Media File
Marguerite Kirmse
Date: English artist, 1885–1954, active in America
Biography: Born in Bournemouth, England, December 14, 1885, Marguerite Kirmse trained as a harpist and graduated from The Royal Academy of Music. In addition to her love of music, Marguerite evinced an equal fondness for animals and a superior talent for reproducing their images on paper. The young musician-turning-artist spent a great deal of her spare time at the London Zoo.

Seeking respite from the heavy schedule of study in London, Marguerite Kirmse accompanied friends to the United States for a summer's vacation. The vacation over, her friends returned home but Marguerite remained. Her attempts to establish a musical career were not successful, but her interest in art deepened. She became a favorite visitor at the Bronx Zoo where keepers reportedly allowed her to take her drawing board into the cages of some of the animals.

Kirmse's early years in the United States are not known in any detail, but she was certainly devoting a great deal of time to pencil sketches, pastels, and oil. In the Manhattan office of the American Kennel Club there are pastel portraits of two Sealyham Terriers, both by Kirmse and dated 1917 and 1918. These appear to have been commissioned portraits and would indicate that the artist was reasonably well established as a specialist in canine art well before she executed her first dry point in 1921. "It was done using a Victrola needle", she explained in her book, DOGS (1930) "before I knew much about diamond points, burnishers, and other etcher's tools".

Etchings were Kirmse's forte and from 1921 until her death in 1954, she executed at least 82 titles depicting everything from Scottish Terriers to Pekingese. Kirmse’s love of the Scottish Terrier was solidified when she met and later married George W. Cole in 1924. Cole was an avid Scottish Terrier fancier and for a time the president of The Scottish Terrier Club of America. While Kirmse eventually maintained an artist’s studio in New York City, the married couple also had a farm near Bridgewater, Connecticut.

It was here at Arcady Farm that she bred dogs for the show ring, under the kennel name of Tobermory. Also in residence were Airedales, Irish Terriers, and a variety of Setters, Pointers, and Field Spaniels. The sporting breeds, at least some of them, apparently moved back and forth from Arcady Farm to the Cole's second home in the Carolinas where they were used for hunting. It was there that Kirmse's remarkable studies of hunting dogs in action were inspired. The result was the remarkable DOGS IN THE FIELD, the artist's magnum opus dealing with sporting dogs in action. This title was a Derrydale Press limited edition of only 685 copies in 1935.

In the latter 1920s, the artist lent her hand for the first time to sculpture and produced a series of miniatures of dogs in bronze. Only 30 of each of the eight figures were cast by Gorham Founders of Providence, Rhode Island. They were offered for sale during the early 1930s.