Like so many of the other female artists of the period, Ms. Phillips only used her initials to avoid discrimination. As scarce as biographical material can be on most of the nineteenth century artist, it is even harder to find on the female painters of the period.
What we have pieced together is this: M.V. Phillips, Artist, born in Ohio about 1848 and active in Cincinnati (Hamilton County) from 1880 or earlier, to at least 1905. After studying at the School of Design (now the Cincinnati Art Academy), she taught drawing and designing at the Cincinnati Wesleyan College for Women in 1882 and 1883. From 1892 until 1905 she was listed at various Cincinnati addresses as 'artist'.
The frame, Dated 1879, was most likely carved by Jennie Phillips (artist sister). Jennie Phillips studied woodcarving at the School of Design (now the Cincinnati Art Academy) from 1874 to 1877. She exhibited a carved frame in the Women's Pavilion at the 1876 Centennial Exposition. In 1878 Phillips carved the Gluck panel and a portion of moulding for Cincinnati's Music Hall organ screen.
The principal art centers during this period were New York, Philadelphia, and Boston, but other cities throughout the country maintained vital artistic communities, usually supported by talented artists and avid collectors. Within the state of Ohio burgeoned a tremendous art market that saw its greatest activity in the Cincinnati region and engendered work from myriad talented artists, some local to the area, others just passing through for commissions.
Artists in Ohio, 1787-1900
Hamiliton County census, 1900
Cincinnati Enquirer, June 10, 1880
Annual catalogues, Cincinnati Wesleyan College for Women
Cincinnati, Ohio, Cincinnati Art Galleries, Panorama of Cincinnati Art III: 1850-1950, November 26 - December 31,1988.