Margaret Ralston Gest (1900-1965) was an eclectic artist who grew up in Philadelphia society before pursuing her fine arts education. Gest painted up and down the East Coast and across Europe, won awards for her art, loved birds and gardens, wrote poetry and translated historical works, and enjoyed long intellectual and philosophical discussions with her partner Miriam Mulford Hunt Thrall.

Following her death in 1965, the Peale House held a “one-man show” of her work. Memorializing her oeuvre, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s art critic wrote: “Her terse brush strokes of color appear stained directly into expanses of white ground, in oils and watercolors that are at their best when they are most spare. Although her output was uneven, an artistic energy and a sparkling quality pervade her work. Mere impressions of landscape may come across as bold forms, or even achieve spatial grandeur. Hers was a small but genuine talent of a kind that’s all too rare today.”