Saussy, Hattie


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Hattie Saussy was born on March 17, 1890 in Savannah, Georgia. Though she was blind in one eye, the result of a childhood accident, Saussy enjoyed making art from an early age. As a child Saussy received private lessons from local artists, Mrs. G. A. Wilkins and her daughter, Emma. When she was in fifth grade, her art class was taught by Lila Cabaniss, another Savannah artist. The city’s beautiful architecture, lush coastal landscape, and distinct cultural environment also inspired Saussy to pursue a career in art.

After graduating from high school, Saussy attended Mary Baldwin Seminary in Virginia. Although she remembered her time there fondly, she left after only one year of instruction to pursue more serious artistic training. Accompanied by her widowed mother, Saussy spent the next four years living and studying in New York City. She took classes at the New York School of Fine and Applied Art (now the Parsons School of Design), the National Academy of Design, and the Art Students League. In 1913, Saussy left on her own for further artistic development and inspiration in Europe. She studied with a stained glass artist in Paris, France and traveled to Italy, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. Her trip was cut short by the outbreak of World War I and she was forced to return home.

During the War, Saussy briefly worked in a government office in Washington, D.C. She later taught art at the Chatham Episcopal School in Virginia, but left after only one year. In 1921, Saussy returned to Savannah and resided there for the rest of her life. Active in the city's burgeoning artistic community (which grew to include Alexander Brook and Gina Knee), she co-founded the Association of Georgia Artists in 1929. In her art, Saussy focused on Southern landscapes and culture. She painted portraits, genre scenes, and many landscapes of the Georgia marshlands. The impressionistic emphasis on color and light in her work also incorporates aspects of realism. It is possible that her time working with stained glass in Paris may have influenced the way she viewed and interpreted the effects of light. Above all, Saussy was interested in capturing the feeling of a particular moment and place. Saussy died in Savannah in 1978 at the age of 88.

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