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This peculiarly unhealthy mode of existence . . . would I suppose please me if I were infected by that "last infirmity of noble minds," but my diseases are more plebeian, and the wish for "fame" has never spurred me on --- even if I believed in its possibility for me, which I don't. [3/29/1898]
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The American Art Market at the turn of
the 20th Century


In the increasingly competitive American art market of the early 20th Century, women were barred from some of its entrances, particularly the exhibitions, prizes, publicity, and patrons controlled and influenced by male artists’ clubs. Anna Richards had also to contend with the obstacle of the commonly held contemporary view that women were dabblers, painting and drawing as a polite social accomplishment, who could never have the vigor nor dedication to create great art. Any woman who tried had to overcome a charge of “un-sexed”, inappropriate behavior. She would have difficulty participating in the social round necessary to sell her work to patrons. Cecilia Beaux’s very successful career was a notable exception¹.


¹I am indebted to Sarah Burns' recent book Inventing Impressionism for insight into this period in American Art.
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Copyright © 2002
Anna Richards Brewster, American Impressionist
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