World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893 -- Photographs Search this
2 Cubic feet (7 boxes)
White House (Washington, D.C.)
Washington (D.C.) -- 1890-1900
Chicago Ill. -- 1890-1900
1993 - 1993
circa 1888-1899, 1906
Twenty glass plate negatives and reference copy prints of the images taken between the late 1880s and the early 1900s by Frances Benjamin Johnston and Thomas W. Smillie. The images depict the skyline of Washington D.C., views from the 1893 World's Fair: Columbian Exposition, blueprints for the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building, and an unidentified orchestra.
Scope and Contents:
The collection consists of twenty glass plate negatives and associated reference copy prints depicting scenes from the 1893 World's Fair: Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois as well as images of the Washington D.C. skyline dating from between 1888 and 1899. The glass plate negatives range in size from 17" x 20" to 20" x 24" while the silver gelatin, resin-coated paper prints are all 20" x 24". All the images are black and white.
Series 1, Glass Plate Negatives, 1893, 1906, circa 1888-1899, is arranged by a numbering system, possibly assigned by the Smithsonian Office of Printing and Photographic Services (OPPS). The numbers were etched or written on the negatives, for example 3107. The series begins with the numbered images from Washington DC (#3101-#3107), followed by images without identifying numbers. The numbered images from the 1893 Columbian Exposition (non-inclusive #11302-11359) come next, followed by the images without identifying numbers.
The images of Washington D.C., when arranged in the following sequence, form a panorama of the Washington D.C. city: #3103, #3107, #3104, #3101, #3106, #3105, #3102. The images were taken from the tower of the Smithsonian Castle facing north, beginning with a view of the United States Capitol Building in the east (#3102) and ending with a view of the incomplete Washington Monument in the west (#3103). An unnumbered image of the United States Capitol taken after 1899 from the tower of the Old Post Office and Clock Tower looking down Pennsylvania Avenue is included. Two unnumbered blueprints dated July 19, 1906 show the second and third floor layouts of the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building.
The images of the 1893 World's Fair: Columbian Exposition show various buildings built for the event as well as a replica of the Battleship Illinois which was constructed to illustrate advances in naval technology. Exterior views of the Administration Building, Government Building, Palace of Fine Arts, Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building as well as an interior view of the World's Fair Post Office in the Government Building are found among the negatives. A number of the images appear to have been taken from atop some of the buildings looking down.
One unnumbered and unidentified picture of a musical orchestra sitting on stage is included at the end of the series.
Series 2, Copy prints, 1993, include duplicate or, in some instances triplicate, photographic copy prints of the images from the glass plate negatives. In the case of #11311 and #11359, no copy prints exist. The silver gelatin prints on resin-coated paper were created in the fall of 1993.
The collection is arranged in two series.
Series 1: Glass Plate Negatives, 1893, 1906, circa 1888-1899
Series 2: Copy prints (reference copies), 1993
Biographical / Historical:
While the origin and provenance of some of the glass plate negatives is uncertain, it is likely that the images were created by Smithsonian photographer and curator Thomas W. Smillie and by Frances Benjamin Johnston, a prominent female photographer who was a protege of Smillie's.
Thomas W. Smillie was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1843 and emigrated to the United States when he was five years old. He attended Georgetown University, where he studied medicine and chemistry. Shortly thereafter he became a photographer for the Smithsonian and remained with the institution until his death in 1917. In 1896 he was named "custodian" of photography for the Institution, in essence becoming its first photography curator. He staged photographic exhibits and actively collected both images and equipment related to photography.
Frances Benjamin Johnston was an early pioneer for women in the field of photography and photojournalism. Born in 1864 in Grafton, West Virginia, Johnston studied art in Maryland and later at the Académie Julien in Paris. Her high-profile family connection with the Eastman family as well as her insatiable appetite for knowledge about photographic processes quickly propelled her to a formidable professional career. Her work appeared in publications such as The Ladies' Home Journal, Harper's Weekly, and Cosmopolitan, among others. As an apprentice to Thomas W. Smillie, Johnston was engaged to photograph the 1893 World's Fair: Columbian Exposition in Chicago. She made Washington D.C. her home and had the opportunity to photograph a large number of high profile individuals and government officials, including five United States presidents. Her photography often documented mundane and commonplace aspects of life rather than spectacular or prominent ones. Later in her career she focused her photography on colonial architecture, with images of houses, barns, and other buildings that intentionally showed everyday life in the United States South rather than high profile structures which had already been well-documented. She moved to New Orleans in 1940 and died in 1952.
Materials at the Smithsonian Institution
Smithsonian Institution Archives
Records, circa 1883-1984 (SIA RU000529)
Field Research Photographs, circa 1909-1924 (SIA Acc. 02-086)
Personnel Records, 1892-1952 (SIA Acc. 05-123)
Collected Registers, 1908-1912 and undated (SIA Acc. 06-138)
National Anthropological Archives
Glass Negatives of Indians (Collected by Bureau of American Ethnology)
Immediate source of acquisition unknown.
The collection is open for research. Reference photograph copies should be used where possible. Gloves must be worn when handling unprotected photographs and negatives. Special care is required when handling the glass plate negatives both because of their large size and because some of the negatives are broken.
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.
The papers of Joseph Cornell (1903-1972) measure approximately 24.9 linear feet and date from 1804 to 1986 with the bulk of the material dating from 1939-1972. The collection documents the life, work, interests, and creative activities of the self-taught artist, who was best known for his shadow box constructions, assemblages, and collages. Papers include correspondence, diaries, source material, notes, writings, photographs, printed material, two- and three-dimensional ephemera, art works, and books, as well as a limited amount of legal and financial records, and some miscellaneous personal and family papers. The collection also includes the papers of his sister, Betty Cornell Benton, relating to the handling of Cornell's estate and the personal papers of his brother, Robert Cornell.
Scope and Content Note:
The Joseph Cornell papers measure approximately 24.9 linear feet and date from 1804 to 1986, with the bulk of the material dating from 1939-1972. The collection documents the life, work, interests, and creative activities of the self-taught artist, who was best known for his shadow box constructions, assemblages, and collages. Papers include correspondence, diaries, source material, notes, writings, photographs, printed material, two- and three-dimensional ephemera, art works, and books, as well as a limited amount of legal and financial records, and some miscellaneous personal and family papers (which comprise a series of biographical material). The collection also includes the papers of his sister, Betty Cornell Benton, relating to the handling of Cornell's estate and the personal papers of his brother, Robert Cornell.
Cornell's correspondence is typically with family, friends, artists, dealers, collectors, galleries, museums, admirers, individuals whom he admired, "helpers," and various charitable institutions. Correspondence generally concerns the creation, exhibition, sale, and reception of Cornell's art work; his "explorations" and other research and collecting activities; his preoccupations with certain individuals and motifs; his usual practices of giving gifts of art work to those he liked or admired and making donations to charities in aid of those less fortunate; and his relationships and shared interests with family, friends, and colleagues. Also found is correspondence between and amongst various other members of the Cornell family, including, most notably, Robert Cornell's letters to his sisters, Elizabeth (typically addressed as Nell) and Helen.
Dating from 1941 to 1972, Cornell's diaries span almost the entirety of his career as an artist, which began in earnest when he left his job at the Traphagen textile studio in 1940 to pursue art full-time and ended with his death in 1972. The diaries record his day-to-day experiences (usually comprising his thoughts, feelings, impressions, and ideas); and reflect on his various art projects (boxes, films, and collages) and creative activities ("explorations," and various other research, collecting, and publishing ventures). They also explore many of the themes and underlying concerns of his art work; and document his intense preoccupations with certain individuals, his wide-ranging interests, and the interconnectedness of his ideas and activities. Cornell's style of writing in the diaries tends to be stream-of-conscious with entries being composed of phrases, rather than complete sentences and with the progression of passages being more poetic and associative than either logical or narrative. He tended to compose by hand, occasionally typing up his notes into more formal entries, and also to use abbreviations for oft-repeated words and initials for individuals. At times, his handwriting can be difficult to read, and his references can be difficult to decipher. It was also common practice for him to review or revisit previous entries at various points in time, often making revisions or comments on them with dated annotations in the margins or on the reverse side of a page.
Cornell's source material is largely comprised of files of newspaper and magazine clippings, cutouts, notes, writings, book excerpts, photostats (or stats), prints, postcards, art reproductions, and other printed material. Some files are devoted to people (ballerinas, actresses, singers, artists, and writers) and topics (astronomy, romantic and modern ballet, birds, films, literature, music, plants, and science, among others). Other files relate to specific art works, "explorations," publishing projects, and exhibitions. Source material documents Cornell's preoccupation with certain individuals (past and present), events, subjects, and motifs; the development of some of his major "explorations" and their influence on his various artistic and commercial projects; and his work on certain box constructions and collages, publishing ventures, and exhibition catalogues. Source material also sheds light on Cornell's efforts to gain access to the past; his interest in the symbolism of images and objects; the linkages he found between seemingly unrelated things; and the connections between his many creative endeavors.
Ephemera and artifacts include various objects, mementos, and items of memorabilia, some of which were accumulated by Cornell (in much the same way that he collected his source material) and some of which are of uncertain origin. For Cornell, items such as these were not merely inanimate objects, but were instead evocative of past worlds and capable of bringing the past into the present (an idea which he often expressed in his diaries as the "metaphysique d'ephemera"). He seems to have used some of these items in a layout he designed for Good Housekeeping. Other items may have been used as source material for some of his box constructions.
The collection also houses photographs of Cornell, his family, art work, other artists, and friends, as well as photographs taken by various individuals and publicity photographs from the New York City Ballet. Also found are scattered works of art, including collage fragments and Rorschachs (or ink blot drawings) by Cornell, collages by Cornell's sister, Betty Cornell Benton, on which he collaborated, and a box by Christine Kaufman, which was a gift to Cornell. The books in the collection most likely comprise the remainder of Cornell's library, which was transferred to the Joseph Cornell Study Center, and include some that seem to have belonged to his sister, Betty. Printed material includes various publications and clippings collected by Cornell apart from that which he collected as source material. Writings about Cornell include an article by the poet, Mina Loy, and copies of various theses, presentations, and articles by graduate students in art history received by Benton (who assisted them in their research).
The Joseph Cornell Estate Papers consist of correspondence relating to Betty Cornell Benton's administration of the part of Cornell's estate for which she was responsible and legal documents relating to her various legal disputes with the executors of the estate, as well as a limited amount of printed material, some of which was originally accumulated by Cornell and subsequently shared with Benton, and miscellaneous papers belonging to Benton and their mother, Helen S. Cornell. Estate Papers provide insight on the exhibition and sale of Cornell art works after his death; the disposition of his belongings (including art work, papers, books, records, and source material); and Benton's efforts to foster and safeguard the memory and legacy of Cornell. The Robert Cornell Papers include correspondence, writings, art works, photographs, printed material, and scattered financial and personal records, documenting the full and creative life Robert led despite being confined to a wheelchair. Their inclusion in the collection suggests the family's effort to foster Robert's memory.
The collection is arranged into eleven series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1918-1972, 1975 (Box 1; 0.8 linear feet)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1909-1982 (Boxes 1-5, OV 31; 4.3 linear feet)
Series 3: Diaries, 1941-1973 (Boxes 6-10; 5 linear feet)
Series 4: Source Material, 1804-1972 (Boxes 11-18, 25-28, OV 29; 8.5 linear feet)
Series 5: Ephemera and Artifacts, 1858-1946 (Boxes 18, 23; 0.8 linear feet)
Series 6: Photographs, circa 1905-1972 (Boxes 18, 28, OV 30; 0.3 linear feet)
Series 7: Art Works, circa 1966-1971 (Boxes 19, 23; 0.2 linear feet)
Series 8: Books and Printed Material, 1806-1968 (Boxes 19, 23; 0.5 linear feet)
Series 9: Writings about Cornell, 1950, circa 1975-1980 (Box 19; 0.3 linear feet)
Series 10: Joseph Cornell Estate Papers, circa 1911, 1944-1986 (Boxes 19-22; 3.5 linear feet)
Series 11: Robert Cornell Papers, 1924-1965 (Boxes 24, 28; 0.4 linear feet)
Joseph Cornell, assemblagist, collagist, and filmmaker, was born on December 24, 1903 in Nyack, New York. He was the oldest son of Joseph I. Cornell, a textile salesman and designer, and Helen Storms Cornell, and had two younger sisters, Elizabeth (b. 1905), nicknamed Nell and later Betty, and Helen (b. 1906), and a younger brother, Robert (b. 1910), who suffered from cerebral palsy. Cornell shared close relationships with his siblings, and was especially attached to his brother whom he took care of as an adult. His fondest childhood memories included family Christmas celebrations, outings to Manhattan where he saw vaudeville shows and strolled around Times Square, and trips to Coney Island where he encountered penny arcade machines. These childhood memories, among others, inspired some of the themes later explored in his art work.
After his father's death in 1917, Cornell was sent to study at the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. He remained there for four years, but left without receiving a diploma. During this time, the family moved from Nyack to Bayside, Queens, where they lived in a series of rented houses. Cornell rejoined his family in 1921, at which time he went to work as a salesman in the Manhattan office of a textile wholesaler, the William Whitman Company. He joined the Christian Science church in the mid-1920s, and in 1929, the family bought a house at 37-08 Utopia Parkway in Flushing, where he resided for the rest of his life, living there with his mother and brother after both his sisters married and moved away.
During the 1920s, Cornell developed his passion for walking the city streets and taking in their sights, sounds, and impressions; browsing in the secondhand bookshops along Fourth Avenue; and collecting material such as books, prints, postcards, and printed and three-dimensional ephemera. He cultivated his growing interest in culture and the arts by attending opera and ballet performances, seeing plays (the 1922 play Rain, which starred Jeanne Eagels, was among his favorites), visiting galleries and museums, reading, and going to the movies.
In 1931, Cornell began to frequent the Julien Levy Gallery, where he encountered Surrealist art for perhaps the first time. Around this time, he created his first works of art - a series of black-and-white collages composed from cutouts of nineteenth-century engravings - inspired by Max Ernst's collages, in particular his collage-novel, La Femme 100 tetes (1929). Cornell went on to create three-dimensional works of art such as pill boxes and a glass bell series (consisting of objects arranged under a bell jar). His work, including several collages and a glass bell, was first exhibited as part of the groundbreaking "Surrealisme" show at the Levy Gallery in January 1932. He also designed the cover of the show announcement. His first one-man show at the gallery, "The Objects of Joseph Cornell," followed in the fall of 1932. (It was seven years before his next solo show.) By this time, Cornell had been laid off from his job at Whitman's. He was out of work for several years before getting a job as a textile designer at the Traphagen Commercial Textile Studio in 1934. During the next several years, he continued to work on his art at night.
Around this time, Cornell began collecting movies and movie stills, and embarked upon various film-related projects. In 1933, he wrote a scenario for a silent movie, Monsieur Phot. A few years later, he made his first film, Rose Hobart (1936), comprised of re-edited footage from the B-movie, East of Borneo (1931), which starred the actress, Rose Hobart. And he began work on a trilogy of collage-films - The Children's Party, Cotillion, and The Midnight Party (circa 1937). He then took a break from making films until the mid-1950s, but continued to collect film-related material, which he began to incorporate into his other art work.
In 1936, Cornell constructed his first glass-fronted shadow box, Untitled (Soap Bubble Set), which was included that same year in the "Fantastic Art, Dada and Surrealism" exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, along with a cabinet box and several glass bells. In creating some of his other early boxes, he began the practice of using photo reproductions of images which he located in books and magazines, or in the Picture Collection at the New York Public Library, among other places. In his tribute boxes to actresses (1930s), he made use of publicity shots, and in the box, Dressing Room for Gilles (1939), he employed a photostat (or stat) of a reproduction of Jean-Antoine Watteau's painting, Gilles (1718).
Over the years, Cornell came into contact with various figures of the art, dance, and literary worlds. In the 1930s and 1940s, he met the artists, Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, and Salvador Dali, and befriended the artists, Lee Miller and Dorothea Tanning. His formative friendships during 1940s were with the artist, Pavel Tchelitchew, the writers, Charles Henri Ford (founder of the avant-garde periodical, View), Parker Tyler, and Donald Windham, and the balletomane, Lincoln Kirstein (founder of Dance Index). His other friends included the artists, Roberto Matta Echaurren and Robert Motherwell, the dancer and actress, Tilly Losch, and the poets, Mina Loy and Marianne Moore. In the 1950s, he associated with artists from the Abstract Expressionist movement, including Willem de Kooning, Jack Tworkov, and Mark Rothko. Beginning in the mid-1950s, he befriended many young artists, including Lee Bontecou and Carolee Schneeman, and young actresses, including Lois Smith, Gwen Van Dam, and Suzanne Miller, whom he sought to appear in his films. And in the early 1960s, he met the Pop artists, Robert Indiana, James Rosenquist, and Andy Warhol.
Beginning in 1940, Cornell developed a keen interest in dance, particularly ballet. Ballerinas from the Romantic era, such as Marie Taglioni and Fanny Cerrito, especially captured his imagination, inspiring such works as the box, Taglioni's Jewel Casket (1940), and the Portrait of Ondine "exploration," which comprised a portfolio of material relating to Cerrito and her famous role in the ballet, Ondine. Cornell was also fascinated with the modern counterparts of the Romantic ballerinas. In 1940, he befriended the Russian ballet dancer, Tamara Toumanova, and over the years produced many works in homage to her, including swan boxes (inspired by her role in Swan Lake), boxes made with scraps from her costumes, and scrapbooks of clippings, stats, and memorabilia. In 1949, he became enamored of the French dancer, Renee "Zizi" Jeanmarie, after seeing her perform in Carmen and meeting her backstage, and he created several dance-related boxes in her honor. In 1957, he met the ballerina, Allegra Kent. After meeting again in 1964, they became friends, and she served as the subject of several works based on images reproduced from a Parmigianino painting.
In December 1940, Cornell left his job at the Traphagen textile studio to pursue art full-time. He set up a workshop in the basement of the house on Utopia Parkway, which served as a combination studio and storage space. While he spent most days at home, he continued to make regular trips into Manhattan to wander around the city, visit with friends, and hunt for material. Around this time, he began to keep a diary, recording his day-to-day experiences (usually comprising his thoughts, feelings, impressions, ideas) on scraps of paper (including used envelopes, paper bags, napkins, and ticket stubs, among other fragments). He would then type up some of these notes into more formal diary entries, but most of them remained, in his word, "scribblings." Diary keeping eventually became one of his primary activities, along with box construction, collage, research, and collecting.
By this time, his art work was beginning to sell, yet he was not able to live from these sales alone. During the 1940s, he primarily supported himself by doing freelance work for magazines such as Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and Good Housekeeping, supplying illustrations from his picture collection and designing covers and layouts. He also regularly contributed pieces to View and Dance Index. His notable contributions to View included "Enchanted Wanderer: Excerpt from a Journey Album for Hedy Lamarr" (December 1941), "Story Without a Name - for Max Ernst" (April 1942), and "The Crystal Cage [portrait of Berenice]" (January 1943). His projects for Dance Index included various collage-covers, essays, and thematic issues, such as the Summer 1944 issue, which comprised a 22-page tribute to the Romantic ballerinas, Taglioni, Carlotta Grisi, Cerrito, and Fanny Elssler. To supplement his income, Cornell also held brief positions at an electronics plant, the Allied Control Company, Inc. (in 1943), and at a nursery, the Garden Centre (in 1944).
In 1942, Cornell created one of his more memorable works, Medici Slot Machine, embarking upon a large series of Medici boxes in which he utilized reproductions of portraits by Italian Renaissance artists, such as Sofonisba Anguissola and Pinturicchio. His other boxes from this time period explored themes ranging from ballet, as in A Pantry Ballet (for Jacques Offenbach) (1942), to doomed love, as in Paolo and Francesca (1943-48), to nature, as in the Sand Boxes (1940s) and Sand Fountains (1950s). Cornell often created boxes in series, producing variations on a theme with variants that differed significantly or only slightly. Over the years, series included: Pink Palaces, Pharmacies, Habitats, Aviaries, Dovecotes, Hotels, Observatories, and Night Skies, among others.
In late 1945, Cornell joined the Hugo Gallery, which was run by Alexander Iolas, and a year later mounted the show, "Romantic Museum at the Hugo Gallery: Portraits of Women by Joseph Cornell" (December 1946). He designed the exhibition catalog for this show, which consisted of portraits - box constructions, objects, and "dossiers" - of the opera singers, Giuditta Pasta and Maria Malibran, the ballerinas, Taglioni and Cerrito, and the actresses, Eleanora Duse, Jeanne Eagels, Greta Garbo, and Jennifer Jones, and which also featured one of his most famous boxes, Untitled (Penny Arcade Portrait of Lauren Bacall) (1945-46).
In 1949, Cornell joined the Egan Gallery, which was run by Charles Egan. Around this time, he began creating his series of Aviary boxes, which explored the symbolism of birds and birdcages. He showed twenty-six of these box constructions in his first exhibition at the Egan Gallery, "Aviary by Joseph Cornell" (December 1949-January 1950). He created other series of whitewashed boxes, including the Dovecote series and a small group relating to the poet, Emily Dickinson. He then went on to explore the themes of astronomy and celestial navigation in the Observatory, Night Skies, and Hotel series. Works from these series were featured in his two remaining shows at the Egan Gallery, "Night Songs and Other Work" (December 1950-January 1951) and "Night Voyage" (February-March 1953). In the fall of 1953, sparked by seeing the painting, Figure Seated in a Cafe (1914), Cornell embarked upon a major series of bird constructions dedicated to the Cubist artist, Juan Gris. Notably, these were the only boxes he explicitly dedicated to another artist.
Over the next couple of years, Cornell's work was exhibited across the country. In 1955, he joined the Stable Gallery, which was run by Eleanor Ward. His first one-man show there, in the winter of 1955-56, was "Winter Night Skies," which featured various box constructions based on constellations. During the mid-1950s, he embarked upon a series of Sand Fountains (vertical standing boxes featuring a broken glass and sand that flowed through it when turned upside down), elaborating upon his earlier Sand Boxes (1940s). These boxes along with some of his other latest works, including the Bleriot boxes and the Space Object boxes (which comprised his final box series), were exhibited in his second and last show at the Stable Gallery, "Selected Works" (December 1957).
After leaving the Stable Gallery, Cornell had several dealers handle his work rather than allowing any one to assume too much control. Dealers included Richard Feigen (in Chicago and then in New York) and Irving Blum (in California), among others. Throughout his career, Cornell never liked selling his boxes. He was always reluctant to let his work go and became increasingly uneasy about the growing status of his work as a commodity. He preferred instead to make gifts of his art work to friends and individuals he admired (especially female ones).
In the mid-1950s, Cornell returned to making films. Rather than just splicing together found images as he had in his films of the 1930s, he began to collaborate with others to shoot original footage. He worked with the experimental filmmaker, Stan Brakhage, on two films, one about the Third Ave El which was about to be torn down ( Wonder Ring or Gnir Rednow) and the other about an old house in Cornell's neighborhood that was slated for demolition ( Centuries of June). Cornell then went on to make nine films with the filmmaker, Rudy Burckhardt, including Aviary, A Legend for Fountains, and Nymphlight, among others. In the late 1960s, he enlisted the help of Larry Jordan, who was also a filmmaker, in completing the trilogy of collage-films that he had begun in the 1930s.
Along with creating works of art and making films, Cornell was involved in a host of other creative endeavors throughout his career as an artist. These included: keeping a diary, which was for him another medium for exploring and expressing the themes, ideas, and concerns recurrent in his art work; carrying out "explorations," which typically involved conducting research, collecting material, and compiling files on persons or topics of interest to him; and other projects, such as publishing pamphlets (or brochures) dedicated to the nineteenth-century opera singers, Malibran and Giulia Grisi. Cornell's "explorations" clearly informed his artwork, but they were also works of art in and of themselves. He continually sought to share this work with an audience and twice had the opportunity to do so, when he exhibited versions of his Portrait of Ondine "exploration" at the Museum of Modern Art in 1945 and at the Wittenborn Bookstore in 1956.
Around the mid-1950s, Cornell returned to making collages as independent works of art. Unlike his earlier ones, which were composed from cutouts of black-and-white engravings, his latest collages were made with color images cut out of contemporary magazines and books. In these collages, he explored many of the same themes and preoccupations of his box constructions, including birds, as in Couleur de Peche (1967) and Untitled (Vierge Vivace) (1970), children's games, as in the Penny Arcade series (1960s), and actresses, as in The Sister Shades (1956). Towards the end of his career, collage became his principal medium.
By this time, Cornell was taking fewer trips into Manhattan. Instead, he spent more time at home or traveled only so far as downtown Flushing, where he frequented the public library, hunted for material in stores, such as Woolworth's, and passed time in the coffee-shops on Main Street. From this time on, he kept his diary with increasing regularity, taking down notations with more frequency and creating entries of greater length.
In 1961, fourteen of Cornell's boxes, including Medici Slot Machine, were exhibited as part of the "The Art of Assemblage" show at the Museum of Modern Art. As his biographer notes, Cornell came to view this show "as a turning point in his creative life," marking the "[fall] off in his work" that took place in the sixties (Solomon 271-2). He continued to work on boxes that he had begun long before, but, after this time, rarely if ever constructed new ones. Instead, he focused on making collages and became increasingly concerned with other projects, such as organizing his basement workshop, for which he hired various "helpers" or assistants (mostly young women) over the years. He also became more and more prone to obsessions (or preoccupations, as he called them) with various young women that he encountered both in fantasy (actresses on stage or in films) and in real life (working girls in the city, "teeners" on Main Street, or his female visitors and "helpers" at home). These preoccupations infused his diary writings, and inspired the keeping of "dossiers" on particular individuals and the creation of various collages dedicated to others, including most notably the Penny Arcade series dedicated to Joyce Hunter (or "Tina," as he referred to her in his writings).
After Robert's death in February 1965, Cornell created a series of collages in his memory, many of which incorporated his brother's drawings of animal characters. In January 1966, he exhibited some of these collages, alongside a selection of Robert's drawings, in a show at the Robert Schoelkopf Gallery, "Robert Cornell: Memorial Exhibition." In 1967, there were two retrospective exhibitions of Cornell's work, "An Exhibition of Works by Joseph Cornell" at the Pasadena Art Museum and "Joseph Cornell" at the Guggenheim Museum. By now, Cornell was receiving considerable public recognition for his work. He had received his first profile (by Howard Griffin) in the December 1957 issue of Art News and, ten years later, was treated to a 12-page spread (by David Bourdon) in the December 1967 issue of Life magazine. He was also the recipient of various prizes for his art work, including the M.V Kohnstamm Prize at the Art Institute of Chicago's "62nd American Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture" in 1957 and the winning prize in India's first Triennale of Contemporary World Art in 1968.
In the last years of his life (especially from the time of his mother's death in the fall of 1966), Cornell suffered from severe depression and loneliness, and withdrew even further from the outside world. However, he still maintained relationships with various young friends and artists, who frequently visited Utopia Parkway and/or served as one of his assistants. He became more and more interested in sharing his work with a younger audience and his last two exhibitions in 1972 were expressly for children, "A Joseph Cornell Exhibition for Children" at the Cooper Union School of Art and Architecture and "Joseph Cornell - Collages and Boxes" at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York.
Cornell continued to work until the end of his life, "refurbishing" earlier boxes and creating memorial collages. Following prostate surgery in June 1972, he spent several months recuperating with family in Westhampton before returning to Utopia Parkway in November. He died of heart failure at home on December 29, 1972.
The biographical note draws heavily from Deborah Solomon's biography, Utopia Parkway: The Life and Work of Joseph Cornell (New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 1997), and Diane Waldman's book, Joseph Cornell: Master of Dreams (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2002).
The Archives holds several collections of different provenance that relate to Joseph Cornell, including the small collections of Allison Delarue (comprised of two letters from Cornell, available on reel 2803), Muriel Streeter Schwartz (comprised of two letters from Cornell, available on reel 4283), Wayne Andrews (comprised of letters from Cornell and printed material), and Marion Netter (comprised of items received from Cornell). In addition, photographs of Cornell can be found amongst the Hans Namuth photographs and papers. Also found within the Archives is a transcribed interview of Cornell's sister, Elizabeth Cornell Benton, conducted on April 21, 1976 as part of the oral history program.
The bulk of Cornell's source material resides in the Joseph Cornell Study Center, Smithsonian American Art Museum, along with his library and record collection. Cornell's sister, Betty Cornell Benton, donated a portion of this material directly to SAAM (then known as the National Museum of American Art), occasioning the creation of the Study Center circa 1978. The bulk of the source material and library that she donated to AAA, including approximately 66 linear feet of three-dimensional and non-textual source material and 50 linear feet of books, was transferred to the Study Center in 1994 and 1995.
Originals of loaned material returned to the donor after microfilming include: some unidentified and miscellaneous correspondence; significant correspondence between Joseph Cornell and Helen S. Cornell; significant correspondence between Helen S. Cornell, family members and others; and some of Joseph Cornell's family correspondence and general correspondence from the Robert Cornell papers. The loaned material is available on microfilm reels 1055-1058 but is not described further in the Series Descriptions/Container Listing of this finding aid.
The Joseph Cornell papers were donated and microfilmed in several installments from 1974 to 1989 by Joseph Cornell's sister, Betty Cornell Benton. Most, but not all, of the correspondence, which was loaned for microfilming in 1974, was subsequently donated in 1989. Additional material was donated in 2004 by the Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation.
Use of the original papers requires an appointment.
The Joseph Cornell 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.
Images of Near Eastern art objects, world sites, and architectural sites. The slide collection contains irreplaceable images of textiles, art objects and architectural sites from the Middle East and Iran. Highlights of the collection are the textile, Sasanian metal works and Middle Eastern and Iranian architectural sites.
Biographical / Historical:
Dorothy Shepherd (1916-1992), Curator of Textiles and Near Eastern Art for the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA, 1954-81), was one of only a few female museum curators in the United States in the 1960s and was internationally known for her scholarship in medieval textiles and ancient Near Eastern and Islamic art. She was born in Welland, Ontario, Canada. A graduate of the University of Michigan, she worked towards a Ph.D. at the Institute of Fine Arts (NYC) and New York University. From 1942-44, Shepherd was assistant curator in decoration for the Cooper Union Museum of Arts (NYC), and during WWII, worked for the Office of War Information in London, Luxembourg, Frankfurt and Berlin. Shepherd came to Cleveland in 1947 as assistant curator of textiles at the CMA. In 1954, the museum designated her as official curator of textiles and Near Eastern Art. She became chief curator of textiles and Islamic Art in 1979, a position she held until retiring. Shepherd married architect Ernst Payer on 22 March 1951. After her husband's death in 1981, Shepherd moved first to Florida then to Asheville, NC, where she died.
Collection is open for research.
Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository.
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
This collection is primarily the work of one individual, Donald Harvey Sultner, known professionally as Donald Sultner-Welles (1914-1981). The collection forms a written and visual record of Sultner's family, life, and career from 1913-1980. Its major strength is Sultner's photographic documentation of the world during his travels, ca. 1950-1980. Work by other photographers and artists, correspondence, greeting cards, and contemporary memorabilia and ephemera are included, along with fewer than fifty examples of earlier materials, ca. 1790-1900, collected by Sultner.
The entire collection reflects Sultner's lifework and interests. Housed in @ boxes (.W cubic feet), the collection is organized into eleven
series: Personal Papers; Professional Papers; Lecture Materials; Biographical Materials; Transparencies; Photoprints; Photonegatives; Prints, Drawings, Mixed Media; Audio Tapes; Miscellaneous; and Restricted Materials. The arrangement within each series is based as closely as possi-ble on Sultner's own organization of the materials. However, in several instances similar materials were found separated and have been placed together. In addition, obvious filing mistakes and spelling errors have been corrected. The spelling of geographic place names is based on Offi-cial Standard Names prepared by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, Of-fice of Geography, U.S. Department of the Interior. Not all names given by Sultner were found in the gazetteers, so there may be errors.
The bulk of the collection consists of 2-1/4-inch by 2-1/4-inch color transparencies (Series 5). However, the manuscript materials (Series 1-4) provide a detailed complement to the transparencies. For example, from the mid-1950s until the late 1970s, Sultner kept a travel diary (Se-ries 1). Written on the backs of postcards, this stream-of-consciousness journal reflects not only his daily trips, but his impressions of the countries and thoughts on his photography. A juxtaposition of cards with images is especially useful in understanding what Sultner photographed as well as why and how he photographed it. Sultner's professional corre-spondence (Series 2) documents the various types of groups before which he performed and equipment manufacturers dealt with for cameras, projectors, and so on. Notes, drafts, and final lectures (Series 3) present the performance side of Sultner. This material, when viewed with tapes of concerts and slides, begins to recreate the photo-concert as Sultner presented it. Scrapbooks (Series 4), kept by Sultner from the 1940s to the 1980s, present Sultner's life and career in chronological fashion.
The transparency portion of the collection (Series 5), containing over 87,000 images, is especially rich because of its documentation of the countries of the world. People are seen at their daily tasks, such as washing clothes, marketing, shopping, and eating. Cities are documented as they changed over the years. Two areas in particular will be of spe-cial interest to European and Asian researchers. The first is Sultner's USIS Asian tour in 1959. He visited Japan, Java, India, Korea, the Phil-ippines, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. The serene, prewar cities and coun-tryside of Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam evince nothing of the devastation to come in the 1960a and 70s.
The second area of interest is Sultner's passion for documenting archi-tecture. As a guest of the German government in 1954, Sultner documented the devastation of World War II and photographed both the reconstruction of bombed buildings and the construction of buildings reflecting "new" postwar architectural styles. In addition to photographing post-WW II styles, throughout his career Sultner documented Palladian, baroque and Rococo architecture. This interest manifested itself in several of his lectures.
A third subject area of interest to Sultner was gardens. Among his first lectures following his USIS tour was "Gardens of the World." Sultner de-veloped this theme into an ongoing commitment to ecology, culminating in a filmstrip, "The Time is Now" (Series 10), prepared for the Hudson River Conservation Society in the 1960s. Carl Carmer, a noted author, wrote the text for the filmstrip. Sultner's taped interviews, lectures, and program music (Series 9) complement the transparencies. During his USIS-sponsored Asian tour in 1959, Sultner recorded impressions of his trip on tape. Interviews with people living in the countries he visited, radio interviews, and his own personal reflections are included. Of particular interest are his "No Harm Asking" interviews in Manila (tape #2), his interview of two French hotel managers in Saigon discussing post-French control conditions (tape #9), and--perhaps the most unusual--his discussion with Erna Hanfstaengl about her personal relationship with Adolf Hitler (tape #107). Scripts for lectures (Series 3) round out the documentation of Sultner's profes-sional work.
Because of the arrangement of the transparencies, it is necessary to check several areas for the same subject. For example, Vietnam images are in the "World" section alphabetically under Vietnam (box 81). Sult-ner also lectured on Vietnam, so there are Vietnamese images in the "framed subjects" (Boxes 137-138). Another example, perhaps more compli-cated, but more common to Sultner, was his distinguishing between images of unidentified "People" and identified "Portraits." Transparency stud ies of human beings will be found under the subseries "People." "Subjects --Portraits," various countries in the subseries "World," and "Lectures." There are also individuals in the black-and-white photoprints (Series 6), and photonegatives (Series 8). The painter and print-maker Charles Shee-ler appears in a number of locations, as does tenor Roland Hayes. Another area of complexity with regard to people concerns the transparencies and negatives. Sultner interfiled his transparencies and negatives of iden-tified individuals. For appropriate storage, these two different formats have been arranged in separate series. Therefore, instead of container lists for the two series, there is a combined alphabetical index to both (pp. 166-206).
Of tangential interest are the photoprints (Series 6), etchings, wood-cuts, and other prints (Series 8) collected by Sultner. One particular subseries of interest contains photographs presented to Sultner by Asian photographers during his 1959 tour. Over 45 images were given to Sultner and represent the standards of camera-club photography in the 1950s. Thesecond subseries consists of over 25 prints by the Italian-American art-ist Luigi Lucioni (1900- ). For further information on this artist,see The Etchings of Luigi Lucioni, -A Catalogue Raisonne', by Stuart P.Embury (Washington, 1984). Lucioni also painted Sultner's portrait in1952 and the "People" section of the transparencies contains a number of images of Lucioni at work. Another significant category is the Japanese prints, including two by a major nineteenth-century artist, Ando Hiro-shige (1797-1858).
Series 11 contains restricted letters to Sultner from friends. These materials will become available to the public in the year 2031.
Twenty-three document boxes of clippings and magazine articles found in standard magazines and newspapers (e.g., Time, Life, Look, Modern Ma-turity, etc.) were destroyed. These materials represented general arti--cles being published on a number of topics during Sultner's lifetime. A list of subject file headings Sultner used is with the manuscript mate-rials.
A second grouping of materials destroyed were nine filing cabinet drawers of travel material--maps, guide books, and other tourist pamphlets used by Sultner on his travels. This material, as with the first group of ma-terial, was of the common variety easily found. Any books or pamphlets found with the clippings were sorted out and sent to Smithsonian Institu-tion Libraries. Other library material that came in with the estate was sent immediately to the library and disposed of through their channels. Any office equipment, such as filing cabinets and supplies, etc., has been put to use in the National Museum of American History.
Series 1: Personal Papers, 1923-1981
Series 2: Professional Papers, 1954-1980
Series 3: Lecture Materials, 1952-1980
Series 4: Biographical Materials, 1954-1980
Series 5: Transparencies, 1947-1980
Series 6: Photoprints, 1913-ca. 1980
Series 7: Photonegatives, 1929-1981
Series 8: Prints, Drawings, Mixed Media, ca. 1790-1979
Series 9: Audio Tapes, 1947-1980
Series 10: Miscellaneous, 1947-1980
Biographical / Historical:
Donald Harvey Sultner was bom in York, Pennsylvania, on April 13, 1914, the son of Lillian May Arnold Sultner and Harvey A. Sultner. In 1923 Sultner attended the Lewis Institute in Detroit, Michigan, to overcome a speech impediment. He entered the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1932 and graduated in 1936. Sultner studied merchandising and sang in the glee club, then under the direction of composer Harl MacDonald. Sultner, a baritone, continued his interest in music and studied voice with Reinald Werrenrath and with Florence Benedict and Bruce Benjamin in New York City. In the late 1940s and early 1950s he appeared in concert with accompanists at schools, clubs, and resort hotels along the East Coast.
It appears that photography was always an important part of Sultner's life. Using a small format (120) camera, he recorded his vacation travels around the United States and Canada, parties, and his family. While living in New York, Sultner continued photographing friends and family and began photographing the famous people he encountered on his concert tours. In the early 1950s he began taking 2-1/4-inch by 2-1/4-inch color transparencies (slides) of landscapes and architecture as he traveled giving concerts.
Sultner, who had taken the stage name of "Sultner-Welles," began what was to be his lifework as a professional "photo-lecturer" in 1952. He illustrated his talks on nature, art, architecture, and the environment with his color slides. In 1954 Sultner toured West Germany as a guest of the Bonn government, and in 1959 he lectured in Asia under the auspices of the U.S. State Department. He was dubbed the "camera ambassador." Constantly adding new material to his collection of slides, Sultner traveled extensively throughout the United States, speaking before garden clubs, cultural organi-zations, and schools. He also appeared aboard various ships of the Holland-America line during a number of cruises abroad.
Sultner had established his performance style by the early 1960s. He expanded his lectures to include a combination of art, words, and music. The expanded presentation resulted in the "photo-concert," a unique synthesis of light and sound that Sultner frequently per-formed with a symphony orchestra. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra commissioned "Concertino for Camera and Orchestra" by Eric Knight with Sultner in mind. The world premiere was in Baltimore in March 1979. While he spoke on many art, garden, and architectural topics, Sultner specialized in subjects relating to the baroque and rococo periods and Palladian architecture.
Sultner died of cancer in York, Pennsylvania, on March 25, 1981, at the age of 67.
1914 -- April 13, born York, Pennsylvania.
1929 -- In Detroit at Lewis Institute to overcome a speech impediment.
1932 -- To University of Pennsylvania.
1935 -- Summer trip to Roanoke (VA), Picketts, Hershey (PA); fall trip to New England for fraternity (AXP) convention.
1936 -- Spring glee club trip; graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania; summer trips to Newport News (VA), northern trip to Canada, Picketts (PA).
1937 -- Fall trip to Williamsburg (VA), Duke University (NC); Sultner family begins building "Glen Hill" (Dover, PA).
1938 -- Summer at home, and Picketts (PA), Camp Pratt.
1939 -- Spring trip to Washington, D.C.; September trip to The Homestead (WV), Hot Springs (WV), Virginia; Lake Mohonk (NY).
1940 -- Summer trip to New Orleans, Blowing Rock (NC); winter trip to Skytop Club (NY); fall trip to Atlantic City (NJ), Philadelphia (PA), Annapolis (MD).
1941 -- Winter 1941-42 appearance in "Hit the Deck." Lake Mohonk (NY) with Ted Walstrum (Sept. 22-23); Skytop Club (NY) (February); summer trip to Canada, Lake Chazy (NY) (Aug. 17-23).
1942 -- Spring in Atlantic City (NJ); summer to Buck Hill Falls, Lakes Chazy and Mohonk.
1943 -- Summer trip to Mohonk (NY).
1944 -- Summer: To Toronto (Ontario), Muskoka Lake, Bigwin Island, Montreal (Quebec), Mohonk (NY).
1946 -- To Mohonk (NY), Ogunquit (ME), Old Saybrook (CT), Nantucket (RI).
1947 -- Singing tour of Canada and New England; winter-spring tour to Georgia and Florida.
1948 -- To Florida and Nassau, Feb.-Mar., Vermont, July-Aug.; Nassau-Havana-Miami-Bermuda, October.
1949 -- Singing tour of North and South Carolina.
1950 -- Summer trip to South.
1951 -- To District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, [New Jersey?], New York, Vermont.
1952 -- January 9: first public photo-concert, Pennsylvania Academy of the Arts, Philadelphia; trips to Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont.
1953 -- To Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont.
1954 -- Guest of German government for a study tour in the fall. To District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia.
1955 -- To Holland; Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia.
1956 -- To California, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia.
1957 -- Holland-America Cruise to Germany, Austria, Italy. To Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia.
1958 -- Holland-America Cruises to Germany, Austria, Holland, Italy, Switzerland. To Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota., Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Wisconsin.
1959 -- United States Information Service (USIS)-sponsored tour of Asia: Burma, Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaya, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam. Also visited Austria, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Greece, Iran, Italy, Spain; Alaska, California, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania.
1960 -- Holland-America Cruise to Austria, Belgium, Caribbean, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Morocco. To Arizona, California, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin.
1961 -- To Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland; Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode.Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin.
1962 -- Portfolio, "Autumn in Vermont," with introduction by Carl Carmer, published in Autumn issue of Vermont Life. Holland-America Cruise to Denmark, England, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Sweden. To Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia.
1963 -- Holland-America Cruise to Caribbean, Canada, Sweden, Thailand. To Alabama, California, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, N;w York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington.
1964 -- Holland-America Cruise to Germany, Canada, England, Holland, Wales. To Delaware, District of Columbia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia.
1965 -- Holland-America Cruise to Austria, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, Holland, Portugal, Wales. To Arkansas, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Indiana, Kentucky, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia.
1966 -- Holland-America Cruise to Caribbean, Germany, France, Holland, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland. To New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia.
1967 -- Holland-America Cruise to Caribbean, Austria, Denmark, England, Germany, Holland, Italy, Portugal, Sweden, Wales. To Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia.
1968 -- To Germany; Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia.
1969 -- To England, France, Germany, Holland, Switzerland; Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia.
1970 -- Holland-America Cruise to Caribbean, Denmark, Iceland, Sweden. To Alabama, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia.
1971 -- Holland-America Cruise to Caribbean, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Portugal, Sweden. To Alabama, Georgia, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania.
1972 -- Holland-America Cruise to Asia, Pacific, Caribbean, Africa, Austria, Italy, Japan, Thailand, Turkey. To California, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia.
1973 -- Holland-America Cruise to Austria, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Iceland, Sweden. To California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont.
1974 -- To Germany, Switzerland; California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia.
1975 -- To Austria; California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia.
1976 -- To Canada; Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah.
1977 -- To Canada, Germany; New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia.
1978 -- To Scotland; Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina.
1979 -- To England; Florida.
1980 -- To Florida.
1981 -- March 25: Sultner dies of cancer, York, Pennsylania.
The Donald H. Sultner-Welles Collection, ca. 1790-1981, came to the National Museum of American History in 1982 from the estate of Mr. Sultner. The collection was created by Sultner over his adult life and represents one of the most extensive collections of color transparencies created by one individual and held in a public repository. Sultner's emphasis was on world culture. He took the majority of his photographs in the eastern United States, western Europe, and Asia. Gardens, architecture, and people are the three major subject areas represented in the collection. Of additional interest are Sultner's taped impressions of his 1959 United States Information Service (USIS)-sponsored Asian tour. The collection occupies 309 boxes and covers more than 83 cubic feet.
The Donald H. Sultner-Welles Collection is open to researchers in the Archives Center, third floor east, of the National Museum of American History, between 12th and 14th Streets, on Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20560. The Archives Center is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Written and telephone (202/357-3270) inquiries are welcome and researchers are encouraged to contact the Archives Center before their arrival. The FAX number is 202/786-2453.
This is the eleventh in a series of occasional guides to collections in the Archives Center. Finding aids to other collections are available. The Guide to Manuscript Collections in the National Museum of History and Technology (1978) and an updated compilation contain brief descriptions of all archival holdings in the Museum. All current Archives Center holdings are available for search on the Smithsonian Institution Bibliographic Information System (SIBIS), an online database.
References in notebook to tapes not located:
5/1960 Laddsl--Pasadena, CA (Thornton Ladd, Helen Peabody, me, Mrs. Ladd
Frontispiece: Portrait of Donald Harvey Sultner-Welles by Ludwig Harren, Nuremberg, Germany, May, 1957. Series 6: Photo¬prints, box 6; Series 7: Photonegatives, 700.1.
vii Donald Sultner-Welles inspecting slides at his 2101 E. Market Street apartment. Photograph by Gretchen H. Goughnour, York, Pennsylvania, December 1958. Series 6: Photoprints, box 6, folder 5; Series 7: Photonegatives, Box 11, 696.1.
Sultner-Welles with Rollei, Kobe, Japan, April 1959. Press photograph, photographer unknown. Series 7: Photonegatives, 687.1.
10 Americana by the Roadside" (boy with soda, Beech Creek, North Carolina). Series 5, Subseries 5: Subjects, Box 102: 6.3.
20 "Americana in Europe" (sign: "To the Elephant Kraal," South Africa). Series 5, Subseries 5: Subjects, Box 102: 6.33.
39 North Miami Beach Motel, Florida, February 1960. Series 5, Subseries 1: United States, Box 8: 9.11. SI Neg. 87-326, Videodisc Frame 2942.
40 Beech Creek, North Carolina (portrait of elderly woman), June 1956. Series 5, Subseries 1: United States, Box 28: 12.10. SI Neg. 87-327, Videodisc Frame 10156.
97 Brookgreen Sculpture Garden, South Carolina, ca. 1963. Series 5, Subseries 1: United States, Box 35.35.11. SI Neg. 87-328; Videodisc Frame 12747.
98 "Six Irrigation Paddlers Outside Hue," South Vietnam, 1959. Series 5, Subseries 2: World, Box 81: 35.11; also Series 7: Photonegatives, 658.1 (copy neg.). Videodisc Frame 27960.
151 Alkmaar Cheese Market, The Netherlands, September 1969. Series 5, Subseries 2: World, Box 70: 17.9. SI Neg. 87-329; not shown on videodisc.
152 African Cruise: Victoria Falls, Rhodesia, February 1972. Series 5, Subseries 3: Cruises, Box 83: 9.12. SI Neg. 87-330, Videodisc Frame 28344.
166 Il Galero, Italy, July 1966. Series 5, Subseries 4: European Architectural Styles, Box 99: 48.4. SI neg. 87-331.
179 "Baroque--Germany: Alterding," July 1965. Series 5, Subseries 4: European Architectural Styles, Box 94: 1.8. SI Neg. 87-332, Videodisc Frame 31310.
180 Design Elements, Hotel Fontainebleau, New Orleans,, Louisiana, April, 1961. Series 5, Subseries 5: Subjects, Box 106: 23.2. SI Neg. 87-333, Videodisc Frame 34912.
192 Charles Sheeler, ca. 1957-1965. Series 5, Subseries 9: Lectures, Box 169: 49.2. SI Neg. 87-334. Videodisc Frame 52713.
276 Villa Barbaro, Maser, Treviso, Italy. Series 7. Photonegatives, 715.1. SI Neg. 87-335.
281 "Water--Economics," Storm-Damaged Beach House. Series 5, Subseries 8: Notecard Transparencies, Box 155: 22.12. SI Neg. 87-336.
282 Market in Madeira. Series 5, Subseries 9: Lectures, Box 161: 48.12. SI Neg. 87-337, Videodisc Frame 48435.
298 Children (South Carolina?). Series 5, Subseries 9: Lectures, Box 104: 17.2. SI Neg. 87-338.
311 Goethe Statue, Chicago, Illinois. Series 7: Photonegatives, 678.1.
316 Feeding Gulls, Florida. Series 7. Photonegatives, 684.1.
331 Montage for Sultner's concerts. Series 8: Prints, Drawings, Mixed Media, filing case. Series 7: Photonegatives, 740.1.
332 Sultner Showing Slides to Garden Club, Caterpillar Tractor Co. Auditorium, Dec. 1958. Photograph by Gretchen H. Goughnour, York, Penn. Series 7: Photonegatives, 690.1.
340 Montage for Sultner's concerts. Series 8: Prints, Drawings, Mixed Media, filing case. Series 7: Photonegatives, 742.1.
341 Children, Ohio (boy in box in wagon) Series 5, Subseries 9: Lectures, Box 165: 13.2; Series 7: Photonegatives, 667.4 (copy neg.)
352 Publicity/brochure photograph. Drinking cup and water, Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania. Series 7: Photonegatives, 651.1.
353 Publicity/brochure photograph, Milles Gardens, Stockholm, Sweden. Series 7: Photonegatives, 659.1.
Collection is open for research.
A small number of letters and photographs are restricted until the year 2031. Identification list in box.
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.
The papers of Henry Varnum Poor measure 12.9 linear feet and date from 1873-2001, with the bulk from the period 1904-1970. Correspondence, writings, artwork, printed material and photographs document Poor's work as a painter, muralist, ceramic artist and potter, architect, designer, writer, war artist, educator and a co-founder of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Also found is extensive information about the design and construction of Crow House, his home in New City, New York, commissions for other architectural projects, and his personal life.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of Henry Varnum Poor measure 12.9 linear feet and date from 1873-2001, with the bulk from the period 1904-1970. Correspondence, writings, artwork, printed material and photographs document Poor's work as a painter, muralist, ceramic artist and potter, architect, designer, writer, war artist, educator and a co-founder of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Also found is extensive information about the design and construction of Crow House, his home in New City, New York, commissions for other architectural projects, and his personal life.
Henry Varnum Poor's correspondence documents his personal, family, and professional life. Correspondents include family and friends, among them George Biddle, Charles Burchfield, John Ciardi, Marion V. Dorn (who became his second wife), Philip Evergood, Lewis Mumford, John Steinbeck, David Smith, and Mrs. John Work (Alice) Garrett. Among other correspondents are galleries, museums, schools, organizations, fans, former students, and acquaintances from his military service and travels. Family correspondence consists of Henry's letters to his parents, letters to his parents written by his wife, and letters among other family members.
Among the writings by Henry Varnum Poor are manuscripts of his two published books, An Artist Sees Alaska and A Book of Pottery: From Mud to Immortality. as well as the text of "Painting is Being Talked to Death," published in the first issue of Reality: A Journal of Artists' Opinions, April 1953, and manuscripts of other articles. There are also film scripts, two journals, notes and notebooks, lists, speeches, and writings by others, including M. R. ("Muktuk") Marston's account of Poor rescuing an Eskimo, and Bessie Breuer Poor's recollections of The Montross Gallery.
Subject files include those on the Advisory Committee on Art, American Designers' Gallery, Inc., William Benton, Harold Dickson, Reality: A Journal of Artists' Opinions Sales, and War Posters. There are numerous administrative files for the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.
Artwork by Henry Varnum Poor consists mainly of loose drawings and sketches and 45 sketchbooks of studies for paintings, murals, and pottery. There is work done in France, 1918-1919, and while working as a war correspondent in Alaska in 1943. There are commissioned illustrations and some intended for his monograph, A Book of Pottery: From Mud to Immortality. Also found are a small number of watercolors and prints. Work by other artists consist of Anne Poor's drawings of her father's hands used for the Lincoln figure in The Land Grant Frescoes and interior views of Crow House by Ernest Watson.
Documentation of Poor's architectural projects consists of drawings and prints relating to houses designed and built for Jules Billing, MacDonald Deming, John Houseman, Burgess Meredith, Isabel Padro, and Elizabeth S. Sargent. Also found is similar material for the new studio Poor built in 1957 on the grounds of Crow House.
Miscellaneous records include family memorabilia and two motion picture films, Painting a True Fresco, and The Land Grant Murals at Pennsylvania State College.
Printed material includes articles about or mentioning Poor, some of his pottery reference books, family history, a catalog of kilns, and the program of a 1949 Pennsylvania State College theater production titled Poor Mr. Varnum. Exhibition catalogs and announcements survive for some of Poor's shows; catalogs of other artists' shows include one for Theodore Czebotar containing an introductory statement by Henry Varnum Poor. Also found is a copy of The Army at War: A Graphic Record by American Artists, for which Poor served as an advisor. There are reproductions of illustrations for An Artist Sees Alaska and Ethan Frome, and two Associated American Artists greeting cards reproducing work by Poor.
Photographs are of Henry Varnum Poor's architectural work, artwork, people, places, and miscellaneous subjects. This series also contains negatives, slides, and transparencies. Images of architectural work include exterior and interior views of many projects; Poor's home, Crow House, predominates. Photographs of artwork by Poor are of drawings, fresco and ceramic tile murals, paintings, pottery and ceramic art. People appearing in photographs include Henry Varnum Poor, family members, friends, clients, juries, students, and various groups. Among the individuals portrayed are Milton Caniff, Marcel Duchamp, Wharton Esherick, M. R. ("Muktuk") Marston, and Burgess Meredith. Among the family members are Bessie Breuer Poor, Marion Dorn Poor, Anne Poor, Eva Poor, Josephine Graham Poor, Josephine Lydia Poor, Peter Poor, and unidentified relatives. Photographs of places include many illustrating village life in Alaska that were taken by Poor during World War II. Other places recorded are French and California landscapes, and family homes in Kansas. Miscellaneous subjects are exhibition installation views, scenes of Kentucky farms, and a photograph of Poor's notes on glazes.
The collection is arranged as 9 series:
Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1919-1987 (0.2 linear feet; Box 1, OV 18)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1873-1985 (1.5 linear feet; Boxes 1-2)
Series 3: Writings and Notes, circa 1944-1974 (0.6 linear feet; Boxes 2-3)
Series 4: Subject Files, 1928-1975 (0.8 linear feet; Box 3, OV 23)
Series 5: Artwork, circa 1890s-circa 1961 (3.5 linear feet; Boxes 4-6, 9-10, OV 19-22)
Series 6: Architectural Projects, circa 1940-1966 (0.7 linear feet; Box 6, OV 24-26, RD 14-17)
Series 7: Miscellaneous Records, 1882-1967 (Boxes 6, 11, FC 30-31; 0.5 linear ft.)
Series 8: Printed Material, 1881-2001 (1.2 linear feet; Boxes 6-7, 11, OV 27-29)
Series 9: Photographs, 1893-1984 (2.3 linear feet; Boxes 7-8, 12-13)
Henry Varnum Poor (1888-1970), best known as a potter, ceramic artist, and a co-founder of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, was also an architect, painter, muralist, designer, educator, and writer who lived and worked in New City, New York.
A native of Chapman, Kansas, Henry Varnum Poor moved with his family to Kansas City when his grain merchant father became a member of the Kansas Board of Trade. From a young age he showed artistic talent and spent as much time as possible - including school hours - drawing. When a school supervisor suggested that Henry leave school to study at the Art Institute of Chicago, the family disagreed. Instead, he enrolled in the Kansas City Manual Training High School where he delighted in learning skills such as carpentry, forge work, and mechanical drawing. In 1905, he moved with his older brother and sister to Palo Alto, California and completed high school there. Because Poor was expected to join the family business, he enrolled at Stanford University as an economics major, but much to his father's disappointment and displeasure, soon left the economics department and became an art major.
Immediately after graduation in 1910, Poor and his major professor at Stanford, Arthur B. Clark, took a summer bicycling tour to look at art in London, France, Italy, and Holland. As Poor had saved enough money to remain in London after the summer was over, he enrolled in the Slade School of Art and also studied under Walter Sickert at the London County Council Night School. After seeing an exhibition of Post-Impressionism at the Grafton Galleries in London, Poor was so impressed that he went to Paris and enrolled in the Académie Julian. While in Paris, Poor met Clifford Addams, a former apprentice of Whistler; soon he was working in Addams' studio learning Whistler's palette and techniques.
In the fall of 1911, Poor returned to Stanford University's art department on a one-year teaching assignment. During that academic year, his first one-man show was held at the university's Old Studio gallery. He married Lena Wiltz and moved back to Kansas to manage the family farm and prepare for another exhibition. Their daughter, Josephine Lydia Poor, was born the following year. Poor returned to Stanford in September 1913 as assistant professor of graphic arts, remaining until the department closed three years later. During this period, Poor began to exhibit more frequently in group shows in other areas of the country, and had his first solo exhibition at a commercial gallery (Helgesen Gallery, San Francisco). In 1916, Poor joined the faculty of the San Francisco Art Association. He and his wife separated in 1917 and were divorced the following year. Poor began sharing his San Francisco studio with Marion Dorn.
During World War I, Poor was drafted into the U. S. Army, and in 1918 went to France with the 115th Regiment of Engineers. He spent his spare time drawing; soon officers were commissioning portraits, and Poor was appointed the regimental artist. He also served as an interpreter for his company. Discharged from the Army in early 1919, Poor spent the spring painting in Paris. He then returned to San Francisco and married Marion Dorn.
Once Poor realized that earning a living as a painter would be extremely difficult in California, he and his new wife moved to New York in the autumn of 1919. They were looking for a place to live when influential book and art dealer Mary Mowbray-Clarke of the Sunwise Turn Bookshop in Manhattan suggested New City in Rockland County, New York as good place for artists. In January of 1920, the Poors purchased property on South Mountain Road in New City. The skills he acquired at the Kansas City Manual Training High School were of immediate use as Poor designed and constructed "Crow House" with the assistance of a local teenager. Influenced by the farmhouses he had seen in France, it was made of local sandstone and featured steep gables, rough plaster, chestnut beams and floors, and incorporated many hand-crafted details. Poor designed and built most of their furniture, too. Before the end of the year, he and Marion were able to move into the house, though it remained a work in progress for many years. Additions were constructed. Over time, gardens were designed and planted, and outbuildings - a kiln and pottery, work room, garage, and new studio - appeared on the property.
In 1925, two years after his divorce from Marion Dorn, Poor married Bessie Freedman Breuer (1893-1975), an editor, short story writer, and novelist. Soon after, he adopted her young daughter, Anne (1918-2002), an artist who served as his assistant on many important mural commissions. Their son, Peter (b. 1926) became a television producer. Crow House remained in the family until its sale in 2006. In order to prevent its demolition, Crow House was then purchased by the neighboring town of Ramapo, New York in 2007.
Between 1935 and 1966 Poor designed and oversaw construction of a number of houses, several of them situated not far from Crow House on South Mountain Road. Poor's designs, noted for their simplicity, featured modern materials and incorporated his ceramic tiles. Among his important commissions were houses for Maxwell Anderson, Jules Billig, Milton Caniff, MacDonald Deming, and John Houseman.
Poor's first exhibition of paintings in New York City was at Kevorkian Galleries in 1920, and sales were so disappointing that he turned his attention to ceramics. His first pottery show, held at Bel Maison Gallery in Wanamaker's department store in 1921, was very successful. He quickly developed a wide reputation, participated in shows throughout the country, and won awards. He was a founder of the short-lived American Designers' Gallery, and the tile bathroom he showed at the group's first exposition was critically acclaimed. Poor was represented by Montross Gallery as both a painter and potter. When Montross Gallery closed upon its owner's death in 1932, Poor moved to the Frank K. M. Rehn Gallery.
Even though Poor's pottery and ceramic work was in the forefront, he continued to paint. His work was acquired by a number of museums, and the Limited Editions Club commissioned him to illustrate their republications of Ethan Frome, The Scarlet Letter, and The Call of the Wild.
Poor's first work in true fresco was shown in a 1932 mural exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. Between 1935 and 1949 he was commissioned to produce several murals in fresco for Section of Fine Arts projects at the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior, The Land Grant Frescoes at Pennsylvania State College, and a mural for the Louisville Courier-Journal. Ceramic tile mural commissions included: the Klingenstein Pavilion, Mt. Sinai Hospital, New York City; Travelers Insurance Co., Boston; the Fresno Post Office, California; and Hillson Memorial Gallery, Deerfield Academy, Deerfield, Mass.
As a member of the War Artists' Unit, Poor was a "war correspondent" with the rank of major in World War II, and for several months in 1943 was stationed in Alaska. An Artist Sees Alaska, drawing on Poor's observations and experiences, was published in 1945. A Book of Pottery: From Mud to Immortality, his second book, was published in 1958. It remains a standard text on the subject. While on the faculty of Columbia University in the 1950s, Poor and other artists opposed to the growing influence of Abstract Expressionism formed the Reality Group with Poor the head of its editorial committee. Their magazine, Reality: A Journal of Artists' Opinions, first appeared in 1953 featuring "Painting is Being Talked to Death" by Poor as its lead article. Two more issues were published in 1954 and 1955.
Along with Willard Cummings, Sidney Simon, and Charles Cuttler, in 1946 Henry Varnum Poor helped to establish the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Skowhegan, Maine. He served as its first president. Poor and his daughter, Anne, were active members of the Board of Trustees and were instructors for many years. The summer of 1961 was Henry Varnum Poor's last as a full-time teacher, though he continued to spend summers at Skowhegan.
Henry Varnum Poor exhibited widely and received many awards, among them prizes at the Carnegie Institute, Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Architectural League of New York. Poor was appointed to the United States Commission of Fine Arts by President Roosevelt in 1941 and served a five year term. He was elected a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1943. The National Academy of Design named him an Associate Artist in 1954 and an Academician in 1963. He became a trustee of the American Craftsman's Council in 1956. The work of Henry Vernum Poor is represented in the permanent collections of many American museums including the Cleveland Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, Addison Gallery of American Art, and Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts.
Henry Varnum Poor died at home in New City, New York, December 8, 1970.
An oral history interview with Henry Varnum Poor was conducted by Harlan Phillips for the Archives of American Art in 1964.
Gift of Henry Varnum Poor's son, Peter V. Poor, in 2007. A smaller portion was loaned to the Archives in 1973 by Anne Poor for microfilming and returned to the lender; this material was included in the 2007 gift.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information. Use of audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
The Henry Varnum Poor 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.