The Macbeth Gallery records provide almost complete coverage of the gallery's operations from its inception in 1892 to its closing in 1953. Through extensive correspondence files, financial and inventory records, printed material, scrapbooks, reference and research material, and photographs of artists and works of art, the records document all aspects of the gallery's activities, charting William Macbeth's initial intention to lease his store "for the permanent exhibition and sale of American pictures" through over sixty years of success as a major New York firm devoted to American art. The collection measures 131.6 linear feet and dates from 1838 to 1968 with the bulk of the material dating from 1892 to 1953.
Scope and Content Note:
The Macbeth Gallery records provide almost complete coverage of the gallery's operations from its inception in 1892 to its closing in 1953. The records document all aspects of the gallery's activities, charting William Macbeth's initial intention to lease his store "for the permanent exhibition and sale of American pictures" through over sixty years of success as a major New York firm devoted to American art. The collection measures 131.6 linear feet and dates from 1838 to 1968 with the bulk of the material dating from 1892 to 1953.
The gallery's correspondence files form the core of the collection and illuminate most aspects of American art history: the creation and sale of works of art, the development of reputations, the rise of museums and art societies, change and resistance to change in the art market, and the evolution of taste. Ninety-five feet of correspondence house substantial and informative letters from dozens of important American painters and sculptors, including older artists and younger contemporaries of the gallery in its later years. There are also letters from collectors, curators, other galleries, and critics.
The financial files found in the collection offer insight into the changing economic climate in which the gallery operated. They include information ranging from the details of individual sales and the market for individual artists, to consignment activities and artist commissions, to overviews of annual sales. This information is augmented by the firm's inventory records and the photographs of artwork with their accompanying records of paintings sold. The inventory records provide details of all works of art handled by the gallery, both sold and unsold, and the buyers who purchased them; the photographs of artwork include images of artwork sold with accompanying sales information.
The highlight of the gallery's printed material is the publication Art Notes. Although published only until 1930, Art Notes provides an excellent and detailed view of the gallery's exhibition schedule and the relationship of the gallery owners with many of the artists whose work they handled. It was a house organ that also provided a running commentary on events in the art world. The gallery's 19 fragile scrapbooks, maintained throughout the firm's history, provide further coverage of activities through exhibition catalogs and related news clippings. Printed material from other sources provides a frame of reference for activities in the art world from the mid-19th to the mid-20th-centuries and includes an almost complete run of the rare and important pre-Civil War art publication The Crayon.
Reference files record the interest which the gallery owners took in the work of early portrait painters and in later artists such as George Inness and Winslow Homer. Together with the immense volume of correspondence with buyers and sellers of paintings by the great portraitists and the Hudson River School found in the gallery's correspondence files, these records are still useful sources of information today and underscore the deep interest that the Macbeths and Robert McIntyre took in 18th and 19th-century American art.
The photographs of artists found here are a treasure trove of images of some of the major figures of the 19th and 20th-centuries. There are photographs of artists such as Chester Beach, Emil Carlsen, Charles Melville Dewey, Frederick Carl Frieseke, Childe Hassam, Winslow Homer, George Inness, Maurice Prendergast, and Julian Alden Weir, many of them original prints and the majority of them autographed.
With the exception of the "The Eight" and a few of their contemporaries, an important aspect of art history, the modernist movement, is generally represented in the Macbeth Gallery records only in a negative form as the three successive proprietors of the gallery showed very little interest in this area. Nevertheless, the collection is a highly significant source of information on many of the major and minor figures in American art in the period after 1890.
The collection is arranged into eight series:
Series 1: Correspondence, 1838-1968 (Box 1-95, 163-164, OV 165; 96.2 linear feet)
Series 2: Financial and Shipping Records, 1892-1956 (Box 96-110; 11.8 linear feet)
Series 3: Inventory Records, 1892-circa 1957 (Box 111-113; 3.0 linear feet)
Series 4: Printed Material, 1838-1963 (Box 114-119, 162; 5.0 linear feet)
Series 5: Scrapbooks, 1892-1952 (Box 120-130; 3.3 linear feet)
Series 6: Reference Files, 1839-1959 (Box 131-132; 0.6 linear feet)
Series 7: Miscellaneous Files, 1912-1956 (Box 133-134; 0.8 linear feet)
Series 8: Photographs, circa 1880-circa 1968 (Box 135-161; 12.1 linear feet)
The Macbeth Gallery was established in 1892 by William Macbeth, a Scotch-Irish immigrant who had spent ten years with the print dealer Frederick Keppel before he opened his doors to the art-buying public at 237 Fifth Avenue in New York. Despite the prevailing interest in foreign art at that time, particularly in that of the Barbizon and Dutch schools, Macbeth was determined to dedicate his gallery to "the permanent exhibition and sale of American pictures, both in oil and water colors."
Although some of the gallery's earliest exhibitions were of work by European artists, the business soon became the only gallery in continuous operation to keep American art permanently on display. In the January 1917 issue of Art Notes, Macbeth recounts those early days remembering that "The opening of my gallery......was a rash venture under the existing conditions, and disaster was freely predicted." Nevertheless, he struggled through the financial crisis of 1893 and persisted with his devotion to American art; slowly the market for his pictures grew more amenable.
Macbeth moved to more spacious quarters at 450 Fifth Avenue in 1906 and two years later undertook what was to become the major event in the gallery's early history: the 1908 exhibition of "The Eight," featuring work by Arthur B. Davies, Willam J. Glackens, Robert Henri, Ernest Lawson, George Luks, Maurice Prendergast, Everett Shinn, and John Sloan. "The Eight" were an unlikely combination of social realists, visionaries and impressionists eager to challenge the dominating influence of the National Academy. The exhibition received an immense amount of publicity and instantly entered into art history as a successful assault on tradition.
Despite the splash that the exhibition made and its implications for the future of American art, nothing that the gallery did subsequently indicated that Macbeth intended to capitalize on its significance. It is true that Macbeth supported many artists later considered leaders in American art when the public would pay no attention to them because of their modernist tendencies; Arthur B. Davies, Paul Dougherty, Maurice Prendergast, Theodore Robinson, and F. Ballard Williams all held their first exhibitions at his gallery. Nevertheless, neither Macbeth nor the gallery's two successive proprietors, Robert G. McIntyre (William's nephew) and Robert Macbeth (William's son), who joined the gallery in 1903 and 1906 respectively, ever developed a true interest in modern art. The November 1930 issue of Art Notes summarizes their collective disdain for modernism, stating: "We believe that, by and large, modern art is amusing. We are heretical enough to believe that much of it was started for the amusement of its creators and that no one was more surprised than they when it was taken seriously by a certain audience to whom the bizarre and the unintelligible always makes an appeal." So while the Macbeths and McIntyre cetainly championed American artists and insisted they deserved as much recognition as the Europeans, their deepest and most abiding interest was undoubtedly the established artists of the 18th and 19th-centuries and those of the early 20th-century who continued in a more conservative style. Artists such as Emil Carlsen, Charles Harold Davis, Frederick C. Frieseke, Robert Henri, Winslow Homer, Chauncey F. Ryder, Abbot Handerson Thayer, J. Francis Murphy, A. H. Wyant were the gallery's bread and butter.
When William Macbeth died in 1917 Robert Macbeth took up the reins with the assistance of Robert G. McIntyre . Although they incorporated the business as William Macbeth, Inc., in 1918 the gallery continued to be known, as it always would be, simply as Macbeth Gallery. Macbeth and McIntyre continued to show work in the same vein as the elder Macbeth. They concentrated primarily on oil paintings at this time, having found by the 1920s that "oils are all that our gallery owners will buy," though they also exhibited an occasional group of watercolors and pastels in addition to bronzes and other sculpture by contemporary American artists such as Chester Beach and Janet Scudder.
Of the early American painters the Macbeths and McIntyre were particularly interested in colonial portraits and miniatures, especially those painted by prominent artists in the latter part of the eighteenth century such as John Singleton Copley, Gilbert Stuart, Thomas Sully and John Trumbull. In its early years the gallery also handled the work of a few prominent American etchers including Frank W. Benson, Emil Fuchs, Daniel Garber, Childe Hassam and Chauncey F. Ryder. The print department was generally discontinued, however, in the late 1930s although the gallery continued to show prints by contemporaries such as Stow Wengenroth.
In 1924 relative prosperity allowed the gallery to move uptown to 15 East Fifty-seventh Street. When the 1930s brought new financial hardship for the gallery Macbeth and McIntyre took a variety of approaches to boosting sales. In 1930 they decided to hold only group exhibitions throughout the season to the exclusion of one-man shows, and also held some special exhibitions of paintings priced at a hundred dollars each in the hope that they could tempt those "willing to take advantage of a rare chance to secure representative examples of good art at a most attractive price." A move to smaller quarters at 15 East Fifty-seventh Street in 1935 was made with the intention of concentrating their efforts on the work of fewer contemporary artists, while continuing to handle the work of the older Americans they had long supported.
When Macbeth died suddenly and unexpectedly in August 1940 following an operation for appendicitis, McIntyre continued to run the gallery with the assistance of Hazel Lewis. During the 1940s McIntyre and Lewis showed primarily contemporary art in a wide range of media including oil, watercolor, pastel, drawing and sculpture, while continuing, as always, to show the occasional group of 19th-century Americans. The great success of the gallery's later years was undeniably Andrew Wyeth whose first exhibition, held at Macbeth Gallery in 1937, resulted in the sale of all twenty-two paintings cataloged.
Although subsequent Wyeth exhibitions were also successful, McIntyre struggled financially throughout the 1940s and periodically considered liquidating the company. Although "vitally interested" in contemporary art by people such as Robert Brackman, Jay Connaway, Carl Gaertner, James Lechay, Herbert Meyer and Ogden M. Pleissner he found that, for the most part, it did not pay. McIntyre continued operations until 1953 when he decided that doing so for profit was not only a financial burden but also ran contrary to his desire to spend more time devoted to his first love, early American art. When the lease expired on 11 East Fifty-seventh Street in April 1953 McIntyre did not renew it. After closing the gallery's doors he sold art from his New York apartment and from his home in Dorset, Vermont. He officially dissolved William Macbeth, Inc., in 1957.
The history of the Macbeth Gallery is a long and distinguished one with each successive proprietor making a significant contribution to art in America. William Macbeth helped establish an audience and a market for American art when few were willing to give it serious consideration. Robert Macbeth continued to cement the gallery's reputation as one of the leading firms in New York and was instrumental in organizing the American Art Dealers Association. Robert G. McIntyre claimed in a letter to Lloyd Goodrich, dated 22 June 1945, that the thing of which he was most proud was "the share I have had in the formation of the collection of the Addison Gallery of American Art, at Andover, Massacusetts." McIntyre was widely respected in the art community as a dealer, as an adviser to curators, and as a scholar whose research and book on Martin Johnson Heade helped "rediscover" an important American artist. One of his most significant and lasting contributions to the history of art in America, however, was undoubtedly his gift of the gallery's historical records to the Archives of American Art.
Among the holdings of the Archives of American are a small collection of scattered Robert McIntyre's papers and 9 items of William Macbeth's papers. Macbeth Gallery exhibition catalogs are also available in the American Art Exhibition Catalog collection and the Brooklyn Museum Records, both loaned and microfilmed collections.
An extensive collection of Macbeth Gallery exhibition catalogs are also held by the Frick Art Reference Library and the Watson Library of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The bulk of the Macbeth Gallery records were donated and microfilmed in several installments between 1955 and 1966 by Robert G. McIntyre and Estate. Additional Macbeth Gallery printed material was donated by Phoebe C. and William Macbeth II, grandchildren of William Macbeth, in 1974.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Fragile original scrapbooks are closed to researchers.
The Macbeth Gallery records 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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Macbeth Gallery records, 1838-1968, bulk 1892 to 1953. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Getty Grant Program. Digitization of the scrapbooks was supported by a grant from the Smithsonian Institution Women's Committee. Correspondence, financial and shipping records, inventory records, and printed material were digitized with funding provided by the Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts, the Terra Foundation for American Art and The Walton Family Foundation.
The papers of Cuban-born cartoonist, caricaturist, graphic designer, illustrator, and art director Abril Lamarque papers date from 1883-2001, with the bulk of the material ranging from 1904-1999, and measure 6.8 linear feet. His papers contain biographical material; correspondence; writings; files on the many seminars and workshop he taught; scattered financial records; files concerning his business Abril Lamarque Creations; subject files; clippings; printed illustrations of his comics, designs, illustrations, and other work; seven scrapbooks; two sketchbooks, sketches and drawings by him, and artwork by others, including his sister, his brother, Paul Hoffmaster, Enrique Riverón, and H. Portell Vilá; and photographs and negatives depicting Lamarque, Lamarque at work, Lamarque's magic shows, examples of advertising, and friends and colleagues.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of Cuban-born cartoonist, caricaturist, graphic designer, illustrator, and art director Abril Lamarque papers date from 1883-2001, with the bulk of the material ranging from 1904-1999, and measure 6.8 linear feet. His papers contain biographical material; correspondence; writings; files on the many seminars and workshops he taught; scattered financial records; files concerning his business Abril Lamarque Creations; subject files; clippings; printed illustrations of his comics, designs, illustrations, and other work; seven scrapbooks; two sketchbooks, sketches and drawings by him, and others, including his sister, his brother, Paul Hoffmaster, Enrique Riverón, and H. Portell Vilá; and photographs and negatives depicting Lamarque, Lamarque at work, Lamarque's magic shows, examples of advertising, and friends and colleagues.
Biographical materials include of materials related to Abril Lamarque's many professional and personal associations, including the Art Directors Club, the International Brotherhood of Magicians, the National Press Club, the New York University Club, the Society of American Magicians, and the Society of Illustrators. Material types include membership cards, documents, event posters, and yearbooks. Also included are some personal documents, information on Abril Lamarque and his family, Lamarque's collection of humorous business cards, and eulogies written about Lamarque.
Correspondence is generally scattered, but includes letters to and from illustrators and artists including Ernesto Garcia Cabral, Paul Hoffmaster, Conrado Massaguer, and Lamarque's brother, Juan Abril Lamarque. Some letters are illustrated. Also included is business correspondence, subjects and correspondents including the Dell Publishing Company, the New York Times, and correspondence related to workshops and lectures, including his work at Iowa State University and Oklahoma State University.
Writings chiefly document Lamarque's career in graphic and publication design, and consist of articles, an unpublished draft on publication design, manuals, and book reviews. Also included are scripts for magic shows performed by Lamarque. Writings by others are present, and include limericks written about Lamarque by friends and an autobiography of Lamarque's wife, Milagros Abril Lamarque.
The Workshops series consists of advertisements, press releases, handbooks, publication design layout examples, and other materials related to Lamarque's career in teaching publication design workshops and seminars. Also present within the collection are various financial materials. Abril Lamarque Creations materials document Lamarque's design firm, active 1940-1941, which focused on the design and manufacture of modern decorative accessories for the home, such as serving trays, cigarette holders and jewelry. Photographs, drawings, and advertisements in this series document the product design and sales.
The collection includes several subject files concerning the Bacardi Company, the Dell Publishing Company, and Cuban caricaturist and publisher Conrado Massaguer. Files on Massaguer include illustrations, posters, magazines, clippings, and articles. The Subject Files also include materials collected about Mexican caricaturist Ernesto García, self-taught Polish painter Karol Kozlowski, and several other illustrators and political figures of interest to Lamarque.
Printed materials make up the bulk of the collection. Found are numerous examples of his design work for the New York World-Telegram and Evening Mail, the New York Daily News, the New York Times, US News-World Report, Dell Publishing Company, and others; as well as cartoons, caricatures, and illustrations by Lamarque. Clippings of the comic strip Monguito and editions of the Havana newspaper Lunes de Diario de Cuba are present. Printed material also includes posters, including Lamarque's designs for the "Aluminum for Britain" project, which he was asked to discontinue by the U.S. State Department. Also found in this collection are graphic design and illustration clippings collected by Lamarque.
Also found within the collection are seven scrapbooks containing clippings and articles, illustrations, scattered letters, photographs, invitations, artwork, and other materials detailing Lamarque's extensive artistic career and his amateur magic performances.
Original artwork includes drawings, sketches, prints, and design by-products by Abril Lamarque. Artwork by Lamarque includes silkscreens of dictators; drawings and printing plates for Monguito comics; page banners for Film Fun and other publications; and design paste-ups. Artwork created by others found within the series includes caricatures of Lamarque, sketches by Juan Abril Lamarque, and prints by Paul Hoffmaster.
Photographs included in the collection document Abril Lamarque's life and career, and show Lamarque with friends and colleagues, and performing as an amateur magician for both children and adult audiences.
The collection is arranged as eleven series.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1917-2001 (0.5 linear feet; Box 1, OV 12)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1922-1990 (0.5 linear feet; Box 1, OV 12)
Series 3: Writings, 1925-1981 (0.3 linear feet; Box 2, OV 13)
Series 4: Workshops, circa 1940-circa 1985 (0.4 linear feet; Box 2, OV 13)
Series 5: Financial Records, 1924-1989 (4 folders; Box 2)
Series 6: Abril Lamarque Creations, circa 1940-circa 1945 (6 folders; Box 2, OV 13)
Series 7: Subject Files, 1905-1996 (0.5 linear feet; Box 4, OV 14)
Series 8: Printed Material, 1883-1989 (1.5 linear feet; Box 3, 4, 6, and 11, OV 15-17)
Series 9: Scrapbooks, 1920-1959 (1 linear foot; Boxes 7-9, OV 10)
Series 10: Original Artwork, circa 1914-1988 (0.5 linear feet; Box 4, OV 18)
Series 11: Photographic Material, circa 1920-circa 1985 (0.5 linear feet; Box 5, OV 19)
Eduardo Abril Lamarque (1904-1999) was a Cuban-born cartoonist, caricaturist, graphic designer, illustrator, and art director who worked primarily in New York City.
Eduardo Abril Lamarque was born in Cuba on August 28, 1904. His parents sent him to the United States in 1916 when he was twelve to study English and business administration. He lived with an American family in Brooklyn. At age 15, Lamarque's first cartoon was published in the Boy Scout section of the New York World-Telegram and Evening Mail. Four years later he created Bla-Bla, a comic strip that appeared regularly in the New York Daily News. He is credited with creating, in the early 1920s, the first Spanish language comic strip that was not translated from English. The title cartoon character, Monguito, was a hapless soul, fully dressed in business suit and hat, who kept getting into sticky situations. Lamarque produced hundreds of these strips which were picked up by the New York based United Feature Syndicate and published daily in Spanish language newspapers throughout Latin America and the United States.
When he was twenty, Lamarque returned to Cuba to work as the artistic director for the Havana newspaper Lunes de Diario de Cuba. He also published a booklet designed to teach the elements of caricature drawing. Lamarque returned to New York and was hired by the New York World Telegram and Evening Mail as a caricaturist. He produced political cartoons and caricatures for the paper, introducing his "radiocatures", which involved providing instructions on the radio for filling in a grid in the newspaper to produce a caricature of well-known figure in the news.
In 1927, at the age of 23, he became the first art director of Dell Publishing Company - a magazine empire that included Film Fun, I Confess, War Stories, Modern Screen, Popular Song, Spotlight, Radio Stars, Theatrical Page, Ballyhoo, and Modern Romances. He continued working there for 14 years.
In 1940-1941, Lamarque established Abril Lamarque Creations, a design firm that specialized in elegant and functional household objects and jewelry in a modernist tradition. His signature piece was the Pallettray, a serving tray modeled after an artist's palette and hand-finished in exotic woods.
Between 1941 and 1946, Lamarque became the first art director for the Sunday edition of the New York Times and redesigned the New York Times Magazine and the New York Times Book Review. Throughout his career, Lamarque designed and redesigned countless magazines and journals, including American Weekly, New York News, Metropolitan Life, Popular Science, This Week, US News-World Report, and others.
In 1948, Lamarque established a successful graphic design studio in New York that provided a full spectrum of design services, including annual reports, posters, product labeling, corporate publications, advertising, logos, package designs, and brochures. His clients included Barcardi Company, Con Edison, Ericcson Telephone, General Cable, Berlitz School, Lipton, Monsanto, and numerous magazines. In 1958, he was given the National Award for Graphic Design in packaging. His design for the annual American Red Cross poster was selected for the 1948 national Red Cross campaign.
His success and high demand as a publication art director, consultant, and designer was attributed to innovative design principles he based on the German Bauhaus School and its philosophy that promoted functional design principles. Lamarque reduced these principles to a set of guidelines suitable for page design and applied them successfully to a wide variety of publication and print layouts.
Lamarque's teaching experience began in the early 1940s with seminars and workshops he conducted for the publishing industry. He joined the faculty of New York University School of Continuing Education in 1958, where he taught until 1963, and later joined the Crowell Collier Institute and taught publication design workshops across the United States and Canada. He also gave workshops and courses at Oklahoma State School of Journalism.
Lamarque was a long-time member of the Society of Illustrators, Society of Art Directors, the Dutch Treat Club, National Press Club, and New York University Club. He was also an amateur magician and member of the Society of American Magicians. He performed magic acts for the annual Christmas party of the Society of Illustrators. Abril Lamarque died in 1999 at the age of 94.
Martha Lamarque Sarno and Lita M. Elvers assembled and donated their father's papers to the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, in 2001.
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 Abril Lamarque 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.