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Polly Thayer (Starr) papers, 1846-2008, bulk 1921-2008

Creator:
Thayer, Polly, 1904-2006  Search this
Thayer, Polly, 1904-2006  Search this
Subject:
Sarton, May  Search this
Koval, Dorothy  Search this
Yarnall, Agnes  Search this
Abramson, Doris E.  Search this
Cortissoz, Royal  Search this
Hofer, Philip  Search this
Thayer, Ethel Randolph  Search this
Thayer, Ezra Ripley  Search this
Tudor, Tasha  Search this
Wheelwright, John  Search this
Starr, Donald C.  Search this
Friends General Conference  Search this
Trustees of Reservations  Search this
Vose Galleries of Boston  Search this
Copley Society  Search this
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston  Search this
Nucleus Club  Search this
Type:
Photographs
Sound recordings
Sketchbooks
Transcripts
Interviews
Sketches
Video recordings
Drawings
Scrapbooks
Topic:
Painters -- Massachusetts -- Boston  Search this
Kanto Earthquake, Japan, 1923  Search this
Women artists  Search this
Theme:
Women  Search this
Lives of American Artists  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)6141
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)216362
AAA_collcode_thaypoll
Theme:
Women
Lives of American Artists
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_216362
Online Media:

Yarnall, Agnes

Collection Creator:
Thayer, Polly, 1904-2006  Search this
Container:
Box 9, Folder 6
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1940-2001
Collection Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
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:
Polly Thayer (Starr) papers, 1846-2008, bulk 1921-2008. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
Polly Thayer (Starr) papers
Polly Thayer (Starr) papers / Series 6: Subject Files / 6.1: People
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-aaa-thaypoll-ref459

Polly Thayer (Starr) papers

Creator:
Thayer, Polly, 1904-2006  Search this
Names:
Copley Society (Boston, Mass.)  Search this
Friends General Conference (U.S.)  Search this
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston  Search this
Nucleus Club (Boston, Mass.)  Search this
Trustees of Reservations (Mass.)  Search this
Vose Galleries of Boston  Search this
Abramson, Doris E.  Search this
Cortissoz, Royal, 1869-1948  Search this
Hofer, Philip, 1898-1984  Search this
Koval, Dorothy  Search this
Sarton, May, 1912-  Search this
Starr, Donald C.  Search this
Thayer, Ethel Randolph, 1870-1953  Search this
Thayer, Ezra Ripley, 1866-1915  Search this
Tudor, Tasha  Search this
Wheelwright, John, 1897-1940  Search this
Yarnall, Agnes  Search this
Extent:
21.6 Linear feet
0.807 Gigabytes
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Gigabytes
Photographs
Sound recordings
Sketchbooks
Transcripts
Interviews
Sketches
Video recordings
Drawings
Scrapbooks
Date:
1846-2008
bulk 1921-2008
Summary:
The papers of Boston portraitist and painter Polly Thayer (Starr) (1904-2006) measure 21.6 linear feet and 0.807 GB and date from 1846 to 2008, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1921-2008. The papers document Thayer's personal life and career as a painter, portraitist, and pastel artist. Found within the papers are biographical materials, extensive family papers, correspondence with artists and art venues, interviews, writings, subject files, organization files, exhibition files, art inventory records, printed and digital materials, five sketchbooks, artwork, and photographs.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of Boston portraitist and painter Polly Thayer (Starr) (1904-2006) measure 21.6 linear feet and 0.807 GB and date from 1846 to 2008, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1921-2008. The papers document Thayer's personal life and career as a painter, portraitist, and pastel artist. Found within the papers are biographical materials, extensive family papers, correspondence with artists and art venues, interviews, writings, subject files, organization files, exhibition files, art inventory records, printed and digital materials, five sketchbooks, artwork, and photographs.

Biographical material includes a marriage certificate, school records, inventories of possessions, passports, files about the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake in Japan, and a few personal and scattered financial documents such as invoices and receipts for various art related expenses.

Extensive family papers on many of Polly Thayer's immediate and extended family members include obituaries, condolence letters, writings, and printed materials. The most voluminous files are about Polly Thayer's husband Donald Carter Starr, her mother Ethel Randolph Thayer, and her father Ezra Ripley Thayer.

There is limited correspondence with friends and and colleagues, including Royal Cortissoz, Philip Hofer, Tasha Tudor (photocopies), Dorothy Koval, the curator who wrote about Thayer for her first show at Vose Galleries in 2001, as well as two art consultants who helped Thayer inventory her artwork. The bulk of the correspondence is with museums, galleries, and other venues such as the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Copley Society of Boston, and Vose Galleries.

Interviews with Polly Thayer include transcripts as well as sound and video recordings. There is also a sound recording of poet and professor Doris Abramson discussing Catherine Sargent Huntington.

Writings include typescript and handwritten drafts of essays, notebooks, and notes on assorted topics. The bulk of the material was written by Thayer, with a few writings by others.

Subject files are found for people and general interests. The "People" files are collected documents about Thayer's friends, colleagues, artists, and portrait subjects. The files include short biographies, articles, obituaries, a few photographs, two videocassettes and one sound recording. The most voluminous files are on Francis DeLancey Cunningham, the Howe family, Rose Nichols, May Sarton, John Brooks Wheelwright, and Agnes Yarnall. Thayer's "Interests" files consist of articles and clippings on various topics such as animals, humor, and pacifism.

Organization files contain materials related to Polly Thayer's charitable contributions, club memberships and affiliations, including The Chilton Club, Nucleus Club, Religious Society of Friends, and Trustees of Reservations, among others. These files contain seven sound recordings.

Exhibition files contain exhibition catalogs, reviews, clippings, notes, inventory price lists, and other materials about Thayer's solo and group shows.

Art inventory records consist of dismantled binders of inventories that also include photographs of artwork and descriptive information such as the title, medium, and dimensions. There are also photographic inventories of works of art arranged by subject, and several partial art inventories.

Printed materials include two scrapbooks compiled by Polly Thayer's mother containing articles about Thayer, magazines, journals, exhibition catalogs, brochures, exhibition invitations, postcards, clippings, and miscellaneous materials. Digital materials consist of inventories and digitized audio interviews.

Five sketchbooks include figure drawings, portrait sketches, and landscape sketches. Also found are loose drawings of animals, landscapes, and people.

Disbound binders of photographs contain images of works of art that are grouped by subject, including portraits, landscapes, and "mystical/flowers/animals," as well as personal photographs of Polly Thayer and family members, houses, social events, pets, and friends. There is one small disbound photograph album of houses and properties.
Arrangement:
The Polly Thayer papers were organized and inventoried by curator Dorothy Koval and other art consultants prior to arriving at the Archives of American Art, and most likely do not reflect the original order by Polly Thayer. The Archives has maintained the arrangement imposed by Koval for the bulk of the papers. This collection is arranged as 13 series.

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1921-2007 (0.8 linear feet; Box 1, 22, 0.582 GB; ER01-ER02)

Series 2: Family Files, 1846-2006 (2 linear feet; Box 1-3, 22)

Series 3: Correspondence, 1929-2008 (1.3 linear feet; Box 3-5)

Series 4: Interviews, 1995-2004 (0.2 linear feet; Box 5, 0.196 GB; ER03)

Series 5: Writings, 1922-2006 (1.7 linear feet; Box 5-6)

Series 6: Subject Files, circa 1900-2008 (3.3 linear feet; Box 7-10)

Series 7: Organization Files, 1931-2008 (1 linear feet; Box 10-11, 0.029 GB; ER04)

Series 8: Exhibition Files, 1928-2006 (1.9 linear feet; Box 11-13)

Series 9: Art Inventory, circa 1940-1999 (4.6 linear feet; Box 13-17)

Series 10: Printed Material, 1900-2006 (1.8 linear feet; Box 17-19, 22)

Series 11: Sketchbooks, 1930-circa 1970 (0.3 linear feet; Box 19, 23)

Series 12: Artwork, 1927-circa 1990 (0.4 linear feet; Box 19, 23, OV 25)

Series 13: Photographs, 1898-2006 (2.1 linear feet; Box 19-21, 24)
Biographical / Historical:
Polly Thayer (Starr) (1904-2006) was a Boston painter of portraits, landscapes, and still lifes.

Ethel Randolph Thayer, known as Polly, was born in Boston in 1904, the daughter of Professor Ezra Ripley Thayer, also Dean of the Harvard Law School, and Ethel Randolph Thayer, née Clark. Thayer began her drawing lessons at an early age and later attended the Westover Boarding School in Middlebury, Connecticut. Although she signed some of her early paintings Ethel Thayer, by the end of the 1920s she generally signed her work Polly Thayer. She continued to use Polly Thayer as her brush name after she married, although in 1967 she changed her name legally from Ethel Randolph Starr to Polly Thayer Starr.

After graduating from Westover School, Thayer traveled to China, Korea, and Japan with her brother and mother. While in Japan, the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 struck just as their ship was about to leave Yokohama. In the devastation that followed, their ship was used as a hospital and Polly Thayer assisted with nursing the injured.

After returning home, Thayer began her formal studies at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts from 1923 to 1925 where she took painting classes taught by Philip Hale. She eventually left the Boston Museum and began private painting lessons with Hale. While working under Hale, she painted a large nude, Circles, which was awarded the National Academy of Design's coveted Julius Hallgarten Prize in 1929. She also spent the summer of 1924 in Provincetown studying with Charles Hawthorne and traveled to Europe where she studied at the Académie Colarossi in Paris. She later studied in Madrid and, from 1930-1933, at the Art Students League in New York City.

Thayer's first solo exhibition was held on New Year's Eve, 1930 at the Doll & Richards gallery in Boston. The Globe reviewer declared it "surely settles her status as one of the foremost painters in the country." The success of the exhibition led to numerous portrait commissions --any of them exhibited at Wildenstein gallery in New York City --and launched Thayer's career as a portrait artist. Her portrait subjects include Judith Anderson, Jacques Barzun, Maurice Evans, Lewis Galantiere, Robert Hale, May Sarton, John Wheelwright, and Agnes Yarnall, among others. Additional galleries that subsequently gave Thayer solo shows were the Sessler Gallery in Philadelphia; Contemporary Arts and Pietrantonio Galleries in New York; and in Boston the Guild of Boston Artists, Grace Horne Galleries, Child's Gallery, The Copley Society, the St. Botolph Club and the Boston Public Library.

In 1933, Polly Thayer married Donald Starr, a Boston lawyer and avid sailor. They married in Italy and honeymooned in Paris while he took a break from a sailing trip around the world on his schooner "Pilgrim." They had two daughters, Victoria and Dinah. In 1942 Thayer joined the Society of Friends (Quakers) which became an important part of her life and identity. She was active in many educational, charitable and cultural institutions and local clubs. Thayer had long been fascinated by the dynamics, meaning and variety of visual experience. In 1981 the Friends Journal published her essay "On Seeing," a paper she continued to refine until she was ninety-seven.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Polly Thayer began focusing more on landscapes and still lifes and continued to be prolific artist, exhibiting in numerous solo and group exhibits in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. In her later years she renewed an early affiliation with Vose Galleries which she maintained for the rest of her life. In 2001, she was the only living artist whose work was included in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts exhibition "A Studio of Her Own" and a banner of her portrait of May Sarton hung over the entrance to the Museum.

Polly Thayer (Starr) died on August 30, 2006.
Related Materials:
The Archives of American Art also holds an oral history interview of Polly Thayer conducted May 12, 1995-February 1, 1996, by Robert F. Brown.

The Polly Thayer Starr Charitable Trust holds archival materials and artwork by Polly Thayer.
Provenance:
The Polly Thayer (Starr) papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by Polly Thayer in 1998 and again in 2008 by Thayer via Stephanie S. Wright, executor. A notebook was donated in 2016 by Dinah Starr, daughter of Polly Thayer (Starr) and merged with the rest of the collection.
Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment. Use of archival 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:
Portrait painters  Search this
Topic:
Painters -- Massachusetts -- Boston  Search this
Kanto Earthquake, Japan, 1923  Search this
Women artists  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photographs
Sound recordings
Sketchbooks
Transcripts
Interviews
Sketches
Video recordings
Drawings
Scrapbooks
Citation:
Polly Thayer (Starr) papers, 1846-2008, bulk 1921-2008. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.thaypoll
See more items in:
Polly Thayer (Starr) papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-thaypoll
Online Media:

Agnes Yarnall

Artist:
Malvina Cornell Hoffman, 15 Jun 1885 - 10 Jul 1966  Search this
Sitter:
Agnes Yarnall, 20th century  Search this
Medium:
Painted plaster
Type:
Sculpture
Date:
1925
Topic:
Agnes Yarnall: Female  Search this
Portrait  Search this
Credit Line:
Owner: New-York Historical Society
Object number:
NYHS.1984.104ab
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
See more items in:
Catalog of American Portraits
Data Source:
Catalog of American Portraits
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/sm41a120d4e-f62b-4424-86b1-e9a1c5d2355b
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:npg_NYHS.1984.104ab

Carl Sandburg

Artist:
Agnes Yarnall, 1904 - 1989  Search this
Sitter:
Carl Sandburg, 6 Jan 1878 - 22 Jul 1967  Search this
Medium:
Bronze
Dimensions:
34.4cm x 20.6cm x 24cm (13 9/16" x 8 1/8" x 9 7/16"), Accurate
Type:
Sculpture
Date:
c. 1930-1954
Topic:
Carl Sandburg: Male  Search this
Carl Sandburg: Education\Educator\Lecturer  Search this
Carl Sandburg: Literature\Writer\Poet  Search this
Carl Sandburg: Communications\Journalist  Search this
Carl Sandburg: Literature\Writer\Novelist  Search this
Carl Sandburg: Communications\Journalist\Reporter\Magazine  Search this
Carl Sandburg: Literature\Writer\Children's book  Search this
Carl Sandburg: Pulitzer Prize  Search this
Carl Sandburg: Presidential Medal of Freedom  Search this
Portrait  Search this
Credit Line:
Owner: Delaware Art Museum
Object number:
54-12
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
See more items in:
Catalog of American Portraits
Data Source:
Catalog of American Portraits
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/sm410f15ebf-479d-42d5-a580-2ff88b42d840
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:npg_54-12

Helen Menken

Attribution:
Agnes Yarnall, 1904 - 1989  Search this
Studio:
Roman Bronze Works, Inc.  Search this
Sitter:
Helen Menken, 1901 - 1966  Search this
Medium:
Bronze
Dimensions:
34.2cm x 12cm x 15.4cm (13 7/16" x 4 3/4" x 6 1/16"), Accurate
Type:
Sculpture
Date:
1940
Topic:
Helen Menken: Female  Search this
Helen Menken: Performing Arts\Performer\Actor  Search this
Portrait  Search this
Credit Line:
Owner: Museum of the City of New York
Object number:
79.5.2.DUP1
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
See more items in:
Catalog of American Portraits
Data Source:
Catalog of American Portraits
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/sm4605bacc0-eac3-4ac4-aed0-5f47ac612ef8
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:npg_79.5.2.DUP1

Edna St Vincent Millay

Artist:
Agnes Yarnall, 1904 - 1989  Search this
Sitter:
Edna St. Vincent Millay, 22 Feb 1892 - 19 Oct 1950  Search this
Medium:
Bronze
Dimensions:
32.5cm x 23cm x 26cm (12 13/16" x 9 1/16" x 10 1/4"), Estimate
Type:
Sculpture
Date:
c. 1931
Topic:
Edna St. Vincent Millay: Female  Search this
Edna St. Vincent Millay: Literature\Writer\Poet  Search this
Edna St. Vincent Millay: Performing Arts\Performer\Actor\Theater  Search this
Edna St. Vincent Millay: Literature\Writer\Playwright  Search this
Edna St. Vincent Millay: Literature\Writer\Letter writer  Search this
Edna St. Vincent Millay: Pulitzer Prize  Search this
Portrait  Search this
Credit Line:
Owner: Harry Ransom Center
Object number:
65.285
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
See more items in:
Catalog of American Portraits
Data Source:
Catalog of American Portraits
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/sm4e18f251c-4973-40ae-8516-cf5b04ee0cd8
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:npg_65.285

Judith Anderson

Artist:
Agnes Yarnall, 1904 - 1989  Search this
Sitter:
Judith Anderson, 10 Feb 1898 - 3 Jan 1992  Search this
Medium:
Bronze
Dimensions:
31.8cm x 19.9cm x 22.5cm (12 1/2" x 7 13/16" x 8 7/8"), Estimate
Type:
Sculpture
Date:
c. 1940
Topic:
Judith Anderson: Female  Search this
Judith Anderson: Performing Arts\Performer\Actor  Search this
Judith Anderson: Performing Arts\Performer\Actor\Theater  Search this
Judith Anderson: Performing Arts\Performer\Actor\Movie  Search this
Judith Anderson: Performing Arts\Performer\Actor\Television  Search this
Portrait  Search this
Credit Line:
Owner: The Players
Object number:
84-700
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
See more items in:
Catalog of American Portraits
Data Source:
Catalog of American Portraits
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/sm46a9aaa26-059b-49fd-8be3-ffac9e2a6a94
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:npg_84-700

Marquis De Lafayette

Artist:
Agnes Yarnall, 1904 - 1989  Search this
Sitter:
Marquis de Lafayette, 6 Sep 1757 - 20 May 1834  Search this
Medium:
Bronze
Dimensions:
42.5cm x 22.8cm x 29.4cm (16 3/4" x 9" x 11 9/16"), Estimate
Type:
Sculpture
Date:
c. 1940-1941
Topic:
Marquis de Lafayette: Male  Search this
Marquis de Lafayette: Military\Army\Officer  Search this
Marquis de Lafayette: Military\Army\Officer\Revolution  Search this
Portrait  Search this
Credit Line:
Owner: Chicago History Museum
Object number:
1941.1
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
See more items in:
Catalog of American Portraits
Data Source:
Catalog of American Portraits
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/sm4a259f49d-4689-4483-a599-bedfc3655664
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:npg_1941.1

Agnes Yarnall [Folder]

Contents:
Folder(s) may include exhibition announcements, newspaper and/or magazine clippings, press releases, brochures, reviews, invitations, illustrations, resumes, artist's statements, exhibition catalogs.
Topic:
Artists  Search this
Location:
Art & Artist files at the Smithsonian American Art Museum/ National Portrait Gallery Library
Data source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:SILAF_43344

Benjamin Franklin with Kite, (sculpture)

Sculptor:
Yarnall, Agnes 1904-  Search this
Subject:
Franklin, Benjamin  Search this
Medium:
Bronze on a rough marble base
Type:
Sculptures
Owner/Location:
Franklin Institute Research Laboratories 20th & Race Streets Philadelphia Pennsylvania
Date:
1965.; Installed 1966
Topic:
Portrait male--Full length  Search this
Object--Toy--Kite  Search this
Occupation--Political--Diplomat  Search this
Occupation--Science--Inventor  Search this
Occupation--Political--Statesman  Search this
Occupation--Political--Governor  Search this
Control number:
IAS 88320141
Data Source:
Art Inventories Catalog, Smithsonian American Art Museums
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_ari_307336

The Power, (sculpture)

Sculptor:
Yarnall, Agnes 1904-  Search this
Medium:
Painted plaster
Type:
Sculptures
Topic:
Figure group--Male  Search this
Occupation--Labor  Search this
Control number:
IAS 9E120013
Data Source:
Art Inventories Catalog, Smithsonian American Art Museums
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_ari_363973

The Glory, (sculpture)

Sculptor:
Yarnall, Agnes 1904-  Search this
Medium:
Painted plaster
Type:
Sculptures
Topic:
Figure group--Male  Search this
Occupation--Military  Search this
Object--Weapon--Gun  Search this
Control number:
IAS 9E120014
Data Source:
Art Inventories Catalog, Smithsonian American Art Museums
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_ari_363974

Head of Carl Sandburg, (sculpture)

Sculptor:
Yarnall, Agnes 1904-  Search this
Subject:
Sandburg, Carl  Search this
Medium:
Bronze
Type:
Sculptures
Owner/Location:
Delaware Art Museum 2301 Kentmere Parkway Wilmington Delaware 19806 Accession Number: 54-12
Topic:
Portrait male--Head  Search this
Occupation--Writer  Search this
Control number:
IAS 75002233
Data Source:
Art Inventories Catalog, Smithsonian American Art Museums
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_ari_4641

Marquis de Lafayette, (sculpture)

Sculptor:
Yarnall, Agnes 1904-  Search this
Subject:
Lafayette, Marquis de  Search this
Medium:
Bronze
Culture:
French  Search this
Type:
Sculptures
Owner/Location:
Chicago Historical Society Clark Street at North Avenue Chicago Illinois 60614
Date:
1940-1941
Topic:
Portrait male--Head  Search this
Occupation--Military  Search this
Ethnic  Search this
Control number:
IAS 75004161
Data Source:
Art Inventories Catalog, Smithsonian American Art Museums
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_ari_7863

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