Sophia Talbot

Maiden Name: 
Birth Date: 
Birth Place: 
Boone County, IA
Death Date: 
Death Place: 
Bloomfield, Davis County, IA
Mattoon, IL
Active In: 
Wawasee Art Gallery, 1942-43
Denver Art Museum, 1941
Women Painters of America, Wichita (KS), 1938
All-Illinois Society of Fine Arts, 1939-41
Central Illinois Artists, 1943-44
Quinquit Art Center, ME
Solo, Drake Hotel, Chicago, 1942
Solo, Eastern Illinois State Teachers College, 1942
Mattoon (IL), 1942
Chariton (IA) Woman's Club, 1961
National League of American Pen Women
American Artists Professional League, NYC
Society for Sanity in Art, Chicago
Art Guild of Eastern Illinois
Denver (CO) Art Museum
All-Illinois Society of Fine Arts, Chicago
Hawthorne School, Mattoon, IL
Lincoln School, Mattoon, IL
National Bank of Mattoon, IL
Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, IL
Cumming School of Art, Des Moines, IA
Other Occupations: 
Drawing teacher, Iowa State University, 1914-17
Sophia Davis Talbot born 1888 (Boone County, IA); died 1963 (Bloomfield, Davis County, IA)

Sophia Davis Talbot was active as an artist while living in Mattoon, Illinois. She painted the portrait of Mary J. Booth that hangs in EIU Booth’s Library, and was a friend of this portrait’s subject, Ora Todd King. King and Talbot had a friendship extending over many years. They were founding members of the Mattoon branch of the National League of American Penwomen Inc. with their interests being in the art and poetry areas of the national organization. Talbot was well known in central Illinois as an artist through various exhibitions. She also taught drawing and painting in her Mattoon studio; Mrs. King’s daughter, Rosemary, was among Talbot’s students. After her husband retired from medical practice the family moved to the Talbot farm in Iowa. On visits to the Talbots in Iowa the King family found that Mrs. Talbot continued painting portraits and began to experiment with the abstract painting styles.

Research in the Mattoon, Illinois city directories reveals that Sophia Davis was married to Melville C. Talbot. They were probably married in Iowa about 1917. By 1920, Melville was a physician and surgeon in Mattoon. (He died on November 17, 1988, in Bloomfield, Davis County, Iowa.) Sophia Davis Talbot is listed in Mattoon city directories of the late 1930s through the 1940s as an artist who maintained a studio on Broadway above her husband's office. In addition to the King and Booth portraits Sophia Davis Talbot did the mural of Mattoon in the basement of what is now the Mattoon First Mid-Illinois Bank building and in 1942 had a one-person show at Eastern Illinois University, then called Eastern Illinois Teacher’s College. Other exhibitions include: Wawasee Art Gallery (1942-43), Denver Art Museum (1941), Women Painters of America, Wichita (KS, 1938), All-Illinois Society of Fine Arts (1939-41), Central Illinois Artists (1943-44), Quinquit Art Center (ME), Drake Hotel, Chicago (1942), Mattoon (1942), and Chariton (IA) Woman's Club (1961). Talbot is listed in Mallet's Index of Artists 1800-1945 (supplement).

(Much of this research was provided by Renee Henry of Oakland, Illinois, and the biographical information was provided by Rosemary King, Springfield, Illinois.)

From Michael Watts, Director of the Tarble Arts Center, Eastern Illinois University