This subseries includes Fidelia Bridges' letters to Phebe Crowell Brown, Annie Brown, and other Brown family members, Oliver Ingraham Lay, and Charles and Laura Lay.
Topics include painting activities, personal observations, visits with mutual friends and family, travels, and residences.
Letters contain references to Bridges' colleagues and friends, including William Trost Richards and his daughter, Anna Richards Brewster, John Sartain, the Shannon family, and Hannah Smith. Letters document the period Bridges studied painting with William Trost Richards in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the 1860s and her stay in England when she exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1879 to 1880. Also found are the artist's reflections during her travels to England, Germany, and Switzerland, as well as to Paris and Venice in the late 1860s-1890s; many letters are interspersed with Bridges' detailed descriptions of the landscape. Found is one illustrated letter from Fidelia Bridges to Annie Brown (undated). Files also contain typescripts of transcriptions of Bridges' letters and the letters exchanged between Brown family members.
This subseries also contains the scattered correspondence files of Henry Bridges (Fidelia's brother), Charles Downing Lay, George C. Lay, (Charles's son), and various Lay family members. Also found as attachments with other letters are business records, notes, miscellaneous printed material, and photographs. Letters from William T. Brewster to Charles Downing Lay discuss Bridges's relationship with the Richards family and the work of his wife, the painter Anna Richards Brewster. George C. Lay's correspondence with art historians, gallery dealers, and others provides biographical material on Bridges, as well as provenance-related information on several works by the artist.
Correspondence is arranged alphabetically by family members' surname, and then filed chronologically.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Washington, D.C. Research Center.
The Oliver Ingraham Lay, Charles Downing Lay, and Lay Family 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.
Oliver Ingraham Lay, Charles Downing Lay, and Lay Family Papers, 1789-2000, bulk 1870-1996. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Glass plate negatives in this collection were digitized in 2019 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Women's Committee.