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The papers of portrait painter, writer, and furnishings designer, Eyre de Lanux (1894-1996) measure 10.6 linear feet and date from 1865 to 1995. The papers reflect Eyre's personal life in Paris with her husband, Pierre de Lanux and her travels with longtime lover Paolo Casagrande. The bulk of the collection consists of diaries spanning 1922 to 1988 and correspondence. Also found are de Lanux's sketches and drawings, some of which depict Parisian scenes and portraits of her lovers and friends. Other materials found include biographical information, personal business records, writings and notes including short stories, research files on Tobias Lear and Wilson Eyre, printed materials, and scattered photographs.
Biographical records include various membership certificates, medical records, travel papers and tickets of Eyre de Lanux and Paolo Casagrande, and a transcript of a psychic reading. Also found is an audio recording concerning Pierre de Lanux. An 1865 Oath of Loyalty of George C. Harris is included; however the connection with Eyre de Lanux is unclear.
Personal business records consist of addresses of friends, a personal calendar, consignment and loan agreements concerning the sale of Eyre's personal art collection by others, receipts, rental and lodging forms, stocks, and a copy of a will.
Correspondence spans the years 1922 until 1995. Found are extensive letters between Eyre and her husband Pierre, her lover Paolo Casagrande, and her daughter Anne Strong (Bikou). Other notable correspondents include Louis Aragon, Natalie Barney, Betsy Fahlman, Consuelo Ford, Alexander Lenard, and Evelyn Wyld. Much of the correspondence is personal in nature, however a folder of correspondence between Eyre and her literary editors is found at the end of the series.
Diaries are extensive and date from 1922 until 1988 and include 64 volumes. Researchers should note there are no diaries for the period 1927 to 1947, with the exception of two small notebooks (1938, 1945). The diaries resume in 1948, with Eyre's arrival in Rome, and continue, with multiple volumes for most years, until the late 1980s when her eyes failed. As a whole, the diaries will frustrate the biographer seeking to clarify major events in her life. Moreover, her handwriting is difficult to read, and she moves from one language to another within entries, employing English, French, and Italian. Eyre de Lanux used her diaries to record her impressions of the world rather than to enumerate daily activities.
Writings include drafts, copies, and notes for de Lanux's short stories from the 1920s until the 1980s. Also found are annotated entries and drafts of her magazine column, Letters to Elizabeth. Also found are Eyre's poems, a note written to Paris, and notes concerning interior decoration. Writings by others include handwritten poems by Ann Lee, travel journals by Paolo Casagrande and Paul Eyre, and a draft of Pierre de Lanux's "Memoires-Jours de Notre Vivre."
Research files consist of Eyre de Lanux's notes, drafts, photographs, published works, and research correspondence relating to her biography on Tobias Lear, the personal secretary of George Washington and a proposal for a work entitled Illusions of Identity. Other materials include copies of Betsy Fahlman's research on architect Wilson Eyre, de Lanux's uncle.
Printed material is scattered and includes periodicals including writings by Pierre de Lanux and Eyre de Lanux, one exibition announcement for Eyre's work, reproductions of works of art, blank postcards, and souvenirs presumably gathered from de Lanux's many trips abroad.
Photographs are of Eyre in her studio and of her family and friends including: Louis Aragon, Natalie Barney, Paolo Casagrande and family, Alice Delmar, Paul Eyre, Consuelo Ford, Pierre de Lanux, Anne Strong, and Evelyn Wyld. Of interest is a photo of Barney's 20 Rue Jacob known as the Temple d'Amitie. Other photos are of buildings, travel, interiors, and works of art. Among the photographs of works of art include two portraits, one of Eyre de Lanux by Romaine Brooks and one of Romaine Brooks by Eyre de Lanux.
Artworks include sketches, drawings, prints, and paintings by Eyre de Lanux probably dating from the 1920s to the 1940s. There is a painted sketch concerning interior decoration from circa 1949. Sketches of note include Parisian street scenes, portraits of friends, a design for a perfume advertisement for the fashion house Lucien Lelong, and illustrated notes for Consuelo Ford.
Eyre de Lanux papers, 1865-1995. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
The Eyre de Lanux papers were donated to the Archives of American Art with the personal library of Eyre and Pierre de Lanux. The 6.0 linear feet of books were deaccessioned in 2012.
Elizabeth Eyre de Lanux (1894-1996) was a painter, designer, and writer. Elizabeth Eyre de Lanux was born in Johnstown, Pa. She studied in New York at the Art Students League and in 1918 married Pierre de Lanux, a French diplomat and man of letters. The couple moved to Paris, where Eyre de Lanux (as she styled herself) began studies at the Academy Colarossi with Paul Serusier, eventually becoming a designer of Art Deco lacquered furniture and patterned rugs. From 1922 to 1924, she wrote a column for Town & Country magazine, "Letters from Elizabeth," in which she described the modernist milieu in which she moved. She was a regular at the weekly salons of Natalie Clifford Barney on the rue Jacob. Following her return to New York after the war, de Lanux wrote for the New Yorker and Harper's Bazaar magazines. Pierre and Eyre de Lanux had one child, Anne de Lanux Strong. Pierre died in 1955 and Eyre de Lanux died in 1996 at the age of 102.
The Eyre de Lanux papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by de Lanux's daughter and grandson, Anne de Lanux Strong and Paul Eyre.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001