The papers of sculptor Janet DeCoux date from 1895-2000 and measure 3.92 linear feet. The collection documents DeCoux's career through scattered biographical material, correspondence, audio cassette tapes of an autobiographical narrative, an interview transcript, miscellaneous notes and writings, sketchbooks and drawings, files for commissioned sculpture projects, printed material, photographs of DeCoux, family members, friends, colleagues, and artwork.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of sculptor Janet deCoux measure 3.92 linear feet and date from 1895 to 2000. Found within the papers are scattered biographical material, including curriculum vitae and a file concerning deCoux's induction as a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania. Correspondence is primarily between family, friends, and colleagues. It includes letters from Carl Milles, Bruce Moore, C.P. Jennewein, the Guild of Liturgy, Art and Design (GLAD), the Liturgical Arts Society, Inc., sculptor James Earle Fraser, offering advice on various sculpture projects, his wife Laura Gardin Fraser, a letter of congratulations from Paul Manship on the occasion of deCoux's election to the National Academy of Design, and approximately fifty letters, 1944-1952, from Anne Morrow Lindbergh, writer and wife of aviator Charles Lindbergh. There are also one or two letters from Lu Duble, Joseph Bailey Ellis, Mark Tobey, and Albert Wein.
Found within the papers are a transcript of an interview of deCoux by George Gurney, and audio cassettes with transcripts of an autobiographical narrative by deCoux. Miscellaneous notes and writings include autobiographical accounts and poems by deCoux and miscellaneous writings by others. Seven of deCoux's sketchbooks and a folder of drawings by deCoux, as well as a portrait of deCoux by C. Paul Jennewein are found in the Artwork series. Project files contain letters, receipts, clippings, brochures, and photographs for sculpture projects primarily commissioned by religious organizations. Printed material includes clippings, exhibition catalogs, and miscellaneous brochures. Photographs are of deCoux, family members, friends including Anne Morrow Lindbergh and her children, colleagues including James Earle Fraser, Laura Gardin Fraser, Carl Milles, and Bruce Moore, and sculpture.
The collection is arranged as 8 series. Glass plate negative housed separately and closed to researchers.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1895-1993 (Box 1; 13 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1895-2000 (Boxes 1-2; 1.0 linear feet)
Series 3: Interviews, 1978, 1990 (Box 2; 3 folders)
Series 4: Notes and Writings, 1937-1996 (Box 2; 23 folders)
Series 5: Artwork, 1928-1929 (Boxes 2, 6; 9 folders)
Series 6: Project Files, 1942-1982 (Boxes 2-3, 6; 36 folders)
Series 7: Printed Material, 1906-2000 (Box 3; 20 folders)
Series 8: Photographs, 1926-1996 (Boxes 3-6, MGP 1; 1.3 linear feet)
Janet deCoux was born on October 5, 1904 in Niles, Michigan, the youngest of the five children of Bertha Wright deCoux and Rev. Charles John deCoux, an Episcopal clergyman. The family moved to Grand Rapids in 1908 and four years later to a farm in Gibsonia, outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
deCoux studied with Joseph Bailey Ellis at the Carnegie Institute of Technology from 1925 to 1927. She then apprenticed in the New York studio of C. Paul Jennewein for fifteen months, followed by a year at the Gorham Bronze Division learning architectural modeling. She also worked with Aristide Cianfarani in Providence, and for Alvin Meyer in Chicago. While serving her apprenticeships, she attended night school at the New York School of Industrial Arts, the Rhode Island School of Design, and the Art Institute of Chicago. deCoux was then employed in James Earle Fraser's studio where she had previously assisted Gozo Kawamura.
In 1932 deCoux met Eliza Miller in the sculpture department of Carnegie Tech, beginning a sixty-year relationship in which they shared a shop and adjoining studios in Gibsonia, Pennsylvania. For several months in 1935, deCoux traveled to Germany, Italy, and Switzerland, where she joined her friend Aly Moore, the wife of sculptor Bruce Moore. She first met longtime friend Father Hughson on a ship returning to the United States from Europe.
A Guggenheim Fellowship awarded to deCoux in 1938 was renewed for a second year. In 1943, she became resident instructor at Cranbrook Academy of Art.
Janet deCoux died in December 1999.
Also found in the Archives of American Art is an oral history interview with Janet deCoux done by George Gurney, May 5, 1978.
The Janet deCoux papers were donated in 1992 by the artist and in two later installments in 2000-2001 by her longtime companion, Eliza Miller.
The collection is open for research. Use requires an appointment.
The Janet deCoux 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.
Janet deCoux papers, 1895-2000. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Glass plate negatives in this collection were digitized in 2019 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Women's Committee.