Self Portrait, oil on canvas 1940

Self Portrait, oil on canvas 1940

Marian Williams Steele

American, 1912-2001

Born in Trenton, New Jersey, Marian Williams Steele was an accomplished landscape and portrait artist who received more than 100 awards for her masterful paintings in oil and watercolor. She studied at the Trenton School of Industrial Arts and, later, the prestigious Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. Upon graduation she was awarded the William Emlen Cresson Memorial Traveling Scholarship for European study and the first ever Charles Toppan Prize. After returning from Europe, she began studying and painting at the Albert C. Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia by special invitation.

During her career she had studios in both Cambridge and Gloucester, Massachusetts. She moved to Cambridge in the late 1930s and later became a full-time Gloucester resident and painted almost exclusively on the North Shore. She travelled extensively internationally and also took frequent trips to southern California to paint and exhibit. She maintained close friendships with many other accomplished New England artists including Mary Bryan and Emile Gruppe with whom she occasionally painted. Because of her reputation as an accurate yet exciting and creative portrait artist, she was also commissioned to paint numerous celebrities and sports figures including Mohammed Ali, Mario Andretti, and Joe Namath.

During the height of her career, Mrs. Steele was an esteemed member of many prestigious art associations including the Guild of Boston Artists, the California Art Association, the Rockport Art Association, the Cambridge Art Association, and the American Association of Professional Artists, among others. She also exhibited extensively throughout her career with several successful shows at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Salmagundi Club on Fifth Avenue in New York City, the Los Angeles Museum of Art, the Long Beach Arts Association, the Oakland Museum, the Montclair Museum, the American Artists Professional League, the Rockport Art Association, and Harvard University. Marian maintained a busy studio at her home on Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester until she was slowed down by Alzheimer’s related dementia in the late 1990’s. Marian died on February 8, 2001, in Needham, MA near her daughter Pam and her family. She was eighty-nine years old.


‘The Genius of Marian’  started as a personal project between a mother and son. In 2008, about a year before my mother’s diagnosis, she began working on a book that tribute her mother, the artist Marian Williams Steele – it’s title “The Genius of Marian”.

We are in the process of creating a website that honors my mother’s initial intention and is dedicated to celebrating the work of my grandmother and incredibly talented artist, Marian Williams Steele. While the site is being constructed we have posted this short biography and some images of her artwork. If you are interested in showing her work or seeing and learning more about it please reach out to us directly at

With love and admiration – her grandson,

Banker White