Mary Shepard Greene Blumenschein (1869-1958) Biography

Mary Shepard Greene Blumenschein (1869-1958) 

Born in New York City, Mary Shepard Greene studied at the Adlephi Academy in Brooklyn and the Pratt Institute in New York.  She left for Paris in 1886 where she worked with Raphael Collin.  In France, Mary Greene became a well-known artist and illustrator, winning a Third Class Medal in 1900at the Salon d’Automne.  In 1902 she became only the second American woman to receive a Gold Medal at the Salon, following Mary Cassat.  Mary Greene also received a silver medal at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis in 1904.

Mary Shepard Green met Ernest L. Blumenschein in Paris in 1905 and they were married that same year.  The couple spent the next four years in France, sharing a Paris studio and supporting themselves with illustration work for American magazines.  In 1909 the couple returned to New York for the Birth of their daughter, Helen, after which Mary taught at Pratt for a year and resumed her illustration work for magazines such as Century, McClure’s, and American.  She also received commissions for book illustrations including Marjorie Benton Cooke’s Bambi in 1914.  Awards from this period include the Julia A. Shaw Memorial Award from the National Academy of Design in 1915.

Ernest Blumenschein had been traveling to Taos nearly every summer since his famous accidental excursion there in 1898.  He persuaded Mary to join him in 1913, but the stress of caring for a four-year old during a diphtheria epidemic due to contaminated water sent her back to New York.  Mary Blumenschein did not return to Taos until 1919 when a small inheritance allowed her to purchase an eighteenth century adobe house two blocks south of the Taos Plaza.

Once settled in Taos, Mary Blumenschein’s career became secondary to the promotion of her husband’s work.  She gave up painting in 1922 and began the study of jewelry design at the Pratt Institute.  She remained active in that field until her death.