Anna Heyward Taylor was born into a prominent family in the cotton industry, in Columbia, South Carolina. She became an important figure in Charleston’s cultural development during the golden years of the Charleston Renaissance. Most noted for her woodblock prints and watercolors, Taylor’s work is characterized by strength in design and an assured technique as she concentrated on chronicling picturesque Charleston and its surroundings in scenes depicting all stratas of everyday life.
Taylor graduated from the South Carolina College for Women, Columbia, in 1897. In 1903, she attended a summer class conducted by William Merritt Chase in Holland and traveled in Europe extensively, visiting London in 1904; England, Paris and Switzerland in 1908; and Italy and Germany in 1909. She also traveled to Asia, visiting China and Japan in 1914. Returning to further her education, she attended graduate school at Radcliffe College and stayed in Provincetown, an artist colony with a strong modernist bent, in the summers of 1915 and 1916 where she studied with the noted artist, B. J. O Nordfeldt. Her other travels were to British Guiana in 1916; to France from 1917 to 1919; and to Mexico, from 1935 to 1936.
Taylor lived in New York City from 1920 until she moved to Charleston permanently in 1929. She, along with Alice Ravenel Huger Smith, Alfred Hutty, and Elizabeth O’Neill Verner, were the principals in the cultural and artistic reawakening of Charleston. Her works are in the permanent collections of the Greenville County Museum of Art; the Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston; the American Museum of Natural History, New York; the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens; the University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor; the Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami; the Columbia Museum of Art, South Carolina; and the Morris Museum of Art, Augusta.