Mary Theresa Murphy Menton (1857 – 1913) was born in Boston, Massachusetts to Irish immigrants. She moved with her family to California in 1865. In San Francisco, she studied at the California School of Design with artists Arthur Mathews, Amedee Joullin, and Raymond Yelland. She also studied privately with William Keith. In 1868 she married Colonel William Henry Menton and they moved to Bush Street in the city.
Menton showed her work at a number of fairs, galleries, clubs, and exhibits. In 1902, the San Francisco Chronicle wrote “Mrs. Mary T. Menton’s pictures at the Sacramento State Fair exhibition have attracted much attention. Her work is subtle and tender and full of exquisite feeling.” (San Francisco Chronicle, 9/22/1902.)
Menton had a studio at 424 Pine Street in a building shared with other artists. In an article on the studio, the San Francisco Chronicle noted “Mrs. Menton, who is one of the best women artists in this city, has traveled so much that it has not always been easy to see her work except that which has been shown at the exhibitions. Now she has settled in a down-town studio and has hung at lot of her excellent work. “ (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/15/1902.)
After the 1906 earthquake and fire destroyed a large amount of Menton’s work, she and her husband moved for a time to Marin County. In 1909, the San Francisco Call took note of Mary Menton’s skill and accomplishments. “Excellent atmospheric effects are Mrs. Menton’s specialty, and in her studio on Presidio Avenue may be seen an example of these in the form of a huge redwood, the largest in the California Basin, near Santa Cruz.” (San Francisco Call, 2/14/1909.)
Mary T. Menton died suddenly of a stroke in October of 1913. Her works are scarce, and include landscapes as well as adobes and missions rendered in oils, watercolors, and pastels.
Her exhibitions include:
1894, California Midwinter Fair
1895-1911, San Francisco Art Association
1895-1902, California State Fair
1902, California Society of Artists
1906-1912, San Francisco Sketch Club
1908-1912, Del Monte Art Gallery
1915, Golden Gate Park Museum.
References and Further Reading
- (Embracing Scenes about Lakes Tahoe & Donner By Barbara Lekisch, 2003 Great West Books.)
- Edan Hughes, “Artists in California, 1786-1940”
- Art in California (R. L. Bernier, 1916);
- Women Artists of the American West;
- Keith, Old Master of California (Brother Cornelius);
- Death record; SF Chronicle, 10-23-1913 (obituary).