'First Lady of Texas Art' dies at 97

Sam Ratcliffe, head of the Bywaters Special Collections at SMU's Hamon Arts Library, talks about Texas art historian Cecilia Steinfeldt after her death on May 17, 2013.

By Deborah Martin

Cecilia Steinfeldt, who spent 60 years as an instructor, historian and curator at the Witte Museum and was known as the First Lady of Texas Art, died Friday, just a week shy of her 98th birthday.
Steinfeldt was hired by Witte founder Ellen Quillin in 1936. Though Steinfeldt retired when she was 80, she retained the title curator emeritus.
“What's really important about Cecilia is that she changed the course of history for the Witte Museum,” said Marise McDermott, president and CEO of the Witte. “She elevated the study of Texas art, Texas furniture and Texas history, and she was responsible for what we have embraced (at the Witte), which is Texas art for history's sake.”...

“She was legendary,” said Sam Ratcliffe, head of the Bywaters Special Collections at the Hamon Arts Library at Southern Methodist University. “So many of us in this field, Texas art history, museum work, she raised us professionally.”

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