Anne Mauger Taylor Nash came to art later in life. After marrying, the native North Carolinan moved with her family and settled in Charleston, South Carolina. It was there, in 1924, that the forty-year-old mother of three was persuaded by her close friend, artist Elizabeth O’Neill Verner, to take up painting. Nash enrolled in classes at the Gibbes Art Gallery (now the Gibbes Museum of Art) and quickly found that she had a talent for portraiture, character studies, and still lifes. Over the next few decades, Nash devoted herself to art by pursuing a serious education both at home and abroad. In Charleston, she studied under painter Alice Ravenel Huger Smith. In 1932, Nash enrolled in more formal art classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts’ summer program in Chester Springs. Her passion eventually took her abroad to study in Mexico with painter Wayman Adams, and to the École des Beaux-Arts in Fontainebleau, France.
In the period between the world wars, the city of Charleston experienced a revitalization as local artists, writers, architects, and historic preservationists collaborated to improve the social, cultural, and intellectual conditions of their community while also honoring its longstanding traditions. It was during this renaissance that many influential Southern museums, galleries, and other cultural organizations were established, including the Gibbes Art Gallery, the Southern States Art League, and the Poetry Society of South Carolina. Several female artists—Nash, Verner, Smith, and Anna Heyward Taylor—were instrumental in advancing these concerns and creating opportunities for women in the arts.
Nash excelled at portraiture, focusing primarily on female subjects. While she captured the likenesses of prominent local writers and socialites, her portraits often depict unidentified women in relaxed, informal postures and casual settings. Many were left untitled, reflecting a modernist approach to a very traditional subject. Nash exhibited her work often; between 1931 and 1935, she participated in the Southern States Art League’s annual exhibitions, as well as several other exhibitions in Charleston and Savannah. In these venues, her work was featured alongside that of other prominent regional artists, including Verner, Smith, Lamar Dodd, Clarence Millet, and Emma Wilkins.
In the winter of 1933–1934, Nash was one of eighteen artists hired in South Carolina to contribute to the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP), a New Deal program that preceded the better-known Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration. The PWAP employed artists to create murals, paintings, sculptures, and other art works for public buildings that highlighted the unique qualities of their respective state as well as the “American scene” more broadly. Nash’s assignment was a portrait of South Carolina statesman Joel Roberts Poinsett, who is perhaps best remembered for introducing a Mexican flowering plant to the United States now commonly known as the poinsettia.
In 1937, Nash and her husband relocated to Savannah, where for reasons unknown she stopped painting. She did, however, remain active in the art circles as a member of the Carolina Art Association, the Savannah Art Club, and the Southern States Art League. She took up painting again after her husband died in 1948, executing portrait commissions until her own death twenty years later.