Bewley, Murray Percival (1884–1964)

By: Rebecca H. Green

Type: Biography

Published: November 1, 1994

Updated: June 17, 2020

Murray Percival Bewley, painter, son of Murray P. and Hallie C. (Samuel) Bewley, was born in Fort Worth, Texas, on June 19, 1884. His first art teacher was Mrs. W. J. Lennin of Fort Worth. His mother, a patron of art, inspired him to develop his skills. He studied with Henry Read at the Denver Art School, for two years at the Chicago Art Institute, and subsequently at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts with Cecilia Beaux. In New York, while studying with Robert Henri and William Merrit Chase, Bewley was awarded a scholarship that enabled him to accompany Chase to Florence, Italy. Afterward, he lived in Paris from 1906 until 1913, continued to study, and exhibited regularly at the Salon.

That year he returned to Fort Worth and set up a studio. In 1916 he married Bernice Wren of Fort Worth, and they moved to New York, where they stayed until 1924. In New York Bewley had his first one-man show at Ferargils Gallery. He won first prize at the Salmagundi Club in 1921 and from then until the early 1930s exhibited regularly at the Metropolitan Studio and at the Macbeth, Babcock Grand Central, and Milch galleries in New York. In 1930, after the death of his wife, he returned to Europe. Thereafter he only occasionally visited Fort Worth, to paint portraits of family and friends. He took up residence in Paris, where he married Mireille Laurent in 1933. In 1939 he returned to Fort Worth, and in 1940 he painted the last of his Fort Worth portraits. The Bewleys moved to Beverly Hills, California, in the early 1940s. During this period Bewley continued to exhibit in New York and Los Angeles galleries. In 1956 he returned to France. He died in Lyons in September 1964 after an operation. The Fort Worth Art Center mounted a memorial exhibition of his work that October.

The majority of Bewley's subjects are portraits and nudes. However, the works completed near the end of his life are primarily still lifes and flower compositions. His work is characterized by a soft, loose brush stroke, and his palette often consists of violets and opalescent colors. Bewley was a member of the Paris-American Artists Association, the Allied Artists of America, the New York Society of Artists, and the Salmagundi Club. His work is represented in the Dallas Museum of Art, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

Frances Battaile Fisk, A History of Texas Artists and Sculptors (Abilene, Texas, 1928; facsimile rpt., Austin: Morrison, 1986). Esse Forrester-O'Brien, Art and Artists of Texas (Dallas: Tardy, 1935). Fort Worth Art Center, Memorial Exhibition: Murray Bewley (1884–1964) (October 1964). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Vertical Files, Dallas Museum of Art.

  • Visual Arts
  • Painting
Time Periods:
  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
  • Great Depression
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Fort Worth
  • North Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Rebecca H. Green, “Bewley, Murray Percival,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 22, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994
June 17, 2020

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