineyard Museum the foremost repository of this important artist's work.