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Freer, Charles Lang, 1856-1919  Search this
131 Linear feet (29 architectural drawings)
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Financial records
London (England)
Boston (Mass.)
Detroit (Mich.)
Washington (D.C.)
Kandy (Sri Lanka)
Sri Lanka
Anuradhapura (Sri Lanka)
The personal papers of Charles Lang Freer, the industrialist and art collector who founded the Freer Gallery of Art. The papers include correspondence, diaries, art inventories, scrapbooks of clippings on James McNeil Whistler and other press clippings, and photographs.
Scope Content:
The personal papers of Charles Lang Freer, the industrialist and art collector who founded the Freer Gallery of Art. The papers include correspondence, diaries, art inventories, scrapbooks of clippings on James McNeil Whistler and other press clippings, financial material, architectural drawings, and photographs. Correspondence, circa 1860-1921, includes Freer's correspondence, 1876-1920, with artists, dealers, collectors, museums, and public figures; letterpress books contain copies of Freer's outgoing letters, 1892-1910; correspondence collected by Freer of James McNeill Whistler, and his wife Beatrix, 186?-1909, with Lady Colin Campbell, Thomas R. Way, Alexander Reid, Whistler's mother, Mrs. George W. Whistler, and others; correspondence of Whistler collector Richard A. Canfield, 1904-1913, regarding works in Canfield's collection; and correspondence of Freer's assistant, Katharine Nash Rhoades, 1920-1921, soliciting Freer's letters from his associates, and regarding the settlement of his estate. Also included are twenty-nine pocket diaries, 1889-1890, 1892-1898, 1900-1919, recording daily activities, people and places visited, observations, and comments; a diary kept by Freer's caretaker, Joseph Stephens Warring, recording daily activities at Freer's Detroit home, 1907-1910. Inventories, n.d. and 1901-1921, of American, European, and Asian art in Freer's collection, often including provenance information; vouchers, 1884-1919, documenting his purchases; five volumes of scrapbooks of clippings on James McNeill Whistler, 1888-1931, labeled "Various," "Peacock Room," "Death, etc.," "Paris, etc.," and "Boston...London" ; three volumes of newsclippings, 1900-1930, concerning Freer and the opening of the Freer Gallery of Art. Correspondence regarding Freer's gift and bequest to the Smithsonian Institution, 1902-1916; and photographs, ca. 1880-1930, of Freer, including portraits by Alvin Langdon Coburn and Edward Steichen, Freer with others, Freer in Cairo, China and Japan, Freer's death mask, and his memorial service, Kyoto, 1930; photographs of artists and others, including Thomas Dewing, Ernest Fenollosa, Katharine Rhoades taken by Alfred Stieglitz, Rosalind B. Philip, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Abbott H. Thayer, Dwight Tryon, and Whistler; and photographs relating to Whistler, including art works depicting him, grave and memorial monuments, works of art, the Peacock Room, and Whistler's memorial exhibition at the Copley Society.
Organization of the Papers:
This collection is organized into twelve series. Series 1: Genealogical and Biographical Data Series 2: Correspondence Series 3: Diaries Series 4: Freer Colleague Materials Series 5: Art Inventories Series 6: Financial Materials Series 7: Exhibition Loan Files Series 8: Biblical Manuscripts and Gold Treasure Files Series 9: American School of Archaeology in China Series 10: Printed Material Series 11: Outsize Material Series 12: Photographs
Biographical Note:
1854 February 25 -- Born in Kingston, New York 1873 -- Appointed accountant and paymaster of New York, Kingston and Syracuse Railroad by Frank J. Hecker (1846-1927) 1876 -- Moves to Indiana to work, with Hecker, for the Detroit and Eel River and Illinois Railroad 1880 -- Moves to Detroit, participates in organization of the Peninsular Car Works with Hecker 1883 -- Becomes vice president and secretary of Peninsular Car Company when it succeeds Peninsular Car Works 1883 -- Begins collecting European prints 1884 -- Peninsular Car Company constructs plant on Ferry Avenue 1887 -- Meets Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) 1887 -- Acquires proofs of 26 etchings, Venice, Second Series(1886), by James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) 1887 -- Purchases a small Japanese fan attributed to Ogata Korin(1658-1715) 1887 -- Buys land on Ferry Avenue 1889 -- Meets Frederick Stuart Church (1826-1900) and Dwight William Tryon (1849-1925) in New York 1890 -- Commissions Wilson Eyre (1858-1944) to design house on Ferry Avenue, Detroit, Michigan 1890 -- On first trip to London, meets James McNeill Whistler(1834-1903) 1892 -- Moves to Ferry Avenue house 1892 -- Tryon and Thomas Wilmer Dewing (1851-1938) undertake decoration of reception rooms 1893 -- Lends American paintings to World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago 1893 -- Purchases first piece of Chinese art, a small painting of white herons by an anonymous Ming dynasty (1368-1644) artist 1894 -- Begins yearlong trip around the world, which includes visit to the Whistlers in Paris and first trip to Asia, stopping in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), India, China, and Japan 1896 -- Meets Matsuki Bunkyo (1867-1940) in Boston 1899 -- Takes part in consolidation of railroad-car building companies then retires from active business 1900 -- Attends Exposition International Universelle in Paris 1900 -- Buys villa in Capri with Thomas S. Jerome 1901 -- Meets Siegfried Bing (1838-1905) in Paris and Ernest Fenollosa(1853-1908), who visits Freer in Detroit 1902 -- Meets Dikran Kelekian (1868-1951) 1902 -- Spends summer in Britain building Whistler collection 1902 -- Views Whistler's, Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room 1904 -- Purchases Whistler's Peacock Room 1904 -- Offers his art collections and funds to build a museum in which to house them to the Smithsonian Institution 1905 -- Smithsonian committee visits Freer in Detroit 1906 -- United States government formally accepts Freer's gift on January 24 1906 -- Freer signs Deed of Gift to Smithsonian Institution on May 5 1907 -- On second tour of Asia, meets Hara Tomitaro 1868-1939) in Yokohama, Japan 1908 -- Takes third trip to Asia, specifically to West Asia to study Rakka ware 1909 -- Tours Europe to study art museums 1909 -- On fourth trip to Asia, attends memorial ceremony for Fenollosa (d.1908 September) at Miidera, Japan, and meets Duanfang (1861-1911) in China 1910 -- On last trip to Asia, visits Longmen Buddhist caves in China 1911 -- Suffers stroke 1912 -- Lends selection of objects for exhibition at Smithsonian Institution 1913 -- Meets Eugene (1875-1957) and Agnes E. (1887-1970) Meyer 1913 -- Commissions Charles Adams Platt (1861-1933) to design museum building in Washington 1914 -- Meets Katharine Nash Rhoades (1885-1965) in Detroit 1915 -- Settles in New York City 1915 -- Site of future Freer Gallery of Art is determined 1916 -- Platt's plans for Freer Gallery are approved by Smithsonian Regents and Commission of Fine Arts and ground is broken in September 1918 -- After falling ill in Detroit, Freer travels to New York for treatment 1918 -- Work on the museum building is delayed by the war 1919 -- Freer appends codicil to will permitting acquisitions of Asian, Egyptian, and Near Eastern (West Asian) art 1919 -- Dies in New York City on 25 September and is buried in Kingston, New York 1919 -- Construction of Freer Gallery completed 1920 -- John Ellerton Lodge (1876-1942) is appointed director of the Freer Gallery 1923 -- Freer Gallery opens to the public on May 9 1930 -- Memorial ceremony for Freer is held at Koetsuji, Kyoto Charles Lang Freer was an American industrialist who founded the Freer Gallery of Art. He was a well-known collector of Asian art, and strongly supported the synthesis of Eastern art and Western art. One of his most famous acquisitions was James McNeill Whistler's Peacock Room.
Index to cross-referenced correspondents in the series Charles Lang Freer correspondence Beal, Junius E. -- See: -- Warring, Joseph Stephens Black, George M. -- See: -- Saint-Gaudens, Augustus Board of Education (Kingston, New York) See: Michael, M. J. Bonner, Campbell See: University of Michigan Boughton, George H. See: Yardley, F. C. British Museum See: Binyon, Laurence; Hobson, R. L. Brown, Harold H. See: Art Association of Indianapolis Buchner, Evelyn B. See: Knoedler, M., and Company Buckholder, C. H. See: Art Institute of Chicago Butler, S. B. See: Unidentified correspondents Carnegie Institute See: Balken, Edward Duff; Harshe, Robert B. Carpenter, Newton H. See: Art Institute of Chicago Caulkins, Horace James See: Pewabic Pottery Chao, Shih-chin See: Gunn, Chu Su Chicago & North Western Railway Co. See: Hughett, Marvin Clark, Charles Upson See: Clark, Arthur B. Cleveland Museum of Art See: Whiting, Frederic Allen Columbia University See: Braun, W. A.; Gottheil, Richard; Hirth, Friederich Commission of Fine Arts See: Moore, Charles Corcoran Gallery of Art See: Minnigerode, C. Powell Crocker, Anna B. See: Portland Art Association Dannenberg, D. E. See: Karlbeck, Orvar De Menoncal, Beatrice See: Lien, Hui Ch'ing Collection De Ricci, Seymour See: Ricci, Seymour de Defnet, William A., Mrs., See: Franke, Ida M. DeMotte See: Vigouroux, J. Detroit Institute of Arts See: Detroit Museum of Art Detroit Publishing Company See: Livingstone, W. A. Detroit School of Design See: George Hamilton; Stevens, Henry DeVinne Press See: Peters, Samuel T.; Witherspoon, A. S. Dyrenforth, P. C. See: Philip, Rosalind Birnie Eddy, Arthur J. See: Philip, Rosalind Birnie Eggers, George Williams See: Art Institute of Chicago Farr, Daniel H. See: Robinson and Farr Farrand School (Detroit) See: Yendall, Edith Field Museum of Natural History (Chicago) See: Laufer, Berthold Flagg, Frederick J. See: Allen, Horace N. Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University See: Forbes, Edward; Pope, Arthur Upham; Sachs, Paul J. French, M. R. See: Art Institute of Chicago Fu, Lan-ya See: Pang, Lai-ch'en Fujii, Yoshio See: Yoshio, Fujii Gerrity, Thomas See: Knoedler, M., and Company Goupil Gallery See: Marchant, William Gray, William J. See: Barr, Eva Great Lakes Engineering Works See: Hoyt, H. W. Grolier Club See: Philip, Rosalind Birnie Heinemann, W. See: Philip, Rosalind Birnie Holden, Edward S. See: West Point, U. S. Military Academy Hudson, J. L. See: Weber, William C. Hutchins, Harry B. See: University of Michigan Hutchins, Charles L. See: Art Institute of Chicago Kelekian, H. G. See: Kelekian, Dikran G. Kent, H. W. See: Metropolitan Museum of Art Lee, Kee Son See: Li, Chi-ch'un Levy, John See: Schneider, A. K. Library of Congress See: Rice, Richard A.; Wright, Helen Louvre (Paris, France) See: Midgeon, Gaston Matsuki, Z. See: Matsuki, Kihachiro McKim, Mead and White See: White, Stanford Mills, A. L., Colonel See: Saint-Gaudens, Augustus Miner, Luella See: Lien, Hui Ch'ing Collection Minneapolis Institute of Arts See: Breck, Joseph; Van Derlip, John R. Monif, R. Khan See: Rathbun, Richard Museum of Fine Arts, Boston See: Lodge, John Ellerton Naser, Katen & Nahass See: Katen, K. Nordlinger, Marie, Miss See: Meyer-Riefstahl, Marie Panama Pacific International Exposition See: Moore, Charles C.; Trask, John E. D. Peabody Museum See: Morse, Edward Sylvester Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts See: Trask, John E. D. Perry, Mary Chase, Miss., See: Pewabic Pottery Philip, Ronald M. See: Philip, Rosalind Birnie Pope, G. D. See: Barr, Eva Reinhart, A. G. See: Gottschalk, E. Reitz, Sigisbert Chrétien Bosch See: Bosch-Reitz, Sigisbert Chrétien Rutgers College See: Van Dyke, John C. Saint-Gaudens, Augusta H. See: Saint-Gaudens, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Homer See: Saint-Gaudens, Augustus Samurai Shokai See: Nomura, Yozo San Francisco Art Association See: Laurvik, J. Nilsen Scribner's, Charles, Sons See: Van Dyke, John C. Shaw, Wilfred B. See: University of Michigan Shirae, S. Z. See: Yamanaka and Company Smith College See: Clark, Arthur B. Smithsonian Institution See: Holmes, William Henry; Rathbun, Richard; Ravenel, Walcott, Charles D. Society of Arts and Crafts (Detroit) See: Plumb, Helen Societe des Beaux-Arts See: Reid, Alexander Stevens, George W. See: Toledo Museum of Art Stratton, Mary Chase Perry See: Pewabic Pottery Tanaka, Kichijiro See: Yamanaka and Company Tuttle, William F. See: Art Institute of Chicago Union Trust Company (Detroit) See: Philip, Rosalind Birnie United States Military Academy See: West Point, U. S. Military Academy University of Chicago See: Zug, George Breed University of Pennsylvania, Univ. Mus. See: Gordon, George Bryon Ushikubo, D. J. R. See: Yamanaka and Company Wallis & Son See: Barr, Eva; Thompson, C. Croal Ward, Clarence See: Oberlin College Warren, Edward K. See: Philip, Rosalind Birnie Warring, Stephen See: Warring, Joseph Stephens Watkin, Williams R. T. See: Philip, Rosalind Birnie Watson, Margaret, Miss See: Parker, Margaret Watson Whistler, Anna See: Stanton, Anna Whistler Whiting, Almon C. See: Toledo Museum of Art Williams College See: Rice, Richard A Wright, F. G. See: Orbach and Company Yatsuhashi, H. See: Yamanaka and Company
Index to cross-referenced correspondence in the series Whistler correspondence Bell, William See: Unidentified correspondents Brown, Ernest See: Painter Etchers' Society, Committee Cowen, John T. See subseries: Charles Lang Freer Correspondence Ford, Sheridan See: Reid, Alexander Haden, Francis Seymour See: Painter Etchers' Society, Committee Haden, Francis Seymour, Lady See: Haden, Deborah Whistler Leighton, Frederick, Baron See: Campbell, Lady Colin Moore, Albert See: Reid, Alexander Morley, Charles See: Pall Mall Gazette Morris, Harrison S. See: Reid, Alexander Pennell, Joseph See: Miscellaneous typescripts Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts See: Reid, Alexander Prange, F. G. See: Reid, Alexander Societe des Beaux-Arts See: Reid, Alexander Society of Portrait Painters See: Reid, Alexander Stevens Fine Art See: Reid, Alexander Studd, Arthur See: Miscellaneous typescripts [Vanderbilt?], George, Mrs. See: George, Mrs. Whistler, William McNeill, Mrs. See: Whistler, Nellie Whistler Memorial Committee See: Miscellaneous typescripts
Related Material:
The Archives of American Art microfilmed portions of the Freer papers in 1992. The microfilm is available at the Archives of American Art's Washington D.C. office, the Freer Gallery of Art Library, and through interlibrary loan.
Gift of the Estate of Charles Lang Freer.
Collection is open for research.
Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository.
Art, American -- Collectors and collecting  Search this
Art, Asian -- Collectors and collecting  Search this
Art -- Collectors and collecting  Search this
Architecture -- Asia  Search this
Financial records
Charles Lang Freer Papers. FSA.A.01. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Gift of the estate of Charles Lang Freer.
See more items in:
Charles Lang Freer Papers
Archival Repository:
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives