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Wilhelm Reinhold Valentiner papers

Creator:
Valentiner, Wilhelm Reinhold, 1880-1958  Search this
Names:
Detroit Institute of Arts  Search this
Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
Bode, Wilhelm von, 1845-1929  Search this
Colenbrander, H. T. (Herman Theodoor), 1871-1945  Search this
Ford, Edsel, 1893-1943  Search this
Heise, Carl Georg, 1890-1979  Search this
Hofstede de Groot, C. (Cornelis), 1863-1930  Search this
McIlhenny, John  Search this
Mellon, Andrew W. (Andrew William), 1855-1937  Search this
Morgan, Anne Tracy, 1873-1952  Search this
Sarre, Maria  Search this
Wills, Helen, 1905-1998  Search this
Extent:
6.9 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Scrapbooks
Sketches
Prints
Photographs
Diaries
Place:
Germany -- Politics and government -- 1918-1933
Date:
1853-1977
Summary:
The papers of art historian and museum director Wilhelm Reinhold Valentiner measure 6.9 linear feet and date from 1853 to 1977. Found within the collection are biographical materials, including information on the Lepsius and Valentiner families; correspondence with family, friends, art collectors, and art historians; seven diaries; additional writings and notes; printed materials; three clippings scrapbooks; artwork in the form of prints and woodcuts; and photographs of Valentiner and his family and friends, including two photograph albums.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of art historian and museum director Wilhelm Reinhold Valentiner measure 6.9 linear feet and date from 1853 to 1977. Found within the collection are biographical materials, including information on the Lepsius and Valentiner families; correspondence with family, friends, art collectors, and art historians; seven diaries; additional writings and notes; printed materials; three clippings scrapbooks; artwork in the form of prints and woodcuts; and photographs of Valentiner and his family and friends, including two photograph albums.

Biographical materials include certificates, membership cards, a curriculum vitae, and genealogical information on the Valentiner and Lepsius families.

Correspondence includes letters in German from Valentiner's parents, siblings, extended family members, and his wife and daughter. General correspondence includes letters and cards in German and English from art historian mentors and peers, including Wilhelm von Bode, Cornelius Hofstede de Groot, Carl Heise, and Herman Colenbrander, as well as art collectors and friends, including John McIlhenny, Andrew Mellon, Edsel Ford, Maria Sarre, and Helen Wills Moody Roark.

Seven diaries dated 1910-1939 were written in German, some of which also contain sketches, photographs, and other enclosures. Additional writings and notes consist of autobiographical writings, numerous essays, lectures, and monographs on Italian and Dutch art and artists, and reports and lectures on exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Detroit Institute of Arts. Lecture seminar notes appear to have been written while Valentiner was a student in Germany, and materials related to Arbeitsrat für Kunst date from the period after Valentiner's military service when he served as a chairman to the newly formed Working Council for the Arts, prior to his return to America in 1921.

Printed material includes bulletins, exhibition catalogs, clippings, and three clippings scrapbooks, which document Valentiner's professional career in New York and Detroit.

Photographic materials are of Wilhelm Valentiner, his immediate and extended family members, and his friends. Photos of Valentiner are from his youth, military service in Germany, and his personal and professional career in the U.S. Photographs of friends include art scholars, collectors, and family friends, including Maria Sarre, Helen Wills Moody Rorke, and Anne Morgan, the daughter of Pierpoint Morgan. There are also a handful of reproductions of artwork used as scholarly references in his writings. The two photo albums focus on Valentiner's family and friends from his youth in Germany, and Valentiner with family members later in his life.

Artwork in the collection consists of prints from a page in a German book, a bookplate, and two woodcuts by unidentified artists.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged as 8 series.

Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1853-1976 (8 folders; Box 1)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1860-1974 (3.4 linear feet; Box 1-4)

Series 3: Diaries, 1910-1939 (7 folders; Box 3)

Series 4: Writings and Notes, 1890-1970 (1.7 linear feet; Box 4-6, 9)

Series 5: Printed Material, 1915-1977 (0.2 linear feet; Box 6)

Series 6: Scrapbooks, 1908-1933 (0.4 linear feet; Box 6, 9)

Series 7: Photographic Materials, 1840-1970 (0.8 linear feet; Box 6-8)

Series 8: Artwork, 1890-1960 (3 folders; Box 8)
Biographical / Historical:
Art historian and museum director Wilhelm Reinhold Valentiner (1880-1958) lived in New York City, N.Y., Detroit, Michigan, and Raleigh, North Carolina and was known for his leadership and collection development during his tenure at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Valentiner was born in Karlsruhe, Germany to Karl Wilhelm Valentiner, a professor of astronomy at Heidelberg University, and his wife, Anna Lepsius Valentiner. The youngest of four children, Valentiner attended the University of Leipzig and continued studies in art history at the University of Heidelberg, where he received his doctorate in 1905 under the mentorship of Henry Thode. His relationship with Thode and with fellow students Edwin Redslob and Hermann Voss would eventually lead to lifelong friendships with a network of European scholars and historians, including Wilhelm von Bode and Cornelius Hofstede de Groot.

Upon von Bode's recommendation to J.P. Morgan, then President of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Valentiner joined the staff of the Metropolitan in 1908 as the curator for Decorative Arts. In 1913, he founded the journal Art in America, where he would remain as editor until 1931. At the onset of World War I, Valentiner returned to Germany to enlist and served until the war's end, at which point he spent a brief period working at the Kaiser Friedrich Museum and participated in the Arbeitsrat für Kunst, a new group that questioned the traditional relationship between artists and established art institutions. Though shortlived, his participation as a chairmen for the Working Council for the Arts introduced him to leading German artists and architects, including Walter Gropius, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Käthe Kollwitz, and Lyonel Feininger. At this time, he also met his future wife, Cecelia Odefay, who he married in 1919.

In 1921, Valentiner returned to the U.S. and was asked to serve as a collecting advisor to the Detroit Institute of Arts. In 1924, he was appointed the Institute's director, a position he held until his retirement in 1944. During his tenure, he oversaw the opening of a new wing, the first acquisition of pre-Columbian and African art, the strengthening of Chinese and Islamic art collections, significant acquisitions of European Modernists, and the development of the museum's education and conservation divisions.

In 1937, Valentiner founded the Art Quarterly journal for the College Art Association, which he edited until 1949. After his retirement from the Institute, Valentiner was called from retirement to serve as director for the Los Angeles County Museum and the Getty Museum in California, and the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh. Valentiner died from complications of pneumonia in 1958.
Related Materials:
Also found in the Archives of American Art are the Mary E. Adams letters from Wilhelm Valentiner and an oral history interview with Mary and Clinton Adams conducted by Paul Karlstrom, April 24, 1998. The North Carolina Museum of Art also holds papers of Wilhelm Valentiner, most of which are also available at the Archives on microfilm reels D31 and 2140-2144.
Separated Materials:
In 1981 and earlier, the Archives microfilmed the William R. Valentiner papers that were on deposit from the North Carolina Museum of Art onto reels D31 and 2140-2144. The papers were returned to the North Carolina Museum of Art, but the microfilm is still available for use at the Archives research centers and for interlibrary loan.

Reel D31 includes diary entries, 1914-1957, describing Valentiner's service in the German army, 1914-1918, with the War Information Office in Berlin, the overthrow of the monarchy and German politics, relations between Germany and Russia and communist activity in Germany, the administration of Berlin museums and radical artists' activities, his work with the L.A. County Museum, Detroit Institute of Fine Arts, the North Carolina Museum of Art, and private collectors, impressions of friends, including Henry Ford, Carl Hamilton, the Hohenzollerns, Franz Marc, Rainer Maria Rilke, Walter Rathenau, Helen Wills, Benjamin Altman, J. Pierpont Morgan, and recollections of women art collectors, including Mrs. August Belmont, Rita Lydig, and Mrs. Leonard Thomas. A very small portion of the filmed materials may be found among the Valentiner papers at the Archives, but most of the materials were returned to the North Carolina Museum of Art.

Loaned materials on reels 2140-2144 consist of 26 diaries, 1904-1958; autobiographical writings; manuscripts and lectures by Valentiner; correspondence with family, friends, authors, museums, galleries, and dealers, including Harry Bertoia, Charles Culver, Lyonel and Julia Feininger, Walter Gropius, Paul and Mary Weschler, and Morris Graves; and a scrapbook containing clippings, drafts of speeches, and invitations.
Provenance:
From 1972 to 1977, Valentiner's papers were gathered from various sources by historian Margaret Sterne who was researching and writing a biography of Valentiner. Sterne died just prior to publication and the papers were sorted by Archives' staff and returned to the lender when known. After publication of the biography, the bulk of the papers were returned to their respective lenders (primarily the University of North Carolina) and the remaining papers were sorted and accessioned by the Archives. Donors are listed as unknown or anonymous.
Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archvies' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Rights:
The Wilhelm Reinhold Valentiner 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.
Occupation:
Art historians -- Michigan -- Detroit  Search this
Museum directors -- Michigan -- Detroit  Search this
Art, Dutch  Search this
Art, Italian  Search this
Topic:
Art historians -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Art museums -- United States  Search this
Museum directors -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Art -- Collectors and collecting -- United States  Search this
Art, Modern -- 20th century  Search this
Genre/Form:
Scrapbooks
Sketches
Prints
Photographs
Diaries
Citation:
Wilhelm Reinhold Valentiner papers, 1853-1977. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.valewilh
See more items in:
Wilhelm Reinhold Valentiner papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-valewilh
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