Ilse Martha Bischoff papers, 1893-1981

A Finding Aid to the Ilse Martha Bischoff Papers, 1893-1981, in the Archives of American Art, by Jean Fitzgerald

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Table of Contents:

Biographical Information

Ilse Martha Bischoff was born on November 21, 1901 in New York City, to Adele Maria Timme Bischoff and Ernst Bischoff, founder of the Ernst Bischoff (pharmaceuticals) Company of Ivoryton, Connecticut.

Bischoff began her education at the Horace Mann School, later studying costume design at the Parson's School of Design. At the Art Students League, she studied painting under Frank Du Mond and etching with Joseph Pennell. While at the Art Students League, Bischoff befriended painters Paul Cadmus and Jared French. She also studied art in Paris, France, and Munich, Germany.

From 1928 to 1946, Bischoff illustrated 12 books and wrote two novels about George Washington's Portraitist, Gilbert Stuart: Painter's Coach in 1943, and Proud Heritage in 1949. Her autobiography, Drive Slowly: Six Dogs, was published in 1953. She was also an avid collector of Meissen porcelain.

Bishoff's artwork is represented in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Public Library, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Hood Museum at Dartmouth.

Ilse Martha Bischoff died December 5, 1990, in Hartland, Vermont.

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Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The papers of illustrator, writer and collector Ilse Martha Bischoff measure 1.2 linear feet and date from 1893-1981. Found are scattered personal and business records, correspondence, pencil and watercolor sketches, notes and writings, printed material and photographs.

Correspondence is primarily with family members and colleagues including Paul Cadmus and Jared French. Artwork includes pencil and watercolor sketches, and notes and writings consist primarily of typescripts of Bischoff's short stories. Printed material includes clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, and miscellaneous printed material relating to Bischoff's European travel. Of special interest are photographs of Bischoff, her family, and colleagues including Paul Cadmus and Jared French.

Arrangement and Series Description

The collection is arranged as 6 series:

Subjects and Names

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

  • Cadmus, Paul, 1904-1999
  • French, Jared, 1905-1988
  • Art--Collectors and collecting
  • Authors--Vermont
  • Illustrators--Vermont
  • Photographs
  • Sketches
  • Writings


The Ilse Martha Bischoff papers were donated in 1980-1981 by the artist.

How the Collection was Processed

The papers were processed by Jean Fitzgerald in March, 2006.

How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

Use of original papers requires an appointment.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The Ilse Martha Bischoff 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.

How to Cite this Collection

Ilse Martha Bischoff papers, 1893-1981. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Personal Records, 1934-1938, 1955-1968
3 Folders; Box 1

This series contains a description and blueprint of Bishchoff's property in Hartland, Vermont, a kennel name certificate, and miscellaneous receipts, as well as Bischoff's passport documenting trips to Germany, France and Great Britain.

Box Folder
1 1 Blueprint and Description of Bishchoff's Property and a Kennel Name Certificate, 1955-1965
1 2 Miscellaneous Receipts, 1967-1968
1 3 Passport, 1934-1938

Series 2: Correspondence, 1922-1981
47 Folders; Box 1

Correspondence consists primarily of an exchange of letters between Bischoff and her sister Carola Bischoff and her husband, Harold Graves Terwilliger, whose nicknames were "Ollie" and "Twig." There are also letters exchanged with colleagues including artists Paul Cadmus, Jared French, Felix Kelly, and Ivan Albright, writers Mabel Louise Robinson, and Glenway Wescott, and design consultant John Wisner. One letter from Cadmus is illustrated with cartoons of road signs and gives directions to his house. There are several letters from collector of porcelain Ralph H. Wark. There is also a postcard from Prince Karlos Biorn von Kurland displaying a photograph of the Prince and his wife.

Undated correspondence is followed by chronological correspondence.

Box Folder
1 4-6 Letters from Gerald, undated
1 7 Letters from Correspondents Whose First Initials Begin "H-V,," undated
1 8 Letters from Correspondents Whose Surnames Begin "A,," undated
1 9 Letters from Ilse Bischoff to Carola Terwilliger, undated
1 10 Letters from Ilse Bischoff to Miscellaneous Recipients, undated
1 11 Letters from Correspondents Whose Surnames Begin "C-M,," undated
1 12 Letters from Correspondents Whose Surnames Begin "N-Q,," undated
1 13 Letters from Correspondents Whose Surnames Begin "R-S,," undated
1 14 Letters from Members of the Terwilliger Family, undated
1 15 Letters from Correspondents Whose Surnames Begin "T-Z,," undated
1 16-50 Correspondence, 1922-1981

Series 3: Artwork, circa 1920-circa 1959
1 Folder; Box 1

Artwork consists of pencil and watercolor sketches of human figures and poodles, primarily for use as book illustrations.

Box Folder
1 51 Pencil and Watercolor Sketches, circa 1920-circa 1959

Series 4: Notes and Writings, 1929-1975
33 Folders; Box 1

This series includes research notes for Bischoff's writing, notes about daily activities written in text form, an inventory list of her porcelain collection, and manuscripts and typescripts of miscellaneous writings. There is also a carbon copy of a manuscript about Bischoff written by Paul Cadmus.

Box Folder
1 52-54 Notes for a Biography of Madame Vig´┐Że-Le Brun, undated
1 55 Notes on Daily Activities, 1950-1975, undated
1 56 Inventory of Bischoff's Porcelain Collection, 1964
1 57-58 Notes on Joseph II, 1970
1 59 Miscellaneous Notes, 1929, undated
1 60 Miscellaneous Untitled Manuscripts, undated
1 61 Manuscript "Richie,," undated
1 62-67 Miscellaneous Untitled Typescripts, 1955-1963, undated
1 68 Typescript "Catherine the Great and Frederick Melchior Grimm as Revealed Through Their Correspondence,," undated
1 69 Typescript "The Dog with the Three-Way Tail,," undated
1 70 Typescript "Fluke,," undated
1 71 Typescript "The Humperdinck's Christmas Eve,," undated
1 72-73 Typescript "Jeppy,," undated
1 74 Typescript "No One Need Know,," undated
1 75 Typescript "My Onkel Karl,," undated
1 76-78 Typescript "Poodle in Paris,," undated
1 79 Typescript "Single Accommodations,," undated
1 80 Typescript "Treasures of a Woodland Floor,," undated
1 81 Typescript "A Warm Place,," undated
1 82 Typescript "Pumpernickle the Lonely Dachshund,," 1943
1 83 Typescript "Old Holden: A Portrait,," 1965
1 84 Manuscript about Bischoff by Paul Cadmus, 1966

Series 5: Printed Material, 1929-1976
15 Folders; Box 1

Printed material includes clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, a press release, programs for Italian and German opera performances, German tour booklets, brochures for children's books and a festival in Salzburg, Austria, picture postcards of artwork and scenic European views, and a calling card for Ernst Bischoff.

Box Folder
1 85 Clippings, 1934-1968
1 86-88 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1935-1976, undated
1 89 Press Release, 1976
1 90-93 Programs, 1960-1968
1 94 German Tour Booklets, undated
1 95 Miscellaneous Brochures, 1949-1962
1 96 Picture Postcards of Miscellaneous Artwork, undated
1 97 Picture Postcards of Germany, undated
1 98 Picture Postcards of Italy and France, undated
1 99 Miscellaneous Printed Material, 1929, undated

Series 6: Photographs, 1893-1971
20 Folders; Box 2

Photographs are of Bischoff, her family, and her colleagues including painters Paul Cadmus and Jared French, and design consultant John Wisner. There are also photographs of artwork executed between 1935-1965 and of figurines and dishes from Bischoff's porcelain collection.

Box Folder
2 1 Photographs of Ilse Bischoff, 1926-1938, undated
2 2-4 Photographs of Bishcoff Family Members, 1893-1934, undated
2 5-6 Photographs of Ilse Bischoff and Friends, 1924-1958, undated
2 7 Photographs of a Costume Party, 1961
2 8 Photographs of Bischoff's Home "High Meadows,," 1961-1971
2 9 Photographs of the Home of Bischoff's Grandparents, undated
2 10 Photographs of Uncle Karl's Castello on Lake Lugano, undated
2 11-12 Photographs of Drawings, 1965, undated
2 13-15 Photographs of Paintings, 1965, undated
2 16 Photographs of Porcelain Figurines, 1965, undated
2 17-19 Photographs of Porcelain Dishes, 1965, undated
2 20 Reference Photographs, undated