Stanley Murphy (1922-2003) Stan called “Dean of Martha’s Vineyard Artists” by The Boston Globe, made a living painting portraits, landscapes and flowers on the Island. The way Murphy captured a person’s character, the luminosity of a floral arrangement or the grandeur of the Vineyard through the seasons resonated with many people. With his rendering of Islanders and the land for over 50 years, he documented the gradual evolution of the Island from a fishing and farming community to a community of second homes.
In 1948 Murphy, his wife and infant son moved to Martha’s Vineyard, where his wife had summered on West Chop. He left New York City, a cold water flat in Little Italy, and the Art Students League, before completing his studies. Stan found that there was a life time’s subject matter for him to paint on Martha’s Vineyard.
In the early years on Island, fishermen and farmers extended a hand to the struggling artist by showing him how to gather a meal. Their hard work, self-reliance and tenacity are values Mr. Murphy identified with and captured in his portraits of Island workers.
In 1958 Stan built his own gallery, which was opened only during the two summer months. The Stanley Murphy Gallery showed only Stan’s paintings and drawings and it was the only outlet for his work. He rarely exhibited in group shows or in other galleries. There are over 50 galleries on the island today, in 1958 his art gallery was one of only three.
Stan painted on canvas, linen, wood panels as well as Masonite. He used oil, tempera, acrylic, crayon, pen, pencil, charcoal, markers, mosaic, etching and lithography, with thin oil paint and pencil most often employed.
The human form always interested the painter, be it men at work or people at ease or the nude female figure. Woven into his life’s work with the paid commissions of wealthy summer visitors or the occasional off-island commission such as the first black Cabinet Minister in the United States, Dr. Robert Weaver, were the Island landscapes and portraits of farmers and fishermen. At Stan’s memorial service, longtime friend, patron and art collector, Mike Straight eulogized, “as Argenteuil belongs to Monet, Martha’s Vineyard belongs to Stan Murphy.”