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Henry Varnum Poor papers

Creator:
Poor, Henry Varnum, 1887-1970  Search this
Names:
Montross Gallery  Search this
Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture  Search this
Benton, William, 1900-1973  Search this
Biddle, George, 1885-1973  Search this
Billing, Jules  Search this
Burchfield, Charles Ephraim, 1893-1967  Search this
Caniff, Milton Arthur, 1907-1988  Search this
Ciardi, John, 1916-  Search this
Czebotar, Theodore  Search this
Deming, MacDonald  Search this
Dickson, Harold E., 1900-  Search this
Dorn, Marion, 1896-1964  Search this
Duchamp, Marcel, 1887-1968  Search this
Esherick, Wharton  Search this
Evergood, Philip, 1901-1973  Search this
Garrett, Alice Warder  Search this
Houseman, John, 1902-1988  Search this
Marston, Muktuk  Search this
Meredith, Burgess, 1907-1997  Search this
Mumford, Lewis, 1895-1990  Search this
Padro, Isabel  Search this
Poor, Anne, 1918-  Search this
Poor, Bessie Breuer  Search this
Poor, Eva  Search this
Poor, Josephine Graham  Search this
Poor, Josephine Lydia  Search this
Poor, Peter  Search this
Sargent, Elizabeth S.  Search this
Smith, David, 1906-1965  Search this
Steinbeck, John, 1902-1968  Search this
Watson, Ernest William, 1884-1969  Search this
Extent:
12.9 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Motion pictures (visual works)
Diaries
Drawings
Sketchbooks
Date:
1873-2001
bulk 1904-1970
Summary:
The papers of Henry Varnum Poor measure 12.9 linear feet and date from 1873-2001, with the bulk from the period 1904-1970. Correspondence, writings, artwork, printed material and photographs document Poor's work as a painter, muralist, ceramic artist and potter, architect, designer, writer, war artist, educator and a co-founder of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Also found is extensive information about the design and construction of Crow House, his home in New City, New York, commissions for other architectural projects, and his personal life.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of Henry Varnum Poor measure 12.9 linear feet and date from 1873-2001, with the bulk from the period 1904-1970. Correspondence, writings, artwork, printed material and photographs document Poor's work as a painter, muralist, ceramic artist and potter, architect, designer, writer, war artist, educator and a co-founder of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Also found is extensive information about the design and construction of Crow House, his home in New City, New York, commissions for other architectural projects, and his personal life.

Henry Varnum Poor's correspondence documents his personal, family, and professional life. Correspondents include family and friends, among them George Biddle, Charles Burchfield, John Ciardi, Marion V. Dorn (who became his second wife), Philip Evergood, Lewis Mumford, John Steinbeck, David Smith, and Mrs. John Work (Alice) Garrett. Among other correspondents are galleries, museums, schools, organizations, fans, former students, and acquaintances from his military service and travels. Family correspondence consists of Henry's letters to his parents, letters to his parents written by his wife, and letters among other family members.

Among the writings by Henry Varnum Poor are manuscripts of his two published books, An Artist Sees Alaska and A Book of Pottery: From Mud to Immortality. as well as the text of "Painting is Being Talked to Death," published in the first issue of Reality: A Journal of Artists' Opinions, April 1953, and manuscripts of other articles. There are also film scripts, two journals, notes and notebooks, lists, speeches, and writings by others, including M. R. ("Muktuk") Marston's account of Poor rescuing an Eskimo, and Bessie Breuer Poor's recollections of The Montross Gallery.

Subject files include those on the Advisory Committee on Art, American Designers' Gallery, Inc., William Benton, Harold Dickson, Reality: A Journal of Artists' Opinions Sales, and War Posters. There are numerous administrative files for the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.

Artwork by Henry Varnum Poor consists mainly of loose drawings and sketches and 45 sketchbooks of studies for paintings, murals, and pottery. There is work done in France, 1918-1919, and while working as a war correspondent in Alaska in 1943. There are commissioned illustrations and some intended for his monograph, A Book of Pottery: From Mud to Immortality. Also found are a small number of watercolors and prints. Work by other artists consist of Anne Poor's drawings of her father's hands used for the Lincoln figure in The Land Grant Frescoes and interior views of Crow House by Ernest Watson.

Documentation of Poor's architectural projects consists of drawings and prints relating to houses designed and built for Jules Billing, MacDonald Deming, John Houseman, Burgess Meredith, Isabel Padro, and Elizabeth S. Sargent. Also found is similar material for the new studio Poor built in 1957 on the grounds of Crow House.

Miscellaneous records include family memorabilia and two motion picture films, Painting a True Fresco, and The Land Grant Murals at Pennsylvania State College.

Printed material includes articles about or mentioning Poor, some of his pottery reference books, family history, a catalog of kilns, and the program of a 1949 Pennsylvania State College theater production titled Poor Mr. Varnum. Exhibition catalogs and announcements survive for some of Poor's shows; catalogs of other artists' shows include one for Theodore Czebotar containing an introductory statement by Henry Varnum Poor. Also found is a copy of The Army at War: A Graphic Record by American Artists, for which Poor served as an advisor. There are reproductions of illustrations for An Artist Sees Alaska and Ethan Frome, and two Associated American Artists greeting cards reproducing work by Poor.

Photographs are of Henry Varnum Poor's architectural work, artwork, people, places, and miscellaneous subjects. This series also contains negatives, slides, and transparencies. Images of architectural work include exterior and interior views of many projects; Poor's home, Crow House, predominates. Photographs of artwork by Poor are of drawings, fresco and ceramic tile murals, paintings, pottery and ceramic art. People appearing in photographs include Henry Varnum Poor, family members, friends, clients, juries, students, and various groups. Among the individuals portrayed are Milton Caniff, Marcel Duchamp, Wharton Esherick, M. R. ("Muktuk") Marston, and Burgess Meredith. Among the family members are Bessie Breuer Poor, Marion Dorn Poor, Anne Poor, Eva Poor, Josephine Graham Poor, Josephine Lydia Poor, Peter Poor, and unidentified relatives. Photographs of places include many illustrating village life in Alaska that were taken by Poor during World War II. Other places recorded are French and California landscapes, and family homes in Kansas. Miscellaneous subjects are exhibition installation views, scenes of Kentucky farms, and a photograph of Poor's notes on glazes.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged as 9 series:

Missing Title

Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1919-1987 (0.2 linear feet; Box 1, OV 18)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1873-1985 (1.5 linear feet; Boxes 1-2)

Series 3: Writings and Notes, circa 1944-1974 (0.6 linear feet; Boxes 2-3)

Series 4: Subject Files, 1928-1975 (0.8 linear feet; Box 3, OV 23)

Series 5: Artwork, circa 1890s-circa 1961 (3.5 linear feet; Boxes 4-6, 9-10, OV 19-22)

Series 6: Architectural Projects, circa 1940-1966 (0.7 linear feet; Box 6, OV 24-26, RD 14-17)

Series 7: Miscellaneous Records, 1882-1967 (Boxes 6, 11, FC 30-31; 0.5 linear ft.)

Series 8: Printed Material, 1881-2001 (1.2 linear feet; Boxes 6-7, 11, OV 27-29)

Series 9: Photographs, 1893-1984 (2.3 linear feet; Boxes 7-8, 12-13)
Biographical Note:
Henry Varnum Poor (1888-1970), best known as a potter, ceramic artist, and a co-founder of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, was also an architect, painter, muralist, designer, educator, and writer who lived and worked in New City, New York.

A native of Chapman, Kansas, Henry Varnum Poor moved with his family to Kansas City when his grain merchant father became a member of the Kansas Board of Trade. From a young age he showed artistic talent and spent as much time as possible - including school hours - drawing. When a school supervisor suggested that Henry leave school to study at the Art Institute of Chicago, the family disagreed. Instead, he enrolled in the Kansas City Manual Training High School where he delighted in learning skills such as carpentry, forge work, and mechanical drawing. In 1905, he moved with his older brother and sister to Palo Alto, California and completed high school there. Because Poor was expected to join the family business, he enrolled at Stanford University as an economics major, but much to his father's disappointment and displeasure, soon left the economics department and became an art major.

Immediately after graduation in 1910, Poor and his major professor at Stanford, Arthur B. Clark, took a summer bicycling tour to look at art in London, France, Italy, and Holland. As Poor had saved enough money to remain in London after the summer was over, he enrolled in the Slade School of Art and also studied under Walter Sickert at the London County Council Night School. After seeing an exhibition of Post-Impressionism at the Grafton Galleries in London, Poor was so impressed that he went to Paris and enrolled in the Académie Julian. While in Paris, Poor met Clifford Addams, a former apprentice of Whistler; soon he was working in Addams' studio learning Whistler's palette and techniques.

In the fall of 1911, Poor returned to Stanford University's art department on a one-year teaching assignment. During that academic year, his first one-man show was held at the university's Old Studio gallery. He married Lena Wiltz and moved back to Kansas to manage the family farm and prepare for another exhibition. Their daughter, Josephine Lydia Poor, was born the following year. Poor returned to Stanford in September 1913 as assistant professor of graphic arts, remaining until the department closed three years later. During this period, Poor began to exhibit more frequently in group shows in other areas of the country, and had his first solo exhibition at a commercial gallery (Helgesen Gallery, San Francisco). In 1916, Poor joined the faculty of the San Francisco Art Association. He and his wife separated in 1917 and were divorced the following year. Poor began sharing his San Francisco studio with Marion Dorn.

During World War I, Poor was drafted into the U. S. Army, and in 1918 went to France with the 115th Regiment of Engineers. He spent his spare time drawing; soon officers were commissioning portraits, and Poor was appointed the regimental artist. He also served as an interpreter for his company. Discharged from the Army in early 1919, Poor spent the spring painting in Paris. He then returned to San Francisco and married Marion Dorn.

Once Poor realized that earning a living as a painter would be extremely difficult in California, he and his new wife moved to New York in the autumn of 1919. They were looking for a place to live when influential book and art dealer Mary Mowbray-Clarke of the Sunwise Turn Bookshop in Manhattan suggested New City in Rockland County, New York as good place for artists. In January of 1920, the Poors purchased property on South Mountain Road in New City. The skills he acquired at the Kansas City Manual Training High School were of immediate use as Poor designed and constructed "Crow House" with the assistance of a local teenager. Influenced by the farmhouses he had seen in France, it was made of local sandstone and featured steep gables, rough plaster, chestnut beams and floors, and incorporated many hand-crafted details. Poor designed and built most of their furniture, too. Before the end of the year, he and Marion were able to move into the house, though it remained a work in progress for many years. Additions were constructed. Over time, gardens were designed and planted, and outbuildings - a kiln and pottery, work room, garage, and new studio - appeared on the property.

In 1925, two years after his divorce from Marion Dorn, Poor married Bessie Freedman Breuer (1893-1975), an editor, short story writer, and novelist. Soon after, he adopted her young daughter, Anne (1918-2002), an artist who served as his assistant on many important mural commissions. Their son, Peter (b. 1926) became a television producer. Crow House remained in the family until its sale in 2006. In order to prevent its demolition, Crow House was then purchased by the neighboring town of Ramapo, New York in 2007.

Between 1935 and 1966 Poor designed and oversaw construction of a number of houses, several of them situated not far from Crow House on South Mountain Road. Poor's designs, noted for their simplicity, featured modern materials and incorporated his ceramic tiles. Among his important commissions were houses for Maxwell Anderson, Jules Billig, Milton Caniff, MacDonald Deming, and John Houseman.

Poor's first exhibition of paintings in New York City was at Kevorkian Galleries in 1920, and sales were so disappointing that he turned his attention to ceramics. His first pottery show, held at Bel Maison Gallery in Wanamaker's department store in 1921, was very successful. He quickly developed a wide reputation, participated in shows throughout the country, and won awards. He was a founder of the short-lived American Designers' Gallery, and the tile bathroom he showed at the group's first exposition was critically acclaimed. Poor was represented by Montross Gallery as both a painter and potter. When Montross Gallery closed upon its owner's death in 1932, Poor moved to the Frank K. M. Rehn Gallery.

Even though Poor's pottery and ceramic work was in the forefront, he continued to paint. His work was acquired by a number of museums, and the Limited Editions Club commissioned him to illustrate their republications of Ethan Frome, The Scarlet Letter, and The Call of the Wild.

Poor's first work in true fresco was shown in a 1932 mural exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. Between 1935 and 1949 he was commissioned to produce several murals in fresco for Section of Fine Arts projects at the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior, The Land Grant Frescoes at Pennsylvania State College, and a mural for the Louisville Courier-Journal. Ceramic tile mural commissions included: the Klingenstein Pavilion, Mt. Sinai Hospital, New York City; Travelers Insurance Co., Boston; the Fresno Post Office, California; and Hillson Memorial Gallery, Deerfield Academy, Deerfield, Mass.

As a member of the War Artists' Unit, Poor was a "war correspondent" with the rank of major in World War II, and for several months in 1943 was stationed in Alaska. An Artist Sees Alaska, drawing on Poor's observations and experiences, was published in 1945. A Book of Pottery: From Mud to Immortality, his second book, was published in 1958. It remains a standard text on the subject. While on the faculty of Columbia University in the 1950s, Poor and other artists opposed to the growing influence of Abstract Expressionism formed the Reality Group with Poor the head of its editorial committee. Their magazine, Reality: A Journal of Artists' Opinions, first appeared in 1953 featuring "Painting is Being Talked to Death" by Poor as its lead article. Two more issues were published in 1954 and 1955.

Along with Willard Cummings, Sidney Simon, and Charles Cuttler, in 1946 Henry Varnum Poor helped to establish the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Skowhegan, Maine. He served as its first president. Poor and his daughter, Anne, were active members of the Board of Trustees and were instructors for many years. The summer of 1961 was Henry Varnum Poor's last as a full-time teacher, though he continued to spend summers at Skowhegan.

Henry Varnum Poor exhibited widely and received many awards, among them prizes at the Carnegie Institute, Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Architectural League of New York. Poor was appointed to the United States Commission of Fine Arts by President Roosevelt in 1941 and served a five year term. He was elected a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1943. The National Academy of Design named him an Associate Artist in 1954 and an Academician in 1963. He became a trustee of the American Craftsman's Council in 1956. The work of Henry Vernum Poor is represented in the permanent collections of many American museums including the Cleveland Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, Addison Gallery of American Art, and Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts.

Henry Varnum Poor died at home in New City, New York, December 8, 1970.
Related Material:
An oral history interview with Henry Varnum Poor was conducted by Harlan Phillips for the Archives of American Art in 1964.
Provenance:
Gift of Henry Varnum Poor's son, Peter V. Poor, in 2007. A smaller portion was loaned to the Archives in 1973 by Anne Poor for microfilming and returned to the lender; this material was included in the 2007 gift.
Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information. Use of audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
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:
War artists  Search this
Educators -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Ceramicists -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Muralists -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Painters -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Designers -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Topic:
Architects -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
World War, 1914-1918  Search this
Pottery -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Genre/Form:
Motion pictures (visual works)
Diaries
Drawings
Sketchbooks
Citation:
Henry Varnum Poor papers, 1873-2001, bulk 1904-1970. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.poorhenr
See more items in:
Henry Varnum Poor papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/mw96265d653-098f-4ccc-abed-0bc649c50516
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-poorhenr
Online Media:

Verdun Medal #A (obverse)

Artist:
Anthony de Francisci, born Palermo, Italy 1887-died New York City 1964  Search this
Medium:
gilded bronze
Dimensions:
4 in. (10.2 cm) diam.
Type:
Sculpture-Medal-Sample
Date:
1920
Topic:
Figure female\full length  Search this
Dress\accessory\helmet  Search this
Animal\bird\dove  Search this
Allegory\place\Verdun  Search this
History\France\World War I  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Anthony de Francisci
Object number:
1966.51.58
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
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/vk75586cd5c-f53c-4f64-9cfd-d1284f271630
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:saam_1966.51.58

Verdun Medal #B (obverse)

Artist:
Anthony de Francisci, born Palermo, Italy 1887-died New York City 1964  Search this
Medium:
gilded bronze
Dimensions:
4 in. (10.2 cm) diam.
Type:
Sculpture-Medal-Sample
Date:
1920
Topic:
Animal\bird\eagle  Search this
Animal\bird\chicken  Search this
Allegory\place\Verdun  Search this
History\France\World War I  Search this
Emblem\star  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Anthony de Francisci
Object number:
1966.51.62
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
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/vk78bc4ba3d-1359-4227-8a14-6b8f22e4d0b7
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:saam_1966.51.62

Verdun Medal (reverse)

Artist:
Anthony de Francisci, born Palermo, Italy 1887-died New York City 1964  Search this
Medium:
patinated copper
Dimensions:
4 in. (10.2 cm) diam.
Type:
Sculpture-Medal
Date:
1920
Topic:
Allegory\place\Verdun  Search this
History\France\World War I  Search this
Architecture Exterior\castle  Search this
Emblem\Fleur-de-lis  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Anthony de Francisci
Object number:
1966.51.73
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
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/vk7a62a7321-9313-491e-ac6f-d93732bd0967
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:saam_1966.51.73

United States Silver Dollar Coin (reverse)

Artist:
Anthony de Francisci, born Palermo, Italy 1887-died New York City 1964  Search this
Medium:
silver
Dimensions:
1 1/2 in. (3.9 cm) diam.
Type:
Sculpture-Medal
Date:
1921
Topic:
Animal\bird\eagle  Search this
Allegory\place\America  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Anthony de Francisci
Object number:
1966.51.80
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
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/vk785f62af8-6fa5-4b89-95e7-77b12022a64c
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:saam_1966.51.80

United States Silver Dollar Coin (obverse)

Artist:
Anthony de Francisci, born Palermo, Italy 1887-died New York City 1964  Search this
Medium:
silver
Dimensions:
1 1/2 in. (3.9 cm) diam.
Type:
Sculpture-Medal
Date:
1921
Topic:
Figure female\head  Search this
Allegory\civic\liberty  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Anthony de Francisci
Object number:
1966.51.81
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
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/vk7c0fd7bd4-b6c6-4a57-a864-ff3bedc16a49
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:saam_1966.51.81

United States. Commission of Fine Arts [Folder]

Additional name:
Commission of Fine Arts  Search this
Fine Arts Commission  Search this
National Commission of Fine Arts  Search this
Contents:
Folder(s) may include exhibition announcements, newspaper and/or magazine clippings, press releases, brochures, reviews, invitations, illustrations, resumes, artist's statements, exhibition catalogs.
Place:
Washington (D.C.)
Topic:
Art Organizations  Search this
Location:
Art & Artist files at the Smithsonian American Art Museum/ National Portrait Gallery Library
Data source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:SILAF_105344

Harry Siddons Mowbray and Mowbray Family papers, 1872-1976

Creator:
Mowbray, Harry Siddons, 1858-1928  Search this
Subject:
McKim, Charles Follen  Search this
Mowbray, Florence Millard  Search this
Mead, William Rutherford  Search this
Mowbray, George S.  Search this
Mowbray, George Mordey  Search this
Sherwood, Herbert F. (Herbert Francis)  Search this
Mowbray, Helen Amelia  Search this
American Academy in Rome  Search this
Pierpont Morgan Library  Search this
University Club (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
United States. Commission of Fine Arts  Search this
Type:
Scrapbooks
Photographs
Prints
Sketches
Etchings
Diaries
Place:
Larz Anderson Park (Brookline, Mass.)
Citation:
Harry Siddons Mowbray and Mowbray Family papers, 1872-1976. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Topic:
Muralists -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Mural painting and decoration  Search this
Flags -- United States  Search this
Painters -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Theme:
Diaries  Search this
Lives of American Artists  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)7034
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)209167
AAA_collcode_mowbharr
Theme:
Diaries
Lives of American Artists
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_209167
Online Media:

Harry Siddons Mowbray and Mowbray Family papers

Creator:
Mowbray, H. Siddons (Harry Siddons), 1858-1928  Search this
Names:
American Academy in Rome  Search this
Pierpont Morgan Library  Search this
United States. Commission of Fine Arts  Search this
University Club (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
McKim, Charles Follen, 1847-1909  Search this
Mead, William Rutherford, 1846-1928  Search this
Mowbray, Florence Millard  Search this
Mowbray, George Mordey, d. 1891  Search this
Mowbray, George S.  Search this
Mowbray, Helen Amelia, d. 1910  Search this
Sherwood, Herbert F. (Herbert Francis), 1872-  Search this
Extent:
7.5 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Scrapbooks
Photographs
Prints
Sketches
Etchings
Diaries
Place:
Larz Anderson Park (Brookline, Mass.)
Date:
1872-1976
Summary:
The papers of painter and muralist Harry Siddons Mowbray (1858-1928) and the Mowbray family measure 7.5 linear feet and date from 1872 to 1976. The papers document Mowbray's career as a painter and decorative muralist as well as his activities with the Commission of Fine Arts, the American Academy in Rome, and the Sculpture Commission of Connecticut. The papers include biographical materials, scattered correspondence, nineteen diaries, personal business records, commission files, organization files, writings and notes, printed materials, three scrapbooks, photographs, and artworks. There are scattered family papers of Helen Mowbray, Florence Mowbray, George Mowbray, and George Siddons Mowbray.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of painter and muralist Harry Siddons Mowbray (1858-1928) and the Mowbray family measure 7.5 linear feet and date from 1872 to 1976. The papers document Mowbray's career as a painter and decorative muralist as well as his activities with the Commission of Fine Arts, the American Academy in Rome, and the Sculpture Commission of Connecticut. The papers include biographical materials, scattered correspondence, nineteen diaries, personal business records, commission files, organization files, writings and notes, printed materials, three scrapbooks, photographs, and artworks. There are scattered family papers of Helen Mowbray, Florence Mowbray, George Mowbray, and George Siddons Mowbray.

Biographical material includes biographical sketches, certificates, obituaries and estate records, and school material. Also found are printed materials from memorial dedications, ceremonies, and dinners held in Washington, D.C., such as menus, invitations, and admission tickets.

Correspondence is scattered and consists of letters from family, professional colleagues, artists, and architects including Charles McKim and William R. Mead. Florence Mowbray's correspondence includes thank you notes and condolences.

Diaries include seventeen written by Harry Siddons Mowbray, one by Helen Mowbray, and one by Florence Mowbray. Harry Siddons Mowbray's diaries date from 1876 to 1927 and reference a trip to the Azores, current events, his career and works of art, and his service with the Commission of Fine Arts.

Writings and notes consist of Mowbray's handwritten autobiography, school writings, lists, and a biography of Mowbray by Herbert Sherwood.

Personal business records consist of a French military sponsorship, gift acknowledgements and receipts.

Commission files include correspondence, printed materials, and writings relating to Mowbray's works of art at: Larz Anderson House, Appellate Court in New York City; Federal Building in Cleveland, Ohio; Gunn Memorial Library in Washington, CT; the Life of Christ Series; Madison Square Church in New York City; Morgan Library in New York City; St. John's Church in Washington, CT; University Club in New York City; and F. W. Vanderbilt House in Hyde Park, New York.

Organization files document Mowbray's participation with the American Academy in Rome, the Commission of Fine Arts, and the Sculpture Commission of Connecticut. Files generall include organizational history, correspondence, printed material, writings, reports, meeting minutes, and printed material. Of note are materials relating to the standardization of the flag of the United States.

Printed material includes blank stationery and postcards, clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, and an issue of Collector's News.

Photographs include two photo albums complied by the Mowbray family, portraits of Mowbray, snapshots with colleagues and friends, and photos of works of art.

One scrapbook compiled by Harry Siddons Mowbray relates to his travels in Rome in 1903-1904. Annother documents his artwork and career, and the third contains clippings concerning his chemical inventions.

Artworks include sketches, prints, and etchings by Harry Siddons Mowbray and others.
Arrangement:
This collection is arranged as 11 series. Glass plate negatives are housed separately and closed to researchers.

Missing Title

Series 1: Biographical Information, 1872-1965 (0.4 linear feet; Box 1, 13, 15)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1873-1957 (0.4 linear feet; Box 1)

Series 3: Diaries, 1876-1929 (1.2 linear feet; Box 1-2)

Series 4: Writings and Notes, circa 1870-circa 1930 (0.2 linear feet; Box 3)

Series 5: Personal Business and Financial Records, 1877-1966 (3 folders; Box 3)

Series 6: Commission Files, 1896-1979 (0.4 linear feet; Box 3)

Series 7: Organization Files, 1904-1928 (0.7 linear feet; Box 3-4, 13, 15-16)

Series 8: Printed Material, 1876-1976 (0.2 linear feet; Box 4, 16)

Series 9: Photographs, circa 1874-circa 1928 (4.7 linear feet; Box 4-14, 17-18)

Series 10: Scrapbooks, circa 1890-1920 (0.3 linear feet; Box 5, 13-14)

Series 11: Artwork, 1870-1910 (3 folders; Box 5, 13)
Biographical / Historical:
Harry Siddons Mowbray (1858-1928) was a painter, muralist, and public servant who was active in New York, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C..

Born in Alexandria, Egypt in 1858, Harry Siddons was orphaned at an early age. He was sent to live with his mother's sister Annie and uncle, George Mowbray, whose name he adopted. Harry Siddons Mowbray attended West Point Military Academy but left to pursue a career as a painter. Upon moving to Paris, Mowbray enrolled at the Atelier Bonnant where he studied under Léon Bonnat. Mowbray received attention for his decorative murals thoughout the East Coast of the United States. His commissions included the J.P. Morgan Library, F. W. Vanderbilt house, Larz Anderson house, Appellate Courthouse of New York City, St. John's Church in Washignton Connecticut, and the Federal Building in Cleveland, Ohio. Later in his career, Mowbray returned to painting and completed theLife of Christ series of works.

In addition to painting, Mowbray served on public commissions and committees. He was a member of the federal Commission of Fine Arts from 1921 until his death in 1928. During this time, he was involved in the planning of many Washington, D.C. memorials and public works including the standardization of the flag of the United States of America. He served as director of the American Academy in Rome from 1903-1904.

Harry Siddons Mowbray married Helen Amelia Millard in 1888. They had one child, George Siddons Mowbray. After his wife's death, Mowbray married her sister, Florence in 1915. Together, Florence and Mowbray had two children. He died in 1928. After her husband's death, Florence Mowbray was active in publishing her husband's autobiography.
Separated Materials:
The Archives of American Art also holds material lent for microfilming (reel 2895) including Mowbray's letters to his son George, travel diaries of Helen Mowbray, writings, artworks, and a photograph. Lent materials were returned to the lender and are not described in the collection container inventory.
Provenance:
The Harry Siddons Mowbray and Mowbray family papers were donated in multiple accretions by Mrs. Henry S. Mowbray, Mowbray's widow, Hugh McKittrick Jones, Jr., Mowbray's son in law, and Mrs. Helen M. Rogers from 1979-1983. Mrs. Helen M. Rogers also loaned materials for microfilming in 1983.
Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
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:
Painters -- Connecticut  Search this
Topic:
Muralists -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Mural painting and decoration  Search this
Flags -- United States  Search this
Painters -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Genre/Form:
Scrapbooks
Photographs
Prints
Sketches
Etchings
Diaries
Citation:
Harry Siddons Mowbray and Mowbray family papers, 1872-1976. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.mowbharr
See more items in:
Harry Siddons Mowbray and Mowbray Family papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/mw9427779e6-0055-4892-aef8-0287d36de439
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-mowbharr
Online Media:

National Capital landmarks; recommended for consideration of the National Capital Planning Commission and the Commission of Fine Arts

Title:
Landmarks of the National Capital, preliminary list
Author:
United States Joint Committee on Landmarks  Search this
United States National Capital Planning Commission  Search this
United States Commission of Fine Arts  Search this
Physical description:
45 p. illus., fold. map. 21 x 27 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
Washington (D.C.)
Date:
1965
Topic:
Historic buildings--Conservation and restoration  Search this
Architecture--Conservation and restoration  Search this
Architecture  Search this
Buildings, structures, etc  Search this
Call number:
NA735.W3 U58 1965
NA735.W3U58 1965
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_381620

A quest for grandeur : Charles Moore and the Federal Triangle / Sally Kress Tompkins ; photographs by Jack E. Boucher.

Author:
Tompkins, Sally Kress  Search this
Subject:
Moore, Charles 1855-1942 Influence  Search this
United States Commission of Fine Arts  Search this
Physical description:
xxi, 159 p. : ill. ; 29 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
Washington (D.C.)
Federal Triangle (Washington, D.C.)
Date:
1993
Topic:
Public architecture  Search this
Buildings, structures, etc  Search this
Call number:
NA735.W3T65 1993X
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_443302

Designing the nation's capital : the 1901 plan for Washington, D.C. / Sue Kohler and Pamela Scott, editors

Title:
1901 plan for Washington, D.C
Author:
Kohler, Sue A  Search this
Scott, Pamela 1944-  Search this
United States Commission of Fine Arts  Search this
Physical description:
xv, 359 p. : ill. (some col.), maps ; 26 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
Washington (D.C.)
Date:
2006
20th century
Topic:
Architecture--History  Search this
City planning  Search this
Buildings, structures, etc  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_823178

Preliminary inventory of the records of the Commission of Fine Arts : record group 66 / compiled by Dorothy S. Provine

Author:
United States National Archives and Records Service  Search this
Provine, Dorothy S  Search this
United States Commission of Fine Arts  Search this
National Archives (U.S.) Preliminary inventory of the records of the Commission of Fine Arts  Search this
Subject:
United States Commission of Fine Arts Archives  Search this
United States National Archives and Records Service  Search this
Physical description:
vii, 85 p. ; 27 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
Washington (D.C.)
Date:
1976
Topic:
Art, Municipal--History--Sources--Bibliography  Search this
Public works  Search this
History  Search this
Sources  Search this
Bibliography  Search this
Call number:
N8710 .U56 1976
N8710.U56 1976
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_76952

The Commission of Fine Arts, a brief history, 1910-1990 / by Sue A. Kohler

Author:
Kohler, Sue A  Search this
United States Commission of Fine Arts  Search this
Subject:
United States Commission of Fine Arts History  Search this
Physical description:
vii, 212 p. : ill ; 24 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
Washington (D.C.)
Date:
1991
[1991]
20th century
Topic:
Architecture--History  Search this
Public architecture  Search this
Buildings, structures, etc  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_799312

Report to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts on the environmental design of streets in Washington, D.C

Author:
Cambridge Seven Associates  Search this
United States Commission of Fine Arts  Search this
Physical description:
[44] p. illus. (part col.), maps (part col.) 26 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
Washington (D.C.)
Date:
1960
1969
[196-]
Topic:
Streets  Search this
Call number:
NA9053.S7C3X
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_326020

Massachusetts Avenue architecture

Author:
United States Commission of Fine Arts  Search this
Physical description:
v. illus., ports., plans. 28 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
Washington (D.C.)
Massachusetts Avenue (Washington, D.C.)
Date:
1973
1973-
Topic:
Architecture  Search this
Buildings, structures, etc  Search this
Call number:
NA735.W3 A3
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_36910

Report

Author:
United States Commission of Fine Arts  Search this
Physical description:
v. 24-28 cm
Type:
Periodicals
Place:
United States
Washington (D.C.)
Date:
1911-
Topic:
Art and state  Search this
Art, Municipal  Search this
Public works  Search this
Call number:
N6530.D6 A32
N6530.D6A32
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_84406

Georgetown historic waterfront, Washington, D.C. : a review of canal and riverside architecture / United States Commission of Fine Arts and Office of Archeology and Historic Preservation, National Park Service, Department of the Interior

Editor:
Werner, Constance W.  Search this
Author:
Reiff, Daniel D (Daniel Drake)  Search this
Gwin, William R  Search this
United States Commission of Fine Arts  Search this
United States Office of Archeology and Historic Preservation  Search this
Physical description:
92 pages : illustrations, maps, plans ; 23 x 29 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
Washington (D.C.)
Georgetown (Washington, D.C.)
Georgetown Waterfront (Washington, D.C.)
Georgetown
Georgetown Waterfront
Date:
1968
Topic:
Architecture  Search this
Historic buildings  Search this
Call number:
NA735.W3 U52
NA735.W3U52
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_807

Report

Author:
United States Commission of Fine Arts  Search this
Physical description:
v. 24-28 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
United States
Washington (D.C.)
Date:
1911
1911-
Topic:
Art and state  Search this
Art, Municipal  Search this
Public works  Search this
Call number:
917.4.D6 U5
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_862000

The Commission of Fine Arts, a brief history, 1910-1976 : with additions, 1977-1984 / by Sue A. Kohler

Author:
Kohler, Sue A  Search this
United States Commission of Fine Arts  Search this
Subject:
United States Commission of Fine Arts  Search this
Physical description:
vii, 166 p. : ill. ; 24 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
Washington (D.C.)
Date:
1985
Topic:
Architecture  Search this
Call number:
NA735.W3K642 1985X
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_372114

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