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Agnes Ernst Meyer

American, 1887 - 1970

Meyer, Eugene, Mrs.; Meyer, Agnes E.

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Daughter of German immigrant Frederic H. Ernst and his wife Lucy Schmidt Ernst, Agnes was educated at public schools in New York, and later attended Barnard College, graduating in 1907. She was hired as a reporter for the New York Sun, reputedly one of the first women to work in the city room of a metropolitan newspaper. In 1907 she went to France to study at the Sorbonne, and in 1911-1912 she attended graduate school at Columbia University. While at the Sun, Agnes first met Alfred Stieglitz, and began her association with the modern art movement in New York. In February 1910, Agnes married Eugene Meyer (1875-1959), an investment banker who later held government appointments as director of the War Finance Corporation (1918), head of the Federal Farm Loan Board (1927), and the first president of the World Bank (1946). In 1933, Eugene Meyer purchased the Washington Post at auction for $825,000; Agnes was a vice president of the company and also contributed articles. Agnes Ernst Meyers was involved in numerous diverse activities throughout her life. She authored four books, including a scholarly publication on Chinese art, and during World War II wrote a series of widely circulated stories on social conditions in Great Britain during the blitz. She and her husband founded the Agnes and Eugene Meyer Association, which distributed millions of dollars to worthy causes. Mrs. Meyer was a generous patron and collector; her interests and collection of oriental art lead to the development of a friendship with Charles Lang Freer, serving for a time on the board of the Freer Gallery. The Meyers had five children: Florence, later Mrs. Oscar Homolka; Elizabeth, later Mrs. Pare Lorentz; Eugene; Katherine, later Mrs. Philip Leslie Graham; and Ruth, later Mrs. William Epstein. When Eugene Meyer retired as publisher and president of the Washington Post in 1946, he was succeeded by his son-in-law, Philip Graham. Upon her husband's death in 1946, Katherine Meyer Graham, succeeded him in both positions, and was in turn succeeded by her son, Donald E. Graham as publisher and president, while continuing on as chairman of the board of the Post Corporation. [Compiled from sources and references recorded on CMS]

Artist Bibliography

Meyer, Agnes E. Journey Through Chaos. New York, 1944.
Meyer, Agnes E. Out of These Roots, The Autobiography of an American Woman. Boston, 1953.
"Mrs. Agnes Meyer Dies at 83; Writer Active in Social Causes." The New York Times 2 September 1970 [obituary]
Hyland, Douglas K.S. "Agnes Ernst Meyer, Patron of American Modernism." The American Art Journal 12, no. 1 (Winter 1980): 64+.

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