Frank and Elizabeth Boott Duveneck papers, 1851-1972, bulk 1851-1919

A Finding Aid to the Frank Duveneck and Elizabeth Boott Duveneck Papers, 1851-1972, bulk 1851-1919, in the Archives of American Art, by Kathleen Brown

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Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art

Table of Contents:

Biographical Information

Painter, etcher, and one of the most influential American art instructors of the nineteenth century, Frank Duveneck was born Frank Deckler to German immigrants Bernard and Katherine Decker on October 9, 1848 in Covington, Kentucky. He acquired the name Duveneck from his stepfather after his father's death and mother's remarriage. Family and friends recognized his artistic talents early on and he was apprenticed to local German artisans who decorated churches through most of the 1860s. In 1870 he traveled to Munich to study at the prestigious Konigliche Akademie (Royal Academy), where he was quickly promoted to life classes and the painting class of Wilhelm von Diez. He quickly earned a reputation as the leading American artist in the Academy. Duveneck was only 24 in 1872 when painted one of his most well-known paintings, Whistling Boy.

Due to dwindling funds and a cholera epidemic in Europe, Duveneck returned to the United States in 1873 and began teaching at the Ohio Mechanics Institute in Cincinnati the following year, where John H. Twachtman was among his students. An 1875 exhibition of his paintings at the Boston Art Club met with critical and public acclaim. He also attracted the attention of William Morris Hunt, novelist Henry James, and his future wife, Elizabeth Boott, who was one among those who deeply admired his work, although the pair were not to meet for another three years. After his return to Munich later that year, he became part of a tightly knit group of other American artists including Frank Currier, William Merritt Chase, and Walter Shirlaw. All four artists exhibited their work in the United States in such venues as the National Academy of Design's annual exhibition of 1877, and the first exhibition of the Society of American Artists in 1878, which may have contributed to the increased popularity of the Royal Academy in Munich as a destination for young American artists. As enrollment rose, classes became overcrowded and Duveneck began teaching in Munich. A group of younger students, including John Alexander, and John H. Twachtman, who had followed the artist from Cincinnati to Munich, became known as the "Duveneck Boys." He also had acquired a private female student, Elizabeth Boott, who had traveled to Munich to study with him.

The painter Elizabeth Boott, known primarily as "Lizzie," was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on April 13, 1846 and was raised by her widowed father, the prominent Bostonian Francis Boott. The pair moved to Florence, Italy, when Lizzie was just a year old, after the death of her mother and brother from tuberculosis. Similar to Duveneck, Lizzie Boott's talent for drawing was recognized and encouraged at an early age. Early drawings preserved by her father consist of portraits of their well-known Anglo-American friends including Robert Browning, Nathanial Hawthorne, and Henry Higginson, founder of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The Bootts briefly returned to Boston in 1865, at which time Lizzie met the novelist Henry James, who became a close life-long friend of both her and her father. Through James, she learned of the artist William Morris Hunt, and entered his class in Boston for women artists. She established close friendships with several of the women whom she met through Hunt's class, and they traveled together through Italy and Spain, took classes with the French artist Thomas Couture, and studied at the Académie Julian in Paris. They also made up the group of female students that formed a class of women artists taught by Duveneck, whom Lizzie had persuaded to teach in Florence in 1879. Duveneck, along with a band of "Duveneck Boys" embarked upon a two year stay in Florence and Venice.

During this period in Italy, Duveneck experimented with with hard ground etchings, creating Venetian scenes similar to those produced by James McNeil Whistler. His painting changed as he focused more on landscapes executed in a ligher, more highly keyed palette, perhaps influenced by Lizzie Boott, who painted vibrant watercolor Italian landscapes during this period and with whom he began an extended courtship in 1880. Although Francis Boott admired Duveneck's work and had acquired one his portraits during the artist's successful 1875 exhibition at the Boston Arts Club, neither he nor family friends approved of the bohemian artist as a husband for his accomplished patrician daughter. However the pair eventually married in March 1886, and had a son, Francis Boott Duveneck that December. Tragically, Lizzie Boott died of pneumonia on March 22, 1888. Although he was not a sculptor, one of Duvenecks' most admired works is the effigy that he created with the help of sculptor Clement J. Barnhorn, for his wife's tomb in Florence, casts of which may be viewed at the Museum of Fine Arts and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

After his wife's death Duveneck returned to America, spending most of his time in his Cincinnati studio and teaching painting classes at the Cincinnati Art Museum. At the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, two galleries at the San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts, were allotted to Duveneck for a retrospective of his work. The jury awarded him a gold medal of honor to commemorate his contributions to American Art. Frank Duveneck died in Cincinnati on January 3, 1919.

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Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The papers of painter and teacher Frank Duveneck and his wife, painter Elizabeth Boott Duveneck measure 1.2 linear feet and date from 1851-1972, bulk 1851-1919. Aspects of the lives and work of the artists are documented in correspondence, creative writings, research notes, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, magazine articles, ephemera, sketches and sketchbooks, and vintage photographs.

The limited amount of correspondence in this collection includes separate letters from Frank Duveneck and Elizabeth Duveneck, primarily to family members, which describe studies and travel abroad, works in progress, exhibitions, and after their marriage, reports on family life. Frank Duveneck's correspondence also includes a letter from sculptor William Couper concerning the marble for a memorial to Elizabeth Boott Duveneck. There is also a folder of letters to and from Mr. and Mrs. Francis B. Duvencek, the son and daughter-in-law of the artist couple, that include reminiscences about Frank Duveneck from former student Bessie Wessel and a letter to Francis Duveneck from Daniel Chester French requesting permission to make a bronze from the plaster cast of the Duveneck's effigy of Elizabeth at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Writings include Elizabeth Boott Duveneck's diary, a typescript of a speech attributed to Frank Duveneck, and research notes compiled by daughter-in-law Josephine Duveneck in preparation for her biography of her father-in-law.

Printed materials consist primarily of newspaper clippings and magazine articles on Frank Duveneck, but also include his Munich Royal Academy card and copy certificate from the Ministry of Florence, Italy. Newspaper clippings may also be found in the Scrapbook series, including Elizabeth Boott Duveneck's scrapbook of exhibition reviews of her paintings, and two folders of clippings pertaining to Frank Duveneck compiled by Josephine Duveneck. Frank Duveneck's scrapbook contains printed illustrations compiled by the artist while he was studying art in Munich.

Sketchbooks and sketches consist of four sketchbooks by Elizabeth Boott Duvenck and three by Frank Duveneck that document their growth as artists as they span several decades (particularly in the case of Elizabeth) of their respective careers. There are also two folders of loose, mostly early, portrait sketches by Elizabeth Boott Duveneck.

Vintage photographs depict Frank Duveneck alone, with family and friends, Elizabeth Boott Duveneck, Francis Boott with his daughter, John Twachtman, art classes including one of Wilhelm von Diez's classes in Munich, and a group photograph of the jury of the 1915 Panama-Pacific exposition. There is only one photograph that includes both Frank and Elizabeth Duveneck together along with her father Francis Boott and nurse Ann Shenston.

Arrangement and Series Description

The collection is arranged into 6 series:

Subjects and Names

This collection is indexed in the online catalog of the Archives of American Art under the following terms:


  • Munich school of painting -- Influence
  • Painting, American
  • Painting, Modern -- 19th Century -- United States
  • Art teachers -- Germany
  • Painters -- Germany
  • Painters -- United States
  • Art teachers -- Ohio -- Cincinnati

Types of Materials:

  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks
  • Sketchbooks
  • Sketches


  • Couper, William, 1853-1888
  • Duveneck, Elizabeth Boott, 1846-1888
  • Duveneck, Josphine W. (Josephine Whitney), 1891-1978
  • French, Daniel Chester, 1850-1931
  • Wessel, Bessie Hoover, 1889-1973


The papers of Frank Duveneck and Elizabeth Boott Duveneck were donated by Mr. and Mrs. Francis B. Duveneck, the son and daughter-in-law of Frank and Elizabeth Duveneck in 1974. An additional portrait photograph of Frank Duveneck was donated in 1985 by Freda Schutze.

Separated and Related Materials

Exhibition catalogs that were donated to the Archives of American Art with the Frank Duveneck and Elizabeth Boott Duveneck papers were transferred to the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Gallery Library in 1976. Some of the catalogs were microfilmed and may be viewed on reel 1151.

Additionally a group of eighty-four pencil sketches and caricatures of his students by Frank Duveneck and four black and white photographic reproductions of works of art were loaned to the Archives of American Art in 1974 by Mr. and Mrs. Francis B. Duveneck for microfilming. This material is available for viewing on reel 792.

The material listed above is not described in the container listing of this finding aid.

In 1974, the Cincinnati Historical Society donated photocopies of original letters to and from Frank Duveneck and Elizabeth Boott Duveneck from their collection to the Archives of American Art for microfilming. This correspondence is available for viewing on reel 1097. Additionally, in 1985 Freda Schutze donated a portrait photograph of Frank Duveneck.

How the Collection was Processed

The papers of Frank Duveneck and Elizabeth Boott Duveneck were microfilmed on reels 927 and 1150-1151 shortly after acquisition. An additional photograph, recieved in 1985, was microfilmed on reel 4308. In 2008 all acquisitions were merged and the papers were fully processed, arranged, and described in accordance with archival standards by Kathleen Brown in 2008 as part of the Terra Foundation for American Art Digitization Grant.

How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

Use of original papers requires an appointment.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The Frank Duveneck and Elizabeth Boott Duveneck 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.

Available Formats

The bulk of this collection was digitized in 2009 and is available via the Archives of American Art's website. Materials that generally have not been scanned include black and white transparencies and modern copy prints of vintage photographs as well as photographs of works of art. For some publications only the cover, title page and relevant pages have been scanned.

How to Cite this Collection

Frank Duveneck and Elizabeth Boott Duveneck papers, 1851-1972. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Correspondence, 1856-1971
(Box 1, 4 folders)

Found in this series are a letters from Frank Duveneck and Elizabeth Boott Duvenek to friends and family and a small group of letters addressed to their son and daughter-in-law, Francis and Josephine Duveneck, which contain remembrances of Frank Duvenceck by fellow artists and former pupils. Additionally there is a folder of letters and letter fragments from unidentified correspondents.

Letters from Elizabeth Boott Duveneck include childhood letters written to her uncle Arthur Lyman. However, the most of the letters was written after her marriage to Frank Duveneck. In letters to her father Francis Boott, mother-in-law Katherine Duveneck and an unidentified friend she describes their current work, family life, and travels. Elizabeth, who lived most of her life in Florence, Italy, noted that her husband was "too American to stay always here," and wrote of their plans to eventually return to the United States.

Frank Duveneck's letters were also mostly to friends and family, and include descriptions of his stays in Munich and Paris, the shock of the untimely death of his wife, and descriptions of works in progress. Of particular note is his correspondence with his father-in-law Francis Boott, in which he discusses being an artist in the United States, the sculptors Daniel Chester French and Augustus St. Gaudins and their hold on the commissions for public monuments and his own recent election to the presidency of the Society of Western Artists. There is also a letter from the sculptor William Couper concerning the marble memorial for Elizabeth Boott. Included in this folder are photocopies of illustrated letters that Duveneck sent home to his family while he was studying in Munich.

This series has been scanned in its entirety.

Box Folder
1 1 Elizabeth Boott Duveneck, 1856-1887
1 2 Frank Duveneck, 1917-1918
1 3 Francis B. and Josephine Duveneck, 1879-1971
1 4 Unidentified Correspondents, circa 1870-1956

Series 2: Writings and Notes, circa 1873-1970
(Box 1; 4 folders)

This series includes two volumes of an undated manuscript titled The Legend of Monteripido and a diary, both by Elizabeth Boott Duveneck, as well as a typescript of a speech attributed to Frank Duveneck. The diary, which only has a few entries, includes an account of paintings that the author viewed during an April 1875 trip to New York. Also found in this series are handwritten notes taken by Josephine Duveneck in preparation for her biography of her father-in-law, Frank Duveneck, which was published in 1970.

This series has been scanned in its entirety.

Box Folder
1 5 Elizabeth Boott Duveneck Diary, 1873, 1875
1 6 The Legend of Monteripido, Volumes I and II, before 1888
1 7 Typescript, Speech attributed to Frank Duveneck, 1897
1 8 Notes for Duveneck Biography, before 1970

Series 3: Printed Material, 1871-1972
(Box 1; 6 folders)

Found in this series are small publications, newspaper clippings, magazine articles, pamphlets, programs, and ephemera. Newspaper clippings and magazine articles about Frank Duveneck's life and art make up the bulk of this series. Individual items of note include Duveneck's Munich Royal Academy card from 1871-1872 and a copy certificate issued to him in 1887 from Ministry of Public Instruction, which allowed him free entry into the museums and galleries of Florence, Italy.

This series has been scanned in its entirety. In most cases only the cover and other relevant pages of pamphlets and other publications have been scanned.

Box Folder
1 9 Newspaper Clippings, Frank Duveneck, circa 1900-1972
1 10 Newspaper Clippings, Miscellaneous, 1904, 1962-1971
1 11 Magazine Clippings and Article Reprints, 1926-1939, 1970
1 12 Publication, Little Switzerland, 1943
1 13 Publication, The Duveneck Story, 1967
1 14 Printed Items, Miscellaneous, 1871-1963

Series 4: Scrapbooks, 1871-1962
(Box 1; 4 folders)

This series includes scrapbooks of clippings, illustrations, and photographs compiled by Frank Duveneck, Elizabeth Boott Duveneck and their daughter-in-law Josephine Duveneck. Frank Duveneck's scrapbook consists of illustrations, primarily portraits and scenes of war, which were clipped from printed materials collected and assembled by the artist in 1871 while he was an art student in Munich. This scrapbook also includes a limited number of pencil sketches that appear in the final pages. The scrapbook assembled by Elizabeth Boott Duveneck contains clippings of exhibition reviews of her paintings from 1879-1884. Also found in this series are two folders of material, mostly clippings, pertaining to the life, art, and career of Frank Duveneck assembled by Josephine Duveneck.

Although the materials compiled by Josephine Duveneck are loose, the compilation appears to have been regarded as a scrapbook and was previously cataloged as such.

This series has been scanned in its entirety.

Box Folder
1 15 Elizabeth Boott Duveneck Clippings Scrapbook, 1879-1884
1 16 Frank Duveneck Scrapbook, 1871
1 17-18 Scrapbook Clippings Compiled by Josephine Duveneck, circa 1873-1962
(2 folders of loose clippings)

Series 5: Sketchbooks and Sketches, circa 1855-1886
(Box 1; 0.3 linear feet)

This series contains four sketchbooks and a group of loose sketches by Elizabeth Boott and three sketchbooks by Frank Duveneck. Elizabeth's sketches include examples of juvenilia as well as mature works. The earliest works include pencil and watercolor profile portraits of intimates of their American circle of friends including Nathanial Hawthorne and Robert Browning as well as a pair of charming self-portraits. Later sketchbooks include figure studies, landscapes and genre scenes executed in pencil, charcoal, conté crayon, and watercolor. Frank Duveneck's sketchbooks contain pencil studies of figures, architecture, landscapes, as well as compositions studies. The smallest sketchbooks includes pencil sketches of Venice that, although much looser in style, recall the artists' monotypes and etchings of the 1880s.

This series has been scanned in its entirety.

Box Folder
1 19 Elizabeth Boott Duveneck Sketchbook, 1855-1856
1 20 Loose Portraits from Elizabeth Boott Duveneck Sketchbooks, circa 1857-1858
1 21 Elizabeth Boott Duveneck Sketchbook, 1865
1 22 Elizabeth Boott Duveneck Sketchbook, 1885-1886
1 23 Elizabeth Boott Duveneck Sketchbook, probably 1885-1886
1 24 Frank Duveneck Sketchbook, probably 1870s
1 25 Frank Duveneck Sketchbook, probably 1880s
1 26 Frank Duveneck Sketchbook, undated

Series 6: Photographs, circa 1851-1970
(Boxes 1-2; 0.4 linear feet)

Found in this series are 43 vintage prints including photographs of Frank Duveneck, Elizabeth Boott Duveneck, Francis Boott, as well as group shots of art classes including one of Wilhelm von Diez's classes in Munich from 1871, several photographs of Duveneck's art classes at the Cincinnati Academy of Fine Arts, and a photograph of the Jury of the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition that in addition to Duveneck includes Twachtman, Farney, Dengler, Rudolph Tschadi, and others. Vintage prints include albumen, salt prints, carte-de-visite and cabinet cards.

In addition to the vintage prints numbered above, this series also includes an album of photographs of Duveneck's tomb as well as copy prints and transparencies of the vintage photographs in the collection.

Copy prints and photographs of works of art have not been scanned.

Box Folder
1 27 Elizabeth Boott Duveneck, circa 1863-1888
(three vintage carte-de-visites and cabinet card photographs)
1 28 Elizabeth Boott Duveneck with her father, Francis Boott, circa 1851-1888
(two vintage card photographs)
1 29 Frank Duveneck Carte-de-Visite and Cabinet Cards, 1867-1890
(eight vintage carte-de-visites and cabinet card photographs)
1 30 Frank Duveneck, circa 1875-1917
(nine vintage photographs)
1 31 Duveneck with Family Members, circa 1887-1919
(four vintage photographs)
1 32 Elizabeth Boott Duveneck, Francis Boott, Frank Duveneck and Ann Shenston, circa 1886
(albumen print on board)
1 33 Duveneck with Others, circa 1870-1919
(five vintage photographs including one of Duveneck with Frank Densler and H.F. Farney in Farny's studio)
1 34 Duveneck in Groups, circa 1871-1915
(nine vintage photographs including group photographs of art classes including one of Wilhelm von Diez's classes in Munich (1871), Duveneck painting models at the Villa in Florence, and a photograph of the Jury of the Panama-Pacific Exposition, 1915, includes Twachtman, Farney, Dengler, Rudolph Tschadi, and others.)
1 35 Joseph Duveneck (stepfather), circa 1860-1877
(two vintage carte-de-visite photographs)
1 36 John Henry Twachtman, circa 1870s
(one vintage carte-de-visite with inscription "Respcty'[sic] Yours J.H. Twatchtman")
1 37 Villa Castellani, probably 1880s
(one vintage albumen photograph)
Box Folder
2 1 Duveneck's Tomb, circa 1920-1942
(album and loose photographs)
2 2 Transparencies of Vintage Photographs from the Collection, probably 1970s
(Not scanned)
2 3 Copy Prints of Vintage Photographs from the Collection, probably 1970s
(Not scanned)
2 4 Reproductions of Works of Art, probably 1970s
(Not scanned)
OV 3 Oversize, Frank Duveneck Portrait, 1918
(Scanned with Box 1, F30)