Such is often the case with female artists throughout history, including the Hudson River School member Julie Hart Beers (1835-1913). The daughter of Scottish immigrants, Beers received no formal artistic education but was taught and mentored by her more famous brothers, James McDougal Hart (1828-1901) and William Hart (1823-1894).
Scholars have been so far unable to unearth many documents chronicling Beers’ life, but the few they have discovered show the first-generation American to be a successful working mother in the Big Apple. After the death of her first husband, with whom she shared two daughters, Beers remarried.
Living in New Jersey with her husband while commuting to her studio in New York City, Beers was a working mother long before the term was coined. She regularly displayed and sold artworks in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, a career so lucrative that she financially supported herself and her children.
“She wasn’t relying on her husband to take care of her,” as was the social norm, notes Alicia LaTores, curator at the Davis Museum at Wellesley College.