Charles Lang Freer selected papers, 1876-1931

Freer, Charles Lang, b. 1856 d. 1919
Collector, Businessperson
Active in Detroit, Mich.

Collection size: 34 microfilm reels.

Collection Summary: Papers concerning Freer's art collecting activities, including correspondence, diaries, art inventories, scrapbooks of clippings on James McNeil Whistler and other press clippings, and photographs. In addition to Freer's own correspondence, the papers include correspondence collected by Freer of James McNeill Whistler and of Whistler collector Richard A. Canfield, correspondence of Freer's assistant Katharine Nash Rhoades, and correspondence regarding Freer's bequest to the Smithsonian Institution. Correspondence, ca. 1860-1921, includes Freer's correspondence, 1876-1920, with artists, dealers, collectors, museums, and public figures; 30 v. of letterpress books containing copies of letters sent, 1892-1910; correspondence collected by Freer of James McNeill Whistler, and his wife Beatrix, 186?-1909, with Lady Colin Campbell, Thomas R. Way, Alexander Reid, Whistler' mother, Mrs. George W. Whistler, and others; correspondence of Whistler collector Richard A. Canfield, 1904-1913, regarding works in Canfield's collection; and correspondence of Freer's assistant, Katharine Nash Rhoades, 1920-1921, soliciting Freer letters and regarding the settlement of his estate. Also included are twenty-nine pocket diaries, 1889-1890, 1892-1898, 1900-1919, recording daily activities, people and places visited, observations, and comments; a diary kept by Freer's caretaker, Joseph Stephens Warring, recording daily activities at Freer's Detroit home, 1907-1910; Inventories, n.d. and 1901-1921, of American, European, and Asian art in Freer's collection, often including provenance information; vouchers, 1884-1919, documenting his purchases; five volumes of scrapbooks of clippings on James McNeill Whistler, 1888-1931, labeled "Various," "Peacock Room," "Death, etc.," "Paris, etc.," and "Boston...London" ; three volumes of newsclippings, 1900-1930, concerning Freer and the opening of the Freer Gallery of Art; correspondence regarding Freer's gift and bequest to the Smithsonian Institution, 1902-1916; and photographs, ca. 1880-1930, of Freer, including portraits by Alvin Langdon Coburn and Edward Steichen, Freer with others, Freer in Cairo, China and Japan, Freer's death mask, and his memorial service, Kyoto, 1930; photographs of artists and others, including Thomas Dewing, Ernest Fenellosa, Katharine Rhoades taken by Alfred Stieglitz, Rosalind B. Philip, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Abbott H. Thayer, Dwight Tryon, and Whistler; and photographs relating to Whistler, including art works depicting him, grave and memorial monuments, works of art, the Peacock Room, and Whistler's memorial exhibition at the Copley Society. Among Freer's correspondents are: Otto Bacher, Bernard Berenson, Siegfried Bing, Laurence Binyon, W.K. Bixby, Sigisbert Chretien Bosch-Reitz, Charles H. Caffin, Colin Campbell, Richard Canfield, William Merritt Chase, Frederick Stuart Church, Alfred Vance Churchill, Thomas Wilmer Dewing, Arthur Wesley Dow, Ernest Fenollosa, Albert Gallatin, John Gellatly, Frederick W. Gookin, Sadakichi Hartmann, Frank J. Hecker, Dikran Kelekian, M. Knoedler & Co., Berthold Laufer, Lien Hui Ching Collection, W.A. Livingstone, Frederick McCormick, Bunkio Matsuki, Gari Melchers, Agnes Meyer, Eugene Meyer, Charles Moore, Yozo Nomura, Rosalind Birnie Philip, Charles A. Platt, Theodore Roosevelt, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the Smithsonian Institution, Joseph Stephens Warring, Thomas Way, Abbott Handerson Thayer, Dwight W. Tryon, Charles Walcott of the Smithsonian Institution, Beatrix Whistler, James McNeill Whistler, K.T. Wong, Yamanaka & Co., and Seaouke Yue.

Biographical/Historical Note: Art collector; Detroit, Michigan. Collected Asian, American, and European art, including a large collection of works by James McNeill Whistler. Founded the Freer Gallery of Art, which is now part of the Smithsonian Institution.

Selected for microfilming from the Charles Lang Freer papers at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Microfilmed 1992 by the Archives of American Art with funding provided by the Smithsonian Institution's Office of Fellowships and Grants Research Resources Program. Portions of the correspondence and the letterpress books were previously filmed by the Freer in the 1970 (AAA reels 77, 453-456, and 1217-1232); those reels have been replaced by this microfilming project. See Finding Aid for information on papers not selected for microfilming.

How to Use this Collection

  • Microfilm reels 4720-4753 available for use at Archives of American Art offices, the Freer Gallery of Art/Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives, and through interlibrary loan.
  • The Archives of American art does not own the original papers. Use is limited to the microfilm copy.
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