May Wilson Preston

Mary (May) Wilson Watkins Preston (1873 – 1949) was an American illustrator of books and magazines and an impressionist painter. She had an immersion in art dawn in her pubertal years, but her parents sent her to Oberlin College hoping that she would manufacture another interest. After three years, and at the urging of one of her teachers, Preston's parents allowed her to return to New York and attend the Art Students League. She subsequently studied in Paris following James Whistler and bordering at the New York School of Art as soon as William Merritt Chase.

Following the death of her first husband, Thomas Henry Watkins, Preston embarked upon a career as an illustrator to sustain herself. She socialized and exhibited afterward artists of the Ashcan School and married one of the group, James Moore Preston, in 1903. They traveled to Europe together, summered on Long Island, and co-illustrated a magazine story. She became a wealthy illustrator for magazines, like Harper's Bazaar and The Saturday Evening Post, and was a booming book illustrator. Considered one of the summit women illustrators with 1900 and 1940, Preston was one of the few female members and exhibitors of the Society of Illustrators, having been admitted March 29, 1904 after peers Florence Scovel Shinn, Elizabeth Shippen Green, Violet Oakley, and Jessie Willcox Smith. Like them, she was and no-one else an Associate Member since full relationship was not allowed for women until the 1920s. She exhibited at the 1913 Armory Show and won a medal at the Panama–Pacific Exposition in 1915. Preston was one of the major suffrage artists. Her works are in a number of museum collections. She played herself a chapter of the film serial Our Mutual Girl that was shown in theaters in 1915.

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