Margaret Rudisill
(July 1 1843 - June 29, 1933)

The Indianapolis News - June 30, 1933
Indianapolis, Indiana


Margaret Rudisill, Whose Talent Once Was Known at Home and Abroad, but Obscured in Recent Years, Dies Near Ninetieth Birthday--Pioneer Family Member.

A long life of strangely modest devotion to art and one that was linked closely to the earliest flowering of fine art interest in Indianapolis came to an end Thursday in the death of Miss Margaret Rudisill, member of a pioneer Indiana family, at her home, 1443 Park avenue. Death came within two days of her ninetieth birthday.

Life almost as a recluse for many years had served to obscure knowledge of a talent that formerly was known in both this country and abroad. Death has served to bring renewed attention to it and to reveal that an interest in art that began in early childhood and was furthered by the best teachers of an earlier day, had continued to the last.

A large studio, on the second floor of the old family home, speaks for itself of her work and her plans--and for her dreams of the future--for she had been planning, is resistance to her normal impulses of retirement, for an exhibition of her paintings a little later in the summer. Illness came, and then death.

Of a timid nature, Miss Rudisill's devotion to art filled her life to the exclusion of any outside interests. She never joined any organizations and her closest claim to club affiliation, she would say, was the fact that she had the honor of naming the Woman's Research Club, of which her sister Sarah is a life member. She was a member of the Central Christian church, where she had been active more than fifty years.

Life Work Decided Early

It was at the age of five that she made her decision as to her life work. Her parents took her to see the portrait of a child and standing before it, lost in admiration, she exclaimed, "I'm going to be an artist."

She was born in Montgomery County, Indiana the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Martin L. Rudisill, who died many years ago. The family moved south for a few years and in the mountains of North Carolina she reveled in a study of nature which was the inspiration for many of her later paintings.

Her work in oils included landscape and figure paintings, and on the walls of the home where she had lived sixty years, and which was built by her father in 1874, are some of her finest paintings. For the last thirty years she and her sister, Sarah, have occupied the home.

Miss Rudisill was educated at the Academy of Ladoga, and at Glendale Seminary, Ohio. She studied art first with Jacob Cox, early Indiana artist, and subsequently with H. Thompson, Alfred Steven at the Julien Academy, Robert-Fleury, and Bougereau. The first recognition of her work was given to her by Carl H. Leiber, when he exhibited her work at the old Propylaeum.

Her timidity, born partly of a frail constitution, and partly to her absorption in her work, was a chief 'characteristic. It was said that when she studied with Cox, she was so timid that she would draw her easel close to the wall so that no one could see her canvas. She was a close student, and among her belongings were some valuable books on art, which she prized highly.

She exhibited at the Paris Salon in Chicago, and at the St. Louis exposition, winning high recognition for her work. Early in her career, she won a silver medal at the Indiana state fair.

While she was in Paris, her mother, accompanied by Ida Gray Scott, who was then in opera, went to join her for a three-year stay. During this time, the young artist was winning recognition abroad and was trying to master the French language, though she confessed it was difficult to study the art of perspective in a foreign tongue. This period of study was the inspiration of some of her finest work, many of these canvases standing in readiness for the exhibit she had planned. There are quaint little vine-wreathed shrines such as one comes across on French country roadsides; an Alsatian girl; and one beautiful Paris scene which hangs above the grand piano with a view of the Arc de Triumph and the Eiffel Tower in the background.

In the living room with its simple horsehair furniture, her memorable, "Carrier Pigeon" hangs on the north wall, the quality of the gown worn by the central figure reflecting the softened radiance of sunlight. An exquisitely carved chair brought from an old-world place, and a beautiful mahogany music rack are mementos of the days when Miss Rudisill was at the height of her artistic career and her sister Sarah was a teacher of music.

Large canvases, cleaned and ready for exhibition, reveal her best work. Among these is the Goose Girl, which received more recognition than anything she ever painted. There is an unfinished portrait of her mother; a portrait of herself painted by Cox; a friendly scene of the old Canal bridge in Indianapolis, and many charcoal sketches made while abroad. On one wall hangs an old carved French clock and over the bookcase, an inscription of "The Salutation of the Dawn"--Every yesterday a dream of happiness; every tomorrow a vision of hope."

Funeral services will be held Saturday at 3:30 p. m. at the home, the Rev. William A. Shullenberger officiating. Her sister is the sole survivor.