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William Benton papers, 1940-1983

Creator:
Benton, William, 1900-1973  Search this
Benton, William, 1900-1973  Search this
Subject:
Marsh, Reginald  Search this
Wood, Grant  Search this
Bohrod, Aaron  Search this
Dalí, Salvador  Search this
Dean, Abner  Search this
Der Harootian, Koren  Search this
Ernst, Jimmy  Search this
Hebald, Milton  Search this
Hirsch, Joseph  Search this
Johnson, Ben  Search this
Kent, Rockwell  Search this
Kleinholz, Frank  Search this
Levine, Jack  Search this
Poor, Henry Varnum  Search this
Rosenberg, James N. (James Naumburg)  Search this
Sachs, Hella Moravic  Search this
Vereisky, Orest G.  Search this
Albright, Ivan  Search this
Benton, Thomas Hart  Search this
Biddle, George  Search this
Bishop, Isabel  Search this
Topic:
Art -- Collectors and collecting -- United States  Search this
Art, Modern -- 20th century -- History -- United States  Search this
Art, American  Search this
Theme:
Art Theory and Historiography  Search this
Government Sponsorship of the Arts  Search this
Audio - Visual  Search this
The Art Market  Search this
Chicago's Art-Related Archival Materials: A Terra Foundation Resource  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)8883
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)211068
AAA_collcode_bentwill
Theme:
Art Theory and Historiography
Government Sponsorship of the Arts
Audio - Visual
The Art Market
Chicago's Art-Related Archival Materials: A Terra Foundation Resource
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_211068

William Benton papers

Creator:
Benton, William, 1900-1973  Search this
Names:
Albright, Ivan, 1897-1983  Search this
Benton, Thomas Hart, 1889-1975  Search this
Biddle, George, 1885-1973  Search this
Bishop, Isabel, 1902-1988  Search this
Bohrod, Aaron  Search this
Dalí, Salvador, 1904-  Search this
Dean, Abner, 1910-  Search this
Der Harootian, Koren, 1909-  Search this
Ernst, Jimmy, 1920-1984  Search this
Hebald, Milton  Search this
Hirsch, Joseph, 1910-1981  Search this
Johnson, Ben  Search this
Kent, Rockwell, 1882-1971  Search this
Kleinholz, Frank, 1901-  Search this
Levine, Jack, 1915-2010  Search this
Marsh, Reginald, 1898-1954  Search this
Poor, Henry Varnum, 1887-1970  Search this
Rosenberg, James N. (James Naumburg), b. 1874  Search this
Sachs, Hella Moravic  Search this
Vereisky, Orest G.  Search this
Wood, Grant, 1891-1942  Search this
Extent:
1 Linear foot ((on 3 microfilm reels))
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Date:
1940-1983
Scope and Contents:
Correspondence; writings; notes; estate lists; contracts; photographs of works of art; exhibition catalogs; clippings; miscellaneous printed material.
REEL 925: Correspondence with artists, 1954-1968, concerning Benton's purchase and background of their works; and writings by Benton on Soviet art.
REEL 3134: A 13-page, incomplete, typescript, 1955, "Reginald Marsh as I Remember Him," by Benton. He writes of working with Marsh on the YALE RECORD and collecting Marsh's paintings.
REEL 4073: Correspondence, 1940-1983, with artists; typescripts on Marsh; writing by Jack Levine "How the Witches' Sabbath was Painted";
photographs and lists of works of art; a notebook "Works of Art on Loan to the William Benton Museum, University of Connecticut" from Benton's estate; a notebook "Painting Contracts" between artists, galleries, and Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.; notebook "Sold," containing data on the sale of Reginald Marsh's work;
printed material on Rockwell Kent, Thomas Hart Benton, Benton's collection, and others; photocopies of 2 portions of Ivan Albright's sketchbooks; a notebook "Britannica Painting Exhibitions Manual of Procedure"; a 2 p. typescript "The Story of My Portrait" by Grant Wood's sister Nan Wood Graham; 3 illustrated notebooks by Ivan Albright; and a sketchbook by Reginald Marsh containing 33 figure sketches.
Correspondents include Ivan Albright, Thomas Hart Benton, George Biddle, Isabel Bishop, Aaron Bohrod, Salvador Dali, Abner Dean, Koren Der Harootian, Jimmy Ernst, Milton Hebald, Joseph Hirsch, Ben Johnson, Rockwell Kent, Frank Kleinholz, Jack Levine, Reginald Marsh, Henry Varnum Poor, James N. Rosenberg, Hella Moravic Sachs, and Orest G. Vereisky.
Biographical / Historical:
Art collector, politician; Chicago, Ill. Publisher of ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA, Vice-President of the University of Chicago, Congressman from Connecticut, and an avid collector of American art. Benton and Reginald Marsh were classmates and collaborated respectively as editor and illustrator for the Yale newspaper. During the Depression, Benton provided Marsh with a monthly stipend for which he received a monthly painting. When he became chairman of the board of ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA, Benton collected contemporary American painting to Americanize BRITANNICA's British image.
Provenance:
Material on reel 925 and 3134 donated by Benton 1968. His family donated and lent additional material 1985-1986, including originals of some letters which were originally donated as photocopies.
Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Microfilmed materials must be consulted on microfilm. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Topic:
Art -- Collectors and collecting -- United States  Search this
Art, Modern -- 20th century -- History -- United States  Search this
Art, American  Search this
Identifier:
AAA.bentwill
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-bentwill

Reginald Marsh papers

Creator:
Marsh, Reginald, 1898-1954  Search this
Names:
Benton, William, 1900-1973  Search this
Kuniyoshi, Yasuo, 1889-1953  Search this
Marsh, Felicia Meyer, 1912-1978  Search this
Marsh, Fred Dana, 1872-1961  Search this
Powys, Llewelyn, 1884-1939  Search this
Schmidt, Katherine, 1898-1978  Search this
Woodhouse, Betty Burroughs, 1899-1988  Search this
Extent:
9.3 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Photographs
Diaries
Sketchbooks
Date:
1897-1955
Summary:
The papers of Reginald Marsh (1898-1954) measure approximately 9.3 linear feet and date from circa 1897 to 1955. The collection documents the life and work of the artist, who was best known for his paintings and illustrations depicting scenes of vaudeville, night clubs, burlesque, and New York City. Marsh was a lifelong free-lance illustrator for the New Yorker, Esquire and many other national magazines. Papers include correspondence, diaries, notebooks, sketches, scrapbooks, business and financial papers, and photographs, as well as some biographical and printed material.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of Reginald Marsh (1898-1954) measure approximately 9.3 linear feet and date from circa 1897 to 1955. The collection documents the life and work of the artist, who was best known for his paintings and illustrations depicting scenes of vaudeville, night clubs, burlesque, and New York City. Marsh was a lifelong free-lance illustrator for the New Yorker, Esquire and many other national magazines. Papers include correspondence, diaries, notebooks, sketches, scrapbooks, business and financial papers, and photographs, as well as some biographical and printed material.

Marsh's correspondence is typically with family, friends, artists, colleagues, dealers, government officials, publishers, greeting card companies, admirers and former students. Correspondence concerns both personal and professional matters, documenting his relationships with family and friends and his work on various projects ranging from book illustrations to the murals he executed as part of the Treasury Department Art Program. Diaries include those Marsh kept as an adolescent, those in which he recorded his technique and work on art, and those in which he recorded his daily engagements. Notebooks include ones on art, in which he recorded notes on particular works and on painting techniques, mediums and other processes; ones used as address books and to record notes on travel and art work; and ones on finances, in which he kept track of earnings from his stocks and art, as well as some student notebooks. Diaries and notebooks both document various practical aspects involved in the creation of Marsh's art work.

Sketches include ones on loose sheets and scraps of paper and in sketchbooks, documenting some of the sources and recurrent themes of Marsh's art work, as well as shedding light on Marsh's process of creation. Scrapbooks consist primarily of clippings (illustrations, reviews, reproductions of art work) compiled by Marsh, documenting the publication, exhibition, and reception of his art work. Business and financial papers consist of paperwork (contracts, agreements, statements, receipts, permissions) relating to business matters, practical concerns, and financial aspects involved in handling his various art projects and in exhibiting and selling his art work. Photographs include ones of Marsh's family and friends, the artist at work (sketching around Coney Island and on the streets of New York), and his art work (some of which was compiled into volumes by Marsh and some of which was compiled by Norman Sasowsky).

Also found are limited amounts of biographical material, including juvenilia, official documents, awards and certificates, writings, an appraisal of Marsh's estate, and catalogs of Marsh's art work, and printed material, including exhibition catalogs, clippings, and publications.
Arrangement:
The Reginald Marsh papers are arranged as 9 series:

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1910s-1955 (boxes 1, 11; 0.8 linear feet)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1920-1954 (boxes 1-2, OV 12; 1.2 linear feet)

Series 3: Diaries, 1912-1954 (box 3; 1 linear foot)

Series 4: Notebooks, 1919-1954 (box 4; 0.8 linear feet)

Series 5: Sketches, 1901-1954, undated (boxes 4-5, OV 12-21; 1.4 linear feet)

Series 6: Scrapbooks, 1901-1954, undated (boxes 6, 9-11; 1.5 linear feet)

Series 7: Business and Financial Papers, 1923-1954 (box 6; 0.3 linear feet)

Series 8: Photographs, circa 1897-1908, 1920-1952 (boxes 6-8, 10; 1.3 linear feet)

Series 9: Printed Material, 1931-1955 (boxes 8, 10; 0.2 linear feet)
Biographical Note:
Reginald Marsh was born in Paris on March 14, 1898. His father, Fred Dana Marsh, was a well-known muralist, and his mother, Alice Randall Marsh, was also an artist who painted miniature watercolors. Marsh returned with his family to the United States in 1900 and grew up in Nutley, New Jersey.

After graduating from Yale University in 1920, Marsh moved to New York, where he worked as an illustrator for the New York Evening Post and Herald, Vanity Fair and Harper's Bazaar. Beginning in 1922, he worked as staff artist at the New York Daily News doing a cartoon review of vaudeville and burlesque. During the 1920s, he designed theater curtains for the Greenwich Village Follies and other theater productions, and became one of the original cartoonists at The New Yorker after it was founded in 1925, actively working for the magazine until 1931 and regularly contributing drawings from time to time after that.

In 1923, Marsh married Betty Burroughs, who was the daughter of the curator of painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and herself a sculptor. They divorced in 1933, and he married his second wife, Felicia Meyer, a landscape painter, in 1934.

In the early 1920s, Marsh began to study painting and attended classes taught by John Sloan and Kenneth Hayes Miller, among others, at the Art Students League in New York. He made several trips to Europe, once in 1925-1926 and again in 1928, to study the old masters in the museums. In 1929, he began to paint in egg tempera. He also worked in watercolor, painting several large compositions in 1939-1940. In the 1940s, he studied the "Maroger medium" with Jacques Maroger and began to use this emulsion technique in his paintings. In addition to painting, he also worked in lithography, etching, and engraving.

Marsh had his first one-man show of oils and watercolors at the Whitney Studio Club in 1924 and another show of lithographs there in 1928. He had one-man shows of his watercolors at the Valentine Dudensing Galleries in 1927, the Weyhe Gallery in 1928, and the Marie Sterner Galleries in 1929. In 1930, he had his first show of paintings at the Rehn Galleries, where he regularly exhibited for the next two decades.

In 1935 and 1937 respectively, Marsh was commissioned by the Treasury Department Art Program to paint two murals in the Post Office Department Building in Washington, D.C. and a series of murals in the rotunda of the Customs House in New York. Beginning in 1935, Marsh taught drawing and painting at the Art Students League. In the summer of 1946, he was guest instructor at Mills College, Oakland, California, for six weeks. In 1949, he was appointed head of the Department of Paintings at Moore Institute of Art, Science, and Industry, Philadelphia and taught advanced painting there in 1953-1954.

Beginning in the mid-1930s, some of Marsh's art work began to be reproduced on greeting cards issued by the American Artists Group and Living American Art, Inc. He also did illustrations for editions of Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie (1938), John Dos Passos's USA (1945) and Adventures of a Young Man (1946), and Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper (1946), among others. He continued to do freelance illustrations for magazines, including Esquire, Fortune, and Life. Notably, he served as an artist correspondent for Life during the Second World War, and traveled to Brazil in 1943 to draw the army installations there.

Marsh was the recipient of various awards throughout his career, including the M. V. Kohnstamm Prize from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1931, the First W. A. Clark Prize and Corcoran Gold Medal from the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., in 1945, and the Gold Medal for Graphic Arts of the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1954.

Marsh died of a heart attack in Dorset, Vermont on July 3, 1954.

This biographical note draws heavily from information originally printed in the catalogue of the Reginald Marsh Retrospective Exhibition organized by the Whitney Museum in 1955.
Related Material:
The Archives holds several collections of different provenance that relate to Reginald Marsh, including Felicia Meyer Marsh and Meyer Family Papers (available on reels 2082, 2087-2090, and 4474-4475), Fred Dana Marsh illustrated letters (available on reel 3134), Norman Sasowsky Research Material on Reginald Marsh (partially available on reels 1195 and 1463-1464), and Reginald Marsh Printed Material, consisting of two yearbooks from Lawrenceville School donated by Alvin Macauley who was a classmate of Marsh (not available on microfilm). In addition, a portion of the materials loaned and microfilmed in 1963 on reel NRM 19, including several small paintings, are housed in the Pierpont Morgan Library.
Separated Material:
The Archives of American Art also holds material lent for microfilming. Some of the material loaned for microfilming in 1963, including the bulk of Marsh's sketchbooks and some anatomy sketches, was subsequently donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Public Library, and Whitney Museum of American Art. Other loaned material, including several small paintings, was from the Pierpont Morgan Library. Most of the files of clippings that were donated to AAA with Marsh's papers were transferred to the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery Library in 1979. Even though this material is not technically part of the collection housed in AAA, copies are available on microfilm reels NRM3-NRM17 (sketchbooks and sketches), NRM 19 (material from the Pierpont Morgan Library), NRM 20 (small paintings), and 2233-2234 (clippings). A portion of the material donated to AAA with the Reginald Marsh papers has been separated to create a new collection of Felicia Meyer Marsh and Marsh Family papers. Loaned and transferred material is not described in this finding aid.
Provenance:
A large portion of the Reginald Marsh papers, including diaries, notebooks, sketchbooks, and photograph albums, was lent for microfilming in 1963 by Marsh's wife, Felicia Meyer Marsh. Some, but not all, of this material was subsequently donated to AAA in 1979, after the death of Mrs. Marsh, along with some additional material, including notebooks, scrapbooks, biographical and printed material. Another portion of the collection, comprised mainly of correspondence and a catalog of Marsh's art work, was donated in 1964. Three items of Marsh juvenilia were donated in 1984 by Alice Heffernan. Sketches that Mrs. Marsh bequeathed to the Whitney Museum were donated to AAA by the museum in 1987, along with 5 sketchbooks previously lent. Later gift portions were microfilmed.
Restrictions:
The bulk of the collection has been digitized and is available online via AAA's website. Use of material not digitized requires an appointment.
Rights:
The Archives of American Art makes its archival collections available for non-commercial, educational and personal use unless restricted by copyright and/or donor restrictions, including but not limited to access and publication restrictions. AAA makes no representations concerning such rights and restrictions and it is the user's responsibility to determine whether rights or restrictions exist and to obtain any necessary permission to access, use, reproduce and publish the collections. Please refer to the Smithsonian's Terms of Use for additional information.
Topic:
Etchers -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Muralists -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Illustrators -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Painters -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Art -- Philosophy  Search this
Painting, American  Search this
Painting -- Technique  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photographs
Diaries
Sketchbooks
Citation:
Reginald Marsh papers, 1897-1955. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.marsregi
See more items in:
Reginald Marsh papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-marsregi
Online Media:

Henry Varnum Poor papers

Creator:
Poor, Henry Varnum, 1887-1970  Search this
Names:
Montross Gallery  Search this
Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture  Search this
Benton, William, 1900-1973  Search this
Biddle, George, 1885-1973  Search this
Billing, Jules  Search this
Burchfield, Charles Ephraim, 1893-1967  Search this
Caniff, Milton Arthur, 1907-1988  Search this
Ciardi, John, 1916-  Search this
Czebotar, Theodore  Search this
Deming, MacDonald  Search this
Dickson, Harold E., 1900-  Search this
Dorn, Marion, 1896-1964  Search this
Duchamp, Marcel, 1887-1968  Search this
Esherick, Wharton  Search this
Evergood, Philip, 1901-1973  Search this
Garrett, Alice Warder  Search this
Houseman, John, 1902-1988  Search this
Marston, Muktuk  Search this
Meredith, Burgess, 1907-1997  Search this
Mumford, Lewis, 1895-1990  Search this
Padro, Isabel  Search this
Poor, Anne, 1918-  Search this
Poor, Bessie Breuer  Search this
Poor, Eva  Search this
Poor, Josephine Graham  Search this
Poor, Josephine Lydia  Search this
Poor, Peter  Search this
Sargent, Elizabeth S.  Search this
Smith, David, 1906-1965  Search this
Steinbeck, John, 1902-1968  Search this
Watson, Ernest William, 1884-1969  Search this
Extent:
12.9 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Sketches
Motion pictures (visual works)
Diaries
Prints
Photographs
Illustrations
Drawings
Watercolors
Sketchbooks
Date:
1873-2001
bulk 1904-1970
Summary:
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.
Arrangement:
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)
Biographical Note:
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.
Related Material:
An oral history interview with Henry Varnum Poor was conducted by Harlan Phillips for the Archives of American Art in 1964.
Provenance:
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.
Restrictions:
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.
Rights:
The Archives of American Art makes its archival collections available for non-commercial, educational and personal use unless restricted by copyright and/or donor restrictions, including but not limited to access and publication restrictions. AAA makes no representations concerning such rights and restrictions and it is the user's responsibility to determine whether rights or restrictions exist and to obtain any necessary permission to access, use, reproduce and publish the collections. Please refer to the Smithsonian's Terms of Use for additional information.
Occupation:
War artists  Search this
Topic:
Architects -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
World War, 1914-1918  Search this
Authors -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
War posters  Search this
Educators -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Pottery -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Designers -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Ceramicists -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Artists' studios  Search this
Art -- Study and teaching  Search this
Painters -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Muralists -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Genre/Form:
Sketches
Motion pictures (visual works)
Diaries
Prints
Photographs
Illustrations
Drawings
Watercolors
Sketchbooks
Citation:
Henry Varnum Poor papers, 1873-2001, bulk 1904-1970. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.poorhenr
See more items in:
Henry Varnum Poor papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-poorhenr
Online Media:

Reginald Marsh's New York / essays by Avis Berman, William Benton

Author:
Marsh, Reginald 1898-1954  Search this
Berman, Avis  Search this
Benton, William 1900-1973  Search this
D.C. Moore Gallery  Search this
Addison Gallery of American Art  Search this
Subject:
Marsh, Reginald 1898-1954  Search this
Physical description:
22 p. : col. ill. ; 22 cm
Type:
Books
Exhibitions
In art
Place:
New York (N.Y.)
Date:
1996
Call number:
N40.1.M36 B47 1996
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_511463

The theatre world drawings of Reginald Marsh : a gift of the Museum from the collections of Mrs. Reginald Marsh and Senator William Benton : [exhibition at the William Benton Museum of Art] November 18, 1972 to January 23, 1973

Author:
William Benton Museum of Art  Search this
Kerr, Walter 1913-1996  Search this
Marsh, Reginald 1898-1954  Search this
Subject:
Marsh, Reginald 1898-1954  Search this
Marsh, Reginald Mrs Art collections  Search this
Benton, William 1900-1973 Art collections  Search this
Physical description:
1 portfolio ([25] leaves) ; 30 cm
Type:
Books
Exhibitions
Date:
1972
[1972]
Call number:
N40.1.M36x W7
N40.1.M36xW7
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_353493

Reginald Marsh : from the collection of Senator William Benton [exhibition] the Library Gallery, Sacred Heart University, Bridgeport, Conn., May 14 to May 20, 1972

Author:
Marsh, Reginald 1898-1954  Search this
Benton, William 1900-1973  Search this
Sacred Heart University  Search this
Subject:
Marsh, Reginald 1898-1954  Search this
Physical description:
[10] p. : ill. ; 21 cm
Type:
Books
Date:
1972
Call number:
NC139.M3S12
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_102188

Reginald Marsh, 1898-1954 : selected paintings and sketches from the collections of Mrs. Reginald Marsh and the Honorable and Mrs. William Benton, January 18-February 18, 1970, Fine Arts Galleries of the University of Pittsburgh

Author:
Marsh, Reginald 1898-1954  Search this
University of Pittsburgh University Art Gallery  Search this
Subject:
Marsh, Felicia Art collections  Search this
Benton, William 1900-1973 Art collections  Search this
Physical description:
[15] p. : ill. ; 31 cm
Type:
Books
Date:
1970
[1970?]
Call number:
N40.1.M36 U5
N40.1.M36U5
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_190629

The voice of Latin America

Author:
Benton, William 1900-1973  Search this
Physical description:
204 p. illus. 22 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
Latin America
Date:
1961
[1961]
1948-1980
Topic:
Social conditions  Search this
Politics and government  Search this
Call number:
F1414 .B44
F1414.B44
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_24039

The lives of William Benton

Author:
Hyman, Sidney  Search this
Subject:
Benton, William 1900-1973  Search this
Physical description:
xviii, 625 p. illus., ports. 24 cm
Type:
Books
Date:
1969
[1969]
Call number:
E748.B337 H99
E748.B337H99
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_3931

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