Maud Dale was born Agnes Maud Murray in Rochester, New York, on June 25, 1876. She was the daughter of Frank L. Murray, then a compositor for the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, and Agnes Jones Murray. The family lived in Rochester and various other upstate New York communities before moving to New York City in 1886, where Maud enrolled at the Art Students League in 1893.
She married Frederick M. Thompson on March 31, 1898, a Yale graduate and fellow art student who was simultaneously studying for a degree at New York Law School. They had one son before they were divorced in April 1911. Later that same month Maud married Chester Dale in Greenwich, Connecticut. Dale was a stockbroker eight years younger than she, and had been a friend of her first husband. By the time of his marriage to Maud, Dale had already amassed a considerable fortune as a successful bond salesman specializing in railroad mortgages and utilities.
The Dales lived in New York City, leading an active social life, visiting Paris in the winters and spending summers in Southampton, Long Island. Chester Dale's main interests were in business and sports, but Maud Dale, with a background of studying art, began directing her husband's interests toward acquiring important 19th and 20th century art, predominantly of the French school. The Dales became a team, with Mrs. Dale selecting the paintings and her husband bargaining for them. The collection grew in size and importance through the 1920's, and Mrs. Dale began working to introduce French art to the American public through exhibitions of their own paintings as well as writing publications on modern art. The Dales were involved with the French Institute in New York in 1931-1932, where Mrs. Dale organized a series of exhibitions that drew on both the Dale collection and loans from other U.S. collections and abroad. A rift over policy questions led to Mr. Dale resigning from the board and Mrs. Dale resigning from the art committee, but Mrs. Dale continued to organize exhibitions elsewhere for the benefit of various charitable organizations for several years.
The growth of the art collection led the Dales over the years to seek ever-larger residences, and in 1931 they rented two penthouses, an entire floor, in the tower of the newly constructed Carlyle Hotel on Madison Avenue. Several years later Mr. Dale bought a mansion on East Seventy-ninth Street, but although Mrs. Dale helped to entertain at the new residence, she never lived there. She gradually became a recluse, leaving the art world, and remained at the Carlyle for the rest of her life, apart from her husband, for some years before her death in a nursing home in Southampton on August 5, 1953.
DAB [Supplement Five, New York, 1951-1955], 150-152.
Hahnloser-Ingold, Margrit. "Collecting Matisses of the 1920s in the 1920s," in Matisse: The Early Years in Nice. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1986: 253-255.