Chester Beach papers, 1846-1999, bulk circa 1900-1999
Beach, Chester, 1881-1956
Allen, Mary Jester
Hancock, Walker Kirtland
Fitchen, Eleanor Beach
Jennewein, Carl Paul
MacMonnies, Frederick William
Mora, F. Luis (Francis Luis)
Piexotto, Jessica B.
Jackson, Hazel Brill
Carrington, Fitz Roy
Nisbet, Robert H.
Beach, Eleanor Murdock
Huntington, Anna Vaughn Hyatt
French, Daniel Chester
Olmsted, Frederick Law
Blumenschein, Ernest Leonard
Greacen, Edmund W.
National Academy of Design (U.S.)
American Academy in Rome
Architectural League of New York
National Sculpture Society (U.S.)
Cleveland Museum of Art
Ecole nationale supérieure des beaux-arts (France)
Mark Hopkins Institute of Art
Panama-Pacific International Exposition (1915 : San Francisco, Calif.)
Place of publication, production, or execution:
7.3 linear feet
Access Note / Rights:
Collection is being processed and digitized and is CLOSED to researchers.
The Chester Beach papers measure 7.3 linear feet and are dated 1846-1999, bulk circa 1900-1999. Biographical material, project files, business records, correspondence, artist-designed Christmas cards sent and received by the Beach family, artwork by Beach and others, scrapbooks, printed material, and photographs document the Beaux Arts sculptor's work and professional activities, as well as his family's efforts to exhibit and sell work from the estate.
Biographical material consists of biographical notes, identification cards, and a membership certificate.
Project files contain correspondence, financial records, notes, drawings and plans, research materials, printed matter, and photographs that document commissions for sculpture, medals and coins, monuments, and Beach's own projects. Among the most thoroughly documented projects are a fountain sculpture for the grounds of the Cleveland Museum of Art (Sun, Earth, Fountain of the Waters, and Zodiac) and the Edward W. Bok Memorial, in Mountain Lake, Florida; both commissions were executed in conjunction with the firm of Frederick Law Olmsted.
Business records include Chester Beach's general business correspondence and correspondence concerning consignments. An address book records names, addresses, and occasionally indicates prices of services and supplies used by the sculptor. Other record books detail expenses and income of the studio building Beach owned, with a list of the effects of the former owner, sculptor William Couper; bronzes cast; sales, with titles, prices, and buyers; and names and addresses of clients, dealers, and suppliers; and instructions for cleaning and bronzing plaster.
Family correspondence consists mainly of letters, many mentioning Chester Beach, addressed to Mrs. Chester Beach and daughter Eleanor Beach Fitchen. Estate correspondence and related documents concern efforts to exhibit, sell, and research Beach's remaining work. These records, for the most part, were created by Mrs. Fitchen who acted as sales agent, ran the Chester Beach Memorial Studio, and maintained the Beach archive. Of particular interest is a series of letters from Brenda Kuhn that relate what she learned from handling the estate of her father, Walt Kuhn; in addition, she offered ideas and advice about exhibitions, the Memorial Studio, and the Beach Centennial.
Beach designed his family's annual Christmas cards, most of which incorporate images of their three daughters. A complete set, preserved in an album, includes a few later cards that reproduce artwork by his widow. Many of the cards received - some with original artwork - are from artist friends, among them: Ernest Blumenschein, Edward W. Greacen, Hazel Brill Jackson, Paul Jennewein, Bonnie Leibig, F. Luis Mora, Robert Nisbet, and Ezra Winter. Also of note are a card from Walker Hancock bearing a photograph of his studio; a painting of Beach's "Sylvan," at Brookgreen Gardens, reproduced on Anna Hyatt Huntington's card; and a card from Beach patron Mary Jester Allen containing a brief note about the Frontier Art Colony she had established near Cody, Wyoming.
Among the drawings and sketches by Chester Beach are student work, designs for some of his Christmas cards, and a sketchbook containing drawings of sculpture. Work by other artists consists of prints, including one by Ezra Winter.
Three scrapbooks, largely comprised of newspaper clipping and other printed material, contain a variety of other items, including: Letters from the American Academy in Rome, Architectural League of New York, Ecole des Beaux Arts, Daniel Chester French, Hazel Brill Jackson, Frederick MacMonnies, National Academy of Design, National Sculpture Society, Jessica B. Piexotto, and Salon d'Autome. Awards and certificates from the National Academy of Design, Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Bookplates and a place card Beach etched for Mr. and Mrs. George Davison; and an unfinished poem by FitzRoy Carrington. Photographs are of a night school class Beach attended at the Mark Hopkins Art Institute in San Francisco, Beach at work in his studio, and a portrait of him painted by G. Laurance Nelson.
Printed material includes Panama-Pacific International Exposition guide books, brochures about the Chester Beach Memorial Studio in Brewster, N.Y., and catalogs for solo and group exhibitions.
Photographs of artwork are mainly of Chester Beach's sculpture and include views of work in progress. Also found are photographs of drawings and sculpture from his student years in California and Paris. Pictures of work by other artists are portraits of Chester Beach painted by G. Laurance Nelson and by his daughter, Natalie Beach McLaury. Among the photographs of Chester Beach are several by Gertrude Kasebier, circa 1910. Other pictures show Beach in his studio, Beach with family and friends, and a "Dinner tendered to Edmund W. Greacen by Samuel T. Shaw, Salmagundi Club, March 2, 1922." Places documented are Beach's boyhood home in San Francisco, the interiors of his studios, and Brookgreen Gardens. Miscellaneous subjects are nude models.
Chester Beach papers, 1846-1999, bulk circa 1900-1999. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Materials loaned for microfilming are available on reels N727-N729 and N68-11 and for interlibrary loan.
Portions of the Chester Beach papers were loaned by Eleanor Beach Fitchen in 1967 and 1968 for microfilming on reels N727-N729 and N68-11; some of these papers were not included in the 2009 gift and are still available on microfilm and for interlibrary loan. The loaned materials are not described in the container listing of this finding aid but include passports, genealogical materials, photograph albums, travel sketches, travel diaries of Mrs. Beach, and business and family correspondence. Loaned obituary letters on reel N68-11 are also referenced in a scrapbook in Series 8.
Chester Beach (1881-1956) was a sculptor and medalist in New York, N.Y.
The Chester Beach papers were donated in 2009 by the estate of Eleanor Beach Fitchen, Chester Beach's daughter, through her grandson and executor, John Fitchen.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001