This collection measures 7.7 linear feet, dates from circa 1870 to 1992, and documents the life and career of painter Ross Moffett and, to a lesser extent, the life and career of his wife, painter, lithographer, etcher, and illustrator, Dorothy Lake Gregory Moffett. The collection includes correspondence, photographs, artwork including sketchbooks, and printed material including published writings, newspaper clippings, press releases, and exhibition catalogs.
Scope and Content Note:
The Ross and Dorothy Lake Gregory Moffett papers measure 7.7 linear feet and date from circa 1870 to 1992. Because Dorothy Moffett's papers were received separately they are filed together in Series 13. Series 1-12 deal primarily with the life and career of Ross Moffett. The collection documents Ross Moffett's participation in the Provincetown community as an artist and resident through correspondence, photographs, sketchbooks and printed material, including published writings, news clippings, press releases, and exhibition catalogs. The papers of Dorothy Moffett include family letters, photographs, a journal and original artwork providing scattered documentation of her life and career as an a printmaker and illustrator.
General correspondence primarily focuses on news and financial affairs of the Moffett family farm in Iowa. Also included are letters from Provincetown artist, Edwin Dickinson, and a small amount of correspondence with other artists, collectors and dealers.
Files documenting specific projects that Ross Moffett was involved with are arranged separately and include correspondence, printed material and photographs. Project files have been established for the following projects: the publication of Art in Narrow Streets, the Eisenhower mural, the Cape Cod National Seashore Park and the renovation of the Center Methodist Church.
The series of printed material, 1918-1992, relates to Ross Moffett's career as an artist and his general interest in art. Photographs primarily focus on scenes of Provincetown and include photographs of works of art by Provincetown artists. Also included are photographs of artwork by Moffett arranged chronologically, Moffett's studio in Provincetown, and installations at the Provincetown Art Association Galleries.
Artwork found in Series 10 and 11 includes drawings by Ross Moffett and 85 annotated sketchbooks, including four by Dorothy Moffett.
The collection also houses research notes and files written by Josephine Couch Del Deo in preparation of a biography of Ross Moffett. These annotations provide useful additional information about Moffett's life.
Papers of Dorothy Lake Gregory Moffett include Gregory family letters, Dorothy's correspondence with her father, and letters from other family and friends. Also found are drawings, lithographs and etchings by Dorothy and photographs of her family and friends.
The collection is arranged into thirteen series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, circa 1888-1965 (box 1; 1 folder)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1915-1972 (box 1; 0.6 linear ft)
Series 3: Financial Material, 1933-1971 (box 1; 2 folders)
Series 4: Notebook/Notes, undated (box 1; 2 folders)
Series 5: Projects, 1880-1969, undated (boxes 1-2; 1.2 linear ft.)
Series 6: Subject File, 1960-1968 (box 2; 1 folder)
Series 7: Printed Material, 1916-1992, undated (boxes 2-4, 7; 1.5 linear ft.)
Series 8: Photographs, circa 1900-1975, undated (box 4; 15 folders)
Series 9: Slides of Art Association, Iowa Farmland and the Chrysler Museum, circa 1960, undated (box 4; 1 folder)
Series 10: Drawings, circa 1929-1934 (box 5; 1 folder)
Series 11: Sketchbooks, 1913-1969 (boxes 5-8; 2.5 linear ft.)
Series 12: Annotations/Item Descriptions by Josephine Couch Del Deo, undated (box 6; 2 folders)
Series 13: Dorothy Lake Gregory Moffett Papers, circa 1870-1975 (boxes 9-11; 0.7 linear ft.)
Ross Moffett (1888-1971) was an important figure in the development of modernism in American Art after World War I. His paintings primarily depict the life and landscapes of the Provincetown, Massachusetts area. Dorothy Lake Gregory Moffett is perhaps best known as a printmaker and illustrator of children's books and magazines.
Born in Iowa in 1888, Moffett trained at the Art Institute in Chicago and studied with Charles Hawthorne during the summer of 1913, in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Moffett then studied at the Art Students League and returned to Provincetown in 1915, to establish himself as an artist. He was one of the founders of the Provincetown Art Association and a leading figure in the art colony for many years. In 1920, Moffett married artist Dorothy Lake Gregory in Brooklyn, New York. Dorothy studied at the Pratt Institute and with Robert Henri and George Bellows in New York, and then went to Provincetown to study with Hawthorne as well.
During the 1920's and 1930's, Ross Moffett's success increased steadily and he had his first one-man show at the Frank Rehn Gallery in New York and also at The Art Institute of Chicago in 1928. He served on several exhibition juries around the country during this time. Between 1936 and 1938, Moffett painted four murals in two Massachusetts post offices for the Federal Works Progress Administration (WPA). Moffett received full membership to the National Academy of Design in 1942.
While Moffett's painting slowed somewhat during World War II he continued his involvement in the arts by maintaining the Provincetown Art Association. He taught briefly at the University of Miami in Ohio from 1932 to 1933, and returned to Provincetown to pursue painting full-time. In the 1950's, Moffett became interested in archaeology and even delivered a few lectures on the subject. During this time he continued to paint and his art reflected his preoccupation with the science of archaeology. In 1954, Moffett was one of two artists selected by the National Academy of Design to paint murals depicting President Dwight D. Eisenhower's life for the Eisenhower Memorial Museum in Abilene, Kansas. Moffett was chosen to portray Eisenhower's civilian life.
In 1960, Moffett became active in the movement to establish the 1400 acres known as the Province Lands as part of the Cape Cod National Seashore Park. After the park was established Moffett wrote and published a history of the first thirty-three years of the Provincetown Art Association in a book titled Art in Narrow Streets, 1964. He continued to serve as a juror for the Provincetown Art Association and was artist-in-residence for the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center in 1970.
Dorothy Moffett also pursued a successful career in art, and publishers such as Rand McNally used her illustrations for youth magazines and childrens books, such as the classic Green Fairy Book. Her work was exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum, the National Academy, and the Brooklyn Museum, and her Alice in Wonderland series of lithographs was purchased for the permanent collection of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Though best known as a printmaker, Moffett also worked in oil.
Ross Moffett died of cancer on March 13, 1971.
Related resources in the Archives of American Art include a sound recording of a transcribed interview with Ross Moffett by Dorothy Seckler, August 27, 1962; and a sound recording of an untranscribed interview with Dorothy Lake Gregory Moffett by Robert F. Brown, September 22, 1972.
The Archives of American Art also holds material lent for microfilming (reel D80) including 150 letters relating to art organizations, museums, and government art projects, news clippings, records of the Provincetown Art Association, and the Emergency Committee for the Protection of Province Lands, and miscellaneous publications. Lent materials were returned to Ross Moffett and are now housed at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York. This material is not described in the collection container inventory.
Ross Moffett initally lent the Archives of American Art material for microfilming in 1962. The remainder of the collection was donated in 1974 by his widow, Dorothy Lake Gregory Moffett (died 1975), via Ross Moffett's biographer, Josephine Del Deo, who turned the papers over in installments. Archaeological material and artifacts received with the papers were donated to the Robert S. Peabody Museum of Archaeology, Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts.
The collection is open for research. Patrons must use microfilm copy.
A portion of the Ross and Dorothy Lake Gregory Moffett papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.