Martha E. Simkins, portrait painter, was born in Monticello, Florida, in 1869, the daughter of Eliza (Trescott) and Judge Eldred J. Simkins. In 1871 the family moved to Corsicana, Texas. About 1893 Martha attended the Art Students' League in New York, where she studied with American Impressionist William Merritt Chase and Kenyon Cox. In 1901 she became an art instructor at North Texas Normal School in Denton. In 1906 she returned to New York to study with Chase. Sometime between 1906 and 1915 Simkins studied with Cecilia Beaux and John Singer Sargent in Europe; she was also a friend of Mary Cassatt. From 1915 to 1924 Martha Simkins lived in Dallas during the winter months and at Woodstock, New York, each summer. She had studios in both places. By 1925, when her portrait commissions had increased, she remained in New York City during the winter and at the Woodstock Art Colony in the summer. By 1927 she had exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the National Academy of Design, and the Charleston (South Carolina) Museum, as well as several New York galleries. That fall she exhibited at the Paris Salon. In 1934 Simkins returned to Dallas, where she entered exhibitions, accepted portrait commissions, and taught students. She died on April 15, 1969, in Los Angeles County, California. During her New York years she was a member of the Pen and Brush Club and the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors.
The Handbook of Texas Women project has its own dedicated website and resources.