Marie Goth was one of Indiana’s finest portraitists, painting hundreds of notable subjects ranging from James Whitcomb Riley to General Douglas MacArthur. Goth studied art at Manual Training High School with Hoosier Group painter Otto Stark, who was her father’s cousin and head of the school’s art department. She won her first prize in a design contest at age 16 and served for three years after her graduation as Stark’s assistant. Goth studied at the John Herron Art Institute and the Art Academy in Cincinnati, and from 1909 to 1919 she attended the Art Students League in New York. In 1926, Goth won first place for a portrait entry in the Hoosier Salon and in 1931 was the recipient of the Julia A. Shaw Memorial Prize at the National Academy of Design in New York. She died at age 87, leaving most of her $600,000 estate to the Brown County Art Guild with the stipulation that a museum be built to exhibit paintings by her, her sister Genevieve Goth Graf, her sister’s husband, Carl Graf, and her long-time love, V. J. Cariani.
The portrait of Mrs. McCullough in her wedding dress dates from Goth’s early career. The influence of one of her Art Student League teachers William Merritt Chase is evident in the thick, bravura strokes of the hair ribbon and dress and the dark Old Master tonalities. While the young artist was more successful in rendering the textural effect of the gown than the anatomy of the figure, her sensitivity as a portraitist is evident in the bride’s delicate expression. Mrs. McCullough would later have a distinguished career as a civic leader and teacher in Indianapolis.
Judith Vale Newton and Carol Ann Weiss. Skirting the Issue: Stories of Indiana’s Historical Women Artists, Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 2004. ISBN-13: 978-0871951779