The Emmet Family papers document the lives and careers of two generations of the Emmet family from New Rochelle, New York and Stockbridge, Massachusetts, whose artistic talents flourished during the later 19th through the mid-20th centuries. The collection dates from 1792 to 1989, with the bulk of the material dating from 1851-1989, and measures 9.1 linear feet. Through biographical material, two diaries, correspondence, writings and notes, exhibition files, business records, printed material, two scrapbooks, artwork, and photographs of family, friends, exhibitions, and artwork, the papers provide both a rich overview and detailed insights into the daily lives, relationships, and careers of many members of the family. The collection focuses in particular on sisters Lydia Field Emmet, Jane Erin Emmet de Glehn, and Rosina Emmet Sherwood, their mother, Julia Colt Pierson Emmet, and their cousin Ellen Gertrude "Bay" Emmet, all noted painters and illustrators.
Scope and Content Note:
The Emmet Family papers document the lives and careers of two generations of the Emmet family from New Rochelle, New York and Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The collection dates from 1792 to 1989, with the bulk of the material dating from 1851-1989, and measures 9.1 linear feet. Through biographical material, two diaries, correspondence, writings and notes, exhibition files, business records, printed material, two scrapbooks, artwork, and photographs of family, friends, exhibitions, and artwork, the papers provide both a rich overview and detailed insights into the daily lives, relationships, and careers of many members of the family. The collection focuses in particular on sisters Lydia Field Emmet, Jane Erin Emmet de Glehn, and Rosina Emmet Sherwood, their mother, Julia Colt Pierson Emmet, and their cousin Ellen Gertrude "Bay" Emmet, all noted painters and illustrators, whose artistic talents flourished during the late nineteenth through the mid-twentieth centuries.
Biographical material consists of family trees and family histories; individual biographical accounts, award certificates, and documentation for Julia Colt Pierson Emmet, Rosina Emmet Sherwood, Lydia Field Emmet, Jane Erin Emmet de Glehn, and Wilfrid de Glehn; a diary titled "Sedgemere Diary" containing drawings and entries primarily by Rosina Emmet Sherwood, and a smaller diary which mentions Rosina's son, future playwright Robert Sherwood; a documentary by Nancy B. Doyle on two VHS videocassettes, entitled The Emmets: Portrait of a Family; and artifacts comprising a rear-view optical device and locks of hair from an early nineteenth century generation of the Emmet family.
Correspondence forms the bulk of the collection and illustrates the interaction between members of this large and influential family and their colleagues and friends, offering a wide-ranging view of life in the late nineteenth through the mid-twentieth centuries, and through two World Wars. The series consists of letters between family members, primarily Julia Colt Pierson Emmet and her daughters, as well as cousins Henry James, Ellen "Bay" Emmet Rand, and Rosamond Sherwood, and friends Cecilia Beaux, Louis Bancel LaFarge, Frederick MacMonnies, Lucien Monod, Roger Quilter, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Emily and John Singer-Sargent, Violet Sargent Ormond, and Stanford White. Topics include experiences of the Emmets while studying art in Paris, Rosina's presentation at Queen Victoria's court, Lydia's work at the Columbia Exposition, Jane's marriage to Wilfrid de Glehn and her friendship with John Singer Sargent, portrait painting activities, the troubles of their friend Susy Metcalfe in her marriage to Pablo Casals, and the activities of Rosina's son, playwright Robert Emmet Sherwood, and friends Alfred Lund and Lynn Fontanne.
Writings and notes consist of scattered manuscripts and poems by family members, two notebooks, one identified as belonging to Jane Erin Emmet de Glehn, and typescripts about Wilfrid de Glehn following his death. Also found is a book, Out of Town, written and illustrated by Rosina Emmet Sherwood, and Edna St Vincent Millay's poem "Autum Daybreak" written in Millay's handwriting.
Exhibition files document an exhibition held at the Berkshire Museum/Danforth Museum in Pittsfield/Farmingham, Massachusetts in 1982 entitled The Emmets: A Family of Women Painters, and include two audio cassettes of recordings from the "Art for Lunch" series at the Berkshire Museum discussing the exhibition.
Business records include account books belonging to Lydia Field Emmet and Rosina Emmet Sherwood, both of which document income from artwork and other sources, and expenses; a contract for the reproduction of Lydia Field Emmet's artwork; and a document concerning ownership of property, possibly of Emmet family ancestors.
Printed Material consists of clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, and reproductions of artwork by Emmet family members and others.
Two scrapbooks contain a combination of drawings, primarily by Rosina Emmet Sherwood, reproductions of artwork, and photographs.
Artwork includes drawings and sketchbooks by Julia Colt Pierson Emmet, Rosina Emmet Sherwood, Lydia Field Emmet, Jane Erin Emmet de Glehn Ellen Emmet Rand, and other Emmet relatives, illustrating the early development of their talent.
Photographs are of family members, including Julia Colt Pierson Emmet and William Jenkins Emmet, their daughters Lydia Field Emmet, Jane Erin Emmet de Glehn and husband Wilfrid de Glehn, Rosina Emmet Sherwood and husband Arthur Murray Sherwood, and Robert Emmet Sherwood as a young man. Also found are photos of friends Richard Harding Davis, Frederick MacMonnies, and Augustus Saint-Gaudens; a series of photographs of the installation at Arden Galleries, New York (1936) for the exhibition Paintings, Drawings and Sculptures by Five Generations of the Emmet Family; and photographs of artwork by Emmet family members.
The Emmet family papers are arranged as nine series.
Series 1: Biographical Material, circa 1855-1988 (0.6 linear feet; Boxes 1, 10, OV 12)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1792-1985 (6.2 linear feet; Boxes 1-7)
Series 3: Writings and Notes, circa 1870s-1981 (11 folders; Box 7)
Series 4: Exhibition Files, 1947-1983 (0.3 linear feet; Boxes 7-8)
Series 5: Business Records, circa 1799-1945 (7 folders; Box 8)
Series 6: Printed Material, 1872-1989 (0.35 linear feet; Boxes 8, 10)
Series 7: Scrapbooks, 1870-1890 (0.2 linear feet; Boxes 8, 10)
Series 8: Artwork, circa 1850-circa 1920 (0.35 linear feet; Boxes 8, 10)
Series 9: Photographs, circa 1870s-circa 1950s (1 linear foot; Boxes 8-9, 11)
The Emmet family, descended from patriot Thomas Addis Emmet, brother of Irish martyr Robert Emmet, counts many physicians, lawyers, and writers (including cousin Henry James) among its ranks. Although evidence of artistic talent existed in several previous generations, it flourished during the later 19th through the mid-20th centuries in the professional portraiture of sisters Rosina Emmet Sherwood, Lydia Field Emmet, Jane Erin Emmet de Glehn, and their cousin Ellen "Bay" Emmet Rand.
The eldest daughter of Julia Colt Pierson Emmet (1829-1908), herself a talented illustrator who had studied under Daniel Huntington, Rosina "Posie" Emmet (1854-1948) studied under William Merritt Chase at his Tenth Street Studio in New York and under Robert-Fleury at the Academie Julian in Paris. Before her marriage to Arthur Murray Sherwood in 1887, Rosina established a studio in New York and continued to submit illustrations to various publications. During her marriage, she slowed her creative activities, until financial reverses dictated her return to her career around the turn of the 20th century. Her daughter Rosamond Sherwood (1899-1990) was also a portrait painter. Her son, Robert Emmet Sherwood (1896-1955) became a four-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright.
Lydia Field Emmet (1866-1952) studied under Collin, Bouguereau, MacMonnies, and Robert-Fleury at the Academie Julian. Upon her return to New York, Lydia continued her studies under Chase, Kenyon Cox, H. Siddons Mowbray, and Robert Reid at the Art Students League, as well as at Chase's Shinnecock Summer School of Art. She established her portrait studio in New York City and began spending summers at Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where she built her home, "Strawberry Hill," in 1905. Best known for her portraits of children, Lydia's subjects were members of the socially prominent families of New York, Boston, and Philadelphia.
The youngest sister, Jane Erin Emmet (1873-1961), also studied with Chase in New York, and in Paris. In 1904, she married British landscape painter Wilfrid Von Glehn, who had visited the United States with his friend John Singer Sargent. (The Von Glehns' surname was changed to De Glehn, in 1919.) Settling in London, Jane continued her painting, befriended many artists and composers, and accompanied her husband and Sargent on several art-related journeys through Europe.
The Emmet sisters' cousin, Ellen Gertrude "Bay" Emmet (1875-1941), studied in New York at the Art Students League and under Frederick MacMonnies in Paris, becoming a National Academician in 1934. She married William Blanchard Rand in 1911 and settled in Salisbury, Connecticut. After the stock market crash of 1929, Bay's portraits of prominent society figures provided most of her family's income.
The Archives of American Art also holds microfilm of material lent for microfilming (reel 4544) including one scrapbook, compiled by Rosina Emmet Sherwood, consisting of portrait sketches, drawings of her dogs, genre scenes, travel views, and photographs of travels, friends, actors, and the ship "Scythia,". Loaned materials were returned to the lender and are not described in the collection container inventory.
In 1988-1991, the bulk of the Emmet family papers were donated by Rosamond Sherwood, daughter of Rosina Emmet Sherwood (via Katharine Emmet Bramwell of New York), by Rosamond Sherwood's estate (via F. Douglas Cochrane, executor, from Boston), and by Rosamond's nieces, Virginia Sherwood and Julia Shipway. Additionally, one scrapbook was lent for microfilming in 1990 and subsequently donated by Mrs. Earl Maize. Douglas Cochrane then loaned another scrapbook for microfilming (reel 4344) in 1991 which was returned to Mrs. Earl Maize.
Use of original papers requires an appointment. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
The Emmet family papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.