Theresa Bernstein

Theresa Ferber Bernstein-Meyerowitz (March 1, 1890 – Feb. 13, 2002); Polish-born American artist, painter, and writer.

Theresa Ferber Bernstein was born in Kraków, the only child of Jewish parents, Isidore and Anne (née Ferber) Bernstein, who emigrated to the US. She studied with Harriet Sartain, Elliott Daingerfield, Henry Snell, Daniel Garber and others at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women, now Moore College of Art & Design.

She graduated in 1911 with an award for general achievement (the college awarded her an honorary doctorate in 1992). After enrolling at the Art Students League in New York City, where she took life and portraiture classes with William Merritt Chase, she traveled for a second time to Europe with her mother, her first trip abroad having been made in 1905. She admired Robert Henri's style of depicting the city's everyday drama.

In 1912 she settled in Manhattan. Her studio near Bryant Park and Times Square allowed her to paint a cross-section of New Yorkers; she also painted harbors, beaches, fish, and still-life. She and her husband William Meyerowitz lived for many decades... at 54 West 74th Street on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, just one block from Central Park West, and this studio was her home at the time of her death....

An artistic career lasting over ninety years and spanning the twentieth century might seem a worthwhile achievement in itself, but to Theresa Bernstein, longevity was just “an accident of nature.” Only art mattered.... As a woman crossing the gender threshold...

Asked in a NY Times article from 1990 how she felt about being overlooked throughout her career, she replied:

“I never got frustrated, because I didn’t expect anything. I enjoyed painting the works I did. I didn’t do it for public acclaim.”
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Comte Algarotti


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