George Biddle papers, 1910-1969

Biddle, George, b. 1885 d. 1973
Painter, Muralist, Sculptor
Active in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y.

Collection size: ca.1.5 linear ft. (partially microfilmed on 6 reels)

Collection Summary: Diary and transcripts of diaries; correspondence; articles; writings; sketches; and printed material.

REEL 3621: Edited transcripts of diaries, 1933-1941 and 1948-1963. Topics included are Biddle's involvement in the start-up of the federal mural projects of the New Deal; his murals at the Department of Justice which he writes about as he works on them; his involvement with artists' organizations; travels; his literary and artistic friends, including Bernard Berenson, Van Wyck Brooks, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Ezra Pound, Ben Shahn, Maurice Sterne, Max Weber, Edmund Wilson, and Marguerite and William Zorach. Later diaries reveal a concern with the popularity of abstract art after World War II and the unpopularity of figurative art. Also included are transcripts of letters from Bernard Berenson, 1949-1957; and a manuscript by Biddle, "A Conversation with President Roosevelt."

REEL D127: Unedited, original diary kept by Biddle, Feb. 1933 to Sept. 1935. In it he writes about his garden; social activities; paintings and murals he is working on; and efforts to get murals painted in new government buildings. Includes drafts of letters to Franklin Roosevelt and other government officials; ideas for murals; fresco recipes, lists of his works, and drafts of articles by Biddle, "The Tragedy of Jules Pascin" and "Adolph Borie; the Man."[an edited typescript of this diary was remicrofilmed on reel 3621]

REEL 899: Three letters from William Hunt Diederich's daughter [she signs her name Koukon], 1969 and undated, discussing her father's work and the influence his late brother, Curt, had on his art; her father's studio in Paris, his alleged drug addiction, and an incident regarding his model of Venus. She thanks Biddle for reminiscing with her, "Margaret," and her brother, "Chappy" at Bittersweet [Biddle's home in New York]; and refers to Henry Poor, Anne Poor, Bessie Brewer, and her own sister, Diana. She also sends seven of her father's poems which she has copied.

REELS P17-P18: Records from the Federal Art Project; personal correspondence with artists; articles and talks and records of Artists Equity.

REEL 4909 (fr. 782-845): A photocopy of Biddle's inventory notebook, listing his oil paintings and watercolors, size, date, owner, and occasionally, prices, 1912-1969; a list of his "Roman Series", 1951-1959; a list of sales, 1947-1969; a list of exhibitions, 1920-1966; and a copy of "Catalogue of the Lithographs of George Biddle," (New York Public Library, 1950).

UNMICROFILMED: 43 drawings, primarily mural studies and cartoons and certificate for the Commission of Fine Arts, signed by Harry Truman.

Biographical/Historical Note: Painter, mural painter; Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y. It was Biddle who recommended to long-time friend, Franklin Roosevelt, a federal relief art program for artists during the Depression, giving rise to the Public Works of Art Project and subsequent art projects of the Treasury Department and Works Progress Administration. Biddle painted the murals for the Department of Justice in 1935 under the Section of Painting and Sculpture which later became the Section of Fine Arts, as well as several other mural commissions for the government. He died in 1973.

Reel 3621: These transcripts were made by Archives of American Art staff from typescripts of the original diaries provided by Biddle.
Reel D127: This is the same diary from which the edited typescript found on reel 3621 was taken. This version has many more entries than the edited version and includes, in addition to more detail about Biddle's daily life and work, versions of articles by Biddle, and lists of works of art up through 1934.
Reel 4909: Photocopies discarded after microfilming.

How to Use this Collection

  • Microfilm reels 3621, D127, P17-P18, 899 and 4909 available at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.
  • Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Microfilmed materials must be consulted on microfilm. Contact Reference Services for more information.
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