Newhouse, Clyde Mortimer
Active in New York, N.Y.
Size: Transcript: 21 p.
Format: Originally recorded on 1 sound tape reel. Reformatted in 2010 as 1 digital wav file. Duration is 45 min.
Collection Summary: An interview of Clyde Mortimer Newhouse conducted 1972 Nov. 8, by Paul Cummings, at the Newhouse Galleries in New York, N.Y., for the Archives of American Art. Newhouse speaks of family background in St. Louis; two generations in book business and as art representatives; start of gallery in St. Louis; Newhouse Gallery in New York; and interest in paintings of American West.
Biographical/Historical Note: Clyde Mortimer Newhouse (1920-1986) was an art dealer and art historian from New York, N.Y.
This interview is part of the Archives' Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and others.
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This transcript is in the public domain and may be used without permission. Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Clyde Mortimer Newhouse, 1972 Nov. 8, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Interview with Clyde Newhouse
Conducted by Paul Cummings
At the Newhouse Galleries in New York, New York
November 8, 1972
The following oral history transcript is the result of a tape-recorded interview with Clyde Newhouse on November 8, 1972. The interview took place in New York City, and was conducted by Paul Cummingsfor the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
PAUL CUMMINGS: Let me say it is November 8th, 1972 Paul Cummings talking to Clyde Newhouse in his gallery in New York City. Could we just start with, you know, some general background.
CLYDE NEWHOUSE: Okay. Our galleries were actually founded in 1878. But pre-birth consisted of my grandfather who primarily in his beginnings was a book dealer in St. Louis, Missouri. Actually what he was was a book agent for some of the large book distributors then distributing what would be then the Book of Knowledge, what we would now call the Five Foot Shelf Classics; in other words, standard books. And he not only had the city of St. Louis but the Midwest territory, which consisted of Illinois, Missouri, and that whole area.
PAUL CUMMINGS: Had he been in the book business for a long time?
CLYDE NEWHOUSE: What got him into the book business: he had been in the lumber business, lumber used for paper, etc. This finally brought him into the book business. He liked it. He loved the idea of books. He was a collector himself. Actually it was the depression prior to 1878 I can't tell you what year it was which curtailed the lumber business quite a bit and which gave him a feeling that rather than being a hobby books should become his profession. He started out. He traveled a great deal taking orders for the series of books. Somewhere along the line my father would know better than I but really what it boils down to is that in coming East to line up a series of books or get what was called his order book, etc. he came across paintings watercolors primarily which in those days were used for reproductions in these books. One of the men who was, you know, signing the books or arranging for him to sell the books said, "Do you think you could sell some of these that are reproduced in the books?" My grandfather thought it would be a marvelous idea at least to have them to show in St. Louis, to show these originals. He found the interest in them so great and the sale of them so immediate that, you know, possibly there was more immediate sale of those. So what he did was he started to line up various artists whose reproductions were used. Jasper Cropsey was one of them. He started off trying to get just as he had been an agent for the book dealers to be an agent for these various artists. Jasper Cropsey was one of the first ones. He almost limited himself in the beginning to watercolors. He became Cropsey's agent. He became friendly with Frederic Remington who was doing a lot of reproductions. Remington had an alignment with one of the New York galleries I think it was Knoedler's or Grand Central but whatever it was he had an alignment but still he was willing to give my grandfather some of the black and white pictures. Charlie Russell came from St. Louis and had some St. Louis ties. He was out in California. Or, let's say, he was just very young. You've got to remember he was born in 1865 and around 1895 when my grandfather was going strong Russell was starting to paint. Since he came from St. Louis we got some of his things. One thing led to another. My grandfather's dealings were primarily in American pictures. In fact, we have letters and I must give you some of those for the Archives in which he writes as late as 1900 that old masters per se will not be sold in America, that the great interest is in American paintings and especially in watercolors. Having had a success with the American watercolors he became aligned with an importer and started to import European watercolors. And then as my father grew up in the business, my father became more interested in art from the standpoint of real art and skipping over purely the watercolors and getting into serious pictures.
PAUL CUMMINGS: Did he maintain a gallery and bookstore in St. Louis?
CLYDE NEWHOUSE: The moment the paintings started to sell well they decided to open a gallery. The gallery officially from about 1878 to 1890 I should say was a combination selling of books and watercolors; watercolors taking precedence in the last five years from 1885 to 1890. Around 1890 my grandfather felt it would be wise to open a gallery. And that bill from 1892 I have here the first bills well, this bill from 1897 will give you the first location, which was Broadway and Locust Street in St. Louis. Coming from St. Louis it was popular to have a New York associate. They had a New York address but it was only the address of an importer. In other words, it was like what one would call a mailing address today that people have. As you see from those first bills Awatercolors and etchings were the things that they dealt in their first dealings really as late as 1900.
PAUL CUMMINGS: There couldn't have been very many galleries in St. Louis at that time, were there?
CLYDE NEWHOUSE: There were none. Actually I think we were about the first one to really open a gallery. The only reason it existed in St. Louis was that my grandfather lived there. His first clients were those people who had bought books from him. He went back to those people who had bought books or subscribed to the books he had to sell the watercolors and etchings. And they purchased those. As I look back on those days and have seen some of the things he sold usually they were all framed in what we call a shadow box today. They were framed with glass to preserve them. Really when you think of it there were not many art dealers in New York in the early days in 1898; not may in America. It was a very early period actually of dealing.
PAUL CUMMINGS: That's why it's so interesting.
CLYDE NEWHOUSE: Yes.
PAUL CUMMINGS: And because it's a Midwest gallery. Did he go to Chicago and other cities?
CLYDE NEWHOUSE: Yes. We had great clients in Evanston and Chicago and all through Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, all through what is called the Midwest area. In those days it was primarily watercolors and etchings. In 1905 my father was approaching twenty years of age. He was still in school and became very much interested in helping my grandfather. Almost from the immediate moment that he came with the gallery he felt that there should be an effort made more toward European art. And he came to New York. To be frank, in our early days of New York associations my father and grandfather came to New York and bought or took on consignment from the New York dealers in those days it was Macbeth Gallery and the old dealers in American pictures who would sell them and then consign, say, an Inness or a Homer or something like that to my grandfather and father who would sell them in the Midwest.
PAUL CUMMINGS: What kind of artists did they sell then in the late 1890's and early 1900's?
CLYDE NEWHOUSE: The ranged from very minor American water-colorists to Homer to some of the really good painters. In those days Homer was alive, was very available; you could get good pictures in watercolor by him. Actually one of the painters whom my grandfather and father became very much imbued with because he was a great teacher at the time was William Chase. In fact, when Chase died that's another story my father bought everything that was in Chase's studio. In fact, did an exhibition, a privately-printed book on Chase. They bought everything from European watercolors I remember the names because I had never heard them before a man called Flavere who was absolutely nothing. He was a French watercolorist who had a certain amount of charm up to and including the good American painters who were on the scene. But really in the European watercolors you could almost say very frankly that they were on the importing scale something attractive in an Italian watercolor, something attractive by a French water-colorist.
PAUL CUMMINGS: A view of a city or something.
CLYDE NEWHOUSE: A painter was secondary. The charm of the subject, something attractive that they could sell was what they were primarily interested in buying.
PAUL CUMMINGS: I'm fascinated by the fact that here out in St. Louis in the 1880's and 1890's people were selling these things. Who bought them? What kind of people bought them?
CLYDE NEWHOUSE: It's amusing. They sold to the local banker, to whoever the local man was who had a considerable amount of money. I can hear my grandfather telling a story and I think it's so indicative of Midwest America at the time. Remember he's now getting along he died in 1927 but in those days he felt that America was never going to progress very far. He told a story of going to Tulsa, Oklahoma and selling a group of four watercolors to a local banker. First of all, the bankers wife came in and picked them out. The banker felt that buying pictures was almost a female thing to do and he asked my grandfather not to tell other people in town that he had bought them but that rather his wife had selected them, that there was almost something effeminate with the purchase of pictures in Tulsa in 1895.
PAUL CUMMINGS: That was the Wild West.
CLYDE NEWHOUSE: Absolutely, yes. To go a little bit further, I think my father was one of the first people to go to Texas and have an exhibition. And when we look today at the Kimball Art Museum and in fact at both Apollo magazine and a lot of newspapers in connection with Mr. Kimball, he bought his first picture because his wife liked it. The buying in the Midwest and the Far West before 1900 as seen through my grandfather's eyes there may have been some exception to the rule was purely buying to decorate one's house and was done almost always by the wife with the acquiescence of her husband. You know, it's a very completely peculiar idiosyncracy of Midwest America at that time.
PAUL CUMMINGS: People didn't really collect out there. They sort of bought six pictures for the living room or something.
CLYDE NEWHOUSE: Exactly. Exactly. In fact, as I say, there are letters from my grandfather from his intimate dealings with people in the Midwest that no serious . . . He couldn't even see museums being built. I mean he was a product of his time and couldn't envision that great change that came about of course. It was just that selling watercolors to people who had enough books to fill their bookshelves with books that they read or demonstrated in their home.
PAUL CUMMINGS: It was the next step in culture.
CLYDE NEWHOUSE: It was the next step in culture actually. Then all of a sudden the desire of my father who had come East and been imbued with a touch of the fun and excitement of the art business, and the desire of so many people in the Midwest don't forget the length of time it took to come by train from St. Louis to New York, I mean coming to New York was an event today you don't take pictures out to St. Louis, they fly to New York to see what you have and you ship it and bingo it's there the same day. ut in those days . . . So as New York became more and more the art center of America the people in the Midwest wanted to know what are they buying in New York, what are they collecting. My father and his father started to come to the sales that were held at the old American Art Galleries and buying pictures there either for themselves or for certain clients. And they stretched, peculiarly enough I think my father was one of the first dealers to go to California. I know he was one of the first people to be in Texas. They emanated from St. Louis which was the Midwest and they went West. They came East for their pictures and they went West because they felt in those days as buyers for their clients or as consignees of certain dealers in the East, they could service those clients better whereas they didn't have as much to offer to the Eastern client. We always kept the gallery in St. Louis until my grandfather's death. He loved being there. He had great friends. He built up quite a following in those surrounding towns. His love of certain American painters was enormous. He was right in the greatest number of cases. He had a great affiliation with Childe Hassam. We sold a great number of fine Hassams. He had a great affiliation with William Chase. His great love and that's where he made his great mistake in judging the future was J. Francis Murphy. My grandfather felt that J. Francis Murphy and if you would listen to him talk and I only remember this as a boy the art dealers stood in line to get these pictures from Murphy, a certain size for $3,000, a certain size for $5,000, a certain size for $10,000. He felt that Murphy was the leading American Impressionist. And during his lifetime he was. He had an enormous success. When my grandfather died I imagine we owned forty Murphy's which in those days must have cost $25,000, which was an awful lot of money, and which today I think would be
PAUL CUMMINGS: He's coming back though. He's really coming back.
CLYDE NEWHOUSE: Yes, he's coming back. But in those days it was what happened. But, you know, even with Chase my grandfather was so far ahead in his thinking on Chase and when they did that book on Chase and that was in the twenties we gave them away as the proverbial stamps. I mean if somebody bought a picture we gave a Chase to the local museum. For example, Duveneck in His Studio is a picture I think they either gave or sold to the Cincinnati Art Museum for $1,000, today one of the great, great works of Chase. Childe Hassam's used to flow out of this gallery at nothing. As I say, my grandfather believed in those painters. He had a great personal rapport with Chase. I can remember his stories and pictures of William Chase with his two great big Russian wolf-hounds. The sense of the great artist and teacher. My grandfather felt that William Chase was one of the greatest painters that ever was on earth, not only American but international. When he came to New York he was almost I wouldn't say horrified but upset by the fact that an occasional Gainsborough would appear on the wall or a Sir Peter Lely or whatever was then the taste of the twenties because his great love and his deep tradition and his heart was with America painting.
PAUL CUMMINGS: What other American artists was he interested in?
CLYDE NEWHOUSE: Cropsey, for example, who he was the agent of. A great interest in the Hudson River painters all the way down the line starting with Inness. There was a painter named Chapin who my grandfather thought was marvelous for his autumnal colors. Murphy of course. Any of those people.
PAUL CUMMINGS: The landscape painters.
CLYDE NEWHOUSE: Yes, landscape artists. Any of the Hudson River painters. Peculiarly enough, too, the only genre painter that he had a great respect for was William Chase. We never had too may Eastman Johnson's. Homer was not a big strong man with him. He veered toward landscape. Cropsey especially was a great love of his.
PAUL CUMMINGS: When did the market shift? He started to sell paintings as opposed to just watercolors and etchings.
CLYDE NEWHOUSE: When my father first started to come East, which was right around 1910-1915, I think they set up the gallery in New York. I could give you the exact date but it was around 1920, a little prior to that, 1918.
PAUL CUMMINGS: What was it called Newhouse Galleries?
CLYDE NEWHOUSE: Newhouse Galleries. Right.
PAUL CUMMINGS: Where was Erick Erick-Newhouse?
CLYDE NEWHOUSE: Well, Eric came into it Eric-Newhouse. That came in about 1930, in the early 1930's, 1931, 1932, 1933. Peculiarly enough, it's an amazing thing about the 1930's. I was very young at the time but looking back in my father's eyes from what he told me, a great number of the Eastern good galleries P. Jackson Higgs, John Levy survived but hardly. Oh, God, you can go through Mary Lasker, Reinhardt Galleries, they all succumbed, went down the drain or went out of business because they were Eastern galleries and they were devoted to an Eastern clientele. Peculiarly enough, while the stock market and the crash hit all of America it hit the East much worse than it did the Midwest and the West. My father, while he suffered by the crash, never suffered greatly. We still had a great number of clients in the Far West and Midwest who were interested in buying pictures; in fact were almost pleased to take advantage of something
PAUL CUMMINGS: The prices.
CLYDE NEWHOUSE: Yes. For instance, Amon Carter of the famous Amon Carter Museum of Western Art in Fort Worth, Texas the first Remington he bought, His First Lesson, was bought from a man who suffered a great loss in the crash and Amon was able to buy it extremely well at that time. So that brought about the desire of my father to keep in touch with his Western clients and also to have someone in the East who could secure the pictures and work with him. My grandfather died and that brought about the partnership with Walter Erick. Walter Erick's brother Harold had died. Walter was in fact probably one of the oldest dealers in old master paintings. Since Walter Erick had a great rapport with European dealers, etc., and had been in the business for a long time, and had a fine reputation, my father felt that by associating with him, Walter could secure the pictures, run the New York gallery, while my father could keep the Western clientele and clients that he had. So they were a happy combination. Unfortunately, Walter Erick who was a very good dealer and one who had been to London so often that he knew better than anyone else the way to cross a London street, but unfortunately either in a moment of fog or a moment of just not watching he was hit by a car and suffered a sort of brain damage and never quite came back. So that partnership was very short-lived. Very short-lived unfortunately. From what my father tells me the only thing we did inherit from Walter Erick was a fantastic library which we have and which I think possibly with the exception of the Duveen library which Norton Simon bought and which is now at Williamstown, is one of the best libraries. But that is what brought about that partnership the combination of the Western clients and someone who knew another facet of the business.
PAUL CUMMINGS: That's fascinating. I had seen the names hyphenated and I often wondered how it had happened.
CLYDE NEWHOUSE: That is how it came about. It was, as I say, a partnership based on that desire of still servicing those Western clients.
PAUL CUMMINGS: Did your grandfather do exhibitions in the late nineteenth century?
CLYDE NEWHOUSE: He did a certain number of exhibitions. But for the most part we have never been an exhibition gallery. The thing has been mostly servicing clients by private treaty or acting for them, even well, to progress to right after World War II we were the agent for the Prince of Lichtenstein those two marvelous Chardins that Kress has. All those marvelous pictures that were sold to the National Gallery that came from Lichtenstein were all done not by the exhibitions of Lichtenstein's pictures and not by broadcasting that we were the agent but by private sale. I have often thought that maybe we've lost by not having exhibitions bu we've always done it in that manner. And it's very difficult once you've geared yourself in one direction to turn into an exhibition gallery. And of course today specializing in the old masers and in good American pictures, which we still do, my good American business today is based on buying back pictures that my grandfather sold. Really that's the source of them. But we've never been an exhibition gallery. We've just never done it. One day, while my father is still around, I do want to do an exhibition of pictures that he and my grandfather sold because there are a lot of great pictures in American museums, as you see one these walls. And that's only a small segment of them that have gone through their hands. In spite of the insurance problems and transportation and everything else I'd love if we could get together a group of pictures both American and European that they sold. I think my father would get a great thrill out of this. But in hose early days, those days up until and including the first years of the establishment of the gallery in New York we were mostly a Western gallery. What we were doing was getting pictures from New York either buying them or taking them for sale or going to Europe or wherever, getting those pictures, and selling them to clients. I think we really strongly established the New York gallery and became dealers on the New York scene with the demise of my grandfather, which was around 1928, through that 1928-1930 period. We had the galleries in New York but they were combination galleries in St. Louis and New York.
PAUL CUMMINGS: Where was the gallery in New York when it first opened?
CLYDE NEWHOUSE: The first gallery in New York opened at Fifty-Seventh Street and Fifth Avenue in a building which was then the old Child's Building. It's now the Lord and Taylor and something else building I can't think of it. It was on the corner facing Bergdorf Goodman, the opposite corner on Fifth Avenue.
PAUL CUMMINGS: That would be the northwest corner?
CLYDE NEWHOUSE: Yes. Across from Tiffany's directly. We had in that building three or four rooms. There were a lot of good dealers in he building at the time. It was a proper gallery but not a gallery in the true New York sense. Hen around 1928-29 we moved into what is now he IBM Building. Tom Watson was a client of ours and he really talked us into coming into the IBM Building. Those special windows that you see on the second or third floor which are extra big windows were built especially as show windows for our gallery. We remained there until I guess 1932 or 1931. We must have moved into the IBM Building earlier, probably in 1927. We were there four or five years. Then we moved to 5 East Fifty-Seventh Street. This was a marvelous gallery. It was the closest gallery to the street. I mean Number One is the big Squibb Building and now the Manufacturer's and Number Three is part of that, and hen 5, which was a marvelous gallery. It was a beautiful gallery and had three floors. We did exhibitions of recent acquisitions. That's when we came into what was then the well, the sort of desirable, the eighteenth-century English pictures and the Barbizon pictures which were the going great interest in pictures at that time. We stayed at 5 East Fifty-Seventh Street from about 1930-31 to 1937. Then in 1937 we moved to 15 East Fifty-Seventh Street and took over that second floor. When we made that move we decided to give up the exhibitions and things and be strictly in a sense not a private gallery but a gallery which services clients, museums, etc. and removed from what I guess you'd call street trade.
PAUL CUMMINGS: Right.
CLYDE NEWHOUSE: That's exactly it. And we remained there from 1937 until 1969. And then moved into our own building.
PAUL CUMMINGS: You've been on 57th Street for a long time.
CLYDE NEWHOUSE: Yes. We were there from 1937. Twenty-two years. That building was originally built by Hearst. When we moved into it it was the Hearst Building. Then it was sold to someone else and then IBM took it over and wanted to keep it for their own use; but later made some changes and didn't do that. We felt we always wanted our own building. The handwriting was on the wall but we didn't see it quite as quickly as we should have. We really became a New York gallery in the true sense of the word from the standpoint of having, as in the Duveen days or whatever days, of having exquisite velvet walls, etc. that went with all that around in the late twenties when we moved into 5 East 57th Street.
PAUL CUMMINGS: How was it coming into New York? Because speaking of Duveen
there were some really rather well-entrenched, powerful dealers here.
CLYDE NEWHOUSE: We had a rapport with them because we had been acting for may of them. We had sold pictures that we had not from Duveen but from well, we'd owned pictures together with the John Levy Gallery, Howard Young, P. Jackson Higgs. We were friendly with all of them, owned pictures, had taken pictures from them. When we came to New York I think we occupied a good position. We were in the midst of what was a boom year. We were successful. In the midst of a depression we held our own. And we came right along as did many dealers who came from the Midwest, such as Howard Young. And the Findlay Galleries; I mean all the Findlay brothers came from Kansas City. In those days I think the great powers even out-powered Wildenstein because their coming to New York also was recent. As were the French dealers, the houses of Knoedler, Duveen. Durand-Ruel was there. But the Impressionists weren't that big a thing. Durand-Ruel was kind of a big sleeping giant. And 57th Street became the street of art dealers. I don't think there was any important dealer in that period from the late 1920's to 1930-35 that wasn't on 57th Street. It was just the place.
PAUL CUMMINGS: It's interesting because in so many of the interviews the artists who were going to the League would say Ayou know, it was great to just walk over four blocks and there were all the galleries.
CLYDE NEWHOUSE: Yes, that's true. Milch was there. Macbeth was there. And whatever you were looking for. And Sidney Janis came into our building at 15 East 57th Street in the late years when he turned into a dealer. There was no first-class art dealer who wasn't situated on 57th Street.
PAUL CUMMINGS: One thing that intrigues me is that over all these years and the shift in the works that your gallery sold from watercolors and prints and moving into paintings you've never really handled sculpture, have you?
CLYDE NEWHOUSE: No. The only sculpture we've ever done has been purely by association. Western sculpture B Remington and Russell. We became very much interested in Western painting, which today is in its heyday I guess price-wise. Going to Texas, going to the Far West, going to Montana, etc., we found a great interest among certain Western buyers for Western Americana which has come into its own in these latter years.
PAUL CUMMINGS: Do you think that's because the imagery is more acceptable? I mean a man could buy a Remington and take it out ?
CLYDE NEWHOUSE: Yes. Don't forget that the winning of the West as shown on television or wherever you want to do it and whether it's great art or not can be debatable but I think it is a fascinating art; just as you take English pictures by certain English painters like Samuel Palmer which today are bringing thirty and forty thousand pounds as an indication of English life, it is a fabulous phase of American life. Russell lived with an Indian wife and he knew the Indian sign language and probably portrayed the Indian better than anyone else. And Remington came with the soldiers and knew the soldiers' way of life and as an antagonist of the Indian and probably knew them from that standpoint. So these two painters really lived through the winning of the West which was a marvelous period and a fascinating period and they've recorded it in their pictures. I think the Eastern people who came West, or those born in Texas, or came to Texas, or Oklahoma, etc. are fascinated with those pictures because they, too, either they themselves take a man like Amon Carter, or Sid Richardson, or the Gilcreases, or all those people they were there when it happened or their father was here when it happened.
PAUL CUMMINGS: It's very close to them.
CLYDE NEWHOUSE: It's very close to them and they are proud of a heritage. One can look at a Copley and say, "God, they're damn ugly." Just as somebody may look at a Russell or Remington and say, "God, that looks like cowboy and Indian art." But it is a phase of American history that is real, sincere and recorded by people who were really there. Just as Copley painted the portraits of the early Americans and gave us a very honest historical depicion. And so have Russell and Remington. That was an interesting part of our business, not a great part of our business but it was interesting to see it develop. The fascinating thing is that a lot of those people who bought those pictures . . . Take the Amon Carter Museum of Western Art. It's gone all the way now from cowboy art to Henry Moore. I mean in the hands of Ruth Carter Johnson and Amon Carter Jr. it has really progressed from purely that early art on to other things. But it was a beginning. I think the museums that are going to spring up in the Southwest and the Far West are just beginning. I just wonder where the pictures that are going to fill them are going to come from. That's the great difficulty. But, you see, there is a difference of years. I wouldn't say today proximity is of course with television and planes etc. but there is a cultural lag in this country and it would be unfair or stupid to say there isn't. But now it's fascinating . . . I mean you take a man like Al Meadows whether you want to joke about him or not who bought those bad pictures and now has made a marvelous contribution to S.M.U. Well, you've got rich, rich universities in the Southwest and in the West and they're just starting to get their feet wet in having a museum possibly.
PAUL CUMMINGS: Right. The same way with their libraries. The University of Texas Library. You can watch it grow right under
CLYDE NEWHOUSE: Exactly. Right. And think of the numerous places that haven't
really even started.
PAUL CUMMINGS: Yes. Well, it's very interesting because the people who bought, say, Remington in the 1920's or the 1930's would go on and buy European paintings or other things?
CLYDE NEWHOUSE: Well, it all depends. You take a man like Kay Kimball who has given a great museum. Kay Kimball would be a perfect example. While I must say his first picture wasn't a Western picture his first picture was a Frederick W. Watts, the English painter, and then he bought a Beechey but at the same time he was very much interested in Western paintings Morans and Russells. And he bought several. He bought them because they were indicative of what his friends Carter and Richardson were collecting. And I think he would have bought more if he hadn't found himself in competition with his own friends. Gilcrease who has bought some marvelous American paintings started out with only Western pictures. Look, he has a Gutenberg Bible; marvelous things. Of course there have been other men like Amon Carter who bought only Western American art, Remingtons and Russells. But then he died and the second generation, Ruth Carter, as I say, is buying Henry Moore, spreading it all out. The Gilcrease Museum has got marvelous things in it other than Western art. I think that the Carter Museum has digressed or changed or grown into enormously good things. So that it is a beginning from which it turned in other directions and in wide directions.
PAUL CUMMINGS: But, you know, the few collectors who develop into a museum, that must change their whole way of looking at things, doesn't it? I mean it's one thing to buy things for your home office and things, but it's another thing to have a museum.
CLYDE NEWHOUSE: Yes. And of course a funny thing is that a great number of those people have waited until they've died for the museum to be built. They've entrusted it to the future generation. For instance, Kay Kimball who left this great fortune. But I think that and I may be wrong we're just while there are a lot of new museums being built (recently a lot of us dealers took a trip to Corpus Christi, Texas to this new museum) and I think you're going to see a great number of new museums opening up and in cities that you might not think that they would ever be part of or ever need. I've had a close association with the Richmond, Virginia, Museum and I've seen that grow from almost a stagnant museum through the gift of Mrs. Williams and through Leslie Cheek and Muriel Christensen, encouraging her, getting Paul Mellon to take an interest. The metamorphosis is enormous. And I think you find that in the Southwest. When I look back at the clients we had in the twenties, thirties, and forties and the direction they've taken I really feel very happy in that we've been responsible for a number of people who stared out, just as you say, as private collectors with no ambition in the beginning of doing anything more than filling their house with attractive pictures, gotten smitten with the desire or the bug of collecting and then leading to a museum. Which is marvelous if it comes about. It's the old Frick tradition. It's the old Mellon tradition. And to see that come in the Midwest, in the Far West, and the growth of America . . . of course I'm not so familiar with the Northwest we didn't do too much there but I hear it's the same thing, there are new museums. And, as you mentioned, the libraries in Texas.
PAUL CUMMINGS: You've mentioned Richardson and these various collectors. Do you find that they start buying because a friend buys, or there's some association that way?
CLYDE NEWHOUSE: It all depends. You know, one of the leading influences on Richardson and Carter was Will Rogers who had a great feeling for the West and who knew Charlie Russell. It all depends. But I think their interest starts in an interest in pictures, an interest in culture, an interest in reading, in learning. I think Kay Kimball's first pictures were bought without any more desire than the pure desire to have pictures. And then as one buys pictures one starts reading, buys pictures that are reproduced in a book, starts reading that book. His desire and his interest grows more avid. He buys more books. He becomes more acquainted with the field and he really grows. And he can grow into the direction of only a private collector or he can grow . . . You see two second generations look at Andrew Mellon and Paul Mellon of course we're talking about great money. But there are fortunes in the Midwest and in the Far Wes where the sons will carry on in the tradition and even go further and greater. And with our foundations and what is happening
PAUL CUMMINGS: Much more so in the East, don't you think?
CLYDE NEWHOUSE: Yes. Well, I think the need for it is greater. I think the desire is greater. I think there is so much in the East that's already here and solid and firm; there is so much, and such good things. When I see this museum selling which has been so severely criticized today by so many people I'm always hoping that if some of the things in our great Eastern museums that are surplus or duplicates could be offered first to some of these Western museums it would be marvelous to let them have them. Because really I think that in their growth the difficulty they're going to find will be in getting pictures. We're such a rich country and with all our trials and tribulations, I think there are so many cities that are growing of course hospitals and things come first but then the art museum. You know, I'd better let you out of here.
PAUL CUMMINGS: Yes, it's time to stop.
END OF INTERVIEW
This transcript is in the public domain and may be used without permission. Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Clyde Mortimer Newhouse, 1972 Nov. 8, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.