The papers of sculptor, painter, and printmaker John Henry Bradley Storrs measure 20.44 linear feet and date from 1790-2007, with the bulk of the papers dating from 1900 to 1956. The collection contains biographical material, correspondence, personal business records, forty-eight diaries of John Storrs, a few diaries of other family members, additional writings, printed material, photographs of Storrs and his family and friends, artwork, scrapbooks, estate records, and video recordings. Correspondence includes that of John Storrs, Marguerite Storrs, and the Storrs family.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of sculptor, painter, and printmaker John Henry Bradley Storrs measure 20.44 linear feet and date from 1790 to 2007, with the bulk of the papers dating from 1900 to 1956. The collection documents Storrs' career as an artist and his personal life through biographical material, correspondence with family, friends, and colleagues, personal business records, forty-eight diaries and other writings, printed material, photographs of Storrs and his family and friends, artwork, scrapbooks, estate records, and video recordings. There is also a substantial amount of Marguerite Storr's correspondence as well as scattered correspondence of other members of the Storr's family.
Biographical material consists of chronologies detailing the life of John Storrs, identification records, certificates, Storrs family documents, and records of John and Monique Storrs' French resistance activities during World War II.
Correspondence within this collection is divided into John Storrs Correspondence, Marguerite Storrs Correspondence, and Storrs Family Correspondence. The bulk of correspondence is John Storrs with friends, colleagues, art critics, patrons, art organizations and galleries. Correspondents of note include artists, architects, and writers such as Hendrick Andersen, Sherwood Anderson, Edward Bennett, George Biddle, Jerome Blum, Georges Braque, Louise Bryant, William Bullitt, Alexander Calder, Walter Cole, Paul Phillippe Cret, Katherine Dreier, Marcel Duchamp, Max Eastman, R. Buckminster Fuller, Marsden Hartley, Jane Heap, Jean Helion, Fernand Leger, Jacques Lipchitz, Man Ray, Charles Sheeler, Gertrude Stein, Joseph Stella, Maurice Sterne, Alfred Stieglitz, Leopold Survage, and William and Marguerite Zorach. There are also many letters to his wife Marguerite.
Marguerite Storrs' correspondence is with friends, family, colleagues, and others, including many letters to her husband. The letters are about general and family news, social activities and invitations, her work as a writer, and her husband's career. Storrs' family correspondence includes John and Marguerite's extensive correspondence with their daughter Monique as well as Monique's correspondence with others. Additional family correspondence is between John, his sister Mary ("Mae") and their parents David William and Hannah Storrs, much of it dating from 1900 to 1913.
Personal business records include address books, records regarding the sale and loan of Storrs' artwork, commission files regarding major public sculptures by Storrs, contracts, appraisals, financial records, and other documents regarding his professional activities. Of note are several files documenting Downtown Gallery's representation of Storrs' work during the 1960s, including correspondence between Edith Halpert and Monique Storrs. Various other documents include records of the Ecole de la Loire artists group (all in French.) Additionally there are records relating to Chateau de Chantecaille, an estate purchased by Storrs in the early 1920s as his primary residence and studio.
Forty-eight diaries contain scattered documentation of John Storrs' daily activities. Other writings by Storrs include four volumes of his memoirs that detail family history and his life from birth to 1906, notebooks, poetry, and personal accounts including the death of Auguste Rodin. Writings by others include poetry by Jessie Dismorr, essays by Zoltan Hecht and Maurice Raynal, and notebooks belonging to Storrs family members.
Printed material consists of books, art bulletins, brochures, invitations, announcements, and programs for art and social events. Also found are catalogs for exhibitions of Storrs' work and work by other artists; magazines, including a bound volume of the first ten issues of The Liberator; and clippings which include news about Storrs, his family, and friends.
Photographs depict John Storrs, his family, friends such as Arthur Bock and Gertrude Lambert, travels, and residences. Included are photographs of Storrs in his studio and in art classes. Also found are four photograph albums, primarily documenting his time in Europe from 1905 to 1907, exhibition photographs, and numerous photographs of his artwork.
Original artwork includes a portfolio of artwork created by Storrs as a youth, loose sketches, one sketchbook, 31 lithographs, and drawings for mural projects.
Four scrapbooks and a portfolio kept by John and Marguerite Storrs contain newspaper and magazine clippings of articles and illustrations as well as printed material from exhibitions, social events, and professional activities. Also found is a portfolio containing scattered items regarding the publication of Song of Myself with original wood engravings by John Storrs. One additional scrapbook was created by John Storrs around 1945 for his daughter, Monique Storrs, to document her service as a nurse in World War II.
This collection also includes records of John Storrs' estate immediately following his death in 1956, as well as records of several galleries that represented the estate in managing Storrs' artwork from the 1970s to 2002.
Three videocassettes, transferred from an unknown reel format, contain footage of Storrs' family life at Chantecaille and in Chicago, Illinois, in the 1930s.
The collection is arranged as 11 series.
Some box and folder numbers in the container listing intentionally display out of sequence. An accretion was added in 2012 and integrated into the intellectual order, but not into the physical container order. Glass plate negatives are housed separately and closed to researchers.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1837, 1860-1984 (Box 1, 20, 25, OV 23; 0.6 linear feet)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1857-2007 (Box 1-7, 25; 5.8 linear feet)
Series 3: Personal Business Records, 1790, 1855-1987 (Box 7-9, 25, OV 24, 28; 2.9 linear feet)
Series 4: Diaries, 1874-1955 (Box 9-10; 0.9 linear feet)
Series 5: Writings, 1888-1989 (Box 10-11, 25; 1.1 linear foot)
Series 6: Printed Material, 1867-1987, 2005 (Box 11-14, 25, OV 24; 3.6 linear feet)
Series 7: Photographs, circa 1885-1980 (Box 14-16, 18, 20-22, 25, MGP 1, MGP 2, MGP 5, MGP 6; 3.2 linear feet)
Series 8: Artwork, 1895-1935 (Box 18, 20, OV 23; 0.5 linear feet)
Series 9: Scrapbooks, 1895-1963 (Box 18-21, 25; 0.7 linear feet)
Series 10: Estate Records, 1956-2002 (Box 26; 0.4 linear feet)
Series 11: Video Recordings, circa 1980s (Box 26-27; 0.2 linear feet)
Biographical / Historical:
John Henry Bradley Storrs (1885-1956) worked primarily in Chicago, Illinois, and Mer, France, as a sculptor, painter, and printmaker.
John Storrs was born in 1885 in Chicago, Illinois, to David William Storrs, an architect, and Hannah Bradley Storrs. Upon completing his schooling in 1905 he went to Berlin with the intention of studying music, but instead chose to study sculpture with the Arthur Bock in Hamburg, Germany. He also spent time in Paris and traveled throughout Europe, Turkey, and Egypt, returning to the US in late 1907. Storrs took night classes at the Art Institute of Chicago, followed by periods of study at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, with Bela Pratt, and at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts with Charles Grafly. In 1912 he returned to Paris where he studied at the Académie Julian and with the famous sculptor Auguste Rodin. During this period his work was greatly influenced by cubism and futurism. In 1914 he married French writer Marguerite Deville-Chabrol. After briefly returning to the US to exhibit his work, Storrs worked at a hospital in Paris throughout World War I and in 1918 his daughter Monique was born. He and his family settled in Mer, France, at the Chateau de Chantecaille in 1921.
The following two decades were very productive for Storrs and he frequently travelled between the US and France to exhibit and create work. He showed in many notable exhibits such as the Société Anonyme's International Exhibition of Modern Art in New York in 1926, and he completed several commissions such as a statue for the Chicago Board of Trade in 1929. During this time Storrs completely moved away from representational work and refined his non-objective, machine-like sculpture. Besides sculpture, he also produced many paintings, woodcuts, lithographs, and other works on paper. He created works for the Century of Progress International Exposition in 1933 and also worked for the Public Works of Art Project in 1934.
During World War II Storrs was twice arrested and imprisoned by the German occupation forces, once for six months from 1941 to 1942 and again in 1944 along with his daughter Monique who was part of the French Resistance. These events greatly impacted his health and he produced very little work in the late 1940s and 1950s. He continued to exhibit his work and was also president in 1954 of the Ecole de la Loire, a group of 75 artists working in the Loire Valley. John Storrs died in 1956.
Also available at the Archives of American Art is the Noel Frackman research material on John Henry Bradley Storrs, 1972-2003. In addition, Archives of American Art microfilm reels 1463 and ND/S-1 contain the John Henry Bradley Storrs scrapbook and studio book, 1909-1972.
The Booz family also loaned approximately 1,000 drawings by John Storrs and select family photographs for microfilming. Loaned material is available for viewing on reel 1555, but is not described in this container listing of this finding aid.
The John Henry Bradley Storrs papers were donated in several installments from 1979 to 1987 by Storrs' daughter, Monique Storrs Booz, and her daughter, Michelle Storrs Booz. A portion of these papers were loaned for microfilming in 1977 and subsequently donated in 1980. Additional papers were donated by Michelle Storrs Booz in 2011.
Use of original papers requires an appointment. Glass plate negatives are housed separately and closed to researchers.
The John Henry Bradley Storrs 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.
World War, 1939-1945 -- Underground movements Search this
Portfolios (groups of works)
John Henry Bradley Storrs papers, 1890-2007, bulk 1900-1956. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art. Glass plate negatives in this collection were digitized in 2019 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Women's Committee.
The records of the Downtown Gallery date from 1824 to 1974 (bulk 1926-1969) and measure 109.56 linear feet. The records present a comprehensive portrait of a significant commercial gallery that operated as a successful business for more than forty years, representing major contemporary American artists and engendering appreciation for early American folk art. There is an unprocessed addition to this collection dating circa 1970 of a single financial/legal document.
Scope and Content Note:
The Downtown Gallery records constitute 109.56 linear feet on 167 reels of microfilm. The records are dated 1824 to 1974 with bulk dates from 1926 to 1969. There is an unprocessed addition to this collection dating circa 1970 of a single financial/legal document.
The Downtown Gallery was established in 1926 as Our Gallery and operated under the name Downtown Gallery from 1927 until 1973. Nineteenth-century material consists of items acquired by Edith Gregor Halpert for research purposes or to document works of art in the gallery's inventory. The few records postdating the closing of the gallery relate to the estate of Edith Gregor Halpert.
The extensive records of the Downtown Gallery present a comprehensive portrait of a significant commercial gallery that operated as a successful business for more than forty years, representing major contemporary American artists and engendering appreciation for early American folk art. Edith Halpert, the gallery's founder and director, was an influential force in the American art world for a large part of the twentieth century.
Personal papers are intermingled with the business records of the Downtown Gallery. Many of the artists represented by the gallery were Halpert's personal friends, and over the years she developed social relationships and friendships with many clients. These relationships are reflected by the contents of the records, especially the correspondence, some of which is purely personal. In addition, there are a small number of letters from relatives, photographs of Halpert's family, home and friends, and limited information about her country house and personal finances.
The Downtown Gallery records consist largely of correspondence with collectors, including Edgar and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch, Preston Harrison, Mr. and Mrs. Maxim Karolik, William H. Lane, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, Beram K. Saklatwalla, Robert Tannahill, and Electra Havemeyer Webb; with dealers, including robert Carlen, Landau Gallery, Leicester Galleries, Mirski Gallery, and Isabel Carleton Wilde; and with large numbers of curators and museum directors, including many affiliated with university museums. In addition, there is correspondence concerning routine gallery business and administrative affairs.
Artist files and an extensive series of notebooks (American Folk Art Gallery notebooks, artist notebooks, and publicity notebooks) compiled by gallery staff contain a wide variety of material and are a rich source of information about individual artists and the Downtown Gallery's exhibition history.
Business records include exhibition records, stock records, sales records, transit records, financial records, lists of artwork and clients, legal documents, minutes, insurance records, research files, and architectural plans.
Writings by Edith Gregor Halpert consist of articles on American folk art, speeches, and short stories; also included are her school notebooks and "Daily Thoughtlets" compiled at age seventeen. All writings by other authors are on art subjects, and most are texts or introductions for exhibition catalogs.
Among the miscellaneous records are biographical material on Edith Gregor Halpert and Samuel Halpert, works of art by Edith Gregor Halpert and other artists, artifacts, and audiovisual materials. The artifacts include wooden weather vane molds and supporting documentation as well as awards presented to Halpert. Audiovisual materials are 16-mm motion picture films of the Westinghouse Broadcasting Corporation television series, America: The Artist's Eye, produced between 1961 and 1963 in association with Jensen Productions. An additional 16-mm motion picture film includes "tails out" footage of Charles Sheeler at home and at work, circa 1950. A copy of the program about Sheeler, along with the "tails out" material, is also on videocassette. In addition, there is a sound recording of a talk on collecting given by Halpert's client, folk art collector Maxim Karolik, in 1962.
Printed matter consists of items produced by the Downtown Gallery, including exhibition catalogs, checklists, invitations, announcements, and press releases. There are also news clippings about Halpert, the Downtown Gallery, and the Edith Gregor Halpert Collection; other art-related clippings are arranged topically. Miscellaneous printed matter not produced by the Downtown Gallery includes newsletters, press releases, publications of art organizations, and reproductions of artwork. A selection of twenty-five volumes from the personal library of Edith Gregor Halpert has been retained.
The photographs series includes images of people: Edith Gregor Halpert, family, friends, also many images of her dog, Adam, and views of her country home in Newtown, Connecticut. Other photographs of people include portraits of artists, most of whom were affiliated with the Downtown Gallery. There are also photographs of works of art (with a large number of black-and-white negatives, 35-mm color slides, and glass plate negatives) and of exhibitions, of the exterior and interior of the Downtown Gallery, and of an award presented to Halpert.
See Appendix B for a chronological list of Downtown Gallery exhibitions.
It is not certain how well arranged the files were while still the property of the gallery, though Halpert's background as an efficiency expert and her talents as an organizer suggest that the gallery's records were well maintained. It is clear, however, that much of the original order has been lost; Halpert is known to have removed files, including many records concerning the Harnett-Peto controversy.
Correspondence (Series 1) is arranged chronologically, and Artist Files (Series 2) is arranged alphabetically. The remaining series are organized into subseries that reflect either a function or specific record type, and the arrangement of each is explained in the detailed series descriptions. Glass plate negatives are housed separately and closed to researchers.
The Downtown Gallery records are arranged into eight series:
Series 1: Correspondence, 1926-1974, undated (Boxes 1-22; 22 linear ft.; Reels 5488-5545)
Series 2: Artist Files, A - Z, 1917-1970, undated (Boxes 23-27; 5 linear ft.; Reels 5545-5558)
Series 3: Notebooks, 1835, 1874, circa 1880-1969, undated (Boxes 28-59; 32.5 linear ft.; Reels 5558-5603)
Series 4: Business Records, 1925-1974, undated (Boxes 60-94, OV 95, OV 96, OV 97; 34.5 linear ft.; Reels 5603-5636)
Series 5: Writings, 1917-1968, undated (Box 98; 1 linear ft.; Reels 5636-5638)
Series 6: Miscellaneous Material, circa 1835, 1883, 1913-1970, undated (Boxes 99-101, 103, OV 102, OV 104, FC 120-124; 3.25 linear ft.; Reels 5638-5639)
Series 7: Printed Matter, 1824-1865, 1920-1969, undated (Boxes 105-108; 4 linear ft.; Reels 5640-5647)
Series 8: Photographs, circa 1880-1960s, undated (Boxes 109-118, OV 119, MGP 4; 8.75 linear ft.; Reels 5647-5654)
As a very young woman, Edith Gregor Halpert (1900-1970) attended art school sporadically while pursuing a business career that began in advertising and included work as a personnel manager and efficiency expert. She continued her business career after marrying artist Samuel Halpert (1884-1930) in 1918 and eventually became a highly paid executive with an investment firm. Well-invested bonuses provided the capital for Halpert to open her own business.
In November 1926, Halpert and business partner Berthe (Bea) Kroll Goldsmith opened Our Gallery at 113 West 13th Street for the purpose of promoting a group of progressive American artists, many of whom were friends of Edith and Samuel Halpert. The following year, at the suggestion of William Zorach, the gallery changed its name to Downtown Gallery--emphasizing its Greenwich Village location, unique for the time--and the name survived despite relocation to midtown Manhattan (to 43 East 51st Street in 1940, to 32 East 51st Street in 1945, and to the Ritz Tower Concourse at 465 Park Avenue in 1965).
The Downtown Gallery specialized in contemporary American art. An early gallery brochure states: "The Downtown Gallery has no prejudice for any one school. Its selection is driven by quality--by what is enduring--not by what is in vogue." Some of the artists affiliated with the Downtown Gallery from its early years were Stuart Davis, "Pop" Hart, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Charles Sheeler, Max Weber, and William and Marguerite Zorach. In its original location, the gallery served as a place where artists (many of whom lived and worked in the neighborhood), collectors, and others interested in American art met in the evenings for coffee, conversation, and sometimes lectures or other formal programs. Holger Cahill (1887-1960) entered into a partnership with Halpert and Goldsmith in 1929 when they founded the American Folk Art Gallery, the first ever of its kind; the American Folk Art Gallery opened on the second floor of the Downtown Gallery in 1931. Folk art was an important feature of the gallery throughout its history, though the name American Folk Art Gallery does not appear to have been used consistently. Because the profit margin was high and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller bought avidly for her growing collection, folk art revenues subsidized contemporary art exhibitions and helped the gallery survive the Depression. The Daylight Gallery, also run by Halpert and Goldsmith, opened in 1930 in a separate structure behind the main gallery, and continued until the Downtown Gallery moved to East 51st Street in 1940. Its purpose was to exhibit painting and sculpture to best advantage in a gallery designed to diffuse light perfectly and to demonstrate how works of art may be used as architectural embellishments in a modern building. Other subsidiary galleries operated by the Downtown Gallery were the John Marin Room, opened in 1950 and run by John Marin, Jr., and the Ground-Floor Room, 1951, "dedicated to the adventurous, less experienced collector willing to gamble on his taste and ours."
From the beginning, Halpert endeavored to hold prices at reasonable levels; she employed aggressive marketing and advertising techniques learned from her career in business and banking, offering extended payment plans without interest to buyers of modest means. She recognized the value of placing representative works by Downtown Gallery artists in important art museums and public collections, even if a price reduction was necessary to achieve this goal.
After purchasing Goldsmith's share of the business in 1935, Halpert, needing to earn a profit, reorganized the gallery as a more overtly commercial venture. The roster of artists was reduced to twelve. Those eliminated tended to be younger artists, most of whom were supported by WPA work. Eventually, the roster expanded; new additions were usually artists not based in New York, whom Halpert learned of through her work as an adviser to the WPA Federal Art Project. Halpert had long courted Alfred Stieglitz's artists, and in the years following his death in 1946 a number of them affiliated with the Downtown Gallery. Another change was that the Downtown Gallery no longer represented only living American artists; the gallery began handling a number of estates, most notably that of Arthur Dove. In 1953, the roster of Downtown Gallery artists shifted dramatically when Halpert entered into an agreement with Charles Alan. Alan had been hired in 1945 with the understanding that he was being trained to run the Downtown Gallery upon Halpert's retirement five years in the future. Eight years later, it became apparent that Halpert was not going to retire; without consulting the artists, she transferred representation of all artists who had joined the Downtown Gallery since 1936 to the newly established Alan Gallery.
Exhibitions at the Downtown Gallery included both solo exhibitions and group shows usually built around a theme; most lasted about a month. Annual exhibitions (sometimes titled anniversary exhibitions) opened the exhibition season each fall and showcased the gallery's artists. The Downtown Gallery's Christmas show, a long-standing event that encouraged purchases of original art for holiday gift giving, was eagerly anticipated as it featured fine artwork at very reasonable prices. Between 1927 and 1935, the Downtown Gallery was the site of the American Print Makers Society annual exhibitions. During its forty-seven years in operation, the Downtown Gallery organized many important, influential exhibitions. American Ancestors (1931) presented American folk art as the precursor to and direct influence on the contemporary art featured by the Downtown Gallery. The title was used for a number of subsequent exhibitions and became a synonym for folk art. American Folk Art Sculpture: Index of American Design, Federal Art Project (1937) featured drawings by WPA artists recording objects that documented America's material culture and artistic heritage. Along with the Index of American Design drawings, the exhibition included a number of the original sculptures from the Downtown Gallery's inventory and borrowed from folk art collector Abby Aldrich Rockefeller.
William Harnett: "Nature-Vivre" (1939) reintroduced the nineteenth-century artist whose trompe l'oeil paintings had been collected by Halpert over a period of years expressly for this purpose. Between 1947 and 1949, a controversy ensued over paintings--some of which had been sold by the Downtown Gallery--with the signature of William Harnett but discovered by San Francisco Chronicle art critic Alfred Frankenstein to be the work of Harnett's student, John Peto. Halpert had purchased the questionable pieces in good faith, completely unaware of the added signatures, and she defended her attributions, despite evidence to the contrary. Frankenstein publicized his discovery widely; while neither Halpert nor the Downtown Gallery were named directly, their identity was apparent to his well-informed readers. The situation was further inflamed when additional articles by Frankenstein failed to include new evidence favorable to Halpert and the Downtown Gallery.
Another major exhibition was American Negro Art, 19th and 20th Centuries (1941-1942), the first show of its kind held at a commercial gallery. Held at the Downtown Gallery, the exhibition was sponsored by a committee of prominent citizens including Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, Archibald MacLeish, A. Philip Randolph, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Among its aims were to raise money for the Negro Art Fund, to promote museum acquisitions of work by black artists, and to encourage galleries to represent the living participants. In addition to providing its facilities, the Downtown Gallery donated all sales commissions to the Negro Art Fund and added Jacob Lawrence to its roster of artists.
Edith Gregor Halpert played important roles in a number of exhibitions and major art projects that were not connected with the Downtown Gallery. She served as organizer and director of the First Municipal Exhibition of American Art, Atlantic City, New Jersey, in 1929. Beginning in 1932, Halpert was extensively involved with Radio City Music Hall arts projects. She conceived, organized, and handled publicity for the First Municipal Art Exhibition (also known as the Forum Exhibition) sponsored by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia and held at Radio City Music Hall in 1934. As an adviser to the WPA Federal Art Project, Halpert spent the summer of 1936 in Washington, D.C., developing its Exhibition and Allocation Program, which registered works of art arriving from regional project centers and selected pieces for traveling exhibitions that circulated throughout the country. In 1937, she formed the Bureau for Architectural Sculpture and Murals, a central clearinghouse from which architects could review and select work by artists and sculptors experienced in working in architectural settings. Halpert served as curator of the art section of the American National Exhibition, sponsored by the United States Information Agency and the U.S. Department of Commerce; she traveled to the Soviet Union with the exhibition, installed the show, and gave daily gallery talks in Russian. In 1952, to promote art history, Halpert established the Edith Gregor Halpert Foundation. Its activities included assisting universities to fund scholarships for the study of contemporary American art and championing the rights of artists to control the sale and reproduction of their work. For her "outstanding contribution to American art," Halpert received the Art in America Award in 1959. She also received a USIA Citation for Distinguished Service in 1960, and the University of Connecticut awarded her its First Annual International Silver Prize for "distinguished contribution to the arts" in 1968.
In addition to being an art dealer, Edith Gregor Halpert was also a collector of contemporary American art and American folk art. For many years, Halpert and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., discussed a gift of a substantial number of paintings to form the nucleus of a new wing to be called the Gallery of 20th-Century American Art. After numerous disagreements and misunderstandings by both parties, the plan was abandoned. While negotiations were still in progress, the Edith Gregor Halpert Collection was exhibited in two installments, 1960 and 1962, at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. During the following two years, portions of her collection traveled to Santa Barbara, Honolulu, and San Francisco. Other exhibitions, drawn completely from the Edith Gregor Halpert Collection, include American Modernism: The First Wave, Painting from 1903-1933, presented at Brandeis University Museum of Art, 1963; Six Decades of American Art, shown at Leicester Galleries, London, 1965; Image to Abstraction, held at Amon Carter Museum, 1967; and Edith Halpert and the Downtown Gallery, exhibited at the University of Connecticut, 1968. The Edith Gregor Halpert Collection was eventually sold at auction by Sotheby Parke-Bernet, 1973.
Dr. Dianne's Tepfer's dissertation (1989) on Edith Gregor Halpert was an invaluable resource in arranging and describing the records of Downtown Gallery; her chronology was consulted often in constructing this Historical Note.
1900 -- born Edith Gregoryevna Fivoosiovitch to Gregor and Frances Lucom Fivoosiovitch, Odessa, Russia
1906 -- arrived in New York City with recently widowed mother and older sister; family name changed to Fivisovitch
1916 -- employed as a comptometer operator at Bloomingdale's department store; studied drawing with Leon Kroll and Ivan Olinsky at the National Academy of Design; further shortened name to Fein
1916-1917 -- attended life drawing and anatomy classes taught by George Bridgeman at the Art Students' League; employed in foreign and advertising offices, R. H. Macy department store
1917 -- met artist Samuel Halpert at John Weichsel's People's Art Guild
1917-1918 -- employed as advertising manager, Stern Brothers department store
1918-1919 -- employed as systematizer (efficiency expert), investment firm of Cohen, Goldman
1918 -- married Samuel Halpert
1919-1920 -- employed as systematizer, investment firm of Fishman & Co.; attended writing courses, Columbia University
1921-1925 -- employed as personnel manager, systematizer, and head of correspondence at investment banking firm of S. W. Strauss & Co.; eventually appointed to the board of directors
1924 -- first exposed to folk art at the home of sculptor Elie Nadelman
1925 -- visited Paris with Samuel Halpert (June-September)
1926 -- visited Ogunquit, Maine, with Samuel and was further exposed to antiques and folk art; other summer guests included artists Stefan Hirsch, Bernard Karfiol, Walt Kuhn, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Robert Laurent, Katherine Schmidt, Niles Spencer, and Marguerite and William Zorach; opened Our Gallery, devoted to modern American art, at 113 West 13th Street with business partner Berthe Kroll Goldsmith
1927 -- separated from Samuel, who moved to Detroit to teach at the Society for Arts and Crafts; changed name of Our Gallery to Downtown Gallery, at the suggestion of William Zorach
1928 -- Abby Aldrich Rockefeller first visited the Downtown Gallery; published George O. "Pop" Hart: 24 Selections from His Work by Holger Cahill, first of a projected series of ten Downtown Gallery monographs
1929 -- initiated divorce proceedings in Detroit; founded the American Folk Art Gallery, the first of its kind, with business; partners Berthe Kroll Goldsmith and Holger Cahill; served as organizer and director of the First Municipal Exhibition of American Art, Atlantic City
1930 -- divorce granted; present at the death of Samuel Halpert; opened the Daylight Gallery in a separate structure behind the Downtown Gallery specially designed to display works of art under optimal conditions; published Max Weber by Holger Cahill, second (and last) of the Downtown Gallery monographs
1931 -- opened the American Folk Art Gallery on second floor of the Downtown Gallery
1932 -- purchased house in Newtown, Connecticut; became extensively involved with Radio City Music Hall arts projects
1934 -- conceived, organized, and handled publicity for the First Municipal Art Exhibition, also called the Forum Exhibition, sponsored by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia and held at Radio City Music Hall
1935 -- bought Goldsmith's share of the business and, as sole owner, reorganized the gallery
1936 -- served as adviser to WPA Federal Art Project, charged with developing the Exhibition and Allocation Program
1937 -- formed Bureau for Architectural Sculpture and Murals
1939 -- organized Nature-Vivre; exhibition of paintings by the rediscovered William Harnett, rekindling interest in trompe l'oeil painting
1940 -- Downtown Gallery moved to 43 East 51st Street; cataloged and installed the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Collection of American Folk Art at Williamsburg, Virginia
1941 -- American Negro Art, 19th and 20th Centuries
1945 -- Downtown Gallery moved to 32 East 51st Street; hired Charles Alan as assistant director
1946 -- Downtown Gallery began representing former Alfred Stieglitz artists Charles Demuth, Marsden Hartley, John Marin, and Georgia O'Keeffe
1947-1949 -- embroiled in controversy over paintings with the signature of William Harnett but discovered to be the work of Harnett's student John Peto
1950 -- opened the John Marin Room, operated by John Marin, Jr.
1951 -- opened the Ground-Floor Room, for works by new artists
1952 -- established the Edith Gregor Halpert Foundation
1953 -- transferred representation of newer Downtown Gallery artists to the Alan Gallery
1954 -- published The ABCs for Collectors of Contemporary Art by John I. H. Baur
1959 -- traveled to Moscow as curator of the art section, "American National Exhibition," and gave daily gallery talks in Russian; received Art in America Award
1960 -- exhibited selections from the Edith Gregor Halpert Collection at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; awarded USIA Citation for Distinguished Service and the Merit Award Emblem
1962 -- second exhibition of the Edith Gregor Halpert Collection at the Corcoran Gallery of Art; began discussions, ultimately abandoned, for the transfer and installation of a large gift of paintings from the Edith Gregor Halpert Collection to a special wing of the Corcoran Gallery of Art
1963 -- American Modernism: The First Wave, Painting from 1903-1933, an exhibition based entirely on the Edith Gregor Halpert Collection, Brandeis University Museum of Art
1965 -- Downtown Gallery moved to smaller quarters, Ritz Tower Concourse, 465 Park Avenue; open by appointment only; Six Decades of American Art, from the Edith Gregor Halpert Collection, Leicester Galleries, London
1967 -- Image to Abstraction, an exhibition based entirely on the Edith Gregor Halpert Collection, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas
1968 -- the Downtown Gallery ceased to be the exclusive representative of Abraham Rattner, Ben Shahn, Georgia O'Keffe, and Max Weber, and the estates of Stuart Davis, and Marguerite and William Zorach were withdrawn from the gallery; Edith Halpert and the Downtown Gallery exhibition at the Museum of Art, the University of Connecticut; awarded the First Annual International Silver Prize medal for "distinguished contribution to the arts," University of Connecticut
1970 -- died, New York City
1970-1973 -- the Downtown Gallery continued limited operation under the direction of niece, Nathaly Baum
1972-1978 -- the Downtown Gallery records donated to the Archives of American Art by Nathaly Baum, executor of the Edith Gregor Halpert estate
1973 -- Sotheby Parke-Bernet auction sale of the Edith Gregor Halpert Collection
1997-1999 -- arrangement, description, and microfilming of Downtown Gallery records and publication of this finding aid funded by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, Inc.
Appendix B: Chronological List of Downtown Gallery Exhibitions:
Below is a chronological listing of Downtown Gallery exhibitions, culled from catalogs and checklists, invitations and announcements, press releases, newspaper reviews, advertisements, lists compiled by gallery staff, and The Archives of American Art Collection of Exhibition Catalogs (1979). Exhibition titles indicated on the announcement or used in a published review sometimes differ from the title of the corresponding exhibition catalog or printed checklist. Catalogs or announcements for most shows will be found with the printed matter produced by the Downtown Gallery (Series 7.1), in the publicity notebooks (Series 3.3.), and/or with artist files (Series 2). Microfilm reel and frame number(s) are noted in parentheses for catalogs or exhibition announcements recorded in The Archives of American Art Collection of Exhibition Catalogs that are not among the Downtown Gallery records.
Undated -- Jan. 24-Feb. 12: American Landscapes: Paintings and Water Colors Mar. 3-28 [1964?]: Abraham Rattner: New Paintings, 1961-1963 June: Art for 13,000,000 Sept. 17-27: Abraham Rattner: Stained Glass Window Designed for the De Waters Art Center, Flint, Michigan
1926 -- Nov. [6-?}: Opening Exhibition: Small Works by Leading American Contemporary Artists Dec. [4-?]: The Christmas Exhibition, $10-50
1927 -- Jan. 8-Feb. 4: American Marines Jan. 8-Feb. 4: Print Room Selection Nov. 26-Dec. 9: Frank Osborn: Sculpture Lamps Nov. 26-Dec. 9: Stuart Davis May [10-?]: Portfolio Selection, $5-25 Dec. 10-31: American Print Makers Exhibition Nov. 3-23: "Pop" Hart: One-Man Show Oct. 13-Nov. 3: Ogunquit Exhibition: Summer Work by 12 Ogunquit Residents Mar. 1-19: George C. Ault: Water Colors and Drawings Feb. [5-?]: George Overbury "Pop" Hart Apr. [11-?]: Spring Exhibitions: Pictures Suggestive of the Season Mar. 21-Apr. 9: Walt Kuhn Lighographs: `New Trapeze Ladies'
1928 -- Feb. 14-Mar. 4: Walt Kuhn: Recent Works Jan. 24-Feb. 12: 75 Years of American Landscapes Mar. 6-25: Samuel Halpert: Recent Work Dec. 10-31: American Print Makers 2nd Annual Exhibition Jan. 3-22: Joseph Pollett: Recent Paintings and Watercolors Oct. 7-28: Paris by Americans Oct. 29-Nov. 17: Max Weber: New Lithographs, $10-50 Nov. 19-Dec. 8: George C. Ault: Paintings, $30-300 Apr. 23-May 13: May Flowers May 19-June 13: Art for Everybody, $10-50 Mar. 26-Apr. 15: Ernest Fiene: Lithographs Apr. 2-22: Marguerite Zorach: Paintings and Drawings
1929 -- Nov. [19-?]: Glenn Coleman: Temperas June 3-14: Oils, Sculpture, Water Colors, Monotypes, Drawings, Pottery May [14-?]: Joseph Pollet: Watercolors May [14-?]: Lithographs by A. Walkowitz Mar. 26-Apr. 14: José Orozco: Paintings of New York City Apr. 23-May 14: Walt Kuhn: Loan Paintings Feb. 12-Mar. 23: Stefan Hirsch: Paintings Mar. 4-Apr. 14: Duncan Ferguson: Sculpture Jan. 21-Feb. 10: Drawings by 8 American Artists (Hart, Karfiol, Kuhn, Pascin, Walkowitz, Weber, M. Zorach, and W. Zorach) Jan. 2-20: Ann Goldthwaite: Recent Work Dec. 10-31: American Print Makers 3rd Annual Exhibition Oct. 29-Nov. 17: Joseph Pollet: Recent Paintings Oct. 7-28: Americans Abroad (Davis, Fiene, Ganso, Hart, Hirsch, Pascin, and Wilenchick)
1930 -- Oct. [25-?]: Reuben Nakian: Sculpture Nov. 18-Dec. 16: Glenn Coleman: Paintings Sept. 30-Oct. 25: Summer Landscapes, 1930: Paintings by American Contemporary Artists Summer: Important Painting and Sculpture by Leading American Artists in the Daylight Gallery May 26-July 1: Small Painting, Sculpture, and Drawings by Leading American Contemporary Artists, $100 or Less Apr. 19-May 10: Daylight Gallery Opening Exhibition Oct. [25-?]: Julia Kelly: Painting Apr. [8-?]: Ben Shahn: Paintings and Drawings Mar. 11-30: Wood Gaylor: Paintings Feb. [11-?]: Marguerite Zorach: Recent Paintings of New England and New York Jan. 28-Feb. 15: 33 Moderns: The Downtown Gallery Exhibition of Paintings, Sculpture, Watercolors, Drawings, and Prints by 33 American Contemporary Artists [at the Grand Central Galleries] Jan. [25-?]: Stuart Davis: Recent Paintings Dec. 8-31: American Print Makers 4th Annual Exhibition Jan. [2-?]: Abraham Walkowitz: Heads and Flowers May [10-?]: "Pop" Hart: Paintings from Africa and Europe
1931 -- Jan. 3-25: Jules Pascin Memorial Exhibition Jan. [27-?]: William Zorach: New Sculpture Feb. [14-?]: Joseph Pollett: Paintings Feb. 2-16: Isabella Howland: Paintings Dec. 14-31: American Ancestors: Masterpieces by Little Known and Anonymous American Painters, 1790-1890 Mar. 16-30: 7 Masters of Water Color (Demuth, Dickinson, Hart, Marin, Sheeler, Walkowitz, Zorach) Apr. [29-?]: Peggy Bacon: Caricature Portraits Mar. 31-Apr. 9: Stuart Davis: Recent Paintings Nov. [18-?]: Charles Sheeler: Recent Paintings May 12-31: Flowers: Paintings in Oil and Water Color by American Contemporary Artists Oct. 5-25: `Artists' Models,' Figure Paintings by Leading Contemporary American Artists June 2-22: Paintings, Water Colors, Drawings, Sculpture by Leading Contemporary American Artists Oct. 28-Nov. 17: Karl Knaths: Paintings Dec. 7-31: American Print Makers 5th Annual Exhibition
1932 -- May 31-June 30: Paintings and Sculpture by Outstanding American Artists Dec. 28-Jan. 14: William Zorach: Spirit of the Dance in Original Plaster Dec.: Christmas Exhibition: Drawings, Paintings, Sculpture, $10-100 Feb. 20-Mar. 3: Peggy Bacon: Recent Paintings (N433: 515) Jan. 5-18: American Modern Art [arranged by the Downtown Gallery at Knoedler & Co., Inc., Chicago] Oct. 4-22: Prelude to the Season: New Paintings and Sculpture by American Contemporaries Dec. 9-31: Carl Walters: Sculpture and Pottery in Ceramic Jan. 5-24: Alexander Brook: Recent Paintings Jan. [24-?]: Paintings by Contemporary American Painters Feb. 23-Mar. 7: Wood Gaylor: Recent Paintings Oct. 4-22: Bernard Sanders: Graphics Dec. 5-31: American Print Makers 6th Annual Exhibition Feb. [24-?]: Winter in Maine: Recent Watercolors by William Zorach Mar. 22-Apr. 3: Joseph Pollet: Recent Paintings Nov. 18-Dec. 9: Stefan Hirsch: Recent Work--New York and Mexico Apr. 5-17: The Passion of Sacco-Vanzetti: Gouaches by Ben Shahn Apr. 19-May 15: Pictures of New England by a New Englander: Recent Paintings of Dogtown, Cape Ann, Mass., by Marsden Hartley [errata slip stapled to cover of the copy filmed on Br10: 660-663 indicates the dates were changed to Apr. 26-May 15, 1932] May 17-29: 3 Painters: Baum, Botkin, Schultz Oct. 25-Nov. 13: Dorothy Varian: Recent Paintings
1933 -- Jan. 17-Feb. 4: Bernard Karfiol: Paintings and Drawings Mar. 21-Apr. 8: Major Works by Distinguished American Artists Feb. [28-?]: Watercolors by Stuart Davis Feb. 27-Mar. 18: Reuben Nakian: Sculpture Portraits of 10 Artists Feb. 7-25: Yasuo Kuniyoshi: Recent Paintings Oct. 3-14: American Ancestors, 2nd Exhibition: Masterpieces by Little Known and Anonymous American Artists: 1720-1870 May 23-June 30: Paintings and Sculpture: Recent Works by Leading American Contemporaries, at $100 May 2-20: Ben Shahn: The Tom Mooney Case Apr. 11-29: Nicolai Cikovsky: Recent Paintings Nov. 14-Dec. 14: Drawings and Rare Prints by "Pop" Hart Dec. 5-31: American Print Makers 7th Annual Exhibition Oct. 24-Nov. 11: Painting and Sculpture by Leading Contemporaries
1934 -- Jan. 23-Feb. 10: Alexander Brook: Recent Paintings Feb. 13-Mar. 3: Babe Ruth by Reuben Nakian Jan. 3-20: Ernest Fiene: Painter of the American Scene Dec. 13-31: Practical Manifestations in American Art Apr. 3-21: Katherine Schmidt: Paintings Apr. 25-May 12: Stuart Davis: Recent Paintings Dec. [3-?]: Group Show Mar. 13-31: Recent Paintings by Joseph Pollet Oct. 1-14: Hamilton Easter Field Art Foundation Collection of Paintings and Sculpture Oct. 23-Nov. 3: Marguerite Zorach: Paintings and Drawings May 15-June 15: Paintings and Sculpture: Selected Works by Leading American Contemporaries, Extraordinary Values at $100 Dec. 3-29: American Print Makers 8th Annual Exhibition Feb. 20-Mar. 3: Recent Work by Peggy Bacon Nov. 20-Dec. 8: Peggy Bacon: `Off with Their Heads,' Caricature Portraits of 38 Contemporary American Celebrities Nov. 6-17: American Drawings: Recent Work by Charles Sheeler, John Marin, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Charles Locke, Stuart Davis, Alexander Brook
1935 -- May 1-18: Nakian: The New Deal in Portraiture Apr. 13-28: Reuben Nakian: Portrait Heads of the Present Administration May 21-June 14: Paintings and Sculpture by Leading American Artists Dec.: Carl Walters: Ceramic Sculpture and Pottery Mar. 12-30: Exhibition of 14 Paintings by 14 American Contemporaries Feb. 20-Mar. 9: Nicolai Cikovsky: Recent Paintings Apr. 10-27: Watercolor and Pastels by 14 American Artists Dec. 2-28: American Print Makers 9th Annual Exhibition Nov.: Ernest Fiene: Paintings Nov. [5-?]: American Folk Art: Recently Acquired Paintings and Sculpture Jan. 16-Feb. 2: Charles Burchfield and Charles Sheeler Dec. 11-28: Anne Goldthwaite: Murals of the South Jan. 16-Feb. 9: Bernard Karfiol: Watercolors and Drawings Oct. 22-Nov. 9: Opening Exhibition: Important Recent Painting and Sculpture May 21-June 14: $100 Exhibition: Extraordinary Values for Discriminating Collectors
1936 -- Oct. [28-?]: Tenth Anniversary Exhibition: American Art, 1800-1936 Dec. 13-24: American Print Makers 10th Anniversary Annual Exhibition (N428:304-305) Dec.: Christmas Gift Show Dec.: Ceramics by Carl Walters Feb. [25-?]: Watercolors by William Zorach Mar. 17-Apr. 4: Yasuo Kuniyoshi: Paintings May [5-?]: Joseph Pollet: Paintings May 26-June 12: Paintings and Sculpture: Recent Work by Leading American Contemporaries, Extraordinary Values at $100 Apr. 14-May 2: Portraits by 6 Contemporary and Early American Artists Jan. 30-Feb. 15: American Birds in Sculpture, 1785-1935 Jan. 6-25: Alexander Brooke: Paintings Dec. 2-31: Vital Statistics
1937 -- Dec. 7-31: Christmas Exhibition: Fine Works of Art as Original Gifts through June 25: Paintings and Sculpture, 1800-1937 Oct. 5-23: Paintings by 12 Younger Artists Oct. 19-Nov. 6: Fall Exhibition May 18-June 5: Joseph Steig: Watercolors May 5-29: Major Examples by Major Artists Apr. 13-May 1: Children in American Folk Art, 1725-1865: Children's Art, Their Portraits, and Their Toys Apr. [10-?]: Contemporary Americans Sept. 28-Oct. 9: American Folk Art Sculpture: Index of Design, WPA Federal Art Project Sept.: Drawings by the Index of American Design Oct. 20-Nov. 10: An Exhibition of Contemporary American Art from the Downtown Gallery of New York, Sponsored by the Atlanta Georgian and Sunday American at the High Museum of Art Mar. 9-27: The 1920s: Oils, Sculpture, Watercolors, and Drawings by 18 American Contemporaries Mar. 30-Apr. 10: Younger Artists Nov.: Dorothy Varian: Paintings Feb. 9-27: American Dogs: Recent Portraits in Oil of Champion Dogs by Fenelle and Paintings and Sculpture Portraying Dogs of the Period 1820-1860 from the American Folk Art Gallery Jan. [15-?]: David Fredenthal Feb.: Group Show
1938 -- Oct. 4-22: Americans at Home: 32 Painters and Sculptors Sept. 4-22: Folk Art Apr. [27-?]: David Fredenthal: Paintings May 25-June 17: Art for the Summer House, $15-100 Apr. 5-23: Preston Dickinson, 1891-1930: 13 Pastels Dec. 6-30: Christmas Exhibition Mar. 16-Apr. 2: Paintings by Americans: New Paintings by Karfiol, Kuniyoshi, Sheeler, and Recent Oils by Marin and O'Keeffe Nov. [15-?]: Louis Guglielmi: Paintings Feb. 15-Mar. 5: 50 American Watercolors and Pastels, 1800-1938 Dec. 6-30: Carl Walters: Ceramic Sculpture Jan. 18-Feb. 15: American Genre Paintings, 1785-1887 Nov. 2-20: John Stenvall: Paintings Jan. 5-22: Isabella Howland: 25 Sculpture Heads Jan. 25-Feb. 11: Nicolai Cikovsky: Paintings Nov. 1-12: American Ancestors: Masterpieces in American Folk Art, 1720-1860 Nov. [2-?]: Georgia O'Keeffe: Paintings
1939 -- Oct. 3-14: Paintings on Velvet, 1800-1840 Feb. [14-?]: Nathaniel Kaz: Sculpture Nov. 7-25: Contemporary American Genre: 27 Painters and Sculptors Mar. [7-?]: Katherine Schmidt: Paintings May [8-?]: Group Show Jan. 24-Feb. 11: Yasuo Kuniyoshi: Paintings Dec. 6-30: Carl Walters: Ceramic Sculpture Jan. [24-?]: Jack Levine: Paintings Mar. 28-Apr. 15: William Steig: Sculpture June 7-30: American Art, Past and Present Apr. 18-May 16: William Harnett: `Nature-Vivre' Oct. [17-?]: John Marin: 20 Drawings Jan. 4-21: Important New Paintings by American Artists: Cikovsky, Karfiol, Marin,, O'Keeffe, Sheeler, and Varian Dec. 6-30: Christmas Exhibition: Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture, $100 or Less May [16-?]: Raymond Breinin: Paintings
1940 -- Jan. [3-?]: Mitchell Siporin: Paintings Jan. [23-?]: Rainey Bennett: Paintings Dec. 2-21: Charles Sheeler: `Power,' 6 Original Paintings Commissioned for Reproduction in the December 1940 Issue of Fortune(N433:550 551) Mar. [25-?]: Yasuo Kuniyoshi: Lithographs Mar. [25-?]: Group Show: Paintings Feb. [20-?]: Julien Levi: Paintings Mar. [18-?]: Gallery Group Dec. [9-?]: Christmas Exhibition Oct. 17-Nov. 16: Opening Exhibition [43 East 51st Street] May 13-24: Artist's Fund Exhibition Apr. 23-May 11: Review of the Season: Paintings by Leading American Artists
1941 -- Dec. 9-Jan. 3, 1942: American Negro Art: 19th and 20th Centuries Sept. 16-Oct. 11: American Folk Sculpture: Weather Vanes in Metal and Wood: 18th and 19th Centuries [?]-June 27: Summer Exhibition and William Harnett May 6-30: What Is Wrong with This Picture? Nov. 13-Dec. 6: Yasuo Kuniyoshi: Recent Paintings (Br10: 699-700) Nov. 11-Dec. 6: Bernard Karfiol Oct. 21-25: American Folk Art Sale Oct. 7-Nov. 1: New Examples by Leading American Artists Apr. 8-26: Spring: New Paintings by Outstanding Americans Feb. 25-Mar. 22: Masterpieces in American Folk Art Jan. 7-Feb. 1: The Painter Looks at Music Feb. 4-21: 13 American Paintings
1942 -- Oct. 13-31: Paintings, Cartoons, Photographs of the St. Louis Post Office Murals by Mitchell Siporin and Edward Millman Dec. 22-Jan. 9, 1943: Inter-American Folk Arts, 1700-1900: Paintings and Sculpture by Little Known and Anonymous Artists of Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Haiti, Mexico, Peru, U.S.A. Jan. 7-24: Watercolors and Drawings by Leading American Artists Feb. 3-28: Julian Levi Mar. 3-28: Battles & Symbols of the U.S.A.: Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture by American Folk Artists Apr. 7-May 2: Spring Exhibition: New Paintings and Newly Discovered Paintings by William M. Harnett Apr. 7-May 2: American Folk Art May 5-29: Yasuo Kuniyoshi: Retrospective Loan Exhibition, 1921-1941 (Br10: 703-705) June 10-26: Paintings, Sculpture, Drawings by Leading American Artists Sept. 22-Oct. 10: Opening Exhibition: New Paintings and Sculpture
1943 -- Jan. 12-30: Breinin: Recent Paintings (D55: 77) Mar. 2-27: William Zorach: Selected Sculpture (D57: 632-634) Mar. 31-Apr. 24: Spring Exhibition and American Folk Art June 8-25: Summer Exhibition: American Art Oct. 5-30: 18th Annual Exhibition: American Art Oct. 27-Nov. 20: Recent Paintings in Encaustic by Karl Zerbe Nov. 23-Dec. 11: Demuth, Dickinson, "Pop" Hart, Pascin
1944 -- Nov. 14-Dec. 2: Ben Shahn: Paintings in Tempera (Br10: 707-708) Feb. 1-12: Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture Apr. 11-May 6: Spring: New Important Paintings & Sculpture by Leading Americans Feb. 15-Mar. 11: Horace Pippin May 31-June 30: Summer Exhibition May 9-27: William Zorach Oct. 3-28: 19th Annual Exhibition: American Art Sept. 13-30: American Folk Art from the Collection of Mrs. Isabel C. Wilde
1945 -- Jan. 3-20: Suba: First One-Man Exhibition of Paintings Mar. 6-31: Julian Levi Feb. 13-Mar. 3: George L. K. Morris: Paintings, 1944 and 1945, and Sculpture, 1934-1945 (Br10: 712-714) May 1-26: 19th Annual Spring Exhibition Apr. 3-28: Yasuo Kuniyoshi: New Paintings and Drawings Oct. 15-Nov. 3: Loan Exhibition Oct. 15-Nov. 3: 20th Anniversary [opening of new quarters on East 51st Street] Dec. 4-29: Christmas Exhibition Nov. 6-Dec. 1: 20th Annual Exhibition: American Art Dec. 4-29: Jacob Lawrence: John Brown, A Series of 22 Paintings in Gouache
1946 -- Dec. 3-31: Christmas Exhibition Sept. 4-21: Masterpieces in American Folk Art: Recently Discovered Examples Sept. 24-Oct. 19: 21st Annual Exhibition: New Paintings by Leading American Artists June: New Important Paintings by Leading Americans July 2-Aug. 30: Summer Exhibition: Recent Paintings and Sculpture... Combined with a Selection of Important American Folk Art Mar. 26-Apr. 13: Paul Burlin May 7-25: 6 Artists Out of Uniform: New Post-War Paintings by 6 Important Americans Jan. 29-Feb. 16: Stuart Davis Retrospective Exhibition: Gouaches, Watercolors, Drawings, 1912-1941 (N126: 369-370)
1947 -- Apr. 1-26: Spring 1947 Apr. 29-May 17: Boston/New York: First Exchange Exhibition [Boston portion at Downtown Gallery and New York portion at Boris Mirski Gallery, Boston] Feb. 4-Mar. 1: Important New Drawings Mar. 4-29: William Zorach Jan. 7-25: Arthur Dove Nov. 11-29: Niles Spencer Dec. 2-27: Christmas Exhibition Sept. 23-Oct. 18: 22nd Annual Exhibition Sept. 3-20: 20th-Century American Watercolors Aug. 12-29: Exhibition of American Folk Art: Recent Acquisitions June 10-Aug. 8: American Art, 1800-1947 and American Folk Art May 20-June 7: National Parks: A Fortune Portfolio
1948 -- Sept. 28-Oct. 23: 23rd Annual Exhibition Sept. 8-28: The American Family: Folk Paintings, 1750-1850 Aug. 10-Sept. 2: Marin - New York (N126: 407-408) June 29-Aug. 6: Art for the 8,060,000 May 10-20: Mexican Folk Art Apr. 13-May 1: William Harnett Centennial Exhibition Mar. 22-Apr. 3: American Art: A Multiple Exhibition Arranged by the Association of Dealers in American Art [Downtown Gallery participating] Jan. 20-Feb. 7: Paintings by Stuart Davis, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Jack Levine, John Marin, Ben Shahn Dec. 7-31: Christmas 1948 Nov. 16-Dec. 14: Jacques Maroger: Recent Paintings (N126: 411-412) undated: American Art... 20th Century Image to Abstraction [Amon Carter Museum; entire exhibition drawn from the collections of Edith Gregor Halpert and the Downtown Gallery] Dec. 7-31: William Zorach
1949 -- Nov. 15-Dec. 3: Reuben Tam Dec. 6-24: Christmas Exhibition May 10-28: Mexican Folk Art July 6-29: Art and/or Money Sept. 7-24: Important Paintings and Sculpture by Little Known and Unknown Artists of the 18th and 19th Century Oct. 3-22: 24th Annual Exhibition Mar. 15-Apr. 2: Paul Burlin Apr. 5-23: The Artist Speaks Apr. 25-10: 26 Teenage Artists Presented by Seventeen Magazine May 3-21: Arthur G. Dove: Watercolors, 1929-1946 (N126: 424) Sept. 7-24: American Folk Art
1950 -- Apr. 25-May 13: In 1950... Jan. 23-28: Creative Art for Commerce Dec. 5-23: Christmas Exhibition Oct. 24-Nov. 11: Jacob Lawrence (D56: 298-300) May 16-June 2: A Museum Collection: American Folk Sculpture Apr. 4-22: Yasuo Kuniyoshi Sept. 26-Oct. 21: 25th Annual Exhibition: New Paintings and Sculpture June: Art for 13,000,000 Jan. 31-Feb. 18: Ralston Crawford Dec. 27-Jan. 27, 1951: John Marin Mar. 14-Apr. 1: In 1940... Feb. 21-Mar. 11: Aquamedia
1951 -- Dec. 11-29: Christmas Exhibition May 1-19: Newcomers: Paintings by Artists from 15 States Nov. 20-Dec. 8: O. Louis Guglielmi Apr. 3-28: Spring 1951 Oct. 2-27: 26th Annual Exhibition: New Paintings and Sculpture by Leading American Artists July 10-Aug. 17: Summer Exhibition: American Art Sept. 5-22: Contemporary American Drawings June 12-29: Masterpieces in American Folk Art Mar. 13-31: Charles Sheeler: Paintings, 1949-1951 Feb. 20-Mar. 1: William Zorach: Sculpture, 1947-1951
1952 -- Oct. 28-Nov. 15: Niles Spencer Oct. 14-Nov. 15: The Ground-Floor Room 2nd Annual Exhibition Dec. 9-27: Stuart Davis and Yasuo Kuniyoshi Mar. 11-29: Ben Shahn: Paintings (D56: 1075-1076) Mar. 4-20: Recent Arrivals Jan. 2-26: John Marin: Oils and Watercolors June 3-27: Art for the 67% May 12-29: Lithographs, Woodcuts, Theorems, Serigraphs, and Other Prints by Leading American Artists Apr. 22-May 10: Arthur G. Dove Apr. 1-19: Spring '52 Oct. 1-25: 27th Annual Exhibition Nov. 18-Dec. 16: Shop for Art Early at the Downtown Gallery Sept. 9-27: American Amateur Art of 100 Years Ago July 1-Aug. 1: Pertaining to Summer: An Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture by Leading American Artists
1953 -- Jan. 7-Feb. 14: Performance: A New Series of Paintings in Tempera by Jacob Lawrence Feb. 17-Mar. 7: Celebrating the Tercentenary of New York, MDCLIII - MCMLIII: Paintings of New York by Leading American Artists Apr. 21-May 9: David Aronson May 12-29: 8 Younger Artists Mar. 10-28: Paul Burlin Mar. 31-Apr. 18: Reuben Tam Nov. 17-Dec. 7: Art in the Office Dec. 8-31: Art Gems for Christmas Sept. 22-Oct. 17: 28th Annual Exhibition: Recent Paintings and Sculpture Oct. 20-Nov. 14: Yasuo Kuniyoshi: Ink Paintings
1954 -- Sept. 14-Oct. 2: Artists of Chicago May 25-June 25: Summer 1954 Nov. 9-20: Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture: A Benefit Exhibition by Its Faculty and Visiting Artists for the Scholarship Fund Oct. 5-30: 29th Annual Exhibition: New Paintings and Sculpture Nov. 23-Dec. 24: Christmas Exhibition Apr. 6-May 1: Dove and Demuth: Watercolor Retrospective May 4-22: American Folk Art: Painting and Sculpture Feb. 2-27: International Exhibition: American, Belgian, British, Canadian, French, Italian, Mexican Painters under 40 Mar. 2-31: Stuart Davis: Recent Paintings
1955 -- Mar. 20-Apr. 23: Georgia O'Keeffe May 24-June 11: Gallery Purchases: Contemporary Art Apr. 26-May 21: Spring 1955 Sept. 13-Oct. 1: Painters of Los Angeles June 14-30: Gallery Purchases: American Folk Art Nov. 1-26: Arthur Dove: Collages Oct. 4-29: 30th Annual Exhibition Dec. 28-Jan. 21, 1956: William Zorach: A Selection, 1914-1955
1956 -- May 1-26: Bernard Karfiol: The Figure (N126L529-531) May 29-June 29: Spring 1956 Sept. 5-29: Americans in Europe Oct. 9-Nov. 3: 31st Annual Exhibition Nov. 6-Dec. 1: Stuart Davis: Exhibition of Recent Paintings, 1954-1956 Dec. 4-22: 31st Annual Christmas at the Downtown Gallery Jan. 31-Feb. 25: The Recurrent Image Apr. 3-28: Charles Sheeler: Selections from the Collection of the William H. Lane Foundation Feb. 28-Mar. 24: Arthur Dove: Paintings
1957 -- Dec. 31-Jan. 25, 1958: 32nd Annual Exhibition [?]-May 4: Spring Exhibition Dec. 9-21: Art Our Children Live With: A Loan Exhibition of American Art Jan. 8-Feb. 7: Max Weber Feb. 12-Mar. 2: New Acquisitions: Wm. M. Harnett (1848-1892) Feb. 12-Mar. 2: American Folk Art: Paintings and Sculpture Mar. 2-30: New Mexico as Painted by Stuart Davis, Marsden Hartley, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, John Marin, Georgia O'Keeffe, John Sloan May 7-31: Important Drawings by Leading American Artists June 4-28: Summer 1957 Oct. 7-Nov. 2: Group Show Nov. 5-27: Last Judgments by Abraham Rattner (D203: 76) Nov. 25-Dec. 7: 32nd Annual Christmas at the Downtown Gallery
1958 -- Sept. 30-Oct. 11: Arthur Dove: Watercolors June 9-27: 100 Church Street, `Portrait of a Building' by 10 American Artists May 20-June 7: Charles Demuth Apr. 29-May 10: Spring 1958 Mar. 5-Apr. 19: Charles Sheeler Jan. 28-Feb. 21: C. S. Price Dec. 8-27: 33rd Annual Christmas Exhibition Nov. 11-Dec. 6: Max Weber: The Figure in Retrospect, 1906-1958 Oct. 14-Nov. 8: 33rd Annual Exhibition
1959 -- Dec. 8-24: Ben Shahn: Silk-Screen Prints Dec. 29-Jan. 23, 1960: New Acquisitions Oct. 20-Nov. 14: 34th Annual Exhibition Nov. 17-Dec. 5: 34th Annual Christmas at the Downtown Gallery Sept. 22-Oct. 17: The Dial and the Dial Collection: A Special Loan Exhibition of Paintings, Sculpture & Graphics by 30 American Artists Apr. 29-June 2: Spring 1959 Apr. 7-25: Robert Osborn Mar. 3-28: Ben Shahn Jan. 6-31: New Acquisitions: American Folk Art Painting and Sculpture
1960 -- Feb. 23-Mar. 19: Gallery Group Mar. 22-Apr. 9: Jack Zajac Mar. 11-[?]: Signs & Symbols, U.S.A., 1760-1960 Jan. 21-Feb. 20: 7 Artists in Hawaii Dec. 5-24: Robert Osborn: Paintings and Drawings from `The Vulgarians' Nov. 8-Dec. 3: Abraham Rattner Dec. 5-24: 35th Annual Christmas at the Downtown Gallery through June 30: Summer 1960 Oct. 11-Nov. 5: 35th Annual Exhibition Apr. 19-may 7: Tseng Yu-Ho May 10-June 4: Stuart Davis
1961 -- June 13-30: Selections 1961 May 16-June 9: Spring 1961 Dec. 4-23: 36th Annual Christmas at the Downtown Gallery Sept. 12-Oct. 7: New Acquisitions Feb. 15-Mar. 11: Aquamedia in American Art Jan. 25-Feb. 11: Yasuo Kuniyoshi Apr. 11-May 2: Gallery Group Mar. 15-Apr. 8: Alfred Duca Jan. 9-Feb. 6: New Acquisitions
1962 -- Nov. 3-28: Robert Osborn Dec. 3-22: 37th Annual Christmas at Downtown Gallery May 22-June 15: 36th Annual Spring Exhibition: The Figure Apr. 24-May 19: Stuart Davis Oct. 16-Nov. 10: 37th Anniversary Exhibition Sept. 25-Oct. 13: American Roots: Folk Art in Painting and Sculpture Feb. 27-Mar. 17: Robert Osborn: Clowns and Non-Clowns Jan. 9-27: Tseng Yu-Ho: 18 Dsui Paintings Mar. 27-Apr. 21: Abstract Painting in America, 1903-1923 Mar. 10-31: Max Weber Memorial Exhibition
1963 -- Mar. 12-Apr. 16: Signs & Symbols * U.S.A., 1780-1960 May 7-[?]: Max Weber Dec. 2-21: 38th Annual Christmas at Downtown Gallery June 11-July 3: Summer 1963 Apr. 9-May 3: Spring 1963 Jan. 8-Feb. 2: John Marin Oct. 1-26: 38th Anniversary Exhibition Oct. 29-Nov. 16: Ben Shahn: Retrospective Exhibition, Paintings and Drawings, 1901-1958 Oct. 29-Nov. 16: Homage to e. e. cummings Oct. 29-Nov. 16: Gallery Group Aug. 6-Sept. 15: Loan Exhibition from the Edith Gregor Halpert Collection [Santa Barbara Museum of Art] Nov. 7-Dec. 8: Loan Exhibition from the Edith Gregor Halpert Collection [Honolulu Academy of Arts] Sept. 9-14: Visual Art by Performing Artists Dec. 3-Jan. 7, 1964: American Signs and Symbols
1964 -- Sept. 9-Oct. 3: 20th Century American Drawings Oct. 6-31: 39th Anniversary Exhibition Dec. 1-24: 39th Annual Christmas at the Downtown Gallery Jan. 11-Feb. 9: Loan Exhibition from the Edith Gregor Halpert Collection [California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco] Jan. 28-Feb. 21: George L. K. Morris Mar. 3-28: Supplement to the Rattner Exhibition May 12-June 5: New York City: Paintings, 1913-1963, by American Artists
1965 -- Jan. 5-23: Charles Sheeler and Yasuo Kuniyoshi Nov. 30-Dec. 18: Warner Brothers Co. Mural by Willard Cummings and Emilio A. Serio Mar. 23-Apr. 17: John Storrs Sept. 8-Oct. 2: A Gallery Survey of American Art [inaugural show, Ritz Tower Concourse, 465 Park Avenue] Nov. 3-20: Edward Stasack Nov. 30-Dec. 18: 40th Annual Christmas at the Downtown Gallery
1966 -- Nov. 5-Dec. 12: Morris Broderson Oct. 18-Nov. 12: 41st Anniversary Exhibition: Contemporary American Art Mar. 1-26: Balthus: New Paintings, 1963-1966 May 3-27: Charles Sheeler Sept. 20-Oct. 8: "Popular Art" in America, 18-19th Century
1967 -- Apr. 18-May 13: John Storrs Mar. 15-Apr. 8: Arthur Dove Nov. 7-25: O. Louis Guglielmi Sept. 26-Oct. 21: 42nd Anniversary Exhibition Feb. 14-Mar. 11: George L. K. Morris Jan. 10-Feb. 14: William Zorach: The Last Decade Dec.: Gallery Group
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Tepfer, Diane. Edith Gregor Halpert and the Downtown Gallery/Downtown, 1926-1940: A Study in American Art Patronage. Ph.D. diss., University of Michigan, 1989.
Edith Gregor Halpert, interview by Harlan Phillips, 1962-1963. Oral History Program, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Edith Gregor Halpert, interview by Harlan Phillips, January 20, 1965. New Deal and the Arts Project, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Edith Gregor Halpert, lecture delivered at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, October 19, 1959, on the 1959 American National Art Exhibition in Moscow. Tape-recorded by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, and transcribed by the the Downtown Gallery staff.
In addition, the Archives of American Art has among its collections personal papers and oral history interviews of artists and collectors associated with the Downtown Gallery. Researchers are advised to conduct a name search in the Smithsonian Institution Research Information System (SIRIS).
The Archives of American Art also holds microfilm of material lent for microfilming (ND-1- ND-71), the mojority of which was subsequently donated. Loaned materials not donated at a later date remain with the lender and are not described in the container listing of this finding aid.
Between 1957 and 1967, the Downtown Gallery loaned portions of its records to the Archives of American Art for microfilming. Because the microfilming was done in increments, the material was not always filmed in logical sequence, and overlapping and duplication of records occurred. Since files loaned for microfilming were, for the most part, still working records used to conduct ongoing gallery business, their contents changed and shifted over time. After Edith Halpert's death in 1970, the records of the Downtown Gallery were received by the Archives of American Art, 1972-1978, as a gift from her niece and executor, Nathaly Baum. In addition to the previously microfilmed material, the gift includes correspondence, inventories and sales records, financial records, photographs, and printed matter, as well as artifacts.One additional document received 2016 by Karen Freeman, daughter of Arthur H. Freeman, who did business at L.D. Landau and Co. Freeman represented halpert as an insurance agent.
The microfilm of this collection has been digitized and is available online via the Archives of American Art website.
The Downtown Gallery records are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. 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. Prior to publishing information regarding sales transactions, researchers are responsible for obtaining written permission from both artist and purchaser involved. If it cannot be established after a reasonable search whether an artist or purchaser is living, it can be assumed that the information may be published sixty years after the date of sale.
Art dealers -- New York (State) -- New York Search this
Downtown Gallery records, 1824-1974, bulk 1926-1969. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Funding for the processing, microfilming and digitization of the microfilm of this collection was provided by the Henry Luce Foundation. Glass plate negatives in this collection were digitized in 2019 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Women's Committee.
The Abraham Rattner and Esther Gentle papers measure 26.3 linear feet and date from 1891 through the 1980s. The collection documents Rattner's life and career as an artist through interviews, extensive correspondence, gallery files, studio notebooks, writings, notes, date books and diaries, photographs, and works of art.
Scope and Content Note:
Abraham Rattner's papers provide insight into an important time for twentieth century American art and culture. By studying Rattner's papers, the researcher may view the beginnings of Modernism, the cultural change that pushed the boundaries of artistic and literary traditions and provided new ways in which to express ourselves.
The Abraham Rattner and Esther Gentle papers measure 26.3 linear feet and date from 1891 through the 1980s. The collection documents Rattner's life and career as an artist through interviews, extensive correspondence, gallery files, studio notebooks, writings, notes, date books and diaries, photographs, and works of art.
The biographical files contain documents such as Rattner's birth certificate, travel visas, his senior yearbook from 1912 which shows some of his early art work, and some of his awards. His birth certificate is of particular interest since it shows Rattner's birth date to be 1893 instead of the recognized 1895.
The correspondence offers great insight into the thoughts of many American and European artists and writers during the 1930s and 1940s. Rattner, a prolific writer, expressed many of his own thoughts and concerns through his letters, many of which are included in this collection. The vast amount of correspondence include letters from notable figures such as George Biddle, Kay Boyle, Paul Burlin, Norman Carton, Robert Coates, Stuart Davis, Adolph Dehn, Richard de Rochemont, John Dos Passos, Xavier Gonzales, John Howard Griffin, Ramon Guthrie, Robert Gwathmey, Weeks Hall, Stanley W. Hayter, Jean Helion, Hilaire Hiler, Joseph Hirsch, Stefan Hirsch, Carl Holty, Louis Kronberg, Rico Lebrun, Jacques Lipchitz, Earle Ludgin, Thalia Wescott Malcolm, Henry Miller, Joan Miro, Bror Julius Olsson Nordfeldt, Channing Peake, Henry Varnum Poor, Felix Ruvolo, Waverly Root, Jack Gage Stark, Frank C. Watkins, and Allen Weller, among others.
Rattner was engaged in a wide range of special art projects, and he kept detailed files on these projects. The projects spanned from 1940 through 1973 and included endeavors such as illustrations for Life magazine, stained-glass designs, mosaic and tapestry projects, as well as special paintings such as Victory--Jerusalem the Golden and The Gallows of Baghdad. Rattner's papers also detail the history of a fresco painted by Paul Gauguin entitled Joan d'Arcwhich Rattner purchased in France in 1925.
Rattner's forty year friendship with the writer Henry Miller is chronicled throughout the collection in the forms of correspondence, writings, printed material, phototographs and artwork. Their correspondence ranges from 1938 through 1978 and offers great insight into their relationship. Rattner and Miller's road trip from New York to New Orleans in 1940-1941 is documented in the series entitled Special Projects. Also included in the collection are printed material, such as biographical material on Miller, Miller's writings, literary announcements and reviews; Miller's writings on Rattner; and photographs of Miller.
The gallery files contain correspondence, receipts, and notes regarding the galleries which represented Rattner. Those galleries included the Rosenberg Gallery, the Downtown Gallery, and the Kennedy Gallery. A small series of exhibition files contain material about exhibitions held outside of Rattner's representative galleries.
Rattner's writings proved to be an outlet for his thoughts on painting, his inspirations, frustrations, and sadness. In addition to painting, Rattner was able to express his creativity through writing poetry. Writing also helped him work through his depression over the death of his first wife Bettina Bedwell.
He also kept finely detailed studio notebooks. The original order has been maintained, and they trace the history of almost each painting, drawing, and study attempted by Rattner. The notebooks often provide information regarding whether the work was sent to a gallery or given as a gift. Sometimes they contain correspondence or writings that reveal the inspiration for a work. They have been arranged in chronological order, according to Rattner's own filing system.
Rattner retained receipts for most of his art expenses. Arranged by decade, these receipts show the type of paint, colors, types of paper and brushes that he used.
Rattner also kept many household files and personal financial records. Household files contain insurance records, warranties and rental agreements, while the financial records contain returned checks and bank statements. Some bank statements from Esther Gentle Reproductions are also included. The household files and financial records are not filmed.
The date books and diaries reveal the aspects of daily life and the personal thoughts of Rattner and Esther Gentle. In many cases, Rattner shared his date books and diaries with Gentle. The early diaries are fascinating, especially the 1939 diary that discloses the Rattners' last days in France before escaping Nazism and returning to the United States.
Rettner's scrapbooks span from 1938 to 1952 and contain newspaper and magazine clippings that mention the artist or his work.
The printed material covers a period from 1930s through the 1980s and includes exhibition catalogs, exhibition announcements, clippings, and miscellaneous material such as an autograph book from 1969 and a map of Israel that shows Rattner's travel route. There is a large amount of unfilmed printed material that is listed in the series description.
Writings by others consists of writings on Rattner and other topics.
The collection contains many photographs taken of Rattner and taken by him, as well as photos of family, friends, his studio, travels, and photographs of Rattner's art. Photographs of notable people include Henry Miller, Joan Miro, John Dos Passos, Archibald MacLeish, and Malcolm Cowley, among others.
The amount of Rattner's art work included in the collection is small, but it is significant because it provides examples of his very early work, dating from 1912-1914. Some later studies are also present, as well as a number of random sketches. Color was very important to Rattner, and some of his color studies from the 1940s are also included. Art work by other artists is comprised of some small paintings by Max Weber, a water color by Henry Miller, a painting by Ken Buryd, as well as some work by unknown artists.
In addition to tracing Rattner's life and career, the collection also documents the lives of Rattner's two wives, Bettina Bedwell and Esther Gentle. Both women had profound effects on Rattner's work. Among Bettina Bedwell's papers are her diary, fashion sketches, and correspondence. Esther Gentle's papers include correspondence, writings, as well as papers documenting her business Esther Gentle Reproductions. There are a small amount of papers relating to Allen Leepa, Rattner's stepson with Esther Gentle.
See index for list of correspondents from various series.
The collection is arranged into twenty-four series based primarily on type of document or special project. Though concentrated in its own series, additional correspondence is scattered throughout the collection and may be found in special project files, gallery files, exhibition files, studio notebooks, and scrapbooks. The correspondence has been divided into two subseries, one chronological and the other according to Rattner's subject-oriented filing system. Special art projects have been organized by project, and placed in chronological order. The studio notebooks have also been divided into subseries, and all notebook pages maintain Rattner's original order. The first subseries of notebooks reflects Rattner's numbering system, while the second subseries is arranged chronologically. The vast amount of printed material has been divided into subseries, and all of the unfilmed printed material has been organized chronologically at the end of the series.
Within each series, material is arranged either in chronological order, or in some cases, according to Abraham Rattner's own organizational system.
Oversized materials from various series are housed in oversized folders 33-45 and are noted in the Series Description/Container Listing with see also/see references or in the container columns.
Series 1: Biographical Files, 1893-1978, undated (box 1; 0.2 linear ft.)
Series 2: Interviews, 1957-1975, undated (box 1; 7 folders)
Series 3: Correspondence Files, 1933-1978, undated (boxes 1-5; 4.3 linear ft.)
Series 4: Special Projects, 1940-1987, undated (boxes 5-6, ovs 33-35; 1.5 linear ft.)
Series 5: -- Joan d'Arc -- Fresco painted by Paul Gaugin, 1925-1963, undated (box 7, ov 36; 12 folders)
Series 6: Gallery Files, 1942-1975 (boxes 7-8; 1.5 linear ft.)
Series 7: Exhibition Files, 1963-1978 (boxes 7, 9; 9 folders)
Series 8: Writings, 1940-1972, undated (box 9; 0.9 linear ft.)
Series 9: Studio Notebooks, 1935-1975, undated (boxes 10-11; 1.9 linear ft.)
Series 10: Art Expenses, circa 1940-1970 (boxes 11-13; 0.7 linear ft.)
Series 11: Household Files, 1940-1970, undated (box 13; 0.8 linear ft.)
Series 12: Financial Records, 1933-1963 (boxes 13-14; 0.7 linear ft.)
Series 13: Notes and Lists, 1936-1972, undated (box 14; 0.5 linear ft.)
Series 14: Address Books, 1939-1977, undated (box 15; 1.0 linear ft.)
Series 15: Date Books/Diaries, 1937-1977, undated (boxes 16-17; 1.6 linear ft.)
Series 16: Scrapbooks, 1938-1952 (boxes 18-22; 1.5 linear ft.)
Series 17: Printed Material, 1920s-1980s, undated (boxes 23-26; 3.6 linear ft.)
Series 18: Writings by Others, 1945-circa 1980, undated (box 26; 20 folders)
Series 19: Photographs, 1891-1970s, undated (boxes 27-29; 1.6 linear ft.)
Series 20: Works of Art by Rattner, 1912-1914, 1940-1967, undated (box 30, ovs 37-44; 2.4 linear ft.)
Series 21: Works of Art by Others, undated (box 30, ov 45; 7 folders)
Series 22: Bettina Bedwell Papers, 1932-1947, undated (box 31; 0.4 linear ft.)
Series 23: Esther Gentle Papers, 1921-1984, undated (boxes 31-32; 1.3 linear ft.)
Series 24: Allen Leepa Papers, 1952-1969, undated (box 32; 8 folders)
Abraham Rattner was born in Poughkeepsie, New York in 1895. His parents immigrated to the United States to escape antisemitism in Czarist Russia. He was the second of six children, including his eldest brother Louis, younger brothers Manuel (Manny) and Harry, and his younger sisters Rose and Jennie.
Rattner's parents encouraged him to paint at a young age, and as he grew up, painting became a part of his daily life. He graduated from Poughkeepsie High School in 1912 and left to study architecture at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. At night, he took art courses at the Corcoran School of Art. He soon became a full-time art student, and applied for a scholarship to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. He was accepted in 1919 and supported himself by doing illustrations for Philadelphia newspapers.
In 1917, World War I interrupted his studies. Rattner entered the United States Army in France where he became Sergeant of camouflage section, 40th Engineers. Camouflage, reflecting aspects of modern art in its form and pattern, made use of Rattner's artistic skills. During the second battle of the Marne, Rattner injured his back and returned to the States with an ailment that would affect him for the rest of his life.
Rattner returned to the Pennsylvania Academy and was awarded the Cresson scholarship to study art in Europe. He traveled for one year, then settled in Paris for the next twenty years. Those twenty years in Paris became the most formative for Rattner because he was able to study and experiment with Futurism, Cubism, and Expressionism. Post World War I Paris was the center of modern culture for Americans disillusioned by the destruction of the war. Expatriate writers, poets, and artists were searching for a culture that shunned the traditions of the past and exchanged ideas with one another at the lively Paris cafes and salons.
In 1924, Abraham Rattner married Bettina Bedwell, an American art student and fashion illustrator. Bettina became the Paris fashion correspondent for the New York News-Chicago Tribune Syndicate. In 1927, Rattner was a member of the Minotaure group, along with Picasso, Miro, Giacometti, Le Corbusier, Braque, Dali, and Reverdy. He also illustrated an article for Jon Dos Passos in Verve magazine in 1931.
Rattner's first one-man show was in 1935 at the Galerie Bonjean in Paris, which was followed by one-man shows at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York, the Arts Club of Chicago, and the Courvoisier Gallery in San Francisco.
The threat of Hitler and Nazism forced Rattner and his wife to flee Paris in 1939. Arriving in New York in early 1940, Rattner agreed to take a trip by car with the writer Henry Miller. Their route took them from New York to New Iberia, Louisiana via the East coast and Southern states. Their mission was to rediscover America, with Henry Miller writing about their experiences and Rattner sketching the scenery. Rattner's friendship with Henry Miller was an important one that lasted throughout his life.
During the 1940s, Rattner's art was widely exhibited. In 1941, he joined the Rosenberg Gallery in New York, and remained with the gallery for fourteen years. He won awards for his work such as the Temple Gold Medal in 1945 and second prize in the Pepsi-Cola Fourth Annual Art Competition in 1946. In 1947, Bettina Bedwell suddenly died due to a kidney infection, sending Rattner into a spiral of grief and depression. To escape depression, from 1947-1949, he taught at the New School for Social Research in New York.
In 1949, Rattner married Esther Gentle, an artist and business woman who ran an art reproductions business. In 1951, the Rattners moved to Rome where he worked as Artist in Residence at the American Academy. The next year, they moved to Illinois where he was the Artist in Residence at the University of Illinois. Ratter was awarded first prize in 1953 at the 23rd Corcoran Biennial Exhibition and also served as Vice-President of Artists' Equity. In 1956, Rattner was the Distinguished Visiting Professor at Michigan State University, and along with his stepson, Allen Leepa, established an art school on Long Island. In 1957, Rattner left the Rosenberg Gallery to join the Downtown Gallery. He felt he would professionally profit from representation by the well-known Edith Halpert; however, the next twelve years reflected a tumultuous relationship between the artist and the gallery owner.
In 1957, Rattner reached out to other forms of art and design. He experimented with mosaic, tapestry and stained-glass. He designed mosaic columns and tapestries for the Fairmont Temple Anche Chesed in Cleveland and a mosaic for a friary and college in Centerville, Ohio. His stained-glass designs were highly celebrated and respected. His most famous stained-glass piece was the window for the Chicago Loop Synagogue. For this piece, Rattner spent two years traveling to Paris to design and supervise every process involved in the design and installation of the window.
Rattner felt that while his paintings during the 1940s and 1950s were romantic and self-reflective, the 1960s marked a new inspirational period in his work. His painting reflected religious comment, bringing Rattner back in touch with his Jewish heritage, as well as reflecting a sense of social protest. In 1968, Rattner exhibited his painting Victory--Jerusalem the Golden to honor the celebration of Israel's twentieth anniversary of independence. It was also in 1968 that Rattner left the Downtown Gallery for the Kennedy Gallery. In 1969, he painted The Gallows of Baghdad series as a protest to the hanging of nine Jews by Iraqi authorities.
The 1970s marked a time of many exhibitions. In 1976, the National Collection of Fine Arts in Washington, D.C. sponsored an exhibition of his designs for stained-glass entitled "...and let there be light". Also, from 1976 through 1977, "Our America" exhibited Rattner's drawings from his 1940 U.S.A. trip with Henry Miller in England and in the United States. In 1977, Michigan State University bestowed upon him the Honorary Degree for Humanity. On February 14, 1978, Abraham Rattner died due to heart failure.
1893 -- Born June 8th in Poughkeepsie, New York.
1912 -- Graduated from Poughkeepsie High School.
1914-1917 -- Student at George Washington University, Corcoran School of Art and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
1917 -- Enlisted in the United States Army in France as Sergeant, camouflage section, 40th Engineers. Fought at Seicheprey, second battle of the Marne, and Chateau-Thierry.
1919 -- Returned to Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Awarded Cresson traveling fellowship to Europe.
1920 -- Traveled in France, Spain, England, Belgium and Holland.
1921 -- Art student in Paris at Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Grand Chaumiere, and Academie Ranson.
1922 -- Lived and painted in Giverny, France.
1923 -- Returned to Paris.
1924 -- Married Bettina Bedwell, Paris fashion correspondent for the New York News-Chicago Tribune news syndicate. Exhibited at Salon d'Automne and Salon des Independants.
1927 -- Member of the Minotaure group in Paris.
1931 -- Illustrated article, "Fire," by John Dos Passos for Verve magazine.
1935 -- First one-person show at Galerie Bonjean, Paris. French government purchased Card Party for Museum of Impressionism, The Louvre.
1936 -- One-person show at Julien Levy Gallery, New York (also 1939, 1941); Arts Club of Chicago; Courvoisier Gallery, San Francisco (also 1941).
1940 -- Returned to the United States following Nazi invasion of France. Traveled with Henry Miller from New York to New Iberia, Louisiana.
1941 -- One-person shows: Stendahl Gallery, Los Angeles; Faulkner Memorial Art Gallery, Santa Barbara (also 1943); Paul Rosenberg Gallery, New York (also 1942, 1944, 1946, 1948-1950, 1952, 1956); Studio, New York.
1945 -- Awarded the Temple Gold Medal from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Wrote "An American in Paris" for Magazine of Art.
1946 -- Awarded second prize at the Pepsi-Cola Fourth Annual Art Competition.
1947 -- Death of Bettina Bedwell Rattner.
1948 -- Taught at the New School for Social Research, New York.
1949 -- Married Esther Gentle. Visiting artist at Yale University and at the Brooklyn Museum School. Awarded honorable mention at the Carnegie Institute Exhibition of American Painting.
1950 -- Awarded the Purchase Prize at the University of Illinois Biennial Exhibition.
1951 -- Artist in residence at the American Academy in Rome.
1952 -- Artist in residence at the University of Illinois.
1953 -- Awarded first prize at the 23rd Corcoran Biennial Exhibition. Served as Vice-President of Artists' Equity.
1954 -- Taught at the Art Students League. Panelist at the Design Conference in Aspen, Colorado.
1955 -- Exhibited drawings at the Chicago Art Institute.
1956 -- Distinguished Visiting Professor at Michigan State University. Established an art school in East Hampton and Sag Harbor, Long Island.
1957 -- Designed mosaic columns and tapestries for the Fairmont Temple Anche Chesed in Cleveland. One-person show at Downtown Gallery, New York (also 1958-1967).
1958 -- Designed mosaic wall for St. Leonard's Friary and College in Centerville, Ohio. Designed stained-glass windows for the Flint Institute of Arts, Michigan. Began designs for stained-glass window for the Chicago Loop Synagogue. Exhibited with Alexander Calder at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Elected member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters. Awarded the Butler Memorial Prize at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
1959 -- Retrospective exhibition circulated by the American Federation of Arts. Exhibited at the Whitney Museum of Art.
1964 -- Exhibited at the Edinburgh International Festival in Scotland.
1968 -- Exhibited painting entitled Victory--Jerusalem the Golden at the celebration of Israel's 20th anniversary of independence.
1969 -- One-person shows: Kennedy Galleries, New York; Galerie Weil, Paris ( Baghdad Hangings), Galerie Belgique, Brussels ( Baghdad Hangings).
1970 -- Film commissioned by ABC-TV entitled "The Long Prayer of Abraham Rattner."
1972 -- Beggar's Opera lithographs exhibited at Circle Gallery, Chicago.
1976 -- Displayed stained-glass on religious themes with the National Collection of Fine Arts in Washington, D.C.
1977 -- "Our America" exhibition in England and the United States. Awarded Honorary Degree for Humanity from Michigan State University.
1978 -- Died on February 14th.
Index: List of Major Correspondents in Various Series:
These correspondents will be found in the following series: Correspondence, Special Projects, Gallery Files, Studio Notebooks, and Scrapbooks: Edward Albee, 1928-
John Anderson, 1904-
Bettina Bedwell, 1889-1947
George Biddle, 1885-1973
Kay Boyle, 1902-1992
Paul Burlin, 1886-1969
McClure Capps "Mac"
Norman Carton, 1908-1980
G. Alan Chidsey
Robert Coates, "Bob" 1897-1973
Malcolm Cowley, 1898-1989
Salvador Dali 1904-1989
Stuart Davis, 1894-1964
Adolph Dehn, 1895-1968
Richard de Rochemont
John Dos Passos, 1896-1970
Armand and Suzi D'usseau
Rene Lefebore Foinet
Gisele Freund, 1912-
Emily Genauer, 1911-
Esther Gentle, 1905-1984
Alberto Giacometti, 1901-1966
Xavier Gonzales, 1898-1993
John Howard Griffin
Ramon Guthrie, 1896-1973
Robert Gwathmey 1903-1988
Edith Gregor Halpert, 1900-1970
Stanley W. Hayter, 1901-1988
Jean Helion, 1904-1987
William H. Henrick
Hilaire Hiler, 1898-1966
Joseph Hirsch "Joe," 1910-1981
Stefan Hirsch, 1889-1964
Carl Holty, 1900-1973
Frederick I. Kann "Fred," 1886-
L.J. Konigsberg "Leib"
Louis Kronberg, 1872-1965
Rico Lebrun (Fredrico), 1900-1964
Allen Leepa, 1919-
Julian Levy, 1906-1981
Jacques Lipchitz, 1891-1973
Ward Lockwood, 1894-1963
Earle Ludgin, 1898-1981
Thalia Wescott Malcolm, 1888-
Reginald Marsh, 1898-1954
Archibald McLeish, 1892-
Henry Miller, 1891-1980
Joan Miro, 1893-1983
Anais Nin, 1903-1977
Bror Julius Olsson Nordfeldt "B.J.O.," 1878-1955
Channing Peake, 1910-1989
Peter Pollack, 1911-1978
Henry Varnum Poor 1888-1970
Hans Richter, 1888-1976
Shelden Rodman, 1909-
Waverly Root, 1903-1982
Felix Emmanuele Ruvolo, 1912-
Jack Gage Stark, 1882-1950
Benjamin Ellis Tepper
Frank C. Watkins (Franklin Chenault), 1894-1972
Allen Weller, 1907-
Separated Materials note:
Loaned material, including notebooks, writings, and some correspondence, were returned to Abraham Rattner after microfilming. This material is now part of the Abraham Rattner notes collection at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art at St. Petersburg College. Loaned material is available on reels D203-D205, D205A-D205B, and reel 1212, but is not described in this finding aid.
The collection was given to the Archives of American Art in stages by Abraham Rattner 1972-1983, by Esther Gentle 1986-1987, and by Gene Allen in 1992. The donated material that was previously filmed has been integrated and refilmed includes reels D203 and D205C-D205D. The material found on reels D205A-D205B was loaned by Rattner and the material found on reel 1212 was loaned by his sister, Jennie Allen.
The collection is open for research. Use of unmicrofilmed portion requires an appointment.
The Abraham Rattner and Esther Gentle 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.
The papers of landscape painter and educator Reuben Tam measure 8.1 linear feet and date from 1931 to 2006. The papers document his career as a painter in New York, Maine, and Hawaii through biographical material; correspondence with family, friends, art organizations, schools, and galleries; diaries, poetry, and other writings; exhibition catalogs, news clippings, other printed material; photographs; artwork, including seventeen sketchbooks; and eight scrapbooks.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of landscape painter and educator Reuben Tam measure 8.1 linear feet and date from 1931 to 2006. The papers document his career as a painter in New York, Maine, and Hawaii through biographical material; correspondence with family, friends, art organizations, schools, and galleries; diaries, poetry, and other writings; exhibition catalogs, news clippings, other printed material; photographs; artwork, including seventeen sketchbooks; and eight scrapbooks.
Biographical material includes school documents, records of his tenure as an instructor at the Brooklyn Museum of Art School, artwork consignment and sales records, and slides and accompanying audio cassette recording of the "Reuben Tam Show" about his work as an artist on Monhegan Island, Maine.
Correspondence is with family, fellow artists, including William Kienbusch and Hyde Solomon, as well as art organizations, schools, and museums, such as Brooklyn Museum of Art School, Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Maine Coast Artists group, and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Also found is correspondence with the three galleries which represented his work: Downtown Gallery, Alan Gallery, and Coe Kerr Gallery.
The collection includes five bound diaries as well as diary entries written by Reuben Tam on loose sheets of paper, primarily documenting the 1940s. Other writings include drafts of poetry, one notebook, miscellaneous notes, and essays by others.
Printed material consists of school publications, exhibition catalogs and announcements for solo and group shows, brochures, flyers, magazines, bulletins, and news clippings. Eight scrapbooks found in this collection also include newspaper clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, as well as event invitations, membership cards, and letters, documenting 40 years of Reuben Tam's career.
Photographs are of Reuben Tam, Tam with friends and family, and artwork. One photograph album contains photographs from Tam's visits to Maine from 1946 to 1948, and includes photographs of fellow artists Hyde Solomon, Carl Nesjar, Dorothy Andrews, and William Kienbusch. Artwork in the collection includes prints, drawings, and watercolors as well as seventeen large sketchbooks documenting the coastal landscape of Monhegan Island, Maine.
The collection is arranged as 8 series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1934-1993 (Box 1; 0.4 linear feet)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1931-2006 (Box 1-4; 3.5 linear feet)
Series 3: Diaries, 1932-1974 (Box 4-5; 0.4 linear feet)
Series 4: Writings, 1939-1987 (Box 5; 7 folders)
Series 5: Printed Material, 1935-1997 (Box 5-6, 9; 1.2 linear feet)
Series 6: Photographs, circa 1930-1990 (Box 6-7, 9; 1.0 linear foot)
Series 7: Artwork, circa 1936-1975 (Box 7, 9-10, OV 11; 0.7 linear feet)
Series 8: Scrapbooks, 1938-1978 (Box 7-8; 0.9 linear feet)
Biographical / Historical:
Reuben Tam (1916-1991) was a landscape painter and educator in New York, Maine, and Hawaii. Tam was born in Kapaa, Hawaii, in 1916. He received a degree in education in 1937 from the University of Hawaii and was briefly a public school teacher before attending graduate courses at the California School of Fine Arts. In 1941 he moved to New York and took courses in art history and philosophy at the New School for Social Research and Columbia University. Tam became affiliated with the Downtown Gallery in 1945 and was a prolific exhibitor in national and regional shows, winning critical praise as an abstract landscape painter. In 1948 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and first exhibited in the National Academy's annual exhibition in 1947.
Tam was an instructor at the Brooklyn Museum of Art School from 1946 to 1974. While there he taught advanced studies in painting and was chairman of the graduate painting department. He also served as a visiting professor at Oregon State University, Haystack, and Queens College, CUNY.
Beginning in 1948, Tam and his wife, Geraldine, spent summers at their home and studio on Monhegan Island, Maine. Tam's work was deeply influenced by coastal landscapes both in Maine and in his native Hawaii. In 1981 he and his wife moved back to Kapaa, Hawaii, where he continued to paint and exhibit his new works until his death in 1991.
Reuben Tam papers, 1958-1966, are also located at Syracuse University.
Scrapbooks were lent for microfilming 1970 by Reuben Tam and were subsequently donated in 2009 along with additional papers by Geraldine King Tam, Reuben Tam's widow.
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 Reuben Tam 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.
The papers of painter, photographer, lithographer and industrial designer Charles Sheeler measure 4.9 linear feet and date from circa 1840s to 1966, with the bulk of the material dating from 1923-1965. The collection documents Sheeler's family, personal life and career through financial and medical records, awards, correspondence, writings, an autobiography, journal and notebooks, scrapbooks, exhibition catalogs and announcements, printed materials, photographs, funeral records and artwork by Sheeler and others. The collection is particularly rich in Sheeler's writings, and also includes Sheeler's industrial designs and manufactured artwork. Notable photographs include Sheeler with Edward Weston, Edward Steichen, and John Marin.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of painter, photographer, lithographer and industrial designer Charles Sheeler measure 4.9 linear feet and date from circa 1840s to 1966, with the bulk of the material dating from 1923-1965. The collection documents Sheeler's family, personal life and career through financial and medical records, awards, correspondence, writings, an autobiography, journal and notebooks, scrapbooks, exhibition catalogs and announcements, printed materials, photographs, funeral records and artwork by Sheeler and others. The collection is particularly rich in Sheeler's writings, and also includes Sheeler's industrial designs and manufactured artwork. There are photographs of Sheeler with Edward Weston, Edward Steichen, and John Marin.
Biographical materials date from 1875, and 1928-1965, and include funeral records, medical records, insurance, tax, and scattered financial records. There is one folder of records relating to artwork and exhibitions, as well as Sheeler's numerous certificates, prizes and awards, and the condolence book used at his funeral.
Correspondence consists of Sheeler's personal and professional correspondence dating from 1937-1966 with friends, artists, dealers, collectors, photographers, and curators. Notable correspondents include Ansel Adams, Walter and Louise Arensberg, William Lane, Beaumont and Nancy Newhall, George Waters, William Carlos Williams, and Edward Weston. The series also includes correspondence with the Archives of American Art, Sheeler's biographer Constance Rourke, and with publishers, editors, children, and the general public. Lastly, there are condolence letters written to Musya Sheeler following Sheeler's death in May 1965.
Writings include Sheeler's journal dating from the 1950s-1963 and two notebooks containing notes, addresses, recipes, etc. Also found are Sheeler's writings on artists, drafts for articles, and a manuscript and notes for an autobiography that Sheeler wrote for Harcourt Brace. The autobiography became the basis for Constance Rourke's biography Charles Sheeler: Artist in the American Tradition published in 1938. The writing series also includes a short story by Musya Sheeler, and an illustrated short story by friend Dorothy Eidlitz.
The scrapbook series contains two oversize scrapbooks dating from 1930s-1960s that include newspaper and magazine clippings about Sheeler and his artwork, exhibition announcements and brochures, a poem, and a thank you letter from Abby Aldrich Rockefeller.
Additional printed materials date from 1923-1966 and document Sheeler's numerous exhibitions, notably his partnership with Edith Halpert and the Downtown Gallery. Found here are clippings, copies of magazines, exhibition announcements and catalogs, museum bulletings, books, and miscellaneous items.
Photographs date from circa 1840s-1963 and include photographs of Sheeler's family, of Sheeler, and of Sheeler with friends and colleagues. There is one daguerreotype, two ambrotypes, and two tintypes of Sheeler's family and of Sheeler as a child. There are copyprints of these originals. Additional photographs are of Sheeler's mother and father (or possibly Sheeler's grandparent), of Sheeler, of Sheeler with his wife Musya, Sheeler with William Lane, Sheeler with Edward Weston, and Sheeler with Edward Steichen and John Marin. The series also includes photographs of Sheeler's collection of Shaker furniture, and photographs of exhibitions.
Artwork by Sheeler dates from circa 1930s-1960s and includes artifacts of manufactured pieces based on his industrial designs. Found are a glass tumbler, salt and pepper shakers, a tea spoon, fabrics designed by Sheeler, and sketches. The series also includes a drawing by Peggy Bacon and a photograph by Minor White.
The collection is arranged into seven series. Materials are arranged by material type and chronologically or alphabetically thereafter:
Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1875, 1928-1965 (Boxes 1, 5, OV10; 0.6 linear feet)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1937-1966 (Box 1; 0.5 linear feet)
Series 3: Writings, circa 1930s-1965 (Boxes 1-2 ; 0.4 linear feet)
Series 4: Scrapbooks, 1930s-1960s (Boxes 2, 6; 0.4 linear feet)
Series 5: Printed Material, 1923-1966 (Boxes 2-4, 7; 1.5 linear feet)
Series 6: Photographs, circa 1840s-1963 (Box 4, OV11; 0.4 linear feet)
Series 7: Artwork, circa 1930s-1960s (Boxes 4-5, 8-9, OV12-OV14; 1.1 linear feet)
Painter, photographer, lithographer and designer, Charles Rettew Sheeler Jr. was born on July 16, 1883 to Mary Cunningham Sheeler and Charles Rettew Sheeler in Philadelphia. He attended the School of Industrial Art in Philadelphia from 1900-1903 and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he studied under William Merritt Chase. He found early success as a painter and exhibited at the Macbeth Gallery in 1908.
Around 1910 Sheeler took up photography, and by 1912 financially supported himself photographing buildings for local Philadelphia architects. The following year, Sheeler exhibited six paintings at the 1913 Armory Show in New York. In the mid 1910s, Sheeler began to collect American antiques, and by the 1920s was actively acquiring Shaker crafts and furniture.
In 1916, Sheeler was hired by Marius de Zayas of the Modern Gallery in New York to photograph objects and artwork. From 1917-1924, he worked as the staff photographer for the Modern Gallery and moved to New York in 1918. In 1920, Sheeler was hired as a still photographer for The Arts Magazine.
In 1926, Sheeler was hired by Edward Steichen to work as a fashion and celebrity photographer for Conde Nast Publications. His photographs were regularly featured in Vogue and Vanity Fair, but Sheeler also worked as a still life photographer for numerous advertising agencies. The following year, he was commissioned by the advertising firm N.W. Ayer and Son to photograph Ford Motor Company's new plant at River Rouge.
While working as a photographer, Sheeler continued to paint and used the subjects and composition of his photographs as a basis for his painting. His paintings Skyscrapers, 1922; Upper Deck, 1929; and American Landscape, 1930 are examples of Sheeler's technique of merging photographic imagery with painting and his overall precisionist style.
In 1931, upon the advice and guidance of Edith Halpert of the Downtown Gallery, Sheeler began to paint more often and to photograph less. Halpert became Sheeler's primarily dealer, and from 1931-1966 regularly exhibited his paintings and drawings. With Halpert's support, Sheeler produced Classic Landscape, 1931; American Interior, 1934; Silo, 1938; Amoskeag Canal, 1948; and Convolutions, 1952. In addition to Sheeler's partnership with Halpert, his work was exhibited by other galleries and museums throughout the United States and abroad.
In 1939, Sheeler married his second wife, Musya Metas Sokolova (1908-1981) and, in 1942, the couple moved to Irvington-on-Hudson, New York. Sheeler continued to paint and photograph until he suffered a debilitating stroke in 1959. After 1959, Sheeler remained active exhibiting his artwork until his death on May 7, 1965 in Dobbs Ferry, New York.
The Archives of American Art holds several collections that are related to Charles Sheeler.
There are two oral history interviews with Sheeler conducted by Mary Bartlett Cowdrey in December 1958, and by Martin Friedman in June 1959. The Archives also has the records of the Macbeth Gallery, which include a substantial amount of correspondence with Sheeler from 1907-1921, and the Downtown Gallery records, which also include correspondence with Sheeler, photographs of Sheeler and his artwork, exhibition publications, clippings, press releases, and audio visual materials dating from 1904-1972.
Also found in the the Archives is a loan of Charles Sheeler letters filmed on reel NY/59-5 containing letters written by Sheeler to his psychologist and art collector, Dr. Helen Boigon, art student George Craven, and friend William Carlos Williams, all dating from 1939-1958. There is a collection of six letters of Sheeler letters addressed to Doris Royce, possibly an art critic, dating from 1949-1957. Miscellaneous manuscript collections include one letter written by Sheeler to E.P. Richardson in 1958, and another letter written to Frank Crowninshield in September, 1939.
Portions of Sheeler's papers that were originally loaned for microfilming were not included in the later gifts and are available only on microfilm reel NSH-1. A watercolor study microfilmed on reel 1811 was later transferred to the Smithsonian American Art Museum. These materials are not described in the container list of this finding aid.
Charles Sheeler's wife Musya initially loaned the papers to the Archives of American Art for microfilming in 1958, 1965, and 1966. In June, 1966, she donated most of the earlier loaned materials. In 1964, Sheeler's friend Howard Lipman donated three photographs of Sheeler with Edward Steichen and John Marin. The third accrual was transferred to the Archives by the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery Library in June 1979.
The collection is open for research. Use requires an appointment.
The Charles Sheeler 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 copyright laws.