An old woman is roused from bed by a mystical spray of light and contingent of frolicking sprites in this Art Deco-era children’s book illustration by Lucille Murphy (signed and dated lower right). The upper right quadrant shows blank space where text would have appeared, and the chapter number IV, but we have as of yet not uncovered which publication this was created for.
Lucille Desboullions Murphy (1873-1956) was an artist and teacher from Savannah, Georgia who was, in many respects, an important figure in the Southern art world during the first half of the 20th century. Lucille’s parents, Aristide Louis Desboullions and Louise Merkling, emigrated from France in the late 19th century, settling in Savannah. Aristide had been trained as a doctor in France but established a jewelry store in his new city of residence, and he continued to operate this retail establishment for the remainder of his life with his growing family, including Lucille, living in the apartment above the store. A precocious child, Lucille was encouraged to pursue academic and artistic endeavors by her parents, and she studied as a young woman with Carl Brandt and in Paris for a year under the tutelage of Gustave Courtois. She married fellow artist, Christopher Patrick Hussey Murphy (1869-1939), in Savannah in 1902, and the couple remained in the city, along with their ten children, for the remainder of their lives. Her husband, Christopher Patrick Hussey Murphy, was also an important figure in the Savannah art world and exhibited his work widely throughout the country, gaining enough critical recognition to support his large family as an artist. His work is represented in a number of collections and institutions throughout the South today, including the Morris Museum of Art and The Johnson Collection. The couple’s first son, Christopher Aristide Desboullions Murphy (1902-1973), also worked as a professional artist. Lucille Murphy rarely exhibited her own work, but remained active throughout her life as an artist, and the Murphy’s home in Savannah was an important gathering place in the Southern art world for many years, attracting numerous artists from afar who were traveling and working in the South in the early 20th century.