Havemeyer, Louisine Waldron

Havemeyer, Louisine Waldron (b. Elder)

(1855–1929) art collector, suffragist; born in New York City. Daughter of a wealthy sugar refiner, she studied in Paris (1873), met Mary Cassatt there, and began to purchase works by the Impressionists. In 1883 she married Henry Havemeyer, who also made a fortune in sugar, and they lived a luxurious life in New York City. She and her husband became discerning collectors of art, traveling through Europe and personally buying what they liked; they especially collected the Impressionists but also such under-appreciated artists as El Greco. After her husband's death, she devoted herself to social causes, and was a founder of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (later the National Woman's party) (1913). She lectured—and once exhibited her painting collection—for the suffrage movement, but her most dramatic moment came in 1919 when she burned an effigy of President Woodrow Wilson on the White House lawn; she was jailed for three days, after which she set off on the "Prison Special," a train that toured the country for a month to promote woman suffrage. Most of her vast art collection went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art after her death.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.