Artist. Born in Columbia on November 13, 1879, Taylor was the daughter of Dr. Benjamin Taylor and Marianna Heyward, both members of prominent South Carolina families. In 1897 she graduated from the South Carolina Presbyterian Institute for Young Ladies.
After sojourns in New York and Boston, Taylor spent the summers of 1903 and 1904 studying abroad with the noted art instructor William Merritt Chase, first in Holland and then in London. In 1908 and 1909 she traveled extensively in Europe, followed by travels to the Far East in 1914. She spent the summers of 1915 and 1916 in Provincetown, Massachusetts, an emerging artists’ colony where printmakers were experimenting with wood-block prints. In 1916 and 1920 she joined expeditions led by William Beebe to British Guiana, where she studied and rendered tropical vegetation. During World War I she was the first woman from South Carolina to serve with the American Red Cross in France. Taylor resided in New York through the 1920s until 1929, when she moved to Charleston permanently.
Already a charter member of the Columbia Art Association since 1915, she soon became identified as a leading member of the Charleston Renaissance along with Alice Ravenel Huger Smith, Elizabeth O’Neill Verner, and Alfred Hutty. Unlike her colleagues, Taylor was well traveled, and she continued to explore new locales. For fifteen months in 1935 and 1936 she traveled extensively in Mexico. Taylor was accomplished in a variety of mediums, including watercolor, linoleum and wood-block prints, batik on silk, and the design of screens. She excelled, however, in color wood-block prints using the white-line method, which she had learned in Provincetown from B. J. O. Nordfeldt during the summer of 1916. In this technique, artists carve grooves between separate color areas, allowing the use of only one wood block, instead of the many required in the more traditional Japanese manner. Taylor’s subjects were often Charleston street scenes or exotic flowers seen at close range, which she printed in bright, solid colors. Her black and white prints are distinctive for broad areas of flat black or plain white. Many served as illustrations for This Our Land (1949), a volume published by the Agricultural Society of South Carolina with a text by Chalmers S. Murray. One of her black and white prints, Harvesting Rice, was selected for inclusion at the 1939 New York World’s Fair.
In 1950 Taylor’s art was the focus of a retrospective exhibition, the first one-artist undertaking at the Columbia Museum of Art. Examples of Taylor’s work can be found in numerous private collections and at the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, the Columbia Museum of Art, the South Carolina State Museum, and the Greenville County Museum of Art. Taylor died at her Charleston residence on March 4, 1956. See plate 26.
Burgess, Lana Ann. “Anna Heyward Taylor: ‘Her Work Which Is of Enduring Quality Will Remain to Attest to Her Reputation as an Artist and Her Generosity as a Citizen.’” Master’s thesis, University of South Carolina, 1994.
Murray, Chalmers S. This Our Land: The Story of the Agricultural Society of South Carolina. Charleston, S.C.: Carolina Art Association, 1949.
Severens, Martha R. Anna Heyward Taylor: Printmaker. Greenville, S.C.: Greenville County Museum of Art, 1987.