¹ De Mazia consistently noted her birth year as 1899, even on her Declaration of Alien About to Depart for the United States form, which she completed on April 9, 1924, for her maiden voyage to the US. However, thanks to the research of Serena Shanken Skwersky, who found de Mazia’s birth record at the French National Archives, we know that she was born August 30, 1896, as Stella Bertha Violette Mazia. See Serena Shanken Skwersky, Remembering Vio: Violette de Mazia: Director of Education and Spirit of the Barnes Foundation (Philadelphia, PA: Kopel Publishing, 2019), 7, endnote 5. Special thanks to Skwersky also for sharing her research notes, which include a number of unpublished translations and primary documentation.
² Dr. Barnes and de Mazia co-authored The French Primitives and Their Forms from Their Origin to the End of the Fifteenth Century (1931), The Art of Henri Matisse (1933), The Art of Renoir (1935), and The Art of Cézanne (1939).
³ De Mazia was appointed to the Barnes Foundation Board of Trustees in 1935. In 1951, after the death of Dr. Barnes, her positions as trustee and director of art education were made lifetime appointments. In 1966, after the death of Mrs. Barnes, de Mazia was named vice president of the board.
⁴ The Barnes Foundation acquired the Violette de Mazia Collection from the Violette de Mazia Foundation in 2015, after the Montgomery County Orphan’s Court granted the latter permission to affiliate its art education program with that of the Barnes.
⁵ Joseph Catz. Letter to Violette de Mazia, November 23, 1923. Violette de Mazia Collection, Barnes Foundation Archives [VDM]. After the First World War, Catz worked as secretary to Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky (1880–1940), a Zionist leader, orator, and writer who played a significant role in the establishment of the State of Israel. Skwersky, 19–20, and note 27.
⁶ The five languages were French, Flemish, English, German, and Italian. She also studied practical handicrafts, vocal music, gymnastics, and dance. Skwersky, 5–13, endnotes 5, 6 and 13.
⁷ Skwersky, 15–16.
⁸ Admittance to draw in public galleries of the Antiquities departments of the British Museum, 1919. VDM. Mazia identified herself as an artist/painter on a membership dues receipt from the Société Royals des Beaux-Arts (Brussels, Belgium), 1924, and her Declaration of Alien about to Depart for the United States, 1924. VDM. In a deposition taken in 1962, de Mazia stated that she “audited” art classes at the [London] Polytechnic, which the cross-examining attorney misidentified as Hampsted [sic] Polytechnic. Deposition transcripts of Laura Barnes and V. de Mazia (2), 1962. VDM
⁹ Skwersky, endnote 26.
¹⁰ In 1923, Palestine was under British control, as designated by a League of Nations mandate. During WWI, Great Britain had agreed to honor Arab independence in exchange for their revolting against the Ottoman Turks. But in 1917, the British also promised support for a Jewish “national home” in Palestine. The competing interests of the Arabs and Jews and the governing British would lead to revolt in the 1930s and finally the Palestinian war of 1947–49. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandatory_Palestine
¹¹ Joseph Catz. Letter to Violette de Mazia, July 20, 1923. VDM.
¹² Joseph Catz. Letter to Violette de Mazia, July 21, 1923. VDM. Translation in Skwersky, 18
¹³ “If being in the Air Force displeases him [Violette’s father], this will continue displeasing him for at least another five years!! As for his apparent satisfaction at seeing the presents I sent you, this may very well be because of the proof that I was out of your reach and thus his certainty of overriding my influence over you.” Joseph Catz. Letter to Violette de Mazia, p. 3, September 24, 1923. VDM.
¹⁴ “I am certain, as I have always been, that all your father had against me was my Zionist job.” Joseph Catz. Letter to Violette de Mazia, p. 2, October 25, 1923. VDM. Most evident of Catz’s zeal to serve is a letter to his sister Rose, written a month later to assuage her fears of his flying. “I can foresee in my success a great good that one day will follow me to the land of Israel… I do not have any hesitation to say that I would die happy even in my training period, in order to serve one day in Palestine.” Joseph Catz. Letter to Rose Catz, November 15, 1923. VDM. Translation of letter provided in Skwersky, p. 30–31. As to anti-Semitism, Catz makes a few references to it, usually comments from a fellow officer expressing doubts of Jews serving in Palestine. Yet it did not shake his enthusiasm: “Palestine may be an awkward place for Jews to live in, even officers, yet it is worth while [sic] going there; and then, perhaps is it really a duty to do so and try and prove to the authorities there that there are a certain kind of Jews who are not as black as they are painted, who though in its service are proud of their race and would on no account sacrifice their origin for any consideration.” Joseph Catz. Letter to Violette de Mazia, p. 2, November 26, 1923. VDM.
¹⁵ Joseph Catz. Letter to Violette de Mazia, p. 3, August 5, 1923. VDM.
¹⁶ Joseph Catz. Letter to Violette de Mazia, p. 3, September 15, 1923. VDM. Catz did inquire about being posted to an RAF station in Uxbridge, England, for part of his training. Skwersky, 28.
¹⁷ Joseph Catz. Letter to Violette de Mazia, December 4, 1923. VDM. Skwersky, 33, 36.
¹⁸ Skwersky, 38–41.
¹⁹ She sailed from Southampton, England, on May 17, 1924. Skwersky, 43.
²⁰ The department store was Silverman’s, located at the northwest corner of Sixth and South streets. The school was Miss Saywards School on Drexel Road. Skwersky, p. 43–44. De Mazia was hired to teach French to three female employees at the A. C. Barnes Company—not the Barnes Foundation. Barbara Ann Beaucar, et al., Early Education Records [finding aid, August 2017]. Barnes Foundation Archives. The lectures de Mazia attended were given by Thomas Munro and Laurence Buermeyer, as well as Dr. Barnes. Skwersky, 54.