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In 1849 Mary Solari was born in Calvari, near Genoa, Italy. She became a painter in oil and watercolor of figures and portraits, and was also a groundbreaker for women's art education in Italy.

The same year of her birth, her family relocated to Memphis, Tennessee, and her first drawing lessons were in Memphis in the public schools under the instruction of a Mrs. Morgan.

For health and the study of art in 1878 she returned to Florence, Italy. The art academies were closed to all women, so she studied for two years with Casioli. She was determined to be admitted to the Government Schools of Italy as a woman artist, and in 1880, she went before Professor Andrew De Vico, director of the Florence Academy. For over five years she advocated women in the arts at the University of Bologna, and in 1885, she was admitted to the Academy of Florence along with a dozen other women artists. Solari was an American woman artist making Italian art history and changing art education for all women.

In 1887, she won the first silver medal ever awarded to a woman at the Florentine Academy, and she also won awards in 1888 and 1889. In 1890 she received her Master of Arts degree and entered the Beatrice Exposition, which was open to women and had 1,000 entrants. Solari won the highest awards in watercolor. The diploma and letters of merit entitled her to teach art in the government schools.

Solari returned to Memphis, Tennessee in the early 1890s after her study in Florence. Back home in America she was an art instructor and continued to advocate for women in the arts.

Copyright April 2004 by Janet Gwendolyn Smith

Copyright 2004 Janet Gwendolyn Smith
Copyright 2004-2019 Janet Gwendolyn Smith Art
All artwork is copyright of respective owner or artist.

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