Interview of Don Freeman conducted 1965 June 4, by Betty Hoag McGlynn, for the Archives of American Art, in his home, in Santa Barbara, Calif. Freeman speaks of his childhood in San Diego with his guardian; his high school years spent in St. Louis at a public school Prineipia (and his teacher Kathryn Cherry); the knowledge of his artistic destiny as a child; his move to New York City in 1929; his time spent working as an unbooked trumpet player for jazz orchestras on Broadway; his formative years at the Art Students League under the guidance of John Sloan;
the influence of Robert Henri and "Art Spirit;" his decision to do illustrations for the theater section of the Herald Tribune of ongoing performances; his time spent studying with Harry Wickey (etcher and sculptor); his relationship and marriage to wife Lydia as well as description of life in downtown Manhattan immediately following the stock market crash ; time at Art Students League studying along side with Jackson Pollock, Manuel Tolegian, Whitney Darrel; his decision to work for the WPA in
the graphics department completing lithographs (1933-1934); "Freedom of the Press," a painting completed around the same time and the possible influence of Reginald Marsh; his interest in a project called "Paint for the People" (a public works project for the New York Subway system); time spent illustrating for the WPA theater magazine "The Living Magazine;" his opinions concerning acetate and stone as well as the use of mezzotint; his personal magazine which he published for four years (name unknown); a general summary of his feelings towards the WPA as an artistic force; his separation from the Union Uprisings due to his success within the program;
his work on "Our Flying Navy" a series of illustrations (now compiled as a book) used for advertisement for the Navy; his participation in the Association of American Artists before his term spent in the Army during WWII; his budding career as a children's books writer and illustrator (Barton Press); his illustrations for William Soroyan"s The Human Comedy; his move back west and his son Roy; and his current occupation of giving "Chalk Talks" around the country, speaking with students about art, music, theater.
Biographical / Historical:
Don Freeman (1908-1978) was an Illustrator from New York, N.Y. Went to New York City at the age of 21. Studied with John Sloan and Harry Wickey at the Art Students League.
An unrelated interview of Ben Messick conducted by B. Hoag McGlynn is also on this tape.
Conducted as part of the Archives of American Art's New Deal and the Arts project, which includes over 400 interviews of artists, administrators, historians, and others involved with the federal government's art programs and the activities of the Farm Security Administration in the 1930s and early 1940s.
Transcript available on the Archives of American Art website.
The personal papers of Charles Lang Freer, the industrialist and art collector who founded the Freer Gallery of Art. The papers include correspondence, diaries, art inventories, scrapbooks of clippings on James McNeil Whistler and other press clippings, and photographs.
The personal papers of Charles Lang Freer, the industrialist and art collector who founded the Freer Gallery of Art. The papers include correspondence, diaries, art inventories, scrapbooks of clippings on James McNeil Whistler and other press clippings, financial material, architectural drawings, and photographs.
Correspondence, circa 1860-1921, includes Freer's correspondence, 1876-1920, with artists, dealers, collectors, museums, and public figures; letterpress books contain copies of Freer's outgoing letters, 1892-1910; correspondence collected by Freer of James McNeill Whistler, and his wife Beatrix, 186?-1909, with Lady Colin Campbell, Thomas R. Way, Alexander Reid, Whistler's mother, Mrs. George W. Whistler, and others; correspondence of Whistler collector Richard A. Canfield, 1904-1913, regarding works in Canfield's collection; and correspondence of Freer's assistant, Katharine Nash Rhoades, 1920-1921, soliciting Freer's letters from his associates, and regarding the settlement of his estate.
Also included are twenty-nine pocket diaries, 1889-1890, 1892-1898, 1900-1919, recording daily activities, people and places visited, observations, and comments; a diary kept by Freer's caretaker, Joseph Stephens Warring, recording daily activities at Freer's Detroit home, 1907-1910. Inventories, n.d. and 1901-1921, of American, European, and Asian art in Freer's collection, often including provenance information; vouchers, 1884-1919, documenting his purchases; five volumes of scrapbooks of clippings on James McNeill Whistler, 1888-1931, labeled "Various," "Peacock Room," "Death, etc.," "Paris, etc.," and "Boston...London" ; three volumes of newsclippings, 1900-1930, concerning Freer and the opening of the Freer Gallery of Art.
Correspondence regarding Freer's gift and bequest to the Smithsonian Institution, 1902-1916; and photographs, ca. 1880-1930, of Freer, including portraits by Alvin Langdon Coburn and Edward Steichen, Freer with others, Freer in Cairo, China and Japan, Freer's death mask, and his memorial service, Kyoto, 1930; photographs of artists and others, including Thomas Dewing, Ernest Fenollosa, Katharine Rhoades taken by Alfred Stieglitz, Rosalind B. Philip, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Abbott H. Thayer, Dwight Tryon, and Whistler; and photographs relating to Whistler, including art works depicting him, grave and memorial monuments, works of art, the Peacock Room, and Whistler's memorial exhibition at the Copley Society.
Organization of the Papers:
This collection is organized into twelve series.
Series 1: Genealogical and Biographical Data
Series 2: Correspondence
Series 3: Diaries
Series 4: Freer Colleague Materials
Series 5: Art Inventories
Series 6: Financial Materials
Series 7: Exhibition Loan Files
Series 8: Biblical Manuscripts and Gold Treasure Files
Series 9: American School of Archaeology in China
Series 10: Printed Material
Series 11: Outsize Material
Series 12: Photographs
1854 February 25 -- Born in Kingston, New York
1873 -- Appointed accountant and paymaster of New York, Kingston and Syracuse Railroad by Frank J. Hecker (1846-1927)
1876 -- Moves to Indiana to work, with Hecker, for the Detroit and Eel River and Illinois Railroad
1880 -- Moves to Detroit, participates in organization of the Peninsular Car Works with Hecker
1883 -- Becomes vice president and secretary of Peninsular Car Company when it succeeds Peninsular Car Works
1883 -- Begins collecting European prints
1884 -- Peninsular Car Company constructs plant on Ferry Avenue
1887 -- Meets Howard Mansfield (1849-1938)
1887 -- Acquires proofs of 26 etchings, Venice, Second Series(1886), by James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903)
1887 -- Purchases a small Japanese fan attributed to Ogata Korin(1658-1715)
1887 -- Buys land on Ferry Avenue
1889 -- Meets Frederick Stuart Church (1826-1900) and Dwight William Tryon (1849-1925) in New York
1890 -- Commissions Wilson Eyre (1858-1944) to design house on Ferry Avenue, Detroit, Michigan
1890 -- On first trip to London, meets James McNeill Whistler(1834-1903)
1892 -- Moves to Ferry Avenue house
1892 -- Tryon and Thomas Wilmer Dewing (1851-1938) undertake decoration of reception rooms
1893 -- Lends American paintings to World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago
1893 -- Purchases first piece of Chinese art, a small painting of white herons by an anonymous Ming dynasty (1368-1644) artist
1894 -- Begins yearlong trip around the world, which includes visit to the Whistlers in Paris and first trip to Asia, stopping in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), India, China, and Japan
1896 -- Meets Matsuki Bunkyo (1867-1940) in Boston
1899 -- Takes part in consolidation of railroad-car building companies then retires from active business
1900 -- Attends Exposition International Universelle in Paris
1900 -- Buys villa in Capri with Thomas S. Jerome
1901 -- Meets Siegfried Bing (1838-1905) in Paris and Ernest Fenollosa(1853-1908), who visits Freer in Detroit
1902 -- Meets Dikran Kelekian (1868-1951)
1902 -- Spends summer in Britain building Whistler collection
1902 -- Views Whistler's, Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room
1904 -- Purchases Whistler's Peacock Room
1904 -- Offers his art collections and funds to build a museum in which to house them to the Smithsonian Institution
1905 -- Smithsonian committee visits Freer in Detroit
1906 -- United States government formally accepts Freer's gift on January 24
1906 -- Freer signs Deed of Gift to Smithsonian Institution on May 5
1907 -- On second tour of Asia, meets Hara Tomitaro 1868-1939) in Yokohama, Japan
1908 -- Takes third trip to Asia, specifically to West Asia to study Rakka ware
1909 -- Tours Europe to study art museums
1909 -- On fourth trip to Asia, attends memorial ceremony for Fenollosa (d.1908 September) at Miidera, Japan, and meets Duanfang (1861-1911) in China
1910 -- On last trip to Asia, visits Longmen Buddhist caves in China
1911 -- Suffers stroke
1912 -- Lends selection of objects for exhibition at Smithsonian Institution
1913 -- Meets Eugene (1875-1957) and Agnes E. (1887-1970) Meyer
1913 -- Commissions Charles Adams Platt (1861-1933) to design museum building in Washington
1914 -- Meets Katharine Nash Rhoades (1885-1965) in Detroit
1915 -- Settles in New York City
1915 -- Site of future Freer Gallery of Art is determined
1916 -- Platt's plans for Freer Gallery are approved by Smithsonian Regents and Commission of Fine Arts and ground is broken in September
1918 -- After falling ill in Detroit, Freer travels to New York for treatment
1918 -- Work on the museum building is delayed by the war
1919 -- Freer appends codicil to will permitting acquisitions of Asian, Egyptian, and Near Eastern (West Asian) art
1919 -- Dies in New York City on 25 September and is buried in Kingston, New York
1919 -- Construction of Freer Gallery completed
1920 -- John Ellerton Lodge (1876-1942) is appointed director of the Freer Gallery
1923 -- Freer Gallery opens to the public on May 9
1930 -- Memorial ceremony for Freer is held at Koetsuji, Kyoto
Charles Lang Freer was an American industrialist who founded the Freer Gallery of Art. He was a well-known collector of Asian art, and strongly supported the synthesis of Eastern art and Western art. One of his most famous acquisitions was James McNeill Whistler's Peacock Room.
Index to cross-referenced correspondents in the series Charles Lang Freer correspondence
Beal, Junius E. -- See: -- Warring, Joseph Stephens
Black, George M. -- See: -- Saint-Gaudens, Augustus
Board of Education (Kingston, New York) See: Michael, M. J.
Bonner, Campbell See: University of Michigan
Boughton, George H. See: Yardley, F. C.
British Museum See: Binyon, Laurence; Hobson, R. L.
Brown, Harold H. See: Art Association of Indianapolis
Buchner, Evelyn B. See: Knoedler, M., and Company
Buckholder, C. H. See: Art Institute of Chicago
Butler, S. B. See: Unidentified correspondents
Carnegie Institute See: Balken, Edward Duff; Harshe, Robert B.
Carpenter, Newton H. See: Art Institute of Chicago
Caulkins, Horace James See: Pewabic Pottery
Chao, Shih-chin See: Gunn, Chu Su
Chicago & North Western Railway Co. See: Hughett, Marvin
Clark, Charles Upson See: Clark, Arthur B.
Cleveland Museum of Art See: Whiting, Frederic Allen
Columbia University See: Braun, W. A.; Gottheil, Richard; Hirth, Friederich
Commission of Fine Arts See: Moore, Charles
Corcoran Gallery of Art See: Minnigerode, C. Powell
Crocker, Anna B. See: Portland Art Association
Dannenberg, D. E. See: Karlbeck, Orvar
De Menoncal, Beatrice See: Lien, Hui Ch'ing Collection
De Ricci, Seymour See: Ricci, Seymour de
Defnet, William A., Mrs., See: Franke, Ida M.
DeMotte See: Vigouroux, J.
Detroit Institute of Arts See: Detroit Museum of Art
Detroit Publishing Company See: Livingstone, W. A.
Detroit School of Design See: George Hamilton; Stevens, Henry
DeVinne Press See: Peters, Samuel T.; Witherspoon, A. S.
Dyrenforth, P. C. See: Philip, Rosalind Birnie
Eddy, Arthur J. See: Philip, Rosalind Birnie
Eggers, George Williams See: Art Institute of Chicago
Farr, Daniel H. See: Robinson and Farr
Farrand School (Detroit) See: Yendall, Edith
Field Museum of Natural History (Chicago) See: Laufer, Berthold
Flagg, Frederick J. See: Allen, Horace N.
Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University See: Forbes, Edward; Pope, Arthur Upham; Sachs, Paul J.
French, M. R. See: Art Institute of Chicago
Fu, Lan-ya See: Pang, Lai-ch'en
Fujii, Yoshio See: Yoshio, Fujii
Gerrity, Thomas See: Knoedler, M., and Company
Goupil Gallery See: Marchant, William
Gray, William J. See: Barr, Eva
Great Lakes Engineering Works See: Hoyt, H. W.
Grolier Club See: Philip, Rosalind Birnie
Heinemann, W. See: Philip, Rosalind Birnie
Holden, Edward S. See: West Point, U. S. Military Academy
Hudson, J. L. See: Weber, William C.
Hutchins, Harry B. See: University of Michigan
Hutchins, Charles L. See: Art Institute of Chicago
Kelekian, H. G. See: Kelekian, Dikran G.
Kent, H. W. See: Metropolitan Museum of Art
Lee, Kee Son See: Li, Chi-ch'un
Levy, John See: Schneider, A. K.
Library of Congress See: Rice, Richard A.; Wright, Helen
Louvre (Paris, France) See: Midgeon, Gaston
Matsuki, Z. See: Matsuki, Kihachiro
McKim, Mead and White See: White, Stanford
Mills, A. L., Colonel See: Saint-Gaudens, Augustus
Miner, Luella See: Lien, Hui Ch'ing Collection
Minneapolis Institute of Arts See: Breck, Joseph; Van Derlip, John R.
Monif, R. Khan See: Rathbun, Richard
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston See: Lodge, John Ellerton
Naser, Katen & Nahass See: Katen, K.
Nordlinger, Marie, Miss See: Meyer-Riefstahl, Marie
Panama Pacific International Exposition See: Moore, Charles C.; Trask, John E. D.
Peabody Museum See: Morse, Edward Sylvester
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts See: Trask, John E. D.
Saint-Gaudens, Augusta H. See: Saint-Gaudens, Augustus
Saint-Gaudens, Homer See: Saint-Gaudens, Augustus
Samurai Shokai See: Nomura, Yozo
San Francisco Art Association See: Laurvik, J. Nilsen
Scribner's, Charles, Sons See: Van Dyke, John C.
Shaw, Wilfred B. See: University of Michigan
Shirae, S. Z. See: Yamanaka and Company
Smith College See: Clark, Arthur B.
Smithsonian Institution See: Holmes, William Henry; Rathbun, Richard; Ravenel, Walcott, Charles D.
Society of Arts and Crafts (Detroit) See: Plumb, Helen
Societe des Beaux-Arts See: Reid, Alexander
Stevens, George W. See: Toledo Museum of Art
Stratton, Mary Chase Perry See: Pewabic Pottery
Tanaka, Kichijiro See: Yamanaka and Company
Tuttle, William F. See: Art Institute of Chicago
Union Trust Company (Detroit) See: Philip, Rosalind Birnie
United States Military Academy See: West Point, U. S. Military Academy
University of Chicago See: Zug, George Breed
University of Pennsylvania, Univ. Mus. See: Gordon, George Bryon
Ushikubo, D. J. R. See: Yamanaka and Company
Wallis & Son See: Barr, Eva; Thompson, C. Croal Ward, Clarence See: Oberlin College
Warren, Edward K. See: Philip, Rosalind Birnie
Warring, Stephen See: Warring, Joseph Stephens
Watkin, Williams R. T. See: Philip, Rosalind Birnie
Watson, Margaret, Miss See: Parker, Margaret Watson
Whistler, Anna See: Stanton, Anna Whistler
Whiting, Almon C. See: Toledo Museum of Art
Williams College See: Rice, Richard A
Wright, F. G. See: Orbach and Company
Yatsuhashi, H. See: Yamanaka and Company
Index to cross-referenced correspondence in the series Whistler correspondence
Bell, William See: Unidentified correspondents
Brown, Ernest See: Painter Etchers' Society, Committee
Cowen, John T. See subseries: Charles Lang Freer Correspondence
Ford, Sheridan See: Reid, Alexander
Haden, Francis Seymour See: Painter Etchers' Society, Committee
Haden, Francis Seymour, Lady See: Haden, Deborah Whistler
Leighton, Frederick, Baron See: Campbell, Lady Colin
Moore, Albert See: Reid, Alexander
Morley, Charles See: Pall Mall Gazette
Morris, Harrison S. See: Reid, Alexander
Pennell, Joseph See: Miscellaneous typescripts
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts See: Reid, Alexander
Prange, F. G. See: Reid, Alexander
Societe des Beaux-Arts See: Reid, Alexander
Society of Portrait Painters See: Reid, Alexander
Stevens Fine Art See: Reid, Alexander
Studd, Arthur See: Miscellaneous typescripts
[Vanderbilt?], George, Mrs. See: George, Mrs.
Whistler, William McNeill, Mrs. See: Whistler, Nellie
Whistler Memorial Committee See: Miscellaneous typescripts
The Archives of American Art microfilmed portions of the Freer papers in 1992. The microfilm is available at the Archives of American Art's Washington D.C. office, the Freer Gallery of Art Library, and through interlibrary loan.
Gift of the Estate of Charles Lang Freer.
Collection is open for research.
Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository.
The Macbeth Gallery records provide almost complete coverage of the gallery's operations from its inception in 1892 to its closing in 1953. Through extensive correspondence files, financial and inventory records, printed material, scrapbooks, reference and research material, and photographs of artists and works of art, the records document all aspects of the gallery's activities, charting William Macbeth's initial intention to lease his store "for the permanent exhibition and sale of American pictures" through over sixty years of success as a major New York firm devoted to American art. The collection measures 131.6 linear feet and dates from 1838 to 1968 with the bulk of the material dating from 1892 to 1953.
Scope and Content Note:
The Macbeth Gallery records provide almost complete coverage of the gallery's operations from its inception in 1892 to its closing in 1953. The records document all aspects of the gallery's activities, charting William Macbeth's initial intention to lease his store "for the permanent exhibition and sale of American pictures" through over sixty years of success as a major New York firm devoted to American art. The collection measures 131.6 linear feet and dates from 1838 to 1968 with the bulk of the material dating from 1892 to 1953.
The gallery's correspondence files form the core of the collection and illuminate most aspects of American art history: the creation and sale of works of art, the development of reputations, the rise of museums and art societies, change and resistance to change in the art market, and the evolution of taste. Ninety-five feet of correspondence house substantial and informative letters from dozens of important American painters and sculptors, including older artists and younger contemporaries of the gallery in its later years. There are also letters from collectors, curators, other galleries, and critics.
The financial files found in the collection offer insight into the changing economic climate in which the gallery operated. They include information ranging from the details of individual sales and the market for individual artists, to consignment activities and artist commissions, to overviews of annual sales. This information is augmented by the firm's inventory records and the photographs of artwork with their accompanying records of paintings sold. The inventory records provide details of all works of art handled by the gallery, both sold and unsold, and the buyers who purchased them; the photographs of artwork include images of artwork sold with accompanying sales information.
The highlight of the gallery's printed material is the publication Art Notes. Although published only until 1930, Art Notes provides an excellent and detailed view of the gallery's exhibition schedule and the relationship of the gallery owners with many of the artists whose work they handled. It was a house organ that also provided a running commentary on events in the art world. The gallery's 19 fragile scrapbooks, maintained throughout the firm's history, provide further coverage of activities through exhibition catalogs and related news clippings. Printed material from other sources provides a frame of reference for activities in the art world from the mid-19th to the mid-20th-centuries and includes an almost complete run of the rare and important pre-Civil War art publication The Crayon.
Reference files record the interest which the gallery owners took in the work of early portrait painters and in later artists such as George Inness and Winslow Homer. Together with the immense volume of correspondence with buyers and sellers of paintings by the great portraitists and the Hudson River School found in the gallery's correspondence files, these records are still useful sources of information today and underscore the deep interest that the Macbeths and Robert McIntyre took in 18th and 19th-century American art.
The photographs of artists found here are a treasure trove of images of some of the major figures of the 19th and 20th-centuries. There are photographs of artists such as Chester Beach, Emil Carlsen, Charles Melville Dewey, Frederick Carl Frieseke, Childe Hassam, Winslow Homer, George Inness, Maurice Prendergast, and Julian Alden Weir, many of them original prints and the majority of them autographed.
With the exception of the "The Eight" and a few of their contemporaries, an important aspect of art history, the modernist movement, is generally represented in the Macbeth Gallery records only in a negative form as the three successive proprietors of the gallery showed very little interest in this area. Nevertheless, the collection is a highly significant source of information on many of the major and minor figures in American art in the period after 1890.
The collection is arranged into eight series:
Series 1: Correspondence, 1838-1968 (Box 1-95, 163-164, OV 165; 96.2 linear feet)
Series 2: Financial and Shipping Records, 1892-1956 (Box 96-110; 11.8 linear feet)
Series 3: Inventory Records, 1892-circa 1957 (Box 111-113; 3.0 linear feet)
Series 4: Printed Material, 1838-1963 (Box 114-119, 162; 5.0 linear feet)
Series 5: Scrapbooks, 1892-1952 (Box 120-130; 3.3 linear feet)
Series 6: Reference Files, 1839-1959 (Box 131-132; 0.6 linear feet)
Series 7: Miscellaneous Files, 1912-1956 (Box 133-134; 0.8 linear feet)
Series 8: Photographs, circa 1880-circa 1968 (Box 135-161; 12.1 linear feet)
The Macbeth Gallery was established in 1892 by William Macbeth, a Scotch-Irish immigrant who had spent ten years with the print dealer Frederick Keppel before he opened his doors to the art-buying public at 237 Fifth Avenue in New York. Despite the prevailing interest in foreign art at that time, particularly in that of the Barbizon and Dutch schools, Macbeth was determined to dedicate his gallery to "the permanent exhibition and sale of American pictures, both in oil and water colors."
Although some of the gallery's earliest exhibitions were of work by European artists, the business soon became the only gallery in continuous operation that kept American art permanently on display. In the January 1917 issue of Art Notes, Macbeth recounts those early days remembering that "The opening of my gallery......was a rash venture under the existing conditions, and disaster was freely predicted." Nevertheless, he struggled through the financial crisis of 1893 and persisted with his devotion to American art; slowly the market for his pictures grew more amenable.
Macbeth moved to more spacious quarters at 450 Fifth Avenue in 1906 and two years later undertook what was to become the major event in the gallery's early history: the 1908 exhibition of "The Eight," featuring work by Arthur B. Davies, Willam J. Glackens, Robert Henri, Ernest Lawson, George Luks, Maurice Prendergast, Everett Shinn, and John Sloan. "The Eight" were an unlikely combination of social realists, visionaries and impressionists eager to challenge the dominating influence of the National Academy. The exhibition received an immense amount of publicity and instantly entered into art history as a successful assault on tradition.
Despite the splash that the exhibition made and its implications for the future of American art, nothing that the gallery did subsequently indicated that Macbeth intended to capitalize on its significance. It is true that Macbeth supported many artists later considered leaders in American art when the public would pay no attention to them because of their modernist tendencies; Arthur B. Davies, Paul Dougherty, Maurice Prendergast, Theodore Robinson, and F. Ballard Williams all held their first exhibitions at his gallery. Nevertheless, neither Macbeth nor the gallery's two successive proprietors, Robert G. McIntyre (William's nephew) and Robert Macbeth (William's son), who joined the gallery in 1903 and 1906 respectively, ever developed a true interest in modern art. The November 1930 issue of Art Notes summarizes their collective disdain for modernism, stating: "We believe that, by and large, modern art is amusing. We are heretical enough to believe that much of it was started for the amusement of its creators and that no one was more surprised than they when it was taken seriously by a certain audience to whom the bizarre and the unintelligible always makes an appeal." So while the Macbeths and McIntyre cetainly championed American artists and insisted they deserved as much recognition as the Europeans, their deepest and most abiding interest was undoubtedly the established artists of the 18th and 19th-centuries and those of the early 20th-century who continued in a more conservative style. Artists such as Emil Carlsen, Charles Harold Davis, Frederick C. Frieseke, Robert Henri, Winslow Homer, Chauncey F. Ryder, Abbot Handerson Thayer, J. Francis Murphy, A. H. Wyant were the gallery's bread and butter.
When William Macbeth died in 1917 Robert Macbeth took up the reins with the assistance of Robert G. McIntyre . Although they incorporated the business as William Macbeth, Inc., in 1918 the gallery continued to be known, as it always would be, simply as Macbeth Gallery. Macbeth and McIntyre continued to show work in the same vein as the elder Macbeth. They concentrated primarily on oil paintings at this time, having found by the 1920s that "oils are all that our gallery owners will buy," though they also exhibited an occasional group of watercolors and pastels in addition to bronzes and other sculpture by contemporary American artists such as Chester Beach and Janet Scudder.
Of the early American painters the Macbeths and McIntyre were particularly interested in colonial portraits and miniatures, especially those painted by prominent artists in the latter part of the eighteenth century such as John Singleton Copley, Gilbert Stuart, Thomas Sully and John Trumbull. In its early years the gallery also handled the work of a few prominent American etchers including Frank W. Benson, Emil Fuchs, Daniel Garber, Childe Hassam and Chauncey F. Ryder. The print department was generally discontinued, however, in the late 1930s although the gallery continued to show prints by contemporaries such as Stow Wengenroth.
In 1924 relative prosperity allowed the gallery to move uptown to 15 East Fifty-seventh Street. When the 1930s brought new financial hardship for the gallery Macbeth and McIntyre took a variety of approaches to boosting sales. In 1930 they decided to hold only group exhibitions throughout the season to the exclusion of one-man shows, and also held some special exhibitions of paintings priced at a hundred dollars each in the hope that they could tempt those "willing to take advantage of a rare chance to secure representative examples of good art at a most attractive price." A move to smaller quarters at 15 East Fifty-seventh Street in 1935 was made with the intention of concentrating their efforts on the work of fewer contemporary artists, while continuing to handle the work of the older Americans they had long supported.
When Macbeth died suddenly and unexpectedly in August 1940 following an operation for appendicitis, McIntyre continued to run the gallery with the assistance of Hazel Lewis. During the 1940s McIntyre and Lewis showed primarily contemporary art in a wide range of media including oil, watercolor, pastel, drawing and sculpture, while continuing, as always, to show the occasional group of 19th-century Americans. The great success of the gallery's later years was undeniably Andrew Wyeth whose first exhibition, held at Macbeth Gallery in 1937, resulted in the sale of all twenty-two paintings cataloged.
Although subsequent Wyeth exhibitions were also successful, McIntyre struggled financially throughout the 1940s and periodically considered liquidating the company. Although "vitally interested" in contemporary art by people such as Robert Brackman, Jay Connaway, Carl Gaertner, James Lechay, Herbert Meyer and Ogden M. Pleissner he found that, for the most part, it did not pay. McIntyre continued operations until 1953 when he decided that doing so for profit was not only a financial burden but also ran contrary to his desire to spend more time devoted to his first love, early American art. When the lease expired on 11 East Fifty-seventh Street in April 1953 McIntyre did not renew it. After closing the gallery's doors he sold art from his New York apartment and from his home in Dorset, Vermont. He officially dissolved William Macbeth, Inc., in 1957.
The history of the Macbeth Gallery is a long and distinguished one with each successive proprietor making a significant contribution to art in America. William Macbeth helped establish an audience and a market for American art when few were willing to give it serious consideration. Robert Macbeth continued to cement the gallery's reputation as one of the leading firms in New York and was instrumental in organizing the American Art Dealers Association. Robert G. McIntyre claimed in a letter to Lloyd Goodrich, dated 22 June 1945, that the thing of which he was most proud was "the share I have had in the formation of the collection of the Addison Gallery of American Art, at Andover, Massacusetts." McIntyre was widely respected in the art community as a dealer, as an adviser to curators, and as a scholar whose research and book on Martin Johnson Heade helped "rediscover" an important American artist. One of his most significant and lasting contributions to the history of art in America, however, was undoubtedly his gift of the gallery's historical records to the Archives of American Art.
Among the holdings of the Archives of American are a small collection of scattered Robert McIntyre's papers and 9 items of William Macbeth's papers. Macbeth Gallery exhibition catalogs are also available in the American Art Exhibition Catalog collection and the Brooklyn Museum Records, both loaned and microfilmed collections.
An extensive collection of Macbeth Gallery exhibition catalogs are also held by the Frick Art Reference Library and the Watson Library of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The bulk of the Macbeth Gallery records were donated and microfilmed in several installments between 1955 and 1966 by Robert G. McIntyre and Estate. Additional Macbeth Gallery printed material was donated by Phoebe C. and William Macbeth II, grandchildren of William Macbeth, in 1974.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center.
Macbeth Gallery records, 1838-1968, bulk 1892 to 1953. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Getty Grant Program. Digitization of the scrapbooks was supported by a grant from the Smithsonian Institution Women's Committee. Correspondence, financial and shipping records, inventory records, and printed material were digitized with funding provided by the Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts, the Terra Foundation for American Art and The Walton Family Foundation.
Correspondence, with letters and etchings from Bernhardt Wall; correspondence, constitution, by-laws, and minutes of the Painter's Club of Fort Worth; meeting notes for the Fort Worth Art Association; lists of works; clippings; catalogs; writings; memoirs of his childhood and student years at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; lecture notes and illustrations of lecture topics; photographs; church bulletins illustrated by Ziegler; and etchings, sketches, and sketchbooks.
Biographical / Historical:
Painter, etcher, lithographer, musician; Texas.
Lent for microfilming May 1980 by Samye Ziegler Hunt, daughter of Ziegler. Microfilmed as part of the Archives of American Art's Texas project.
The Archives of American art does not own the original papers. Use is limited to the microfilm copy.
Letters to Radin from painters, etchers, mezzotinters, wood engravers, lithographers and book-plate designers, primarily from England, but also from Wales, Germany, Austria, Belgium and the U.S.
Correspondents include: Walter M. Aikman, Timothy Cole, Ralph A. Cram, Mallette Dean, William F. Hopson, Dard Hunter, Kathe Kollwitz, Julius J. Lankes, Clare Leighton, Allen Lewis, Warren Mack, Thomas Nason, Christopher Nevinson, Ralph Pearson, Lucien and Esther Pissarro, George Plank, Ernest D. Roth, Rudolph Ruzicka, J. André Smith, Sidney L. Smith, Wilbur Stone, Ernest Watson, William G. Watt, Frederick Weber, and Henry Wolf.
Biographical / Historical:
Physician, print collector; New York City.
Microfilmed 1956 by the Archives of American Art with other art-related papers in the Manuscript Division of the New York Public Library. Included in the microfilming project were selected papers of the Art Division and the Prints Division.
The Archives of American art does not own the original papers. Use is limited to the microfilm copy.