3 Microfilm reels (800 items on 3 microfilm reels)
Scope and Contents:
The microfilmed Samuel Putnam Avery papers contain correspondence, including letters, calling cards, and sketches from American and European artists, among them Albert F. Bellows, Eugene Benson, Edwin H. Blashfield, Rosa Bonheur, Adolph W. Bouguereau, Samuel Colman, Clarence Cook, Jasper F. Cropsey, F. O. C. Darley, Charles F. Daubigny, John Durand, Sanford R. Gifford, E. D. E. Greene, Augustus Hoppin, Victor Hugo, John La Farge, Jules Lefebvre, Jervis McEntee, Charles H. Moore, William S. Mount, Thomas A. Richards, Launt Thompson, Henry T. Tuckerman, and James McNeill Whistler; five diaries (1871-1882) detailing annual buying trips to Europe; catalogs; clippings; and miscellaneous publications pertaining to the Avery Art Gallery.
The travel diaries were written exclusively during the summers of 1871-1882 while in Europe (circa780 pages). Avery visited England, France, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, and Italy, visiting galleries and studios, and attending sales in the major cities. In his entries, Avery lists the works that he sees and art he purchases, detailing prices, sizes, and frame requirements. Avery spent most of his time visiting dealers, making shipping arrangements, and commissioning work from a variety of artists. He visited auction houses such as Christie's in London, and "bric a brac shops" where he purchased paintings, as well as furniture, tapestries, and jewelry. He mentions several dealers throughout Europe, especially the P.L. Everard Company and Mr. Boughton in London, and Mr. Van Hinsberg in Belgium. His social engagements included gallery exhibitions, concerts, trips to the opera, and dinners. He describes the French city of Écouen and the Italian countryside vividly. Avery also records his meeting with the Spanish artist Cutazzi, and describes in detail the finery of the Makart studio in Vienna. Throughout the diaries, he corresponds and meets with Mr. Everard, Mr. Boughton, James McNeill Whistler, Vincent Van Gogh, and people he refers to only as Sam and Mary. Avery writes often of his occasional traveling companion, Mr. Lucas. Beginning in 1873, he mentions his wife, letters to her, and gifts that he buys her. At the end of the diary, he lists his accounts during these years.
Biographical / Historical:
Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) was a wood engraver, art dealer, and collector in New York, New York. He was a founder and trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Avery took annual trips to Europe in the 1870s during which he commissioned art for clients. Avery also founded the Avery Architectural Library at Columbia University and donated his collection of etchings and lithographs to the New York Public Library.
The New York Public Library Manuscripts and Archives Division holds the Samuel Putnam Avery papers, 1822-1904. The New York Historical Society holds the Samuel Putnam Avery letters to William D. Murphy, 1902-1903. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Thomas J. Watson Library holds the Samuel Putnam Avery Papers, ca. 1850-1905.
Lent for microfilming 1964 by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Archives of American art does not own the original papers. Use is limited to the microfilm copy.
Art dealers -- New York (State) -- New York Search this
Jacques Seligmann & Co. records, 1904-1978, bulk 1913-1974. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Processing of the collection was funded by the Getty Grant Program; digitization of the collection was funded by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and the Terra Foundation for American Art. Glass plate negatives in this collection were digitized in 2019 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Women's Committee.