An interview of Henry Francis Sayles conducted 1974 Mar. 28-1975 July 11, by Robert Brown, for the Archives of American Art.
Francis discusses his childhood and education, attending college at Harvard; working at the Fogg Art Museum and at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; his career as curator of prints and paintings at Cleveland Museum of Art; his uncle Henry Sayles, a major collector of Barbizon School paintings; his relationships with dealers, and with the directors and trustees of Cleveland Museum of Art.
Biographical / Historical:
Henry Sayles Francis (1902-1994) was a curator and art historian at the Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics, and administrators.
Art historians -- Ohio -- Cleveland -- Interviews Search this
Art museum curators -- Ohio -- Cleveland -- Interviews Search this
Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.
The papers of architectural historian, author, critic, teacher, and museum director, Henry-Russell Hitchcock, date from 1919-1987 and measure 24.8 linear feet. Almost all of the collection is comprised of Hitchcock's correspondence files relating to academic research, teaching, curatorial interests, and professional associations. Letters are from prominent architectural historians, architects, artists, preservationists, museum directors and curators, and family and friends. Also found are two feet of writings by Hitchcock and others, scattered biographical information, printed material, and photographs of Hitchcock and architecture.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of architectural historian, author, critic, teacher, and museum director, Henry-Russell Hitchcock, date from 1919-1987 and measure 24.8 linear feet. Almost all of the collection is comprised of Hitchcock's correspondence files relating to academic research, teaching, curatorial interests, and professional associations. Letters are from prominent architectural historians, architects, artists, preservationists, museum directors and curators, and family and friends. Also found are two feet of writings by Hitchcock and others, scattered biographical information, miscellaneous records, printed material, and photographs of Hitchcock and architecture.
Among the biographical documents are Hitchcock's birth certificate, passport, and wills. Awards, citations, honorary degrees and commendations are from the University of Pennsylvania, Wesleyan University, the Friends of Cast Iron Architecture, National Institute of Arts and Letters, and the Victorian Society in America.
Chronological name and subject files consist mostly of correspondence and printed material along with a small number of photographs. They include personal and professional correspondence and subject files relating to academic research, teaching, curatorial interests, and professional associations. The correspondence includes large numbers of letters from prominent architectural historians, architects, artists, preservationists, museum directors and curators. Also included are students, friends, relatives, publishers, and representatives of organizations and institutions. Among those of note are: Jere Abbott, Everett A. (Chick) Austin, Alfred H. Barr, Bernard Berenson, Eugene Berman, Leonid Berman, Lyonel Feininger, Henry (Harry) Sayles Francis, Brendan Gill, Robert Goldwater, George Howe, Philip C. Johnson, Edgar Kaufmann, Jr., Lincoln Kirstein, Thomas J. McCormick, Lewis Mumford, J.J.P. Oud, Erwin Panofsky, Nikolaus Pevsner, Kingsley Porter, Paul J. Sachs, R. M. Schindler, Vincent Scully, Jr., Theodore Sizer, E. Baldwin Smith, Peter van der Meulen Smith, James Soby, Victor Spark, Harold Sterner, John Summerson, Virgil Thomson, Paul Vanderbilt, Theo Van Doesburg, Helmut von Erffa, Gordon Washburn, Rudolf Wittkower, and Frank Lloyd Wright.
Writings by Hitchcock consist of manuscripts and drafts of numerous published and unpublished articles, book chapters, and his masters thesis. Other writings by Hitchcock include lecture notes and texts, book reviews, notes, outlines, photo lists, and a bibliography. Among the other authors represented in this series are John Coolidge and Sir Wilfred Green.
Miscellaneous records consist of the alien registration card of Hitchcock's friend Peter van der Meulen Smith, architectural drawings by Hitchcock, book contracts, and a small number of receipts and invoices.
Printed material consists of articles about, by, or mentioning Henry-Russell Hitchcock, along with advertisements for his books, and postcards of architectural subjects.
Photographs are of architecture, art work, events, people, places, and miscellaneous subjects; also included are color slides, negatives, and transparencies. Architectural subjects include the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and Gaudi, as well as interior and exterior views of buildings identified only by location. Photographs of people include Henry-Russell Hitchcock, Chick Austin and Ernestine Carter, Alexander Dorner, Tammy Grimes, Lincoln Kirstein, the Steinway family, and Edgar Tafel. Events recorded include the Society of Architectural Historians at the Newport Casino, Hitchcock receiving honorary degrees at the University of Glasgow and Wesleyan University, and a high tea sponsored by the Victorian Society in America. Family houses and views of Greece are among the photographs of places. Miscellaneous subjects include exhibition installations and family heirlooms.
The collection is arranged as 6 series:
Series 1: Biographical Information, 1922-1984 (Box 1; 0.1 linear ft.)
Series 2: Chronological Name and Subject Files, 1919-1987 (Boxes 1-22; 21.9 linear ft.)
Series 3: Writings, 1922-circa 1978 (Boxes 23-24; 2.0 linear ft.)
Series 4: Miscellaneous Records, 1928-1977 (Box 25; 0.1 linear ft.)
Series 5: Printed Material, 1922-1984 (Boxes 25-26; 0.4 linear ft.)
Series 6: Photographs, circa 1926-1979 (Box 26; 0.3 linear ft.)
Henry-Russell Hitchcock, considered the "father" of modern architectural historiography, played a major role in bringing modern architecture to the United States. As an eminent professor for more than forty years, Hitchcock trained and influenced several generations of scholars and critics. He combined a love of architecture with criticism and scholarship to produce a large number of distinguished monographs and articles on a broad range of styles and periods.
Born in Boston in 1903, Henry-Russell Hitchcock was the son of Mayflower descendants. At Harvard University, he studied medieval history with A. Kingsly Porter as his mentor and completed the undergraduate curriculum in three years. Hitchcock spent his senior year studying architecture, graduated in 1924, and stayed to study for a master's degree, which was awarded in 1927. During his years at Harvard, he wrote for Hound and Horn and knew Alfred Barr, T. S. Eliot, Philip Johnson, Lincoln Kirstein, Virgil Thomson, and others who became leaders in the modernist movement.
Henry-Russell Hitchcock's teaching career began when he was appointed an assistant professor at Vassar College for the academic year 1927-28. In 1929, he joined the faculty of Wesleyan University, where he remained for two decades before moving to Smith College in 1949. During his tenures at Wesleyan and Smith, his services as a visiting lecturer were employed on many occasions by Cambridge University, Connecticut College, Harvard University, the Institute of Fine Arts, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Yale University. Upon retiring from Smith College in 1968, Hitchcock moved to New York City and taught briefly at Columbia University, the Institute of Fine Arts, and the University of Massachusetts, at Amherst.
Best known as a proponent of modernism, Hitchcock wrote more than two dozen books about a wide range of styles and periods, and most are considered standard works on their subjects. His first, Modern Architecture: Romanticism and Reintegration, appeared in 1929 and was the first book on the subject to be published in English; his final book, German Renaissance Architecture, was published in 1981.
Henry-Russell Hitchcock served as director of the Smith College Museum between 1949 and 1955. In addition, he was curator of several exhibitions, the first and most important of which was Modern Architecture: International Exhibition, organized in collaboration with Philip C. Johnson and held at the Museum of Modern Art. Their book, The International Style: Architecture Since 1922, was published in 1932 in conjunction with the exhibition.
During World War II, Hitchcock's civilian service included working as director of the U. S. Navy's Photographic Library and writing Pratt and Whitney aircraft engine manuals.
Henry-Russell Hitchcock was an active member of many professional associations. He served as president of the Society of Architectural Historians from 1952 to 1954. In addition, he was a founding member of The Victorian Society in Great Britain, and between 1969 and 1974 was president of its sister organization, The Victorian Society in America.
During his long and illustrious career, Henry-Russell Hitchcock won many awards and honors. Awards for Early Victorian Architecture in Britain and Architecture: Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries were conferred by the Society of Architectural Historians (1955) and College Art Association (1960), respectively. Hitchcock received the Royal Society of Arts Medal for Best Lecture (1956) and its Benjamin Franklin Medal (1970), in addition to the American Institute of Architects' Architectural Critics' Medal (1970). Other awards include: National Institute of Arts and Letters Award (1956), American Council of Learned Societies Prize for Distinguished Accomplishment in Humanistic Scholarship (1961), Friends of Cast-Iron Architecture Certificate of Commendation (1978), the American Institute of Architects Award of Merit (1978), and Municipal Art Society Certificate of Merit (1978).
He received honorary degrees from Glasgow University and the University of Pennsylvania in 1973, and in 1979 from Wesleyan University. In Search of Modern Architecture: A Tribute to Henry-Russell Hitchcock, edited by Helen Searing, was published by The Architectural History Foundation in 1982.
Due to declining health, Henry-Russell Hitchcock lectured rarely and wrote little in the three years preceding his death from cancer. He died in New York City, February 19, 1987.
The Archives of American Art also holds Henry-Russell Hitchcock letters to Dorothy Stroud and John N. Summerson, 1946-1949. Additional Henry-Russell Hitchcock papers (circa 8 linear feet) are in the Special Collections division of Wesleyan University Library.
Mosette Broderick, assistant to Hitchcock and his literary executor, donated the papers to the Archives of American Art in 1988.
The collection is open for research. Use requires an appointment.
Architectural historians -- New York (State) -- New York Search this
Museum directors -- New York (State) -- New York Search this
Henry-Russell Hitchcock papers, 1919-1987. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art
5 Linear feet ((partially microfilmed on 6 reels))
Scope and Contents:
Biographical information, correspondence, subject files, notebooks, photographs, clippings, price lists concern Francis' work at the Cleveland Museum of Art, his friendship with George Kates, and his interest in painter William Sommer.
REELS 881-882: Primarily research material compiled by Francis and his wife Frances Merriman Francis for the Ten Thirty Gallery Sommer retrospective in 1946 and the Cleveland Museum of Art's William Sommer Memorial Exhibition, held November 1-December 10, 1950. Included are biographical material; correspondence of Henry Sayles Francis and other museum staff regarding Sommer, and copies and transcripts of Sommer's correspondence (including a few letters from Hart Crane); reminiscences of Sommer from friends and colleagues; exhibition catalogs; notebooks of information on Sommer's works; and a bibliography.
REELS 3838-3841: Biographical information; correspondence, arranged chronologically, with colleagues, friends, dealers, collectors, and others; and subject/correspondence files, arranged alphabetically, on colleagues, dealers, exhibitions, and various art topics; photographs of Francis, juries (Charles Sheeler is in one), Matisse in his studio, Somerset Maugham, Frits Lugt, and his wife; and clippings relating chiefly to the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Subject/correspondence file titles include: Jere Abbott, Sir Geoffrey Agnew, Winslow Ames, Harry W. Anderson Collection, R. Kirk Askew, Bernard Berenson (ca. 50 letters received), John Bergschneider, Walter Blodgett, Rowland Burdon-Muller, David Carritt, Charles Chetham, Cleveland Museum of Art, John I. Coddington, Ralph Tracy Coe, Contini Collection, Cooper Union, Richard S. Davis, Robert Tyler Davis, Harold S. Ede, Ross Edman, Everett Fahy, Julia Feininger, Henry-Russell Hitchcock, Howard C. Hollis, Charles Hopkinson, Michael Jaffeé, Harold Joachim, Lincoln Kirstein, Henry Adams LaFarge, Viktor Langen, Nicky Mariano, William Mathewson Milliken, Agnes Mongan, William Mostyn-Owen, Roger Hale Newton, Benedict Nicolson, Luisa Nicolson, Harold Woodbury Parsons, John Pope-Hennessy, Alan Priest, John Rewald, Marvin C. Ross, Henry Preston Rossiter, Paul Joseph Sachs, Meryle Secrest, Germain Seligman, Peter Shepherd, Theodore Sizer, William Sommer (exhibitions), Frederick A. Sweet, Daviel Varney Thompson, Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, Gertrude Underhill, Peter Vanderbilt, Langdon Warner, Nancy and William Wixom, and Richard H. Zinser.
UNMICROFILMED: Primarily letters from and material on George Norbert Kates, an authority on pre-communist China and Francis's lifetime friend and additional material on William Sommer. Kates material consists of ca. 1000 letters to Francis, ca. 1924-1984, concerning personal affairs, financial ventures, their research efforts and careers, and Kates's research on the 15th century Duchess Eleanor of Scotland. A significant number of letters from 1953 refer to Bernard Berenson and his art research and collection. Also included are a subject file on Kates' interest in Herman Hesse; and a file of Kates' research material on Duchess Eleanor of Scotland.
Unmicrofilmed Sommer material includes a letter from Sommer to C.P. Marsh, 1931; a Christmas card from Josephine and Theodor Braasch to Sommer; a page of writings by Sommer; photographs of Sommer and of a studio; several sketches and drawings; and printed material.
REEL 440 AND SCANNED One photograph of Sommer, microfilmed under Photos of Artists I, and scanned.
The remaining unfilmed material consists of Francis's notebooks (4 v.) primarily about the history of European paintings, drawings and prints, including notes about individual works of art; financial records, including price lists of European works of art, ca. 1930-1969, price list, insurance values and appraisals of two collections from the Cleveland Museum of Art, ca. 1923-1957; and minutes from two accessioning meetings at the Museum, 1930 and 1931.
Biographical / Historical:
Art museum curator; Cleveland, Ohio. Francis worked at the Cleveland Museum of Art from 1927 to 1929, leaving for a position at the Fogg Museum as assistant to directors Edward Forbes and Paul Sachs. He returned to the Cleveland Museum in 1931, remaining there as Curator of Paintings and Prints until 1967.
Research material on William Sommer donated 1975 by Henry Sayles Francis; he donated the remainder in 1984.
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.
An interview of Philip Rhys Adams conducted 1976 September 29, by Louise Bruner, for the Archives of American Art.
Adams discusses the development of the Cincinnati Art Museum and the arrangement of its collections; gifts to the Museum from John Josiah Emery, Mary Emery, Herbert Greer French, Mary Hanna and Mary Johnston; Cincinnati artists including Jim Dine, Frank Duveneck, Henry Francis, Tom Wesselman, and Worthington Whittredge; the expense of a loan exhibition versus museum purchases; and the Contemporary Arts Center and other educational programs. Adams also summarizes his educational background and career.
Biographical / Historical:
Philip Rhys Adams (1908-1993) was the museum director of Cincinnati Art Museum.
Originally recorded on 3 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 5 digital wav files. Duration is 2 hrs., 39 min.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and others.