Originally from New Haven, Connecticut, Mary MacMonnies Low (née Fairchild) relocated to Missouri with her family, and began her training at the St. Louis School of Fine Arts. She continued to pursue her painting studies in Paris at the Academie Julien with Lefebvre, Bouguereau and Robert-Fleury, and worked independently with Carolus-Duran. These esteemed painters and professors helped mold her early Impressionist style, noted for its brightness and sunny palette. She exhibited regularly at the Paris Salons from 1886-1907.
The artist married sculptor Frederick MacMonnies in 1888, and together they led a fashionable life in Paris and Giverny, entertaining friends like James McNeil Whistler and Claude Monet. After her husband left her, she remarried the muralist Will Hickok Low, with whom she lived in Bronxville, NY from 1909 until 1932. Her later style was more somber and tonalist. In addition to her diverse canvases—she worked in numerous genres, including figurative, land and seascapes, floral still lifes, and urban scenes—Low also painted murals. Her most famous mural was undoubtedly the one she made for the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, which was exhibited across from one by Mary Cassatt.
Low exhibited widely and won a number of awards throughout her career, including gold medals at the Dresden International (1902), Normandy Exposition in Rouen (1903), Marseille (1905), and St. Brieux (1906). She became an Associate at the National Academy of Design in New York in 1906. Low’s works are housed in many private collections, and can be seen publicly at the Sheldon Swope Art Museum, Terra Haute, IN, and the Union League Club of Chicago, IL.