Cowles' inventory notebooks document the sale of artwork and his exhibitions through the 1950s Cowles's entries list title of painting, brief description, invoice number, dimensions, price, and purchaser. This group of notebooks, in 4 volumes, appears to be a partial record of a larger series; inventory numbers range from the 400s-600s.
Biographical / Historical:
Painter; Santa Fe, NM and New York, NY.
Donated 2003 by Katherine Degn, Director of Kraushaar Galleries, 24 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10019, phone #: 212/307-5730. Kraushaar Galleries represents Russell Cowles estate. The Director of Kraushaar Galleries had the authorization of Cowles's family to donate the notebooks to the Archives of American Art.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
The Thomas B. Clarke letters from or about Homer Dodge Martin measure 0.2 linear feet and date from 1893-1897. Twenty-two letters from Martin to art collector and patron Thomas B. Clarke, document Martin's work, his financial struggles, and his physical and mental condition in the last 5 years of his life. Additional letters to and from others further illuminate Martin's relationship with Clarke and provide insight into his financial affairs and the increasingly favorable market for the painter's work just prior to and following his death in 1897.
Scope and Content Note:
This collection measures 0.2 linear feet, including 22 letters from Homer Martin to art patron Thomas Clarke, and dates from 1893-1897. Since Martin kept no diaires or sales ledgers himself, the letters are invaluable in understanding his painting, financial struggles, and his physical and mental condition in the last 5 years of his life. Additional letters from Martin's son, Ralph, his wife, Elizabeth, and gallery owner William Macbeth, and a letter from Martin to his friend Montgomery Schuyler, further illuminate Clarke's activities as a dealer and patron of Martin's work, and provide insight into Martin's financial affairs and the increasingly favorable market for the painter's work just prior to and following his death in 1897.
The collection is arranged as 1 series:
Series 1: Thomas B. Clarke Letters From or About Homer Dodge Martin, 1893-1897 (Box 1; 9 folders)
Thomas Benedict Clarke (1848-1931) was a New York prosperous merchant who began collecting American art in the 1870s. Over the course of the next 20 years he actively traded, loaned, and sold artwork through dealers in New York City, outlets in Worcester, Cincinnati and St. Louis, and with artists. He also shared his collection through public and private exhibitions in New York and elsewhere. He earned praise from the critics for being the foremost patron of American painters during the late 1800s and was praised by many painters for his attention to American artists at a time when they considered themselves neglected or ignored.
Hudson River School painter Homer Dodge Martin (1836-1897) was one of the artists for whom Clarke acted as patron. Martin studied briefly with James Hart and spent his summers during the 1860s sketching in the Adirondacks, the Catskills and the White Mountains and then painted landscapes from the sketches he made at his studio in New York City's Tenth Street Studio Building.
In 1876 he took his first trip to Europe and from 1882-1886 lived in Normandy, France. There he was influenced both by the Barbizon school of painting and the Impressionists and his painting took on darker, more melancholy tones.
By 1887 Martin had returned to New York and in 1893 moved to St. Paul, Minnesota. During the 1890s Martin was plagued by ill health and financial struggles. A dead optic nerve in one eye and a cataract in the other, left him close to blindness when he died in February 1897. At the time of his death two of his greatest paintings, Westchester Hills (circa 1887) and Harp of the Winds (1895), remained unsold and another, Adirondack Scenery (1895) had been bought by Clarke for circa $400.
In 1890, Clarke had dissolved his dry-goods partnership, Clarke & King, and announced that he would no longer deal in American pictures except as an agent for George Inness. Clarke opened a showroom known as "Art House" in 1891 on Fifth Avenue in New York City, and began dealing primarily in Oriental porcelains and Greek antiquities. The Martin letters are one source of evidence that Clarke did, however, continue to deal in American art as a private agent through Macbeth Gallery and others. A letter written on Clarke's behalf to Martin dated April 17, 1896, stated that he had contacted Samuel P. Avery on Martin's behalf, and suggested that he consign his paintings to Avery, rather than having Clarke promote them himself.
In January 1899 Clarke announced that he would dispose of his American pictures at auction following a week long exhibition at the American Art Association. In February 1899, 7 of the 10 Homer Martin paintings in Clarke's possession were sold at that auction, including Adirondack Scenery for $5500. Within two years of his death, Martin's Harp of the Winds was acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
In addition to the Metropolitan Museum, Martin's work can be found in other important American museums including the Addison Gallery of American Art, the Albany Institute of History and Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He became a member of the National Academy of Design in 1874 and was one of the founders of the Society of American Artists.
The James Stillman letters relating to Homer Dodge Martin have also been digitized and are available online via the Archives of American Art's website. Additional material relating to Homer Dodge Martin, including correspondence with Thomas B. Clarke and Elizabeth Martin, can be found in the Macbeth Gallery records at AAA.
Most of the letters were donated by Charles Feinberg in 1957. Four additional letters were given to the Archives by Irving Burton in 1967.
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
The Thomas B. Clarke letters from or about Homer Dodge Martin 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.