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Martha Cahoon (Farhan)

Birthplace: Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States
Death: December 07, 1999 (94)
Barnstable, Barnstable County, Massachusetts, United States
Place of Burial: Cotuit, Barnstable County, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Wife of Ralph Eugene Cahoon

Occupation: furniture decorator, artist
Managed by: Nancy D. Coon
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Martha Cahoon

Martha Farham was born in Boston's Roslindale neighborhood to Swedish immigrant parents, Axel and Elma Farham. She lived there until her family re-located to the seaside town of Harwich, Massachusetts in Cape Cod in 1915.

Although by all accounts Martha was an excellent student she declined to attend college after her high school graduation, instead choosing to become a full time apprentice to her father, who was a respected furniture decorator. Working under her father she quickly mastered the restoration and decoration of antique furniture and started to gain her own reputation as an adept craftswoman.

In 1930 Martha Farham met Ralph Cahoon and, although she was five years his senior, they started a lifelong romance. In 1932 they were married by a justice of the peace and soon moved a few towns away to Osterville. As they started their lives together, Martha taught Ralph her family's business and soon they had their own thriving business refinishing, decorating, and selling antique furniture.

In 1953 their careers took a new path when one of their customers convinced them to frame some of their designs. Their foray from furniture decoration into "wall art" proved successful and both Cahoons went onto to produce numerous works over the ensuing decades.

Although Martha did adopt portions of her husband's style her work remained softer and less playful, focusing more on idyllic and soothing subjects.

Martha Cahoon continued painting long after her husband's death in 1982 and continued to draw in crayon up until her death in 1999. Her works are considered to be masterpieces of 20th century American folk art and are housed in many museums and countless private collections including Cahoon Museum of American Art.

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Martha Cahoon's Timeline

January 11, 1905
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States
December 7, 1999
Age 94
Barnstable, Barnstable County, Massachusetts, United States
Cotuit, Barnstable County, Massachusetts, United States