The Dorothea Gilder papers regarding Cecilia Beaux date from 1897 to 1920 and include correspondence between Beaux and Gilder, scattered printed materials, and two photographs of Beaux with Gilder and other friends. The papers are comprised primarily of correspondence between Cecilia Beaux and her close, life-long friend and intimate companion Dorothea Gilder between 1897 and 1920. The letters recount daily activities, travels, work, social life, attitudes, and aspects of their intimate relationship.
Scope and Content Note:
The Dorothea Gilder papers regarding Cecilia Beaux date from 1897 to 1920 and include correspondence between Beaux and Gilder, scattered printed materials, a photograph of Beaux with Gilder, and a photograph of the two with other friends. The papers are comprised primarily of correspondence between Cecilia Beaux and her close, life-long friend and intimate companion Dorothea Gilder between 1897 and 1920. The letters recount daily activities, travels, work, social life, attitudes, and aspects of their intimate relationship. Also found is scattered third party correspondence. Two folders of printed materials include newspaper reviews of Beaux's 1903 exhibition, and four exhibition catalogs, several of which are not found in the papers of Cecilia Beaux. The photograph is a single snapshot of Beaux with Gilder. One additional photograph of Beaux, Gilder, and friends is found attached to a 1906 letter.
The collection is arranged into 3 series:
Series 1: Correspondence, 1897-1920 (Boxes 1-2; 0.6 linear feet)
Series 2: Printed Material, 1897-1910 (Box 2; 2 folders)
Series 3: Photograph, undated (Box 2; 1 item)
Dorothea Gilder was born in 1882 to socially prominent parents Richard Watson Gilder, a poet and publisher of Century Magazine, and Helena De Kay Gilder, an artist who had studied with Albert Pinkham Ryder and John La Farge, and who helped to found the Art Students League and the Society of American Artists. Painter Cecilia Beaux enjoyed a close friendship with the New York family from the mid 1890s until the end of her life. They travelled together in France in 1896, where Beaux had gone to see her paintings hung at the Paris salon. In her memoir, Background with Figures, Beaux describes extended visits at the Gilder's summer farm in Tyringham, Massachusetts, where the Gilders set up a studio for her in a tobacco barn, in which she painted Dorothea and Francesca, a.k.a. The Dancing Lesson (1899). She also attended the Gilders' private salon in New York, frequented by prominent artists, writers, musicians, and actors including Mark Twain and Walt Whitman.
Dorothea Gilder was a favorite portrait subject of Beaux's, sitting for numerous sketches and several major paintings, including Dorothea and Francesca, Dorothea in the Woods (1897), and After the Meeting (1914). Letters between Beaux and Dorothea Gilder contain constant references to their intimite, often physical affection for one another, and suggest a romantic relationship between them. In 1911, Gilder began what was to be a brief stage career under the name of Dorothea Coleman. In 1916, she married Dallas D.L. McGrew, a New York architect who had designed Beaux's summer home in Gloucester, Massachusetts and who had recently returned from the ambulance service in France. She had a child, Helena Gilder McGrew in 1917, and died in 1920 at the age of 38.
The Archives of American Art holds the papers of Cecilia Beaux, as well as an oral history with Rosamund Gilder, Dorothea Gilder's sister and a prominent theater critic.
The papers were donated by Helena Newman, Dorothea Gilder's daughter, in two separate accessions in 1971 and 1978.
The collection has been digitized and is available online via AAA's website.
The Dorothea Gilder papers regarding Cecilia Beaux 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.
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