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Born in Paris, Violette de Mazia (1896–1988) taught French in England before moving to Philadelphia in the early 1920s. Shortly thereafter, she began to tutor Dr. Barnes and his staff at the A. C. Barnes Company. At the same time, she enrolled in the Barnes Foundation’s course in art appreciation and philosophy.
In 1926, Dr. Barnes offered de Mazia a position at the Foundation. Over the years, she coauthored several books with Dr. Barnes and was hugely influential in the evolving educational philosophy. In 1951, de Mazia was appointed director of education following the death of Dr. Barnes. She served as a trustee from 1935 to 1966, when, after Mrs. Barnes’s death, she became the vice president of the Board of Trustees. De Mazia taught at the Barnes until her retirement in May 1987.