The papers of Hudson River School painter Jervis McEntee measure 1.6 linear feet and date from 1796 and 1848 to 1905. Letters from close friends and family members to McEntee include many from his mentor Frederic Edwin Church, and fellow artists Samuel Putnam Avery, George Henry Boughton, Sanford Gifford, Richard Henry, Eastman Johnson, Elizabeth B. Stoddard, John Ferguson Weir, Worthington Whittredge, and others. Papers relating to the McEntee family include obituaries, a family genealogy, and letters from and regarding family members. There are also papers relating to the Vaux family (McEntee's brother-in-law's family) and American architect and landscape artist Calvert Vaux, who designed a studio for McEntee. Of special significance are five volumes of diaries dating from 1872 through 1890 which provide a detailed depiction of the American art world in the 1870s and 1880s.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of Hudson River School painter Jervis McEntee measure 1.6 linear feet and date from 1796 and 1850 to 1905. Letters from close friends and family members to McEntee include many from his mentor Frederic Edwin Church, and fellow artists Samuel Putnam Avery, George Henry Boughton, Sanford Gifford, Richard Henry, Eastman Johnson, Elizabeth B. Stoddard, John Ferguson Weir, Worthington Whittredge, and others. Papers relating to the McEntee family include obituaries, a family genealogy, and letters from and regarding family members. There are also papers relating to the Vaux family (McEntee's brother-in-law's family) and American architect and landscape artist Calvert Vaux, who designed a studio for McEntee. Of special significance are five volumes of diaries dating from 1872 through 1890 which provide a detailed depiction of the American art world in the 1870s and 1880s.
The Jervis McEntee papers have been arranged into five series, based on material type.
Series 1: Letters, 1850-1905, undated (Box 1; 0.2 linear feet)
Series 2: Vaux Family Letters and Correspondence, 1850-1890, undated (Box 1; 0.2 linear feet)
Series 3: Third Party Letters, 1861-1873, undated (Box 2; 0.1 linear feet)
Series 4: Miscellany, 1796, 1848-1895, undated (Box 2; 0.1 linear feet)
Series 5: Diaries, 1872-1890 (Box 3-4; 0.6 linear feet)
Jervis McEntee was born in Rondout, New York, July 14, 1828. He had early literary and artistic aspirations and studied under Frederic E. Church, who had himself studied under the Hudson River School master, Thomas Cole. McEntee was to maintain a close relationship with Church for the rest of his life. After an unsuccessful stint as a businessman, McEntee settled in New York in 1857 as one of the charter residents of Richard Morris Hunt's Tenth Street Studio Building. Since many of the other occupants were either bachelors or commuters, and since Mrs. McEntee was a lively, sympathetic hostess, the couple became the center of a spontaneous salon frequented by some of the best-known artists, writers, and actors of the time. After his wife died in 1878, McEntee stayed on, an increasingly neglected widower until his death in 1891.
McEntee was identified with the Hudson River School and an accomplished and sensitive painter of autumnal landscapes. He wrote in 1874, "Perhaps what would mark my work among that of my brother artists is a preference for the soberer phases Nature, the gray days of November and its leafless trees." McEntee stood at the center of the interlocking directorate formed by the National Academy of Design, the Century Club, and the Tenth Street Studio Building. In the latter part of the 19th century, these formed a supreme art establishment whose membership was composed of the old guard American artists, such as McEntee's close friends Eastman Johnson, Sanford Gifford, John Ferguson Weir, Worthington Whittredge, and Church, who were fighting an ultimately futile battle against the encroachment of European influences among both artists and collectors.
The Archives of American Art also holds material lent for microfilming (reel D9) including a diary dated June 12, 1851-August 17, 1851. This material was returned to the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake, New York and is not described in the collection container inventory.
The Adirondack Museum lent one diary for microfilming in 1964. The rest of the collection was acquired from several donors between 1959 and 1997. The noted collector Charles E. Feinberg donated letters in 1959 and, Mrs. Helen S. McEntee, who married the nephew of Jervis McEntee, donated the five volumes of diaries in 1964. William Gaffken, director of the insurance company that acquired the McEntee family insurance business, donated the remaining papers in 1997.
Use of original papers requires and appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center.
The Jervis McEntee 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.
This small collection measures 0.2 linear feet and comprises 13 letters written by renowned Hudson River School landscape painter Albert Bierstadt between 1860 and 1900. The majority of the letters were penned in the last two decades of his life and discuss his painting, the inspiration he found in nature, his studio, and concerns relating to commissions and finances.
Scope and Content Note:
This small collection measures 0.2 linear feet and comprises 13 letters written by renowned Hudson River School landscape painter Albert Bierstadt between 1860 and 1900. The majority of the letters were penned in the last two decades of his life.
Bierstadt writes specifically of his work in several of the letters and refers to two paintings, Laramie Peak and The Jungfrau. In one letter he writes of the inspiration he finds in nature through his love of the mountains. Bierstadt invites friends to his studio in New York City, mentions a trip to Yosemite in the 1870s and writes letters of introduction on behalf of friends. Two of the letters concern commissions and discuss financial matters.
Due to the small size of this collection, items are arranged as one chronological series.
Series 1: Albert Bierstadt Letters, 1860-1900 (Box 1; 13 items)
Albert Bierstadt was born in Solingen, Germany, in January 1830. His family emigrated to the United States when he was two years of age and settled in Bedford, Massachusetts.
In 1853 Bierstadt traveled to Germany to study painting at the Düsseldorf Art Academy. In 1858, following his return to the United States, he gained national attention for organizing a large exhibition of paintings including fifteen of his own works. Bierstadt drew inspiration from the painters of the Hudson River School, and regularly visited the White Mountains of New Hampshire to make sketches for his landscape paintings.
In 1859 Bierstadt traveled to the Colorado and Wyoming territories sketching landscapes in the company of a United States government survey expedition. On his return he took studio space at the new Tenth Street Studio Building in New York City and began a series of large-scale western landscape paintings, including Yosemite Valley and Thunderstorm in the Rocky Mountains. These paintings, known for their theatrical and romantic depiction of the grandeur and drama of the American West, brought Bierstadt great popularity during the 1860s.
Bierstadt's paintings were widely exhibited in the United States and abroad and commanded some of the highest prices in American art at the time, although his reputation began to decline somewhat in the 1880s in the face of changing public tastes.
Bierstadt was a member of the Century Association from 1862-1902 and a member of the National Academy of Design from 1860 until his death in 1902.
Also found at the Archives of American Art are the Robert Neuhaus papers concerning Clyfford Still and Albert Bierstadt, 1884-1984 (bulk 1941-1984). A circa 1875 photograph of Bierstadt by Bierstadt Brothers given to the Archives by an unknown donor is available in the Archives of American Art's Photographs of Artists Collection I and online.
The collection was acquired by the Archives of American Art in a series of accessions between 1955 and 2001. Six letters were donated by Charles Feinberg in 1955-1957; one letter was donated by Letitia Howe in 1976; one letter was donated by Mrs. Miles Reber, grandaughter-in-law of General Nelson in 1976; two letters were purchased from Charles Hamilton Autographs in 1956; one letter was purchased from Steele in 1956; and one letter was purchased from Scott J. Winslow Associates in 2001.
The collection has been digitized and is available online via the Archives of American Art website.
The Albert Bierstadt letter collecton is 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 landscape painter Sanford Robinson Gifford, date from the 1840s through 1900, and circa 1960s-1970s. The bulk of the papers fall between 1855-1881; material from the circa 1960s-1970s consists of photographic copy prints for which the Archives does not have the originals. The small collection measures 0.9 linear feet of scattered documentation of Gifford's life, primarily extensive biographical accounts of his travels in the mid 1850s and late 1860s in the form of bound letters to his father. These serve as detailed journals of his impressions of Europe and the Middle East, the development of his painting, and his relationships with other artists such as Albert Bierstadt and Worthington Whittredge. The collection also contains sketches by Gifford, printed material including catalogs of Gifford's paintings, and photographs of Gifford and others.
Scope and Content Note:
The collection dates from the 1840s through 1900, and circa 1960s-1970s with the bulk of the material falling between 1855-1881. Material from circa 1960s-1970s consists of photographic copy prints of original photographs from the mid to late 1800s for which the Archives does not own the originals. The papers measure 0.9 linear feet and provide detailed documentation of the life of Hudson River School landscape painter, Sanford Robinson Gifford, during the mid 1850s and late 1860s. The papers contain extensive accounts of Gifford's travels in 3 bound volumes of typewritten letters from Gifford to his father. These letters serve as travel journals and provide extensive and vivid descriptions of Gifford's work and experiences in Europe and the Middle East, and document his relationships with a variety of other artists, including Alfred Bierstadt and Worthington Whittredge, during this period.
Additional records provide scattered documenation of other periods of Gifford's life. Letters refer to his travels in the American west and his Civil War service and its effect on his painting. Printed material includes clippings and exhibition catalogs, and includes a catalogue of his paintings published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1881. Artwork by Gifford includes sketches by the artist and prints, engravings and paintings by various others. Original photographs date from 1856-1900 and include images of Gifford during the Civil War. Copyprints for which the Archives does not own the originals date from the circa 1960s-1970s and include two images of a family home in Hudson, New York, where Gifford had a studio in the mid 1860s, a portrait photograph of Gifford, and an image of Gifford on the Hayden expedition.
The collection is arranged as 4 series:
Series 1: Letters, 1855-1874 (Box 1; 3 volumes, 1 folder)
Series 2: Printed Material, circa 1850s-1881 (Box 2; 4 folders)
Series 3: Artwork, circa 1840s-circa 1870s (Box 2, OV 3; 4 folders)
Series 4: Photographs and Copy Prints, 1856-circa 1900, circa 1960s-1970s (Box 2, 5, OV 4; 11 folders)
Sanford Robinson Gifford was born in Greenfield, New York, in 1823. He attended Brown University from 1842-1844 and moved to New York City in 1845 where he studied drawing, perspective and anatomy under the direction of the British watercolorist and drawing-master, John R. Smith. He also studied the human figure in anatomy classes at the Crosby Street Medical college and took drawing classes at the National Academy of Design. In 1846 he visited the Berkshire Hills and the Catskill Mountains, sketching from nature. "These studies," he wrote to O. B. Frothingham in 1874, "together with the great admiration I felt for the works of Cole developed a strong interest in landscape art, and opened my eyes to a keener perception and more intelligent enjoyment of nature. Having once enjoyed the absolute freedom of the landscape painters life I was unable to return to portrait painting."
The American Art Union bought and showed some of Gifford's first pictures in 1847. In 1851 he was elected an associate, and in 1854 an academician, of the National Academy of Design.
Gifford traveled widely to sketch landscapes for future paintings, recording his experiences in letters to his father which he intended would "serve the double purpose of letter and journal, and be an economy of time." He requested that his father number the letters sequentially and keep them together.
In the summer of 1855 Gifford visited England, Scotland and Paris, where he spent the winter of 1855 transforming his English and Scottish sketches into paintings. In the fall of 1856 he rented a studio in Rome and, over the course of the winter, painted pictures that reportedly pleased him "pretty well," including Lake Nemi. During the spring of 1857, Gifford spent time with fellow artists Worthington Whittredge, William H. Beard and Albert Bierstadt before leaving Rome in May with Bierstadt for a walking tour of southern Italy, where they planned to reconnect with Whittredge and Beard. Gifford ended his European tour with a visits to Innsbruck, Munich, Vienna, Prague, Dresden, Berlin and Paris, before returning to the United States at the end of the summer.
On his return Gifford rented studio Number 19 in the Tenth Street Studio Building in New York City, which he retained until his death. Over the next few years he also made frequent summer trips to various northeastern locales including the Catskills, the Adirondacks, the Green Mountains in Vermont, the White Mountains in New Hampshire, Maine and Nova Scotia.
Gifford served in New York's Seventh Regiment when it marched to the defense of Washington in April 1861, and again in 1862 and 1863. Several paintings resulted from this experience, including Sunday Morning at Camp Cameron (1861), Bivouac of the Seventh Regiment at Arlington Heights, Virginia (1861) and Camp of the Seventh Regiment, near Frederick, Maryland, in July 1863 (1864).
In 1868 Gifford returned to Europe, again visiting London and Paris, where he met with friends Jervis McEntee and his wife. He then spent the summer visiting the Alps and Sicily before wintering in Rome. In 1869 he traveled to Egypt where he and a small party hired a boat to take them on a two-month voyage from Cairo down the Nile River. Subsequently, Gifford traveled to the Middle East with Alfred Craven via the Suez Canal, where his itinerary included Syria, Jerusalem, Samaria, Damascus, Greece and Turkey. Gifford arrived in Venice in June 1869 and sailed for the United States at the beginning of September.
In 1870 Gifford visited Colorado with Worthington Whittredge and John Frederick Kensett, and accompanied a United States Geological party under Dr. Hayden in the exploration of Wyoming, Utah, and the Colorado Territories. In the summer of 1873 he visited California, Oregon, British Columbia and Alaska.
Gifford married in 1877 but in 1880 became ill and died of malarial fever and pneumonia at the age of 58. That same year he was honored with the Metropolitan Museum of Art's first monographic retrospective and a memorial catalogue of his known pictures.
Five sketchbooks were loaned by Vassar College in 1966 and the originals were returned to the donor after microfilming on reel D254.
The Archives of American Art also holds microfilm of material lent for microfilming (reels D254 and 688) including twenty-one sketchbooks, photographs, passports and certificates, an 1888 European travel diary of Mary Louise Willard, wife of Gifford's nephew, Harold, and a 1966 letter. Loaned materials were returned to the lender and are not described in the collection container inventory.
Edith Wilkinson first donated the Sanford Robinson Gifford papers in 1955 and 1957. James C. Gifford donated copy prints of photographs in 1964. Five sketchbooks were lent for microfilming by the Vassar College Art Library in 1966 and George and Frances Gifford Cummings donated additional material in 1973. In 1974, sixteen sketchbooks, photographs, and other materials were lent for microfilming by Dr. Sanford Gifford, Gifford's great-nephew.
The collection has been digitized and is available online via AAA's website.
The Sanford Robinson Gifford 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.
New world : creating an American art / exhibition and catalogue, Elizabeth Mankin Kornhauser ; in collaboration with Ortrud Westheider and Karsten Müller ; with contributions by Winfried Fluck [and others]