Emerson Crosby Kelly research material relating to J. Francis Murphy, 1761-1973

Kelly, Emerson Crosby, b. 1899 d. 1977
Collector

Collection size: 16.7 linear ft. (on 21 microfilm reels)

Collection Summary: Biography and catalogue raisonné of J. Francis Murphy by Emerson Crosby Kelly, M.D., and correspondence relating to Dr. Kelly's interest in Murphy. Personal papers of J. Francis Murphy and Adah Clifford Smith Murphy include diaries and notebooks, correspondence, Smith and Murphy family documents, financial records, printed matter, artifacts, photographs, and works of art.

Research notes, drafts, and manuscript of an unpublished biography, "J. Francis Murphy, N.A., (1853-1921): Tints of a Vanished Past," and illustrated catalogue raisonne of the works of J. Francis Murphy by Emerson Crosby Kelly (1953). Kelly corresponded with friends and relatives of the Murphys, with owners of Murphy paintings, publishers, printers, and possible financial backers for his book. Also documented is Dr. and Mrs. Kelly's involvement in the sale of "Weedwild," the Murphy's Arkville, N.Y. home, to the Pestalozzi Foundation of America.

Diaries of J. Francis Murphy (25 vols.) contain very brief entries that faithfully record weather conditions, garden progress, and other nature notes, with occasional mention of social engagements or service on art juries; entries recorded during trips to Europe mainly list places visited with little elaboration. Notebooks (16 vols.) include painting registers, daily listings of mail sent and received, address books, and jottings relating to Indian relics, his farmland, and paintings sent to dealers. Mrs. Murphy's diaries (46 vols.) also contain very brief entries mentioning friends, social engagements, travels, and an "Account of the pictures I painted and gave away. Portraits of them. + landscapes + old houses." Her notebooks (4 vols.) contain "Notes for a book. J.F.'s".

Correspondence concerns family matters, exhibitions, sales, professional memberships, involvement with the Salmagundi Club and National Academy of Design, and the couple's finances. Whenever separated, the Murphys exchanged lengthy letters with one another; the majority of these are from husband to wife.

Receipts and invoices are mainly for art supplies, framing, and shipping costs; expense records for personal purchases and farm upkeep and improvements; taxes; and legal papers concerning a property boundary dispute and lawsuit against the Murphys.

Photographs are of Mr. and Mrs. Murphy, their families and ancestors, friends, studios, "Weedwild" (country home) and surrounding Arkville, N.Y. area, landscape subjects, works of art by the Murphys, medals and certificates of award. Six tintypes are included. Photographers include: Hollinger, Moffett, Napoleon Sarony, and C. Vandyk. Commercially produced stereographs mainly depict U.S. scenes.

Art works consist of sketchbooks, oil sketches, and works of art on paper by both Murphys, Emil Carlsen, and other artists (ca. 500 items).

Other materials include exhibition catalogs and announcements, clippings, scrapbooks (probably compiled by Mrs. Murphy ca. 1885), medals awarded to J. Francis Murphy, copper plate etched by Adah C. Murphy, and artifacts.

Biographical/Historical Note: Emerson Crosby Kelly, M.D., art collector, surgeon, and medical bibliographer; d. 1977. J. Francis Murphy, landscape painter and one of the leading tonalists of the American Barbizon school, lived and worked in New York City and Arkville, N.Y. Studied very briefly at the Chicago Academy of Design, 1875. Member of the National Academy of Design and active in the Salmagundi Club. His wife, Adah Clifford Smith Murphy, a painter and illustrator, studied at the Female Art School of the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.

The donor, Sydney Kelly, is the widow of Dr. Emerson Crosby Kelly. Dr. Kelly acquired the Murphy papers in 1949 from Hulda Gregerson, Mrs. Murphy's long-time companion, for the purpose of writing a biography and catalogue raisonne of J. Francis Murphy.

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  • Microfilm reels 4341-4361 available at all Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.
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