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Oliver Ingraham Lay, Charles Downing Lay, and Lay Family papers, 1789-2000, bulk 1870-1996

Creator:
Lay, Oliver Ingraham, 1845-1890  Search this
Lay, C.D. (Charles Downing), 1877-1956  Search this
Lay, Oliver Ingraham, 1845-1890  Search this
Subject:
Bridges, Fidelia  Search this
Lay, Laura Gill  Search this
Lay, Marian Wait  Search this
Type:
Landscape drawings
Diaries
Scrapbooks
Sketchbooks
Sketches
Topic:
Landscape architects  Search this
Painters -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Photographs  Search this
Theme:
Lives of American Artists  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)6011
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)234611
AAA_collcode_layoliv
Theme:
Lives of American Artists
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_234611
Online Media:

Photographs

Collection Creator:
Lay, Oliver Ingraham, 1845-1890  Search this
Lay, Charles Downing, 1877-1956  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1857-1933
Scope and Contents:
This subseries houses photographs, cartes de visites albums, tintypes, glass plate negatives, and one negative. There are images of Oliver Ingraham Lay, Marian Wait Lay, Charles Downing Lay, and Wilfrid Lay, individually and with others. Photographs of other Lay family members include Charles Downing, Mary Downing, Samuel Wait (Marian's brother), William A. Brown, Phebe C. Brown (William's wife), and their daughters, Alice, Annie, and Laura. Tintypes include Charles Downing Lay with an unidentified individual; two tintypes of Marian Wait Lay in her youth; three tintypes of Laura Brown; and three tintypes of an unidentified woman.

Three cartes de visites albums contain images of various family members and friends; many individuals are unidentified. The albums were received with numerous images missing. Also found are glass plate negatives of Oliver Ingraham Lay's portrait of Aaron Burr and his portrait of Edwin Booth as Hamlet.
Collection Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Washington, D.C. Research Center.
Collection Rights:
The Archives of American Art makes its archival collections available for non-commercial, educational and personal use unless restricted by copyright and/or donor restrictions, including but not limited to access and publication restrictions. AAA makes no representations concerning such rights and restrictions and it is the user's responsibility to determine whether rights or restrictions exist and to obtain any necessary permission to access, use, reproduce and publish the collections. Please refer to the Smithsonian's Terms of Use for additional information.
Collection Citation:
Oliver Ingraham Lay, Charles Downing Lay, and Lay Family Papers, 1789-2000, bulk 1870-1996. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.layoliv, Subseries 1.8
See more items in:
Oliver Ingraham Lay, Charles Downing Lay, and Lay Family papers
Oliver Ingraham Lay, Charles Downing Lay, and Lay Family papers / Series 1: Oliver Ingraham Lay and Marian Wait Lay Papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-aaa-layoliv-ref61

Correspondence

Collection Creator:
Lay, Oliver Ingraham, 1845-1890  Search this
Lay, Charles Downing, 1877-1956  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1814-1944
Scope and Contents:
Included are letters between Oliver Ingraham Lay and Marian Wait Lay, as well as the respective correspondence files of Oliver Ingraham Lay, Marian Wait Lay, Wilfrid Lay (Oliver's son), Charles Downing, and various family members, reflecting the mutual interaction between friends, acquaintances, and colleagues. Topics include daily events, personal reflections, creative activities, trips, and residences.

Oliver Ingraham Lay's letters to family members and friends describe his painting activities, working methods, and projects, including his commissioned portraits for Edwin Booth and Cyrus Field. Many contain references to Lay's prominent clients, such as Cornelia Curtis and family, Frederick and Mathilda Shelton, and Mary Shannon and the Shannon family. Also found are letters from Alexander Lawrie discussing his painting and financial difficulties. Lay's letters contain references to his colleagues, Henry Bellows, Fidelia Bridges, Sanford Gifford, Jervis McEntee, and William Trost Richards, among others. There are scattered references to Lay's exhibitions at the Artists' Fund Society, the Brooklyn Society of Artists, and the Century Association. One letter to Annie Brown describes his meeting with Oscar Wilde at the Century Association.

Condolence letters to Marian Lay upon Oliver Ingraham Lay's death include letters from Fidelia Bridges and George Henry Story. A file of transcriptions contains miscellaneous correspondence and two theatrical scenarios by Lay, reflecting the artist's enduring interest in the stage productions of his day.

Also of interest, are items found in the correspondence files of Lay family members. Charles Downing's letters to Marian Wait Lay discuss his experimental fruit plantings conducted at his residence in Newburgh, New York. The Brown family correspondence contains numerous references to Fidelia Bridges; also found is an illustrated letter from Annie Brown to Oliver Ingraham Lay. Letters exchanged between Samuel Wait and his son and namesake, Samuel, wholesale dealers in cattle and grain illustrate the manner in which mercantile activities were conducted during the early half of the nineteenth century.
Arrangement:
The files are organized according to family members' surname; material within each folder is arranged chronologically.
Collection Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Washington, D.C. Research Center.
Collection Rights:
The Archives of American Art makes its archival collections available for non-commercial, educational and personal use unless restricted by copyright and/or donor restrictions, including but not limited to access and publication restrictions. AAA makes no representations concerning such rights and restrictions and it is the user's responsibility to determine whether rights or restrictions exist and to obtain any necessary permission to access, use, reproduce and publish the collections. Please refer to the Smithsonian's Terms of Use for additional information.
Collection Citation:
Oliver Ingraham Lay, Charles Downing Lay, and Lay Family Papers, 1789-2000, bulk 1870-1996. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.layoliv, Subseries 1.2
See more items in:
Oliver Ingraham Lay, Charles Downing Lay, and Lay Family papers
Oliver Ingraham Lay, Charles Downing Lay, and Lay Family papers / Series 1: Oliver Ingraham Lay and Marian Wait Lay Papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-aaa-layoliv-ref6

Oliver Ingraham Lay, Charles Downing Lay, and Lay Family papers

Creator:
Lay, Oliver Ingraham, 1845-1890  Search this
Lay, Charles Downing, 1877-1956  Search this
Names:
Bridges, Fidelia, 1834-1923  Search this
Lay, Laura Gill  Search this
Lay, Marian Wait  Search this
Extent:
10.54 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Landscape drawings
Diaries
Scrapbooks
Sketchbooks
Sketches
Date:
1789-2000
bulk 1870-1996
Summary:
The Oliver Ingraham Lay, Charles Downing Lay, and Lay Family Papers measure 10.54 linear feet and date from 1789 through 2000, with the bulk of the material dating from circa 1870-1996. The collection presents an overview of the personal lives and careers of painter, Oliver Ingraham Lay and his son, landscape architect, Charles Downing Lay. In addition, there are the papers of Lay family members and friends, including those of the Marian Wait Lay family (wife of Oliver Ingraham Lay) and of the Laura Gill Lay family (wife of Charles Downing Lay). Also found are the papers of the landscape and nature painter Fidelia Bridges. The collection consists of biographical material, correspondence, diaries, writings and notes, scrapbooks, family business records, exhibition files, printed material, as well as original artwork, sketches, a sketchbook, landscape designs, and photographs.
Scope and Contents:
The Oliver Ingraham Lay, Charles Downing Lay, and Lay Family Papers measure 10.54 linear feet and date from 1789 through 2000, with the bulk of the material dating from circa 1870-1996. The collection presents an overview of the personal lives and careers of painter, Oliver Ingraham Lay and his son, landscape architect, Charles Downing Lay. In addition, there are the papers of Lay family members and friends, including those of the Marian Wait Lay family (wife of Oliver Ingraham Lay) and of the Laura Gill Lay family (wife of Charles Downing Lay). Also found are the papers of the landscape and nature painter Fidelia Bridges. The collection consists of biographical material, correspondence, diaries, writings and notes, scrapbooks, family business records, exhibition files, printed material, as well as original artwork, sketches, a sketchbook, landscape designs, and photographs.

The extensive correspondence files illustrate the interaction between the Lays' and their extended circle of family members and friends, offering a view of the social and cultural milieu of a cross section of New England and New York gentry, from the mid-nineteenth through the early twentieth centuries. The papers also provide a resource to study the work of Oliver Ingraham Lay and of Charles Downing Lay through original drawings, sketches, and landscape designs.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged as 3 series.

Series 1: Oliver Ingraham Lay and Marian Wait Lay Papers, 1789-1955 (4.2 linear ft.; Boxes 1-5, OV 11)

Series 2: Charles Downing Lay and Laura Gill Lay Papers, 1864-1993 (4.2 linear ft.; Boxes 5-9, OV 12-13)

Series 3: Fidelia Bridges Papers, 1857-2000 (1.4 linear ft.; Boxes 9-10)
Biographical / Historical:
Oliver Ingraham Lay (1845-1890) was a painter of portraits and genre scenes. Charles Downing Lay (1898-1956) was a landscape planner, architect, and painter.

Born in 1845 in New York City, Oliver Ingraham Lay studied under the painter Thomas Hicks (1823-1890) and attended the Cooper Institute and the National Academy of Design. Best-known for his portraiture, Lay's subjects included socially and politically prominent individuals, as well as artists, actors, and friends, such as Fidelia Bridges and Edwin Booth, among others. In 1876, Lay was elected to membership to the National Academy of Design and the Artists' Fund Society; in 1887 he became a member of the Century Association. Lay was married to Marian Wait, the niece of the pre-eminent pomologist, Charles Downing (1802-1885) and landscape gardener and rural architect, Andrew Jackson Downing (1815-1852).

Oliver's son, Charles Downing Lay was born in Newburgh, New York in 1898. He attended the School of Architecture at Columbia University from 1896-1900 and earned a Bachelor of Science from Harvard University's School of Landscape Architecture in 1902. That same year, Lay established a landscape practice in New York City; he also served as Landscape Architect for the City of New York from 1911-1912. In 1904, he married Laura Brown Gill.

In addition to his public work projects, he received numerous commissions for private homes and estates in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Lay, along with Henry V. Hubbard and Robert Wheelwright founded the professional magazine, Landscape Architecture where he served as publisher, editor, and contributor. He was a consulting architect to the 1939 New York World's Fair. In 1948, he established the Housatonic Valley Planning Association.

Oliver and Charles's lifelong friend, Fidelia Bridges (1834-1923) was born in Salem, Massachusetts in 1834. Orphaned in her youth, she supported herself as a mother's helper in the Quaker household of the Salem merchant, William A. Brown. In the mid-1850s, after Brown had moved to Brooklyn, New York, Fidelia Bridges joined the family, where she took on the role of governess to Brown's daughters. Around this time, she met Oliver Ingraham Lay.

In the 1860s, Bridges studied art at the studio of William Trost Richards (1833-1905) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1867, Bridges, along with a group of young women artists that included Anne Whitney (1821-1915) left for Rome to pursue her artistic training. Upon her return, Bridges set up a studio in New York City. In the early 1890s, Fidelia settled permanently in Canaan, Connecticut.

Bridges, influenced by the Pre-Raphaelite school, depicted landscapes and nature scenes with detailed renderings of birds, meadows, and wildflowers. In addition, Bridges sold her artwork commercially; in the mid-1870s, Louis Prang and Company produced her chromolithographic designs on greeting cards and calendars. Bridges also illustrated magazines and books.
Related Materials:
A small collection of Oliver Ingraham Lay papers were loaned for microfilming and are available on reel 801. The originals are at the New-York Historical Society. The bulk of Charles Downing Lay's papers, 1898-1956 reside in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
Provenance:
George C. Lay, grandson of portrait painter Oliver Lay and the son of Charles Downing Lay donated the Oliver Ingraham Lay, Charles Downing Lay, and Lay Family Papers to the Archives of American Art in 2002.
Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Washington, D.C. Research Center.
Rights:
The Archives of American Art makes its archival collections available for non-commercial, educational and personal use unless restricted by copyright and/or donor restrictions, including but not limited to access and publication restrictions. AAA makes no representations concerning such rights and restrictions and it is the user's responsibility to determine whether rights or restrictions exist and to obtain any necessary permission to access, use, reproduce and publish the collections. Please refer to the Smithsonian's Terms of Use for additional information.
Occupation:
Landscape painters  Search this
Painters -- Connecticut  Search this
Topic:
Landscape architects  Search this
Painters -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Photographs  Search this
Genre/Form:
Landscape drawings
Diaries
Scrapbooks
Sketchbooks
Sketches
Citation:
Oliver Ingraham Lay, Charles Downing Lay, and Lay Family Papers, 1789-2000, bulk 1870-1996. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.layoliv
See more items in:
Oliver Ingraham Lay, Charles Downing Lay, and Lay Family papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-layoliv
Online Media:

Hester Marian Wait Lay, Portrait of the Artist's Wife

Artist:
Oliver Ingraham Lay, born New York City 1845-died 1890  Search this
Sitter:
Marian Wait Lay  Search this
Medium:
oil on canvas
Dimensions:
34 5/8 x 23 1/4 in. (88.0 x 59.0 cm.)
Type:
Painting
Date:
1880
Topic:
Portrait female  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Given in memory of Charles Downing Lay and Laura Gill Lay by their children
Object number:
1967.7.3
Restrictions & Rights:
CC0
See more items in:
Smithsonian American Art Museum Collection
Department:
Painting and Sculpture
Data Source:
Smithsonian American Art Museum
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/vk75c1666de-03cc-4ca8-9d18-ceea5eac3946
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:saam_1967.7.3

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