Catharina Baart Biddle
image: Sunflowers, 1987, Private Collection

Sunflowers, 1987, Private Collection

Catharina Baart Biddle
Artist, Teacher

Catharina Baart Biddle, 92, a painter who also taught in the District's public schools, died Feb. 19 at her home in Washington. She had Parkinson's disease.

Mrs. Biddle, who was born in the Netherlands and came to the United States as a girl, studied art in Europe as a young woman. In Paris, she met Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Raoul Dufy, and other acclaimed artists.

After living in New York, she moved to Washington during World War II and worked in the education department of the National Gallery of Art. She received two master of fine arts degrees, one from George Washington University in the 1940s and the other from American University in 1980.

Her paintings, which were influenced by Matisse and Paul Cezanne, were exhibited and sold by New York art dealers J.B. Neumann and Karl Nierendorf. She also had exhibitions in Washington, including one in 1989 at the Alex Gallery. Her paintings are in the collections of the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the Kreeger Museum in Washington, as well as in private collections throughout the world.

Mrs. Biddle taught art in the D.C. public schools from the late 1950s until she retired in 1974. She also had private art students for many years, one of whom was Warren E. Burger, before he was named chief justice of the Supreme Court.

In 2002, Mrs. Biddle endowed a scholarship to be presented to an outstanding art student at American University. She and her husband also endowed a gallery at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

She was a member of the Arts Club of Washington, the Sulgrave Club, the Chevy Chase Club, the City Tavern Club and the Cosmos Club.

Her marriage to Ralph W. Stephan ended in divorce.

In 1973, she married Livingston L. Biddle Jr., who drafted the legislation that created the National Endowment for the Arts in the 1960s and was chairman of the NEA from 1977 to 1981. He died in 2002.

Survivors include two stepchildren from the second marriage, Livingston Ludlow Biddle IV of Flourtown, Pa., and Cordelia Frances Biddle of Philadelphia; and five grandchildren.

Published in The Washington Post, 26 Februay 2005

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