The C. J. (Clarence Joseph) Bulliet papers measure 34.6 linear feet and are dated circa 1888-1959. Biographical materials, correspondence, writings, subject and artist files, printed material, photographs, and artwork document the career of the influential Chicago art critic and writer. The records contain extensive information about art and artists in Chicago and the Midwest from the early to mid-twentieth century.
Scope and Content Note:
The C. J. Bulliet papers measure 34.6 linear feet and are dated circa 1888-1959. Biographical materials, correspondence, writings, subject and artist files, printed material, photographs, and artwork document the career of the influential Chicago art critic and writer. The records contain extensive information about art and artists in Chicago and the Midwest from the early to mid-twentieth century.
Biographical materials, circa 1888-1952, about C. J. Bulliet and his artist wife, Katherine Adams Bulliet, include Adams family genealogy, biographical notes, inventory and notes about Bulliet's art collection, miscellaneous items, and photographs. Photographs include portraits of C. J. Bulliet as a young child, and photographs around the time of his graduation from Indiana University. Other photographs are group shots of Bulliet with Mrs. Bulliet, Millard Sheets, Mr. and Mrs. Peyton Boswell, Jr., James Chapin, the Chicago Daily News staff, and other Chicago art critics.
Correspondence, 1901-1942, documents Bulliet's professional and personal life. Professional correspondence provides a good overview of the art scene, activities, and attitudes in Chicago during the 1930s and 1940s. Many letters from newspaper readers contain both positive and negative reactions to his columns. Personal correspondence consists mainly of letters Bulliet wrote to his wife while on the road with Robert Mantell and his Shakespeare company. Other personal correspondence is with friends and relatives, and includes some letters addressed to Katherine Adams Bulliet.
Writings, 1929-1951, consist of notes, drafts, and final manuscripts of published and unpublished articles and essays, books, fiction and poems, lectures, and reviews by C. J. Bulliet. A small number of manuscripts are by other authors.
Artist files, 1919-1952, document a wide variety of artists from the Renaissance through the mid-twentieth century. Artists represented are American, European, and Asian; of particular interest are files relating to Chicago area artists, both well known and obscure. They consist largely of photographs of works of art and a small number of photographs of artists. A small percentage includes correspondence, notes and drafts of texts by Bulliet, printed material, and a few original prints.
Subject files, 1909-1952, concern topics that interested Bulliet. They consist mainly of photographs and printed material, with a small amount of correspondence.
Printed material, 1909-1959, by Bulliet consists of newspaper articles and columns, books, and reviews of art, books, and music. Items produced by others include books, clippings, museum and art school publications, periodicals, and press releases. Exhibition related items, consisting of announcements, invitations, catalogs, checklists, and prospectuses, are categorized by venues - Chicago and elsewhere.
Art work, 1916-1948, mainly by Chicago area artists, consists of prints, drawings, and a sketchbook, most likely given to Bulliet by the artists themselves.
Series 2: Correspondence, Series 4: Artist Files, Series 5: Subject Files, and Series 7: Artwork are arranged alphabetically. Other series, organized by record type, are arranged chronologically within each category, as noted in the series descriptions/container listing below.
The collection is arranged into 7 series:
Series 1: Biographical Materials, circa 1888-1952 (Box 1; 6 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1901-1952 (Boxes 1-2; 2 linear ft.)
Series 3: Writings, 1929-1951 (Boxes 3-4; 2 linear ft.)
Series 4: Artist Files, 1919-1952 (Boxes 5-24; 20 linear ft.)
Series 5: Subject Files, 1909-1952 (Boxes 25-27, 37; 2.3 linear ft.)
Series 6: Printed Material, 1909-1959 (Boxes 27-34, 36-37; 7.7 linear ft.)
Series 7: Artwork, 1916-1948 (Boxes 35, 38, OV 39; 0.6 linear ft.)
Known for his support of modernism, C. J. Bulliet spent the majority of his long newspaper career in Chicago. Born Clarence Joseph Bulleit in Corydon, Indiana, he studied English, astronomy, and mathematics at Indiana University. After graduating in 1905, he became a member of the Indiana University Total Eclipse Expedition to Spain in its search for a planet within Mercury's orbit. During World War I the spelling to Bulliet was changed to avoid any connection with Germany.
Upon returning to the United States, Bulliet began his newspaper career as a reporter for the Louisville Herald, soon moved to the Indianapolis Star as a police reporter, and eventually was named its drama critic. Between 1912 and 1921, he traveled extensively throughout the country as a press agent for Shakespearean actor Robert B. Mantell. During this period, he published his first book, a biography titled Robert Mantell's Romance. World War I interrupted Mantell's tour for two years, during which time Bulliet was press representative for D. W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation. He returned to the Louisville Herald for two years before moving to Chicago.
In 1923, the Chicago Evening Post established "The Art World Magazine," a weekly tabloid section reporting local, national, and international art news. C.J. Bulliet became the magazine's first (and only) editor. In addition, he served as the paper's drama critic. When the Chicago Evening Post was sold in 1932, becoming the Chicago Daily News, Bulliet was appointed its art critic. Although Bulliet was an experienced reporter, writer, and editor with a broad general knowledge of theater and drama, he had virtually no background in art or art history. An avid reader, he was determined to learn as much as he could, and managed to make himself an expert in a relatively short time. From 1924 until his death in 1952, C. J. Bulliet was the most important art critic in Chicago. His strong support of modernism and the gossipy, entertaining style of his columns made him a popular and controversial figure with great local influence on public opinion, exhibitions, and patronage. In addition to his work on the Chicago newspapers, C. J. Bulliet contributed articles to Art Digest, the New York Times, and other national publications.
Once established as an art editor and critic, C. J. Bulliet began writing extensively on art, and published many books on the subject for general readers. The first, Apples and Madonnas: Emotional Expression in Modern Art (1927), was extremely well-received and remained in print through many editions. Other titles include: Tour of the Exhibition of the Works of Alexander Archipenko (1927), The Courtezan Olympia: An Intimate Survey of Artists and their Mistress-Models (1930), Art Masterpieces: In a Century of Progress Fine Art Exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago (1933), Paintings, An Introduction to Art (1934); The Significant Moderns and Their Pictures (1936), Masterpieces of Italian Art (1939), French Art from David to Matisse: As Set Forth in 20 Masterpieces of the French Exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago (1941), Art Treasures from Vienna (1949), and The Story of Lent in Art (1951). He published books on other subjects, as well. In addition to his 1918 biography of Robert B. Mantell, they are: Venus Castina: Famous Female Impersonators, Celestial and Human (1933) and How Grand Opera Came to Chicago (1940-1941).
The papers were donated to the Archives in 1984 by C. J. Bulliet's son, Lender J. Bulliet. Additional records were given by Rockford College, Rockford, Illinois, in 1987.
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
The C. J. Bulliet 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.