The papers of sculptor Bessie Potter Vonnoh measure 0.8 linear feet and date from circa 1860 to 1991, with the bulk of material dating from 1890 to 1955. The scattered papers document the personal life and career of Bessie Potter Vonnoh, and, to a lesser degree, her husband, painter Robert William Vonnoh. Found within the papers are Vonnoh family correspondence, including letters between Bessie and Robert, and professional and personal correspondence, primarily Bessie's. The collection also contains scattered biographical materials, photographs of the Vonnohs, a photograph album, photographs of artwork, clippings, exhibition catalogs, and other printed material.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of sculptor Bessie Potter Vonnoh measure 0.8 linear feet and date from circa 1860 to 1991, with the bulk of material dating from 1890 to 1955. The scattered papers document the personal life and career of Bessie Potter Vonnoh, and, to a lesser degree, her husband, painter Robert William Vonnoh. Found within the papers are Vonnoh family correspondence, including letters between Bessie and Robert, and primarily Bessie's professional and personal correspondence. There is one folder of correspondence of Robert William Vonnoh. Bessie's correspondents include Daniel Chester French, Hamlin Garland, Rupert Hughes, Archer Huntington, Larkin G. Mead, Jean Francois Raffaelli, Cornelia Otis Skinner, and others. Robert's correspondents include Charles M. Carter, Daniel Chester French, William M. R. French, and Charles Vezin. The collection also contains scattered biographical materials, photographs of Bessie Potter Vonnoh and Robert William Vonnoh, a photograph album, photographs of artwork, clippings, exhibition catalogs, and other printed material.
The collection is arranged into 4 series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1922-1955 (Box 1; 5 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, circa 1863-1985 (Box 1; 11 folders)
Series 3: Photographs, circa 1860-1950 (Box 1-2; 0.4 linear feet)
Series 4: Printed Material, 1901-1991 (Box 2; 9 folders)
Bessie Potter Vonnoh (1872-1955) was born in St. Louis, Missouri to Alexander and Mary McKenney Potter. In 1874, after the death of her father, her family moved to Chicago. Also at this time, she suffered from a series of illnesses that she did not recover from until she was ten. In school she enjoyed clay-modeling class and decided at an early age that she wanted to be a sculptor. Beginning in 1890 she studied with Lorado Taft at the Art Institute of Chicago and later became one of his assistants (known as the "White Rabbits") for the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893. She was also given her own commission for the Illinois building at the fair. After this success, Vonnoh opened her own studio in Chicago and made plaster figurines of society women, friends, and their children. She visited New York and took her first trip to Paris in 1895, visiting the studios of many eminent sculptors such as Auguste Rodin. Her work was influenced by the American Impressionist movement, depicted in one of her most famous works, Young Mother. This piece was exhibited in the National Sculpture Society exhibition of 1898 and led to several public sculpture commissions.
In 1899 Bessie Potter Vonnoh moved to New York City and married Impressionist painter, Robert William Vonnoh (1858-1933). They lived in New York and maintained a summer home in Lyme, Connecticut. During her career she received many awards for her works at international exhibitions, including two bronze medals at the Paris Exposition in 1900. Other landmark events included a solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in 1913 and membership into the National Academy of Design in 1921 - the first female sculptor accepted as a permanent member. Vonnoh's work was very well received by the public, and in the 1920s she began working on a larger scale, creating large fountains, such as the Frances Hodgson Burnett Memorial Fountain in Central Park, New York, and other decorative garden figures. Robert Vonnoh died in 1933 and, in 1948, she married Dr. Edward Keyes. Bessie Potter Vonnoh died in New York City in 1955 at the age of 82.
The collection was donated in 1995 by Lulette Jenness Thompson, a cousin of Bessie Potter Vonnoh.
The collection has been digitized and is available online via AAA's website.
The Bessie Potter Vonnoh 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.
The papers of painter Ogden M. Pleissner measure 3.2 linear feet and date from 1928-1976. Found within the papers are biographical material, scattered letters, artwork, nine scrapbooks, over one foot of printed material, and photographs.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of painter Ogden M. Pleissner measure 3.2 linear feet and date from 1928-1976. Found within the papers are biographical material, scattered letters, artwork, eight scrapbooks, printed material, and photographs.
Biographical material includes Pleissner's U. S. Army Certificate of Service, an autobiographical essay, and miscellaneous notes. Scattered letters dating from 1942-1976 primarily concern Pleissner's service in the U. S. Army. There are also letters from colleagues and friends including artists Harrison Cady and Stow Wengenroth.
Nine scrapbooks contain clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, and scattered letters from art organizations and colleagues including Juliana Force, Charles Vezin, and Stow Wengenroth. An additional 1.2 linear feet of printed material consists primarily of clippings, and exhibition catalogs and announcements. Also found within the papers is one etching, and photographs of Pleissner, his colleagues, exhibitions and artwork.
The collection is arranged into 6 series. All series are arranged chronologically.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1943-1971 (Box 1; 2 folders)
Series 2: Letters, 1942-1976 (Box 1; 13 folders)
Series 3: Art Work, undated (Box 1; 1 folder)
Series 4: Scrapbooks, 1930-1953 (Boxes 1-2; 29 folders)
Series 5: Printed Material, 1928-1975 (Box 2; 1.2 linear feet)
Series 6: Photographs, 1958-1974 (Boxes 3-4; 31 folders)
Ogden Minton Pleissner was born on April 29, 1905 in Brooklyn, New York, son of George W. and Christine Minton Pleissner. He began his education at the Brooklyn Friends School. One summer while a teenager, he was sent to Charlie Moore's ranch in Dubois, Wyoming, in order to improve his health. During pack trips, camping, and trout fishing in Yellowstone Park and the Buffalo Forks country, Pleissner became devoted to the outdoor life, developing his skills as a hunter and fisherman. He began drawing images of horses, cowboys, Native Americans, and scenery and realized that his interest in art was strong enough to pursue it in school.
From 1924 to 1927 Pleissner attended the Art Students League in New York, studying under George Bridgman and Frank V. DuMond. Pleissner continued his studies with DuMond in Cape Breton, where he also met Mary Corbett whom he married in 1929. In the following year, Pleissner held his first solo exhibition at the Macbeth Gallery in New York. Although he maintained a studio in New York City, Pleissner and his wife spent many summers in Wyoming, later expanding their travel to Europe.
In 1940 Pleissner was elected a National Academician. Two years later, he was commissioned by the U.S. Office of Emergency Management on the advice of the Section of Fine Arts to visit various war industries to make a group of 10 paintings depicting the work in these plants.
In 1943, Pleissner was commissioned as Captain in the Army Air Forces to work as an artist with the Historical Division, painting a record of the Air Force activities. After training, he was deployed to Anchorage, Alaska, and from there he visited many of the Aleutian Islands. Due to lack of funding, his original mission was changed, and he was put on inactive duty in November 1943, in order to continue his work as a War Art Correspondent for Life magazine. This allowed him to complete his paintings of the Aleutian Islands. In the spring of 1944, he flew to headquarters in London, England, later following the Normandy invasion through northern France, he painted scenes from the critical battle at St. Lo. In the summer of 1945, Life magazine sent him on a tour of Europe to make a series of paintings of the most significant battle sites, including Omaha Beach, Remagen, and Anzio.
During his post-war career, Pleissner participated in many organizations, including his service as vice-president of the National Academy of Design, director of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, and trustee at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont. He was also a member of the Salmagundi Club, the National Arts Club, and the Brooklyn Society of Artists. His work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Philadelphia Museum.
In the 1970s Pleissner traveled extensively in Europe and spent summers at his studio in Pawlet, Vermont.
Ogden M. Pleissner died of a heart attack on October 24, 1983 in London, England.
Ogden M. Pleissner donated his papers to the Archives in 1972 and 1976.
The collection is open for research. Use requires an appointment.
The Ogden M. Pleissner 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.