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Nancy Mowll Mathews

Cassatt, Mary (22 May 1844–13 June 1926), artist, was born Mary Stevenson Cassatt in Allegheny City (now part of Pittsburgh), Pennsylvania, the daughter of Robert Simpson Cassatt and Katherine Kelso Johnston. At the time of her birth, her father was a forwarding merchant, buying raw materials from the frontier states and selling them to eastern manufacturers, but in later years he opened an investment firm in Philadelphia. Her mother was the daughter of Alexander Johnston, the first director of the Bank of Pittsburgh....

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Mary Cassatt. Oil on canvas, c. 1880-1884, by Edgar Degas. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation and the Regents' Major Acquisitions Fund, Smithsonian Institution.

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Clements, Gabrielle DeVaux (11 September 1858–23 March 1948), oil and mural painter and etcher, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Richard Clements, a physician, and Gabrielle DeVaux. When she was seventeen, Clements studied lithography with Charles Page, an ornamental designer and printmaker, at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women. She made scientific drawings and lithographs for Cornell University, from which she received a B.S. in 1880. Although her coursework specialized in science, she wrote her senior thesis on “A Study of Two German Masters in Medieval Art, Dürer and Holbein.” Clements studied with painter ...

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Getchell, Edith Loring Peirce (25 January 1855–18 September 1940), painter and etcher, was born in Bristol, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Unitarians Joseph S. Peirce, a well-to-do candle manufacturer and politician, and Ann Moore. Peirce’s parents sent her in 1874 to study art with Peter Moran at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women, where she specialized in textile design. Returning to Bristol after three years at the school, Peirce designed textiles for Livingston Mills....

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Greatorex, Eliza Pratt (25 December 1819–09 February 1897), landscape painter and etcher, was born in Manor Hamilton, Ireland, the daughter of the Reverend James Calcott Pratt, a follower of John Wesley. Her mother’s name is unknown. As girls Eliza and her sister Matilda were allowed to study painting, literature, and music. For a time both girls sought literary careers. In 1840 the family moved to New York City, where Eliza Pratt began to concentrate on painting. In 1849 she married Henry Wellington Greatorex, an English emigrant and well-known organist; they had two children. The family traveled widely for Henry’s frequent concert and teaching engagements, but they made their home in Hartford, Connecticut. On returning from a visit to England, Henry Greatorex died unexpectedly in Charleston, South Carolina, on 10 September 1858....

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Hale, Ellen Day (11 February 1855–11 February 1940), oil and mural painter and etcher, was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, the daughter of Edward Everett Hale, an author, orator, and Unitarian clergyman, and Emily Baldwin Perkins. Hale was the eldest child and only daughter in her family of seven brothers, of whom only five lived to adulthood. She assumed the surrogate mother duties of an eldest daughter, extending her caretaking to serving as her father’s hostess in Washington, D.C., from 1904, when he was appointed chaplain to the U.S. Senate, to his death in 1909. From an early age she determinedly pursued a career in art, working and traveling as much as her commitment to family responsibilities would allow. Hale’s mother encouraged Ellen and her brothers, who included the artist ...

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Lazzell, Blanche (10 October 1878–01 June 1956), painter and printmaker, was born Nettie Blanche Lazzell in Maidsville, West Virginia, the daughter of Cornelius Carhart Lazzell and Mary Prudence Pope. As a result of a childhood illness, Lazzell experienced pronounced hearing loss her entire life. She started her secondary education at West Virginia Conference Seminary (known today as West Virginia Wesleyan) in 1898 and in 1899 attended the South Carolina Co-Educational Institute in Edgefield. The only member of her family to receive a college education, she was a student at West Virginia University from 1901 to 1905 and graduated with three degrees, in literature, liberal arts, and fine arts....

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Lesley Bush-Brown, Margaret White (19 May 1857–17 November 1944), painter and etcher, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of J. Peter Lesley, a professor of geology and mining engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, and Susan Inchus Lyman, a writer and social reformer. During her childhood, Margaret Lesley’s Unitarian parents encouraged her to develop her artistic skills. In 1869 she entered the antique class at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts but was soon told by officials at the school that she was too young. They referred her to the Philadelphia School of Design for Women, where she is listed on the school register for 1870. Lesley was probably a student of Peter Moran, who was the painting and drawing instructor at that time. In 1871 her parents arranged for her to spend a few months studying with sculptor ...

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Merritt, Anna Massey Lea (13 September 1844–07 April 1930), painter, printmaker, and writer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Joseph Lea, Jr., a textile manufacturer, and Susanna Massey. Her Quaker-turned-Unitarian parents sent her to progressive schools, including abolitionists Theodore Dwight Weld...

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Moran, Mary Nimmo (16 May 1842–25 September 1899), painter and etcher, was born in Strathaven, Lanarkshire, Scotland, the daughter of Archibald Nimmo, who was probably a weaver, and Mary Scot. Her mother died when Nimmo was very young, and in 1847 her father brought her and her older brother to the United States. They settled in Crescentville, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, where she attended grammar school. In 1862 Nimmo married her neighbor, the landscape painter and etcher ...

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Emily Sartain. Engraving by John Sartain. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-112191).

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Sartain, Emily (17 March 1841–17 June 1927), art educator and painter/printmaker, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of John Sartain, a mezzotint engraver, and Susannah Longmate Swaine. Sartain, one of two daughters and five sons, grew up in a family in which her father trained her brothers as professional artists. Socially prominent Unitarians and Associationists, her parents encouraged her to attend Philadelphia Normal School for Girls. When she began to teach public school upon graduation in 1858, she joined a predominantly female profession....