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Bernstein studied with, among others, Harriet Sartain, Elliott Daingerfield, Henry Snell, and Daniel Garber at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women now Moore College of Art & Design. She graduated in 1911 with an award for general achievement. 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 in a rent-controlled loft-style studio apartment 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.
Bernstein was a member of the National Association of Women Artists, New York Society of Women Artists and the North Shore Art Association. Her works were exhibited extensively with the National Academy of Design and the Society of Independent Artists (which she helped found with John Sloan).
Husband and family
Her husband was William Meyerowitz, also an artist. Following the death of their only child in infancy, the couple remained childless during their marriage. Bernstein and Meyerowitz were quite close to two of their nieces who were both musicians, namely Laura Nyro and Barbara Meyerowitz (later known as Barbara De Angelis). Nyro and DeAngelis were both supported in their musical educations by Bernstein and Meyerowitz. DeAngelis graduated from The Juilliard School of Music in the 1940s and enjoyed success as a songwriter, composer and teacher of piano and voice in New York and New Jersey. She lived and taught piano and voice in Atlanta, Georgia from March 2010 until her death from a stroke in June 2011.
They often spent summers in New England, where Bernstein completed many of her beach scenes. Their home at 44 Mt. Pleasant Avenue in East Gloucester was a simple, two-story saltbox-style house where artists, friends and family often gathered. Bernstein said that the artist Stuart Davis lived across the street for a period of time, and that Stuart and William would frequently play chess and look at the stars through Davis' telescope. Bernstein's great-nephew, Keith Carlson and his wife and son, Mary Rives and Rene Rives, lived in the home for several years in the late 1980s and early 1990s, helping to care for the property during the winter and assisting with Bernstein's care during her summers in Gloucester. After her death, the home on Mt. Pleasant Avenue was sold.
Age issue and death
Bernstein died on February 12, 2002, several weeks before her 112th birthday and several years after suffering a stroke. Other sources have listed her as born anywhere from 1886 to 1895. According to an original certificate issued by the Board of Public Education of the First School District of Pennsylvania (currently in the possession of Bernstein's great-nephew, Keith Carlson) Bernstein graduated from the William D. Kelley Elementary School in June 1907. Several of her paintings are on display at the Boca Raton Art Museum in Florida.
- Bailey, Michael (February 15, 2002). "THERESA BERNSTEIN AT 111; REALIST PAINTER, AUTHOR". The Boston Globe – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved April 9, 2013.
- "Bernstein, Theresa Ferber (1890–2002)". Dictionary of Women Worldwide – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). January 1, 2007. Retrieved April 9, 2013.
- Prial, Dunstan (February 15, 2002). "THERESA BERNSTEIN, 111, MODERNIST PAINTER". The Record – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved April 9, 2013.
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