Charles M. Kurtz papers, 1843-1990, bulk, 1884-1909

Kurtz, Charles M. (Charles McMeen), b. 1855 d. 1909
Arts administrator, Museum director, Collector, Editor, Dealer

Collection size: 27.6 linear feet

Collection Summary: Primarily correspondence and printed material, but also diaries, legal and financial material, notes and writings, photographs, and works of art reflect Kurtz's involvement with the National Academy of Design, the art departments of the Southern, World's Columbian, St. Louis, International Universal (Paris), and Louisiana Purchase Expositions, the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, and his activities as a collector and private dealer.

Biographical/Historical Note: Charles M. Kurtz (1855-1909) was an arts administrator, museum director, collector, private dealer, and editor. Attended Washington & Jefferson College and the National Academy of Design. Began his career as the editor of National Academy of Design's "National Academy Notes," 1881-1889, American Art Union Magazine (1884), and New York Daily Star (1889). He was Director of the Art Department, Southern Exposition (Louisville, Kentucky.), 1883-1886; Assistant Chief, Depepartment of Fine Arts, World's Columbian Exposition; Director, Art Depepartment, St. Louis Exposition & Music Hall Association, 1894-1899 (where he introduced the Glasgow school of painting, a group of Scottish artists and the Danish School in 1895); Assssistant Director of Fine Arts, U.S. Commission to the International Universal Exposition, Paris, 1900; and Asst. Chief, Depepartment. of Fine Arts, Louisiana Purchase Exposition, 1904. From 1905-1909, Kurtz was director of the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy (later the Albright Art Gallery), and editor of Academy Notes.

Donated 1988-1991 by Isabel Kurtz, Charles Kurtz's daughter. The painting diary on reel 4921 was lent for microfilming by the Yale Center for Britsh Art in 1994. For many years, the Kurtz Papers were thought to have been destroyed in a fire. Isabel Kurtz, a school teacher who lived with her older sister in Buffalo, New York, was vague when initially approached about her father's papers by Archives Regional Director, Robert Brown in the mid-1980s. However upon her death in 1991, her will revealed that the papers were indeed in her house in Buffalo and the bulk of them were bequeathed to the Archives of American Art. Paintings and a diary in which Kurtz has written a history of the Glasgow School were given to the Yale Center for British Art. That diary has subsequently been duplicated on microfilm and is now also available in the Archives (reel 4912). Scorch marks on some of the papers and also on the paintings given to Yale suggest that there was indeed a fire. The material that was not bequeathed to the Archives included duplicates of printed documents along with books from the Kurtz library and a coin collection, all of which were dispersed in an estate auction that was held in Buffalo in 1991.

How to Use this Collection

  • Read the Finding Aid for this collection
  • Most of the collection has been filmed on microfilm reels 4804-4826. The microfilm is available at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.
  • Glasgow painting diary, Microfilm reel 4912: Authorization to publish, quote, or reproduce must be obtained from: Yale Center for British Art, 1080 Chapel St., Box 2120 Yale Station, New Haven, Connecticut 06520.
  • Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
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Related Materials

Additional Charles Kurtz papers, 1870-1910, including circa 340 letters, which discuss exhibitions, sales of art, patronage, atelier visits, and submissions to publications, and include letters to his parents in which he discusses the art market and art world neww; as well as manuscripts, notebooks, a diary and printed ephemera relating to exhibitions and publications, are available at the Getty Research Institute, Research Library, Los Angeles, California.
Also in the Archives of American Art is Kurtz's Glasgow painting diary which was lent for microfilming (reel 4912). This diary is only available on microfilm.