Lucy Martha Taggart

Lucy Martha Taggart
(3/7/1880 – 10/9/1960)

Born into what became one of the most powerful political families in Indiana, Lucy Taggart paved her own way as an award-winning painter, described by one critic as a “conscientious worker in portraiture, often painting in a high key with a dash that holds the observer… [depicting the] sitters with a subtle grace, and a wealth of radiant color peculiarly rich in quality.” (Mary Burnet, Art and Artists in Indiana, 1921, p. 237)

Taggart stayed mostly out of the limelight until her older sister Florence tragically died in a yachting accident in the Gulf of Mexico early in 1899. By the autumn of that year, she had moved to New York City to study with the well-known artist William Merritt Chase, himself a born Hoosier. In 1906, she studied at Herron School of Art in Indianapolis with William Forsyth. Splitting her time between family homes in Massachusetts and Indiana, she lived her life as an artist from 1905 to 1929 and was recognized as a talented and versatile artist during her career. She sold her art and exhibited at prestigious shows in the Midwest and the eastern United States.

Eleanor 1921 by Lucy M. Taggart
Credit: Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields

When her father, Thomas Taggart, and sister-in-law both died in 1929, she returned to Indianapolis to help take care of her mother and her brother’s daughter.

Portrait of Thomas Taggart Young 1923 by Lucy M. Taggart
Credit: Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields

Taggart taught at Herron from 1931 to 1943, and served on its Board from 1915-1958, striving with fellow Board member Booth Tarkington to maintain an emphasis on more traditional art over the creeping advance of modernism. She was a life-long friend of Tarkington and was the godmother of his only child, Laurel, who had been born in Rome during the extended stay the Tarkington and Taggart families were taking in Europe from 1905 to 1906.

Her position in society created opportunities that may not have come her way had she been an artist only. One of these occurred on November 7, 1931, when she christened the cruiser USS Indianapolis using a bottle filled with a mixture of water from the White River and Fall Creek.

Read more about Taggart here.

Location: Section 30, Lot 3; GPS (39.8198807, -86.1766150)