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Robert Franklin Gates papers

Creator:
Gates, Robert Franklin, 1906-1982  Search this
Names:
American University (Washington, D.C.) Fine Arts Dept. -- Faculty  Search this
Jack Rasmussen Gallery (Washington, D.C.)  Search this
United States. Dept. of the Treasury. Section of Fine Arts  Search this
Taylor, Prentiss, 1907-1991  Search this
Extent:
2.3 Linear Feet
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Drawings
Christmas cards
Photographs
Scrapbooks
Date:
1910-1988
bulk 1928-1988
Summary:
The papers of Washington, D.C. area painter and art instructor Robert Franklin Gates date from 1910-1988, bulk 1928-1988, and measure 2.3 linear feet. Found within the papers are biographical materials; letters from government agencies, museums, galleries, and colleagues; business records primarily concerning transactions with the Jack Rasmussen Gallery; artwork including scattered drawings by Gates and block prints by Joe Goethe and D. Neufeld; two scrapbooks; printed materials; and photographs of Gates, family members, models, artwork, and exhibition installations. There are also photograph albums and miscellaneous photographs documenting a 1936 voyage to the Virgin Islands commissioned by the U.S. Treasury Department.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of Washington, D.C. area painter and art instructor Robert Franklin Gates date from 1910-1988, bulk 1928-1988, and measure 2.3 linear feet. Found within the papers are biographical materials; letters from government agencies, museums, galleries, and colleagues; business records primarily concerning transactions with the Jack Rasmussen Gallery; artwork including scattered drawings by Gates and block prints by Joe Goethe and D. Neufeld; two scrapbooks; printed materials; and photographs of Gates, family members, models, artwork, and exhibition installations. There are also photograph albums and miscellaneous photographs documenting a 1936 voyage to the Virgin Islands commissioned by the U.S. Treasury Department.

Biographical material includes resumes, biographical accounts, award certificates, records for employment through a State Department Specialists Grant, address lists, teaching notes, writings about Gates, and a guest book signed by colleagues celebrating Gates' forty years at American University. There is a also a group of Navy Department records documenting Gates' employment designing three-dimensional photo-surfaced topography models for use by troops during World War II.

Letters are primarily from the U.S. Treasury Department and the Federal Works Agency discussing commissions, including the painting of post office murals in Maryland and West Virginia, and from various museums and galleries discussing exhibitions and other art-related activities. There are one or two letters each from colleagues Alice Acheson, Adelyn Breeskin, Charles Burchfield, Alida Conover, John Gernand, Duncan Phillips, Henry Varnum Poor, and Prentiss Taylor. Some letters are Christmas cards decorated with original block prints.

Business records primarily document Gates' interaction with the Jack Rasmussen Gallery in Washington, D.C., but also include miscellaneous sales records and pay stubs from American University.

Artwork consists of scattered drawings of modern houses by Gates and abstract sketches by others, and small block prints by Joe Goethe and D. Neufeld. Two Scrapbooks contain clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, and scattered letters.

Additional printed material includes clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs for Gates and others, prospectuses for art exhibitions, press releases, calendars of events, booklets about color and lenses, brochures for art schools and books, and an unannotated calendar containing a reproduction of one of Gates' paintings.

Photographs are of Robert Gates, various family members including Gates with his first wife photographed by Prentiss Taylor, models, artwork, and exhibition installations. There are two photograph albums and unbound photographs documenting a 1936 voyage to the Virgin Islands commissioned by the U.S. Treasury Department. Images of this trip are of Gates and colleagues including Mitchell Jamieson, the ship Doris Hamlin, the crew, markets, a cock fight, miscellaneous buildings, town squares, and the countryside of the Virgin Islands.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into 7 series. Each series is arranged chronologically:

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1928-1975 (Box 1, OV 4; 34 folders)

Series 2: Letters, 1930-1988 (Box 1; 25 folders)

Series 3: Business Records, 1961-1982 (Box 1; 5 folders)

Series 4: Artwork, circa 1962 (Box 1; 6 folders)

Series 5: Scrapbooks, 1932-1939 (Box 1-2; 4 folders)

Series 6: Printed Material, 1916-1988 (Box 2; 48 folders)

Series 7: Photographs, 1910-1982 (Boxes 2-3, OV 4; 20 folders)
Biographical Note:
Robert Franklin Gates was born on October 6, 1906 in Detroit, Michigan. He studied at the Detroit School of Arts and Crafts, and from 1929 to 1930 attended the Art Students' League in New York. Between 1930 and 1932, Gates studied under C. Law Watkins at the Phillips Gallery Art School in Washington, D.C., later becoming an instructor in life drawing and painting there. During this time, he met fellow student Margaret Casey, and they married on January 7, 1933. Between 1934 and 1938, Robert Gates was an art instructor at the Studio House in Washington, D.C.

In 1934, Gates received a commission from the U.S. Treasury Department Section of Fine Arts to create a series of watercolors of Charles Gardens, South Carolina, and from 1929-1940, murals for post offices in Bethesda, Maryland, Oakland, Maryland, and Lewisburg, West Virginia. In 1936, the Treasury Department also commissioned Gates and fellow artists Mitchell Jamieson and Prentiss Taylor to create series of watercolors of the Virgin Islands, arranging for several voyages there.

Between 1937 and 1942, Gates was a guest instructor at the University of Florida, taught art classes at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland and at the Washington County Museum of Art in Hagerstown, Maryland. He also taught at the Phillips Gallery Art School in Washington, D.C. while his wife was employed as the school secretary. In 1938, Gates received a summer scholarship to study under Henry Varnum Poor at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.

During World War II, Gates worked as a civilian technician for the Navy Department doing model making and camouflage design, receiving the Distinguished Civilian Service Award for his work.

After the war, and the closing of the Phillips Gallery Art School, Gates attended classes taught by Bill Calfee at American University. In 1946, he joined the faculty and eventually becane chairman of the Art Department in 1954. Robert and Margaret Gates were divorced sometime in the mid-1950s. From 1966 to 1967, Gates was Artist-in-Residence at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, under the Department of State Educational and Cultural Exchange Program. In 1967, he married his second wife, Sarita, while in Baghdad.

Gates is represented in the permanent collections of the American University, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Dumbarton Oaks collection, the Phillips Collection, and the Lewisshon collection.

Robert Franklin Gates died on March 11, 1982 in Alexandria, Virginia.
Related Material:
Also in the Archives of American Art are the papers of Gates' first wife Margaret Casey Gates, 1934-1988,
Provenance:
The Robert Franklin Gates papers were donated in 1995 by Sarita W. Gates, the artist's widow, via legal representative Bradford G. Weekes III.
Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
Rights:
The Robert Franklin Gates 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.
Topic:
Painters -- Washington (D.C.)  Search this
World War, 1939-1945 -- Art and the war  Search this
Post office buildings  Search this
Mural painting and decoration, American  Search this
Art teachers -- Washington (D.C.)  Search this
Genre/Form:
Drawings
Christmas cards
Photographs
Scrapbooks
Citation:
Robert Franklin Gates papers, 1910-1988, bulk 1928-1988. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.gaterobe
See more items in:
Robert Franklin Gates papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-gaterobe

Prentiss Taylor papers

Creator:
Taylor, Prentiss, 1907-1991  Search this
Names:
American University (Washington, D.C.) Fine Arts Dept. -- Faculty  Search this
Golden Stair Press  Search this
Society of Washington Printmakers (Washington, D.C.)  Search this
Field, Rachel, 1894-1942  Search this
Hughes, Langston, 1902-1967  Search this
Hurston, Zora Neale  Search this
Kahlo, Frida  Search this
Landeck, Armin, 1905-  Search this
O'Neill, Eugene, 1888-1953  Search this
Pinckney, Josephine, 1895-1957  Search this
Rivera, Diego, 1886-1957  Search this
Robeson, Paul, 1898-1976  Search this
Robinson, Bill, 1878-1949  Search this
Stein, Gertrude, 1874-1946  Search this
Toklas, Alice B.  Search this
Van Doren, Mark, 1894-1972  Search this
Van Vechten, Carl, 1880-1964  Search this
Extent:
20.4 Linear feet
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Photographs
Scrapbooks
Drawings
Writings
Sketchbooks
Prints
Sound recordings
Date:
1885-1991
Summary:
The collection measures 20.4 linear feet, dates from 1885 to 1991 (bulk dates 1908-1986) and documents the career of Harlem Renaissance lithographer, teacher, and painter Prentiss Taylor. The collection consists primarily of subject/correspondence files (circa 16 ft.), reflecting Prentiss' career as a lithographer and painter, his association with figures prominent in the Harlem Renaissance, notably Carl Van Vechten and Langston Hughes, his activities as president of the Society of Washington Printmakers and other art organizations, his work in art therapy treating mental illness, and his teaching position at American University. The subject files contain mostly correspondence, but many include photographs and printed material. Also included are biographical, financial, legal and printed material; several hundred photographs; notes and writings; sketchbooks, drawings and a few prints by Taylor; and scrapbooks dating from 1885-1956.
Scope and Content Note:
The collection measures 20.4 linear feet, dates from 1885 to 1991 (bulk dates 1908-1986) and documents the career of Harlem Renaissance lithographer, teacher, and painter Prentiss Taylor. The collection consists primarily of subject/correspondence files (circa 16 ft.), reflecting Prentiss' career as a lithographer and painter, his association with figures prominent in the Harlem Renaissance, notably Carl Van Vechten and Langston Hughes, his activities as president of the Society of Washington Printmakers and other art organizations, his work in art therapy treating mental illness, and his teaching position at American University. The subject files contain mostly correspondence, but many include photographs and printed material. Also included are biographical, financial, legal and printed material; several hundred photographs; notes and writings; sketchbooks, drawings and a few prints by Taylor; and scrapbooks dating from 1885-1956.

The Langston Hughes files contain photocopies of letters from Hughes, greeting cards, ten original photographs of Hughes, and an autographed card printed with Hughes' poem, The Negro Speaks of Rivers. In addition, there is a contract between Hughes and Taylor, witnessed by Carl Van Vechten, forming the Golden Stair Press, through which many of Hughes' poems were printed with illustrations by Taylor. A rare edition of their first publication, The Negro Mother, is found here. Also found in this file is a 1932 final copy of Scottsboro Limited, another collaborative effort between Taylor and Hughes that focused on a case where nine black youths were falsely accused of raping two white women. The collection contains extensive correspondence about Taylor's lithograph of the same title and the printing of the publication. Other rare Harlem Renaissance publications found within Taylor's papers include Golden Stair Broadsides, Opportunity Journal of Negro Life, The Rebel Poet, and Eight Who Lie in the Death House, several of which were also illustrated by Taylor.

Prentiss Taylor's long association with Langston Hughes and other figures of the Harlem Renaissance stemmed from his early friendship with Carl Van Vechten. Taylor's papers contain correspondence with Van Vechten, autographed copies of Van Vechten's booklets, and numerous photographs of notable Harlem Renaissance figures, many taken by Van Vechten, including Zora Neale Hurston, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Eugene O'Neill, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, Paul Robeson, and many others. Also found are period photographs of Charleston, South Carolina and Harlem street scenes.

95 letters from Rachel Field, 75 letters from Langston Hughes, 3 letters from Armin Landeck, 46 letters from Josephine Pinckney, 1 letter from Gertrude Stein, 7 letters from Alice B. Toklas, 1 postcard from Mark Van Doren, and 25 letters from Carl Van Vechten are photocopies. Originals of the Hughes and Toklas letters are located at the Yale University Library. Location of the remaining original letters are unknown.

The Prentiss Taylor papers offer researchers insight into the rich cultural documentation of the Harlem Renaissance and the development of twentieth-century printmaking as an American fine art.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into ten series. The largest series housing Subject Files is arranged alphabetically, primarily by name of correspondent, maintaining Taylor's original arrangement. The remaining series are arranged in chronological order. Oversized material from various series has been housed in Box 21 (Sol) and OV 22 and is noted in the Series Description/Container Listing Section at the appropriate folder title with see also/see references.

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1918-1985, undated (Box 1; 6 folders)

Series 2: Miscellaneous Receipts, 1929-1986, undated (Box 1; 11 folders)

Series 3: Insurance Records, 1960-1976 (Box 1; 1 folder)

Series 4: Notes, 1921-1984, undated (Box 1; 18 folders)

Series 5: Writings, 1924-1971, undated (Box 1-2; 51 folders)

Series 6: Art Work, 1916-1975, undated (Box 2; 14 folders)

Series 7: Scrapbooks, 1885-1956 (Box 2, 21; 10 folders)

Series 8: Printed Material, 1914-1990, undated (Box 2-3, 21; 29 folders)

Series 9: Photographs, 1908-1984, undated (Box 3, 21; 0.7 linear feet)

Series 10: Subject Files, 1885-1991, undated (Box 3-21, OV 22; 18.0 linear feet)
Biographical Note:
Prentiss Taylor was born in 1907 at the Washington, D. C. residence of his maternal grandmother, his birth assisted by his grandmother's cook, affectionately known as Cookie Belle.

In the 1920s, Taylor studied painting with Charles W. Hawthorne in Provincetown, but turned to lithography in the late 1920s to early 1930s during his enrollment at the Art Students League in New York City. He received further training in that medium at the George C. Miller workshop in New York. During this period, he also designed costumes for the American-Oriental Revue. Taylor worked primarily in the printmaking medium for the rest of his life, experimenting with various techniques and compositions and ultimately achieving a status as one this country's great lithographers. Taylor depicted mostly realistic and narrative scenes of subjects and themes that reflected his personal interests in music, architecture, religion and social justice.

During his time in New York, Taylor developed close friendships with poet Langston Hughes and writer Carl Van Vechten. He collaborated with Hughes in the formation of the Golden Stair Press to produce publications reflecting the ideas of the Harlem Renaissance. Taylor created a number of prints and illustration for the press and its publications.

After returning to Washington, D.C., Taylor's work was included in exhibitions at the Corcoran Gallery, the Smithsonian Institution, the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. He was represented by the Franz Bader Gallery in Washington, D.C., and by the Bethesda Art Gallery in Maryland. In 1942, Taylor was elected President of the Society of Washington Printmakers, a position he held for thirty-four years. He also worked as an art therapist for more than thirty years and taught oil painting at American University from 1955-1975.

Prentiss Taylor died October 7, 1991 in Washington, D.C.
Related Material:
Prentiss Taylor papers are also located at the Yale University Library.
Separated Material:
The Archives of American Art also holds material lent for microfilming (reel 1392) including three notebooks detailing Taylor's lithographs, a gift and sales notebook, a guestbook, exhibition announcements, and a brochure. Lent materials were returned to the lender and are not described in the collection container inventory.
Provenance:
Prentiss Taylor lent the Archives of American Art material for microfilming in 1978. Papers were donated in 1978 and 1984 by Taylor, and in 1992 and 2004 by his companion, Roderick S. Quiroz, for the estate of Prentiss Taylor.
Restrictions:
The collection has been digitized and is available online via AAA's website.
Rights:
The Prentiss Taylor 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.
Topic:
Art teachers -- Washington (D.C.)  Search this
Lithography -- 20th century -- Washington (D.C.)  Search this
Lithographers -- Washington (D.C.)  Search this
Painters -- Washington (D.C.)  Search this
Art therapy  Search this
Harlem Renaissance  Search this
Printmakers -- Washington (D.C.)  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photographs
Scrapbooks
Drawings
Writings
Sketchbooks
Prints
Sound recordings
Citation:
Prentiss Taylor papers, 1885-1991. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.taylpren
See more items in:
Prentiss Taylor papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-taylpren
Additional Online Media:

American University Fine Arts Department records, 1946-1980

Creator:
American University (Washington, D.C.) Fine Arts Dept  Search this
Subject:
American University (Washington, D.C.)Fine Arts Dept  Search this
Watkins Art Gallery (American University)  Search this
Topic:
Art students  Search this
Art museums, University and college  Search this
Art  Search this
Art teachers  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)6986
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)209118
AAA_collcode_ameruniv
Theme:
Art Theory and Historiography
Lives of American Artists
Government Sponsorship of the Arts
Art Materials, Techniques, and Studio Art Education
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_209118

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