The papers of painter and teacher Frank Duveneck and his wife and painter Elizabeth Boott Duveneck measure 1.2 linear feet and date from 1851-1972, bulk 1851-1919. Aspects of the lives and work of the artists are documented in correspondence, creative writings, research notes, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, magazine articles, ephemera, sketches and sketchbooks, and vintage photographs.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of painter and teacher Frank Duveneck and his wife, painter Elizabeth Boott Duveneck measure 1.2 linear feet and date from 1851-1972, bulk 1851-1919. Aspects of the lives and work of the artists are documented in correspondence, creative writings, research notes, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, magazine articles, ephemera, sketches and sketchbooks, and vintage photographs.
The limited amount of correspondence in this collection includes separate letters from Frank Duveneck and Elizabeth Duveneck, primarily to family members, which describe studies and travel abroad, works in progress, exhibitions, and after their marriage, reports on family life. Frank Duveneck's correspondence also includes a letter from sculptor William Couper concerning the marble for a memorial to Elizabeth Boott Duveneck. There is also a folder of letters to and from Mr. and Mrs. Francis B. Duvencek, the son and daughter-in-law of the artist couple, that include reminiscences about Frank Duveneck from former student Bessie Wessel and a letter to Francis Duveneck from Daniel Chester French requesting permission to make a bronze from the plaster cast of the Duveneck's effigy of Elizabeth at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Writings include Elizabeth Boott Duveneck's diary, a typescript of a speech attributed to Frank Duveneck, and research notes compiled by daughter-in-law Josephine Duveneck in preparation for her biography of her father-in-law.
Printed materials consist primarily of newspaper clippings and magazine articles on Frank Duveneck, but also include his Munich Royal Academy card and copy certificate from the Ministry of Florence, Italy. Newspaper clippings may also be found in the Scrapbook series, including Elizabeth Boott Duveneck's scrapbook of exhibition reviews of her paintings, and two folders of clippings pertaining to Frank Duveneck compiled by Josephine Duveneck. Frank Duveneck's scrapbook contains printed illustrations compiled by the artist while he was studying art in Munich.
Sketchbooks and sketches consist of four sketchbooks by Elizabeth Boott Duvenck and three by Frank Duveneck that document their growth as artists as they span several decades (particularly in the case of Elizabeth) of their respective careers. There are also two folders of loose, mostly early, portrait sketches by Elizabeth Boott Duveneck.
Vintage photographs depict Frank Duveneck alone, with family and friends, Elizabeth Boott Duveneck, Francis Boott with his daughter, John Twachtman, art classes including one of Wilhelm von Diez's classes in Munich, and a group photograph of the jury of the 1915 Panama-Pacific exposition. There is only one photograph that includes both Frank and Elizabeth Duveneck together along with her father Francis Boott and nurse Ann Shenston.
The collection is arranged into 6 series:
Series 1: Correspondence, 1856-1971 (Box 1; 4 folders)
Series 2: Writings and Notes, circa 1873-1970 (Box 1; 4 folders)
Series 3: Printed Material, 1871-1972 (Box 1; 6 folders)
Series 4: Scrapbooks, 1871-1962 (Box 1; 4 folders)
Series 5: Sketchbooks and Sketches, circa 1857-1886 (Box 1; 0.3 linear feet)
Series 6: Photographs, circa 1851-1970 (Boxes 1-2; 0.4 linear feet)
Painter, etcher, and one of the most influential American art instructors of the nineteenth century, Frank Duveneck was born Frank Decker to German immigrants Bernard and Katherine Decker on October 9, 1848 in Covington, Kentucky. He acquired the name Duveneck from his stepfather after his father's death and mother's remarriage. Family and friends recognized his artistic talents early on and he was apprenticed to local German artisans who decorated churches through most of the 1860s. In 1870 he traveled to Munich to study at the prestigious Konigliche Akademie (Royal Academy), where he was quickly promoted to life classes and the painting class of Wilhelm von Diez. He quickly earned a reputation as the leading American artist in the Academy. Duveneck was only 24 in 1872 when painted one of his most well-known paintings, Whistling Boy.
Due to dwindling funds and a cholera epidemic in Europe, Duveneck returned to the United States in 1873 and began teaching at the Ohio Mechanics Institute in Cincinnati the following year, where John H. Twachtman was among his students. An 1875 exhibition of his paintings at the Boston Art Club met with critical and public acclaim. He also attracted the attention of William Morris Hunt, novelist Henry James, and his future wife, Elizabeth Boott, who was one among those who deeply admired his work, although the pair were not to meet for another three years. After his return to Munich later that year, he became part of a tightly knit group of other American artists including Frank Currier, William Merritt Chase, and Walter Shirlaw. All four artists exhibited their work in the United States in such venues as the National Academy of Design's annual exhibition of 1877, and the first exhibition of the Society of American Artists in 1878, which may have contributed to the increased popularity of the Royal Academy in Munich as a destination for young American artists. As enrollment rose, classes became overcrowded and Duveneck began teaching in Munich. A group of younger students, including John Alexander, and John H. Twachtman, who had followed the artist from Cincinnati to Munich, became known as the "Duveneck Boys." He also had acquired a private female student, Elizabeth Boott, who had traveled to Munich to study with him.
The painter Elizabeth Boott, known primarily as "Lizzie," was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on April 13, 1846 and was raised by her widowed father, the prominent Bostonian Francis Boott. The pair moved to Florence, Italy, when Lizzie was just a year old, after the death of her mother and brother from tuberculosis. Similar to Duveneck, Lizzie Boott's talent for drawing was recognized and encouraged at an early age. Early drawings preserved by her father consist of portraits of their well-known Anglo-American friends including Robert Browning, Nathanial Hawthorne, and Henry Higginson, founder of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The Bootts briefly returned to Boston in 1865, at which time Lizzie met the novelist Henry James, who became a close life-long friend of both her and her father. Through James, she learned of the artist William Morris Hunt, and entered his class in Boston for women artists. She established close friendships with several of the women whom she met through Hunt's class, and they traveled together through Italy and Spain, took classes with the French artist Thomas Couture, and studied at the Académie Julian in Paris. They also made up the group of female students that formed a class of women artists taught by Duveneck, whom Lizzie had persuaded to teach in Florence in 1879. Duveneck, along with a band of "Duveneck Boys" embarked upon a two year stay in Florence and Venice.
During this period in Italy, Duveneck experimented with with hard ground etchings, creating Venetian scenes similar to those produced by James McNeil Whistler. His painting changed as he focused more on landscapes executed in a ligher, more highly keyed palette, perhaps influenced by Lizzie Boott, who painted vibrant watercolor Italian landscapes during this period and with whom he began an extended courtship in 1880. Although Francis Boott admired Duveneck's work and had acquired one his portraits during the artist's successful 1875 exhibition at the Boston Arts Club, neither he nor family friends approved of the bohemian artist as a husband for his accomplished patrician daughter. However the pair eventually married in March 1886, and had a son, Francis Boott Duveneck that December. Tragically, Lizzie Boott died of pneumonia on March 22, 1888. Although he was not a sculptor, one of Duvenecks' most admired works is the effigy that he created with the help of sculptor Clement J. Barnhorn, for his wife's tomb in Florence, casts of which may be viewed at the Museum of Fine Arts and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
After his wife's death Duveneck returned to America, spending most of his time in his Cincinnati studio and teaching painting classes at the Cincinnati Art Museum. At the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, two galleries at the San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts, were allotted to Duveneck for a retrospective of his work. The jury awarded him a gold medal of honor to commemorate his contributions to American Art. Frank Duveneck died in Cincinnati on January 3, 1919.
The Archives of American Art also holds microfilm of material lent for microfilming. Reel 792 includes a group of eighty-four pencil sketches and caricatures of his students by Frank Duveneck and four black and white photographic reproductions of works of art. Reel 1097 contains correspondence, 1845-1919, of Duveneck and his wife, Elizabeth Boott Duveneck. Included are two letters from Duveneck to Theodore Wores and seven letters from Julius Rolshoven. Other correspondents include John W. Beatty, William Couper, Daniel Chester French, Mrs. Walter Shirlaw, and Thad Welch. Many of the letters from Elizabeth Boott were written from Europe, including 11 to William Morris Hunt's painting class (1876-1880), and a lengthy account of her travels written to her father (1881). Reel 1151 contains exhibition catalogs that were donated to the Archives of American Art with the Frank Duveneck and Elizabeth Boott Duveneck papers. While this material was transferred to the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Gallery Library in 1976, all other materials were returned to the lenders and are not described in the collection container inventory.
The papers of Frank Duveneck and Elizabeth Boott Duveneck were donated by Mr. and Mrs. Francis B. Duveneck, the son and daughter-in-law of Frank and Elizabeth Duveneck in 1974 with additional material lent for microfilming. In 1974, the Cincinnati Historical Society donated photocopies of original letters that were microfilmed and discarded. A portrait photograph of Frank Duveneck was donated in 1985 by Freda Schutze.
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
Mostly photographs of portraits by Bessie Wessel. Also included is a scrapbook of clippings about the Wessels, articles on Frank Duveneck and the Cincinnati Art Club (of which Herman Wessel was president), a biography of Bessie Wessel, three sketches by Herman Wessel, two typed class lectures by Robert Henri, and miscellany.
Biographical / Historical:
Painters; Cincinnati, Ohio. The Wessels studied under Frank Duveneck and others at the Cincinnati Art Academy. Herman Wessel was also an etcher and instructor.
Lent 1974 by Robert Wessel, the Wessels' son.
The Archives of American art does not own the original papers. Use is limited to the microfilm copy.