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Lili Réthi Papers

Artist:
Rethi, Lili, 1894-1969  Search this
Extent:
8 Cubic feet (21 boxes, 8 map folders)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Bookplates
Books
Christmas cards
Drawings
Newspaper clippings
Photographs
Transcripts
Watercolor drawings
Date:
1918-1969
Summary:
Papers document artist and illustrator Lili Réthi who was best known for her drawings of industrial subjects such as bridges, construction scenes and mines.
Scope and Contents:
Drawings, sketches, watercolors, biographical material, photographs, printed material, correspondence and books relating to the career of artist and illustrator Lili Réthi. The bulk of the collection consists of originals and copies of Réthi's drawings and sketches for various projects in Europe and the United States.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into five series.

Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1928-1968

Series 2: Projects, 1918-1969

Series 3: Exhibits, 1940-1943, 1965

Series 4: Portraits, 1919-1965

Series 5: Illustrated Books, 1916-1969
Biographical / Historical:
Lilly (Lili) Maria Réthi (1894-1969) was born in Vienna, Austria to Leopold Réthi (1857-1924), a professor of medicine and Marie née Mauther (1863-1955). Réthi had one sister, Elizabeth "Elsie" (1889-1970). Lili attended the Viennese Kunstschule für Frauen und Mädchen (The Art School for Women and Girls), established in 1897. The school existed until 1945, but it closed to Jewish women artists in 1938, when the school was subordinated to the municipality of Vienna and used to inculcate Nazi ideology. (Ben-Eli, 1999). Réthi learned to sketch the human form at the Vienna Anatomical Institute—training, no doubt, that her physician father encouraged. This training, which sharpened her sense of form and function, helped her later when drawing complicated machinery and illustrating Victor Hecht's book, Leitfaden der Physikalisch-Therapeutischen, (Guide to Physical Therapy, 1916). Réthi became fascinated with construction at a young age. "When I was a little girl in Vienna, I used to take walks and watch men building houses. I was fascinated by the men working as well as the excitement of watching the building grow." (Constructor, December 1967, page 25) Her burgeoning interest would grow, and she became one of the best-known illustrators of engineering, construction, and industrial sites. She was named a Royal Society of Art Fellow in 1961.

During the inter-war years (1918-1939) Réthi interrupted her academic studies to work across Europe, illustrating sites in Austria, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. The bulk of her work captured coal mines, coal yards, factories, chemical plants, blast furnaces, iron foundries, shipyards, steel production, buildings, aircraft, and bridges.

In 1929, Réthi moved to Berlin where she worked recording engineering projects and was an illustrator for the magazine "Der Bücherkreis" (Book Circle). She illustrated many of the "Dortmunder Union" activities during this period. The Union, a vertically integrated mining group (mining and iron and steel production), was founded in 1872 and was located in the Ruhr area of Germany. This work for the Union resulted in an exhibition in Berlin at the Verein Deutscher Ingenieure (1931) and "Wien- Berlin: Das Gesicht zwei Städte" (Vienna and Berlin: The Face of Two Cities") (1932); at the World Power Conference in Stockholm (1933); and the Technical Museum of Vienna (1934). While in the Ruhr, Rethi documented workers, elevating their significance as subjects in their own right. She recorded the working conditions, many of which depicted harsh and dangerous physical labor. Her published work Germinal (1924) highlighted, through seven lithographs, the terrible conditions in French mines. Her work with the Union provided exposure and elevated her growing artistic status, especially with the Third Reich. With war imminent in Europe, the erosion of her personal rights as a Jewish woman, and a commission invitation by Hermann Göring to create propaganda images for the Nazi Regime, she left for England, never to return to her homeland in Austria.

Her portfolio of work is immense and while she primarily focused on engineering, industrial and construction sites, trade publications, industry magazines and newspapers, she branched into other areas. She illustrated the German version of Upton Sinclair´s Letters to Judd, an American Workingman (Briefe an einen Arbeiter, Leipzig- Wien, 1932) and was widely published in Austrian, Danish and German newspapers such as Aften-Avisen, Bergland Wien, Børsen, Der Welt Spiegel, Beitbilder, and VDI Nachrichten. Later projects included books, primarily for children, commissions to sketch churches, portraits of individuals, illustrated book plates, pamphlets, and Christmas cards. Catholic entities such as St. John the Divine and the Capuchin Friars in New York, also sought her services to sketch church interiors and illustrate brochures. And, in 1950, Réthi sketched the interior renovation (1948-1952) of the White House during the Truman Administration.

The Illustrated London News hired Réthi in 1937 to sketch the coronation of King George. While in England, she also created sketches for a booklet issued by the London, North Eastern Railway (L.N.E.R.) posters for the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (L.M.S.) and the General Post Office (GPO): Post Office Motor Transport Depot (1937); the Post Office Underground Mail Train (1935); and LMS Crewe Works, Building Coronation Class Engine (1937). The Illustrated London News sent her to the 1939 New York World's Fair where her introduction and love of New York City was launched. Réthi arrived in the United States on March 23, 1939, and became a citizen in 1944.

In the United States, Réthi continued illustrating engineering and construction activities, many of which were major post war projects. Réthi was attracted to the great industrial scene of 1940s America, and New York City provided a fertile location for most of her projects. The first public showing of her work in the United States was at the Architectural League of New York (1940) and her "American Industry at War" exhibit was held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1943). She documented some of the most significant projects in North America such as the New York City Pavilion at the World's Fair (1964), the United Nations Building (1949), the Pan Am Building (1962), Pennsylvania Station (1965), and the World Trade Center (1967-1968).

She had commissions from Surveyer, Nenniger & Chênevert (an engineering and construction firm that used her images on company Christmas cards), Sperry Gyroscope Company, U.S. Tobacco Company, Turner Construction, Walsh Construction, Atlas Steel Plant, Bliss Manufacturing, George A. Fuller Company, Standard Chemicals, and the United States Pipe and Foundry Company, to name a few.

Réthi also worked with several book publishers, especially, McGraw-Hill and Harcourt Brace. She illustrated over 40 books, many for children. Her work also appeared on the covers of many trade publications and magazines such as Pencil Points, Service, Factory, Product Engineering, and the Journal of the American Society of Automotive Engineers. Réthi was one of a few, if not the only female artist who devoted her career to portraying engineering works.
Related Materials:
Materials at the Smithsonian Institution

Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Division of Mechanical and Civil Engineering Bridges Reference Collection, NMAH.AC.1577

Contains negatives and prints of drawings for the Verranzo-Narrows Bridge, New York, New York

Smithsonian Instituton Archives

Records, circa 1948-1988

Contains documentation about a Lili Réthi exhibit, 1964-1965, curated by the then Museum of the History of Technology.

Archives of American Art

Associated American Artists Records, circa 1934-1983

Includes three file folders in the Series: Artists Files about Lili Réthi.

Materials at Other Organizations

Hagley Museum and Library

Sperry Gyroscope Company Division photographs and films (1986-273)

Contains Lili Réthi graphic arts, 1943, consisting of 24 reproductions.
Provenance:
The collection was bequeathed by Lili Réthi to the United States National Museum (now known as the National Museum of American History) through Herbert G. Fenison in 1971.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research. Unprotected photographs must be handled with gloves.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Occupation:
Artists  Search this
Book illustrators  Search this
Illustrators  Search this
Topic:
Bridges  Search this
Buildings  Search this
Construction  Search this
Construction and civil engineering  Search this
Engineering -- 20th century  Search this
Illustrated books, Children's  Search this
Women artists -- United States  Search this
Genre/Form:
Bookplates
Books -- 20th century
Christmas cards
Drawings -- 20th century
Newspaper clippings
Photographs -- Black-and-white photoprints -- Silver gelatin -- 19th-20th century
Transcripts -- 20th century
Watercolor drawings
Citation:
Lili Réthi Papers, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0749
See more items in:
Lili Réthi Papers
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep876ee6154-c5e2-4c2f-a217-9c4044b6a002
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0749
Online Media:

Lilian Swann Saarinen papers, circa 1909-1977

Creator:
Saarinen, Lilian Swann, 1912-1995  Search this
Subject:
Venturi, Robert  Search this
Saarinen, Loja  Search this
Kreis, Henry  Search this
Milles, Carl  Search this
Eames, Charles  Search this
Eames, Ray  Search this
Saarinen, Eero  Search this
Saarinen, Eliel  Search this
Moholy-Nagy, László  Search this
Moholy-Nagy, Sibyl  Search this
Koch, Carl  Search this
Armitage, Merle  Search this
Crosby, Caresse  Search this
Weese, Harry  Search this
Midtown Galleries (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
Reynal & Hitchcock  Search this
G Place Gallery (Washington, D.C.)  Search this
Knoll Associates, inc.  Search this
Massachusetts Institute of Technology  Search this
Cambridge Art Center  Search this
Otava Publishing Company  Search this
Cranbrook Academy of Art  Search this
Type:
Blueprints
Diaries
Illustrations
Sketches
Photographs
Scrapbooks
Citation:
Lilian Swann Saarinen papers, circa 1909-1977. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Topic:
Women artists  Search this
Art -- Study and teaching  Search this
Illustrated books, Children's  Search this
Gateway Arch (Saint Louis, Mo.)  Search this
Sculpture, Modern -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Illustrators -- Massachusetts  Search this
Art, Municipal  Search this
Women sculptors  Search this
Women illustrators  Search this
Theme:
Women  Search this
Craft  Search this
Lives of artists  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)9049
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)211240
AAA_collcode_saarlili
Theme:
Women
Craft
Lives of artists
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_211240
Online Media:

Fred Nankivel papers, 1899-1973

Creator:
Nankivel, Fred, 1876-1950  Search this
Subject:
Newell, Peter  Search this
Cooke, Claudine Nankivel  Search this
Citation:
Fred Nankivel papers, 1899-1973. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Topic:
Artists as authors -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Artists' illustrated books -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Caricatures and cartoons  Search this
Illustrated books, Children's  Search this
Painting, Modern -- 20th century -- New England  Search this
Theme:
Lives of artists  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)9078
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)211271
AAA_collcode_nankfred
Theme:
Lives of artists
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_211271

Charles Robert Knight papers, [ca. 1948-1961]

Creator:
Knight, Charles Robert, 1874-1953  Search this
Citation:
Charles Robert Knight papers, [ca. 1948-1961]. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Topic:
Illustrated books, Children's  Search this
Theme:
Diaries  Search this
Lives of artists  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)9180
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)211375
AAA_collcode_knigchar
Theme:
Diaries
Lives of artists
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_211375

Hilda Preibisius papers, 1936-1960

Creator:
Preibisius, Hilda Elma, 1901-1981  Search this
Citation:
Hilda Preibisius papers, 1936-1960. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Topic:
Illustrated books, Children's  Search this
Illustration of books  Search this
Women artists  Search this
Women illustrators  Search this
Theme:
Women  Search this
Lives of artists  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)9494
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)211692
AAA_collcode_preihild
Theme:
Women
Lives of artists
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_211692

Rose Labrie papers, 1948- 2000

Creator:
Labrie, Rose, 1916-1986  Search this
Citation:
Rose Labrie papers, 1948- 2000. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Topic:
Illustrated books, Children's  Search this
Women artists  Search this
Women authors  Search this
Theme:
Women  Search this
Lives of artists  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)6324
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)225871
AAA_collcode_labrrose
Theme:
Women
Lives of artists
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_225871

Austin Merrill Mecklem and Marianne Greer Appel papers, 1910-2009

Creator:
Mecklem, Austin Merrill, 1894-1951  Search this
Subject:
Henson, Jim  Search this
Mecklem, Austin Merrill  Search this
Appel, Marianne  Search this
United States. Works Progress Administration  Search this
Federal Works Agency  Search this
Albright Art School (Buffalo, N.Y.)  Search this
Type:
Sketchbooks
Manuscripts
Photographs
Watercolors
Sketches
Drawings
Citation:
Austin Merrill Mecklem and Marianne Greer Appel papers, 1910-2009. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Topic:
Puppeteers -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Artists' studios -- Photographs  Search this
Muralists -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Illustrated books, Children's  Search this
Theme:
Lives of artists  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)15858
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)293423
AAA_collcode_meckaust
Theme:
Lives of artists
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_293423
Online Media:

Archives Center Wild West Collection

Creator:
Sapienza, Anthony  Search this
Names:
Buffalo Bill, 1846-1917  Search this
Pawnee Bill, 1860-1942  Search this
Extent:
0.66 Cubic feet (2 boxes)
Culture:
Indians of North America  Search this
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Comic books
Design drawings
Itineraries
Programs
Sheet music
Date:
1884-1917, undated
Summary:
The collection consists of printed materials and ephemera relating to "Wild West" shows.
Content Description:
The collection consists of printed materials and ephemera relating to "Wild West" shows. It primarily includes dime novels, programs, sheet music, advertisements, artwork, and publications.
Arrangement:
Collection arranged into one series.
Biographical / Historical:
Wild West shows were performed across the United States from circa 1870-1920. The shows introduced the American West to a wider audience and primarily featured cowboys and Native Americans, loosely based on historical events. In addition, Wild West shows offered actors opportunities to display skills of showmanship.
Related Materials:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, NMAH.AC.0060

L.F. Foster Wild West Scrapbooks, Photographs, and Copy Negatives, NMAH.AC.1289

Sonora Carver Papers, NMAH.AC.0521
Provenance:
Collection donated by Anthony Sapienza in 2018.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning intellectual property rights. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Cowboys -- United States  Search this
Illustrated books, Children's  Search this
Rodeos -- United States  Search this
Western shows  Search this
Wild west shows  Search this
Genre/Form:
Comic books
Design drawings
Itineraries
Programs
Sheet music -- 20th century
Citation:
Archives Center Wild West Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.1466
See more items in:
Archives Center Wild West Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8cacea61f-c70e-4546-be0a-bfe7cb4721cc
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-1466

No such animal

Creator:
Shaw, Charles Green, 1892-1974  Search this
Type:
Writings
Date:
193-?
Citation:
Charles Green Shaw. No such animal, 193-?. Charles Green Shaw papers, 1833-1979. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Topic:
Animals  Search this
Illustrated books, Children's  Search this
Poems  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)10552
See more items in:
Charles Green Shaw papers, 1833-1979, bulk 1909-1974
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_10552

Sketch of a seated man shaping a pot

Type:
Artworks
Date:
not before 1930
Citation:
Sketch of a seated man shaping a pot, not before 1930. René d'Harnoncourt papers, 1921-1983. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Topic:
Illustrated books, Children's  Search this
Pottery craft  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)12371
See more items in:
René d'Harnoncourt papers, 1921-1983
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_12371
Online Media:

Doll Rosy's days

Creator:
Bates, Clara Doty, 1838-1895  Search this
Hassam, Childe, 1859-1935  Search this
Type:
Printed Materials
Date:
1884
Citation:
Clara Doty Bates and Childe Hassam. Doll Rosy's days, 1884. Doll Rosy's days / verses by Clara Doty Bates ; pictures by F. Childe Hassam, c1884. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Topic:
Illustrated books, Children's  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)13750
See more items in:
Doll Rosy's days / verses by Clara Doty Bates ; pictures by F. Childe Hassam, c1884
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_13750

Das Buch der Dinge: Ein Bilderbuch für ganz kleine Kinder

Creator:
Seidmann-Freud, Tom, 1892-1930  Search this
Subject:
Steinitz, Beate  Search this
Type:
Printed Materials
Date:
1924
Citation:
Tom Seidmann-Freud. Das Buch der Dinge: Ein Bilderbuch für ganz kleine Kinder, 1924. Kate Steinitz papers, circa 1910-2002. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Topic:
Animals  Search this
Illustrated books, Children's  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)15160
See more items in:
Kate Steinitz papers, circa 1910-2002
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_15160

The illustrated alphabet of animals

Subject:
Thayer, Abbott Handerson  Search this
Thayer, Mary  Search this
Type:
Printed Materials
Date:
1851
Citation:
The illustrated alphabet of animals, 1851. Abbott Handerson Thayer and Thayer Family papers, 1851-1999. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Topic:
Animals  Search this
Illustrated books, Children's  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)15383
See more items in:
Abbott Handerson Thayer and Thayer Family papers, 1851-1999, bulk 1881-1950
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_15383

A day's sport

Type:
Printed Materials
Date:
not after 1858
Citation:
A day's sport, not after 1858. Herbert Barber Howe collection of photographs, engravings and printed material, 1808-1930. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Topic:
Cartoons (humorous images)  Search this
Children's literature  Search this
Illustrated books, Children's  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)15805
See more items in:
Herbert Barber Howe collection of photographs, engravings and printed material, 1808-1930
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_15805

The Book-Dividend for March & April is "My Friend Flicka" and "Thunderhead" by Mary O'Hara

Type:
Printed Materials
Date:
ca. 1940-1946
Citation:
The Book-Dividend for March & April is "My Friend Flicka" and "Thunderhead" by Mary O'Hara, ca. 1940-1946. John Steuart Curry and Curry family papers, 1848-1999. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Topic:
Horses  Search this
Illustrated books, Children's  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)17544
See more items in:
John Steuart Curry and Curry family papers, 1848-1999
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_17544
Online Media:

Cover design sketch for Who Am I?

Creator:
Saarinen, Lilian Swann, 1912-1995  Search this
Type:
Artworks
Date:
not after 1946
Citation:
Lilian Swann Saarinen. Cover design sketch for Who Am I?, not after 1946. Lilian Swann Saarinen papers, circa 1909-1977. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Topic:
Illustrated books, Children's  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)17572
See more items in:
Lilian Swann Saarinen papers, circa 1909-1977
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_17572

Storyboard for The Cat Who Was Different

Creator:
Gammon, Reginald A. (Reginald Adolphus), 1921-2005  Search this
Type:
Artworks
Date:
1962
Citation:
Reginald A. (Reginald Adolphus) Gammon. Storyboard for The Cat Who Was Different, 1962. Reginald Gammon papers, 1927-2007. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Topic:
Illustrated books, Children's  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)19247
See more items in:
Reginald Gammon papers, 1927-2007, bulk 1960-2005
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_19247
Online Media:

Storyboard for The Cat Who Was Different

Creator:
Gammon, Reginald A. (Reginald Adolphus), 1921-2005  Search this
Type:
Artworks
Date:
1962
Citation:
Reginald A. (Reginald Adolphus) Gammon. Storyboard for The Cat Who Was Different, 1962. Reginald Gammon papers, 1927-2007. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Topic:
Illustrated books, Children's  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)19248
See more items in:
Reginald Gammon papers, 1927-2007, bulk 1960-2005
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_19248
Online Media:

Storyboard for The Cat Who Was Different

Creator:
Gammon, Reginald A. (Reginald Adolphus), 1921-2005  Search this
Type:
Artworks
Date:
1962
Citation:
Reginald A. (Reginald Adolphus) Gammon. Storyboard for The Cat Who Was Different, 1962. Reginald Gammon papers, 1927-2007. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Topic:
Illustrated books, Children's  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)19249
See more items in:
Reginald Gammon papers, 1927-2007, bulk 1960-2005
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_19249
Online Media:

Scrapbook of illustrations for The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown

Creator:
Shaw, Charles Green, 1892-1974  Search this
Subject:
Brown, Margaret Wise  Search this
Type:
Albums
Date:
circa 1945
Citation:
Charles Green Shaw. Scrapbook of illustrations for The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown, circa 1945. Charles Green Shaw papers, 1833-1979. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Topic:
Illustrated books, Children's  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)19839
See more items in:
Charles Green Shaw papers, 1833-1979, bulk 1909-1974
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_19839

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