Maurice Bebb Biography

Maurice Bebb




Printmaker Maurice Bebb was born in Chicago, Illinois, on September 22, 1891, into a family of noted botanists and floriculturists whose passion for the flora of North America Maurice Bebb would carry on. After graduating high school in 1909, he enrolled in floriculture courses at the University of Illinois and earned his BS in 1913. After a stint serving with the U.S. Army in France during World War I, he moved with his wife Helen to Oklahoma and began a career as a florist, serving as president of the Oklahoma State Florist Association from 1924 to 1925. It wouldn't be until World War II that he would begin pursuing art.

With no formal training, Bebb, who had long been fascinated by and collected etchings, began to teach himself how to draw in his 50s, using instructional books and pamphlets. He made his first etching 1941 and by 1949 he had begun exhibiting, participating in that year's Chicago Society of Etchers's annual exhibition. He was awarded the Graphic Chemical & Ink Co. Purchase prize in 1950, spurring his passion for printmaking and inspiring him to retire the following year in order to focus his energies on his art career. He handed the florist business over to his son and grandson, traveling to Europe with Helen on sketching trips in 1956 and 1958. By then he had found success as an artist, commerically and in the exhibitioning world. He became a member of the Print Makers Society of California and the Prairie Printmakers for whom he created gift prints in 1953 and 1960, respectively. In 1954, his print "Yellow-Throated Warbler" was chosen as the presentation print for the Chicago Society of Etchers.

Bebb continued working as a printmaker, building a prolific body of work. Known for his bird prints as much as for his florals and landscapes, his work was treasured not just by print enthusiasts but by botanists, ornithologists, and conservationists. In 1976 Bebb and his daughter,
artist Helen Brainerd, were both named Artists of the Month by Oklahoma Governor David Boren and three of Bebb's works were featured in the Winter edition of Oklahoma Today. Three years later he was named Artist of the Year by Ducks Unlimited. According to his second wife, Kappa, he continued to work until three days before his death on March 19, 1986 in Muskogee, Oklahoma.

1949 - 39th Annual Chicago Society of Etchers (CSE) Exhibition
1950 - 40th Annual CSE Exhibition (Graphic Chemical & Ink Co. Purchase Prize)
1954 - 9th Annual Print Makers Society of California (PSC)
1955 - 10th Annual PSC Exhibition
1965 - Solo exhibition, Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology
1973 - Solo exhibition, Citizens National Bank, Muskogee, OK
1983 - Joint exhibition with watercolorist Vivien Frazier, Heard Museum of Natural History (now the Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary)
1987 - "Maurice Bebb - A Tribute", posthumous retrospective, Framemaker Gallery, Muskogee, OK
2005 - Included in "Printmakers of the Prairie, 1920 - 1970", JRB Art at the Elms, Oklahoma City