Francis, Henry Sayles
Active in Cleveland, Ohio
Sound recording: 4 sound files (3 hrs. 15 min.) digital, wav file
Transcript: 130 p.
Collection Summary: An interview of Henry Francis Sayles conducted 1974 Mar. 28-1975 July 11, by Robert Brown, for the Archives of American Art.
Francis discusses his childhood and education, attending college at Harvard; working at the Fogg Art Museum and at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; his career as curator of prints and paintings at Cleveland Museum of Art; his uncle Henry Sayles, a major collector of Barbizon School paintings; his relationships with dealers, and with the directors and trustees of Cleveland Museum of Art.
Biographical/Historical Note: Henry Sayles Francis (1902-1994) was a curator and art historian at the Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art 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 administrators.
Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.
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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 Henry Sayles Francis, 1974 Mar. 28-1975 July 11, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.ORAL HISRORY INTERVIEW WITH HENRY SAYLES FRANCIS
AT WALPOLE, NEW HAMPSHIRE
MARCH 28, 1974
INTERVIEWER: ROBERT BROWN
HF: HENRY SAYLES FRANCIS
RB: ROBERT BROWN
RB: This is an interview with Henry Sayles Francis, in Walpole, New Hampshire, March 28, 1974, Robert Brown the interviewer. I'd like, if you could, to perhaps discuss something of your childhood in Boston. The various things we've already talked about, but if we could discuss them further now?
HF: Well, I was born, as I told you, here at 56 Commonwealth Avenue, which was the house which my Uncle Henry Sayles, my great uncle, built for his mother and moved from Tremont Street in 1972. And I notice in the wonderful catalogue which the Museum of Fine Arts put out some years ago on the Back Bay, that there is a picture which shows this particular area where the houses are in block form before it was all filled in and everything, in which that group of houses happens to be in the picture.
RB: As you knew it though, they were already . . . ?
HF: Oh, of course, it was all filled. Oh, yes. Oh, heavens yes, it was all very much filled. But I can remember the days when they used to have the horses and buggies, would come down either side of Commonwealth Avenue, and I remember a runaway once going round a corner, and you could see sparks coming from the curbing as the thing went around. You rarely saw an automobile, of course, until shortly before the first War.
RB: Was it a nice place for a child to grow up?
HF: Oh, it was wonderful. And we used to go down to the Public Gardens and we would coast down the little hills. And we'd meet all the young, and that was a place where we were set free and could do as we wanted; but it was very, very civilized and very quiet place. It's only the automobile (laugh) that changed it, I think.
RB: As a boy, were you fairly close to your uncle?
HF: Oh, I was very fond of him. Oh, yes. He was a very austere old Victorian gentleman and always very fond of us and very polite. He lived by himself in a certain area of the house, which was his own apartment. And then we occupied all the rest of it. It was a large, regular city house with lots of room. The place was paved with pictures from top to bottom. It was rather gloomy and dark, but I was quite used to all of that.
RB: Were you interested in his collection?
HF: Oh, very early I became . . . . This is it. I remember being taken, when I was quite small, to the old Boston Museum, which is where the Copley Plaza is now. That was my first introduction to it, and the things I liked were his Barbizon pictures. Then, right down across Berkeley Street (because this was just above Berkeley) were the David Kimballs. And, of course, there are a lot of Barbizon pictures in the Museum of Fne Arts now with the Kimballs' name. And I remember seeing those and in being interested in comparing them with Uncle Henry's pictures, and so forth.
RB: But you had his paintings even in your house. Were there some of his collection when you were a small boy that you sort of lived with?
HF: Oh, it was all there. It was all there, including the big . . . the most important picture, was the big Courbet which I told you about, which is now in the Museum of Fine Arts, "La Curee," you know, and that was over the sideboard in the dining room. And anybody coming to see the pictures, that was the chief thing. Then he had . . . I have here a catalogue which I can show you. He had a couple of English portraits; he had other Courbets and he had Barbizon pictures. And then later he bought Impressionist pictures, Monet and Renoir. And it was a mixed pickle. And then, of course, there were a lot of American pictures by people whom he knew, his friends, and so forth. And I mentioned the Allston Club and some of the people were like . . . they were the followers of, pupils of William Morris Hunt and his associates.
RB: Did you ever meet these people?
HF: Well, my uncle is here. This is his picture, painted by Adelaide Cole Chase. My mother was painted by Mrs. Chase and Foxcroft Cole, her father, was the man who painted the piece over the fireplace in the dining room. And he was a very intimate friend of Uncle Henry's and Winckworth Gay, I think too, and there were various others whom he knew. So this is where he began his interest and then it expanded to French pictures. He bought what he liked, so there wasn't any specific formation. He just liked pictures and bought them. And then when he died in 1918, he left a collection to my father. Most of them were sold, except for a few we kept. So it was all dispersed.
RB: Did you and the boys discuss these things with him?
HF: A little. A little. More . . . . No, he didn't talk a great deal about it. I was very fond of music. He used to come and sit and listen to me when I played the piano in the early days; and he talked a little, but not much. It was a friendly relationship but not one in which he did much with us. No. But my parents did. That's where we were taken. He didn't take us. My mother and father took us, too. And my brothers too; we were all given an association with these things.
RB: Were your parents actively interested in them?
HF: Only in a very . . . . Simply by living with them and associating with them. No, no, they weren't interested in that way. They mainly accepted what was around about and kept the things that weren't sold or dispensed with. So that there still is a good deal of material around about in the family that was part of the collection. But this had, of course, some degree of interest to me later on when I really came to consider this. There was a background ready for me.
RB: Did you enjoy looking at these things, say, the Courbet, as a boy?
HF: Oh, yes, I loved them and I knew them all very well in the house.
RB: How did you love them? What would you say was your reaction to them?
HF: Well, I wouldn't be able to tell you about that. Merely that I knew who'd painted them and I knew which was which. And I had a very definite feel for them.
RB: They were like something . . . of acquaintances?
HF: Yes. Oh, sure, I just knew them. Yes, I came to be interested also in bits of furniture, in China, and whatever was in the house. So I mean I was aware of all these things, of course.
RB: Were you the oldest child?
HF: I was the eldest of three sons. And I went to school at Nobles and Greenough's down at Beacon Street, which was right across the street from Mr. Spaulding's house. Now it's all gone, you know. The street was widened and they took the houses down. The parkway came into Beacon Street there. But that's where the school was. Then Noble and Greenough moved out to . . . where is it now?
HF: In Dedham. That was it, but that was many long years ago.
RB: Did you enjoy going to school there?
HF: Well, I didn't enjoy school very much anyway until I went to boarding school, St. Paul's, over here in Concord. Then I did like it. That was quite different.
RB: At that time, were you . . . . As a teenager, were you at all interested in art, or what were your particular interests?
HF: Well, music. I played both the fiddle and the piano and I had a great deal of practicing to do. And one time I thought that might be what I would do, but then I guess they thought I wasn't sufficiently (laughs) serious about it.
RB: Did your parents encourage you, though?
HF: Oh, yes, yes. Oh, I played all the rest of my life, certainly. Yes.
RB: Was your mother interested in such things?
HF: Not at all. Not at all, no, not at all. Oh, so very different, very different. Then I went to school, went to St. Paul's. I was there 5 years. And that I loved because, of course, it's a country area, and it was a great year of activity. It was a real experience, and I was very fond of it. I have to acknowledge that in late years I haven't seen much about it, but that's partially, you know, when you leave, you go into another area and you live so consistently you don't come back. You don't have the time. And so I haven't done very much. Even since we've come back here, I've been there only once, to my knowledge.
RB: What do you think you particularly liked about it apart from it being in the countryside?
HF: No, I loved it . . . . I was very close to many of the teachers and I had made some very good friends, who've been lifelong friends ever since. And it was there, not my earlier schooling, but from boarding school on, and some of them went to Harvard, so that there was a continuation there, you see. And I still know them and see them from time to time as far back as that.
RB: So there was a good deal of intimacy with your teachers at St. Paul's?
HF: Oh, yes, I knew them very well, and was very fond of them.
RB: Noble and Greenough was rather more formal?
HF: No, I just didn't have any . . . . I didn't have the same feel for it at all. I don't know. It never meant the same. But then it was a day school, you see. When you come to live as you do in a boarding school like that, you have an entirely different existence. You don't just go for a few hours and then go home, you see. You go to a boarding school; you really become a part of it. However, it has its good points; it has its bad points, too, I think. But still . . . .
RB: Did you feel fairly isolated in Concord as opposed to having grown up in Boston?
HF: No, no, no. That didn't bother me at all. But, you see, I think that an education of somebody in an urban center, you get, particularly in my case, where I was really very fond of music, though I continued to do it, to play and have lessons and things at school . . . . You don't have the opportunities, for example, of concerts and the opera. And I remember one of the things that's always . . . that I've regretted was that I never saw the Russian Ballet when it come in its early days and the family didn't take us. When I was away at boarding school, you see, they didn't come and there were things like that that you miss if you don't grow up in an urban . . . I think it makes a lot of difference, particularly if that is your principal avocation, hobby.
RB: The good points, though, were the closeness with the teachers and the demands on the students?
HF: Yes, the people that I knew and the wonderful life that we led in the place. It really was . . . . I think it is a better education today perhaps than it was in our time, because I think their whole sense of the curriculum is better than it was.
RB: What was their bent when you were there?
HF: Well, it was the regular old business of the classics and history and the languages and mathematics, and so forth, depending upon what you wanted to take. There was a certain choice, but it wasn't a very broad education. I think it's changed and it's much more interesting now. It's much more like a college treatment, brought down to a lower, lower . . . . Don't you think so? I think so, in all schools this is, today. I think it was awfully stereotyped.
RB: When you graduated from St. Paul's, did you go immediately in to college?
HF: I went to Harvard. Yes. I stayed an extra year. I was the Class of '19 at St. Paul's and I stayed another year because I was considered too young, and so I entered the fall of '20. Therefore, I graduated . . . . Was it the fall of '20? Yes, it would be '21, '22, '23, '24. Yes, of course.
RB: Did you always expect that you'd go to Harvard?
HF: I think so. It was a laughs) . . . .
RB: Local school?
HF: At that time, yes. I think the family would have had a fit if I'd gone anywhere else. (Laughs) My father was not a graduate of Harvard. He was an M.I.T. man, but most of the rest of the family had gone to Harvard. My brothers went to Harvard. My son has gone to Harvard.
RB: And it was expected that that's what you'd do?
HF: Well, I think it was.
RB: Because it was so very good?
HF: Well, no. Tradition. You just didn't go anywhere else. (Laughs) I don't know. That's kind of silly, but that's where I thought I would go. Yes, and I did.
RB: Well, now you had that extra year at St. Paul's because you were a bit young, but by the time you went to Harvard then, did you have a fairly clear idea of what you might be wanting to do?
HF: No. I didn't, and this is it. The first years that I went there I continued to take courses that seemed interesting, particularly in English, and was getting nowhere by my sophomore year until finally this occurred to me. My friends were interested in the fine arts. And one of them said, "Why don't you go in for museum work?" And so I thought this was a wonderful idea. And I was interested and I went to Mr. Sachs and I said I would like to switch to the fine arts. Do you think this is a good idea? And he helped me all . . . . From then on. In fact, if it hadn't been for him, I don't think I would have had the job which I got, or anything. I he was my mentor at the time.
RB: What was he like when you first met him? When you first knew him?
HF: Paul Sachs?
HF: Of course, he was a very dynamic person. Quite stirring and very forthright, you know. You have probably heard a lot about him.
RB: Well, I'd like to hear about how you reacted to him.
RB: Well, I became extremely fond of him. He was responsible for my career and he got me my first job. And I was very keen about the courses that I took with him, and we came to know him very well. I met my wife at his house. She was a student at Radcliffe in Fine Arts. The same way. We used to go to Shady Hill all the time. I knew his daughters very well. They still are my friends to this day. And we had a great social life that he made around the family, and we were just all part of it because we were their ages, you see. A lot of his courses were conducted up there; his advanced courses in drawings and in prints, which I was particularly interested in. He would have us at least one meeting a week. We would almost always be up there and so it happened with no external He was a great teacher.
RB: Was he?
HF: Oh, yes. He was a very great teacher. And another thing that he did. Of course, his museum course, which was very important. He taught those of us who were interested in the museum world no matter whether it was a special subject, or what it is. He related a great deal of it to the world of the museum and to what he knew and to the collecting field and to the dealer field, and everything. We learned a great deal of art, of this, on the side. And then, of course, there were all the other people, like Harold Edgell and Kingsley Porter, and Chandler Post, whom I came to know very well. And dear Arthur Pope. I knew them all very well.
RB: Were these men in contrast to Sachs? Sachs did not have a conventional academic background.
HF: No. In some cases, of course, like Chandler Post, they were, I would say, more scholarly, less of a connoisseur. I consider Paul Sachs not . . . . Of course, he came to know a great deal, but he didn't grow up. He was an amateur in the sense; but he had an extraordinarily good eye. I think a far better eye often in cases of this kind for the actual subject, because he was a great collector himself. First of all, he had the means, which the others didn't, except for Edward Forbes. Mr. Kingsley Porter was a rich man too, you see. They collected. Of course, Langdon Warner did too, more modestly. But Paul Sachs' collection was a wonderful collection of drawings, drawings and prints.
RB: How did he teach? You mentioned the informal sessions at Shady Hill.
HF: Well, he would give us, for example, if we had three meetings a week, we would have two slide lectures at the Museum, and then when it was a case of applying this to original material, he might not do it every week, but he'd do it every two weeks. Something like that. We'd go up to the house and then we'd sit around and he would discuss . . . . He would have picked out a half a dozen things that he was going to talk about in terms of what we study, and we would work from the originals this way.
RB: So you very early went into great detail then?
HF: Oh yes. Oh, very definitely. Oh, it was a wonderful . . . . But it was always from the point of view of working with the original. But, of course, all those men did. That was where the collection made an awful lot of . . . . I suppose it still is at Fogg, I don't know.
RB: What did they stress in using the originals? What did Sachs stress when you looked at a drawing?
HF: Well, it was a matter of understanding how it was made, and what were the characteristics of the artist one was considering, and familiarizing yourself with the whole thing so that you came to take it in.
RB: Was primarily from the object itself, or did he bring to bear, or you brought to bear, readings and biography?
HF: Oh yes. Oh, tremendous. Oh, yes. We had a great deal of extra reading and to be familiar with the literature which he considered very important. But, you see, one of the things that I think they all felt, and Paul Sachs was one of them, was the fact that you cannot teach anything completely in the fin arts from photographs alone. And that is one of the great mistakes that you can get off too much in an academic world in which you are not working. I think this is true of so many scholars that they work from reproductions, and one thing and another, and they use the originals, naturally, but they do it in a different way. This is why training for a young person, a collector, or somebody in the museum field, and so forth, who would have the opportunity of being in a dealer's establishment for a while, perhaps learns also as acutely as anybody. Remember that the dealer has to make his way by his own eye, and, therefore, he can't afford not to see things. And he often has a keener grasp of this business. But I felt that all those people, at that time, who were teaching us, that whole staff, were really very remarkable in their use of the material at hand. And, of course, we were taken . . . . Another thing that Paul Sachs would do, and so did the other teachers, but Paul particularly -- he would take us on trips to other museums around about, and we always had, each vacation, a trip to New York. And we would always go. We went to the Morgan Library. The other day when we were seeing the 50th anniversary show, two weeks ago, we were reminded of our first meeting. And my wife happened to be along at the same time as part of the Radcliffe class on this particular evening. We went there on an Easter vacation to the Morgan Library. And this was before the wing had been added. This was only with the main building. So you came in the front door. And we were to see Belle Greene in the screening room, and we were waiting for her in that marvelous big vestibule. Well, it's the entrance hall to the main part of the Morgan Library. Do you know it?
HF: You know, where those two beautiful lapis columns are? And then furniture around somewhat differently than it was and he told us we must be very careful not to touch things and we mustn't bump into things.
RB: Is this Paul Sachs telling you these things?
HF: Yes. Paul Sachs. And we were all there. There must have been twenty of us. And Mrs. Sachs was along too. And we were to be shown the treasures of the Morgan Library, and Mrs. Sachs sat down in one of the chairs and it collapsed underneath her. And she went right to the ground (laughter), which was most unfortunate. But it was one of those things you never forget, let me tell you.
RB: How was Miss Greene then in the confusion when all this happened?
HF: Oh, she was wonderful; she just sort of swept it up and took it away. She didn't think anything of it at all. She made very light of it, said, "This happens all the time, we just glue them together. (Laughter) Oh, she was wonderful, of course. She was a very great character, a great figure. I came to know her, later on, in quite a different capacity. Much later. Of course, she was a very great scholar from the time she was very young. Oh, she was one of the great people in the manuscript field. She knew more . . . . And, of course, a great deal that was added to it all those years was really her doing. She was the scholar, and a very great scholar in that field. And in a very wide field, specifically in manuscripts but also in collecting a lot of literary material as well. As you go to this present-day exhibition, if you've seen it or not; it's very extraordinary with the range that it covers, and the quality of the thing. It's very rich.
RB: You were still just an undergraduate; were you developing a good deal of confidence in your own connoisseurship?
HF: Oh, I don't know. That's awfully hard to say. I just cared an awful lot about it, and we spent all our time on it once we got involved in it. And I only was there at Harvard in the department for two years because when we got done, Paul Sachs said, "You're not the scholar type." He said the thing to do is to have a job and learn as an apprentice. So the year of '23, he sent me abroad with a large crowd of students. There were 90 of us, travelled around in three private cars all over Europe. An art students' tour. And, let me tell you, that was an education in itself, but we had quite a wonderful trip. Then the next year, when I had graduated and he had a job for me as an assistant to Henry Rossiter in the Brint Room at the Museum of Fine Arts when I was to go in October, he said, "Either you go to Berlin, or you go to London, and spend the summer in the Print Room." He said, "You can choose what you want." And I never shall regret that I went to the British Museum because there I knew Campbell Dodgson and Hind, and worked under them. On the other hand, it probably would have been far better for me if I had gone and worked with Winkle in Berlin because there I would have had to learn German, which I never did. And I think the great regret of my life is that I didn't have strength of character to learn these languages early. This is one of the things I think that the young should be made to do today, is to have languages. Because it doesn't matter whether you're a member of the Texas oil people, you see, you can get a job if you can use the language, wherever it is. And that's very important and it certainly is essential if you're going to have anything to do with European art.
RB: And you felt that way back then?
HF: Oh, I've always had trouble with it.
RB: Sachs did not, and the other teachers did not, stress reading in another language?
HF: Yes. Oh, yes, the tried to make us, but I didn't have it proved very much. You see, if I'd have gone that summer, I think it would have just done the thing that was necessary, and I regret that they didn't make more of that. I think had I gone on to study and not go into the museum, probably what I would have done is to go and live abroad; but that never occurred to me. I really was told a good deal what to do.
RB: What effect did that summer of '23 trip to Europe have on you?
HF: Oh, it was wonderful because I went to . . . . Oh, the very first trip. Well, I saw all the great things. We went to Paris, and we saw the Louvre, and we saw a lot of fine buildings. Then we went down through parts of Italy to Rome, and we were taken around there and shown pictures as well as architecture. Classical.
RB: Who took you on this tour?
HF: These people who were running this tour. I can't even tell you the names.
RB: They weren't your Harvard teachers?
HF: No, no. This was an art students tour that was put together with students from Cornell and there were other people. There were an awful lot, such a flotsam of people. It was perfectly extraordinary at the time. Then we went to the Hill towns, and to Florence and to Venice, and so forth, you see. The second year, the year after graduation when I went to London, I stayed pretty much in London itself. But there I had introduction to the dealers. I knew Gus Meyer at Colnaghi. I also saw dear old Henry Oppenheimer, who had one of the greatest collections of drawings at that time existing. It's been since dispersed, of course. Regrettably. But he was awfully good to all the students who came from Harvard. And we had the run of his great collection in his house.
RB: This was through Paul Sachs?
HF: Oh yes, he sent me to him. He gave me letters to these people, or wrote before, and this he did with all his students, you know.
RB: Do you think he was a very caring man? Was he very concerned with what you were going to be doing?
HF: Awfully, awfully. Very, very much concerned with his pupils. Went out of his way to help them.
RB: Working at the British Museum, how was that compared with working with Paul Sachs?
HF: Well, of course I was, I was more on my own. It wasn't a student-teacher relationship. When I wanted any information or to ask questions, I would go to Hind, or I would go to Campbell Dodgson. And I was asked to their houses for meals and things like that. But they didn't . . . . I was on my own, but I had the contacts. And Popham was there. Of course, Mr. Popham became the head of the whole thing, but he was merely a young assistant in the Print Room. And I used to see him too, and he was the great drawing man later, of course.
RB: What were you particularly studying at that time?
HF: Well, it was a whole gamut, to see the originals, and I worked right straight through the collection. That is, all the primary things. Both drawings and prints, for which I still have all the notes that I took at the time.
RB: You took a great many notes?
HF: Well, yes. They don't amount to much today but it is an indication that I looked at all these things. (Laughs) And this was very, very useful, you see.
RB: When you returned, you then went to work with Rossiter?
HF: Then I went immediately the first of October in 1924; I went and stayed for three years in the Print Room of the MFA.
RB: And how was that?
HF: Well, of course there I learned the technique of a museum setup in a department like that. All the manifold detail that you have in any museum setup of that kind, for the care and preservation, and the quality, the books, everything that has to do with all the features of the department.
RB: Did you have a special job under Rossiter?
HF: No, I was the young person who had to run the errands, and show the people things when they came in to ask for things. Know where everything was, learn to be trusted with this, and to treat very carefully the material which was valuable, and one thing and another. And I knew the place thoroughly by the time I got done.
RB: Was the collection in pretty good order?
HF: Oh, yes. Oh, it's wonderful. Of course, it is the big print collection in the country. Better than anything else, and it has . . . . Well, no, the Metropolitan, I suppose, today, is fine. So is the Rosenwald collection, and, though smaller, I think our own collection at Cleveland is very wonderful. And I'll give you the reasons for that as we get along. But I did learn sufficiently, I think. You see, by going into a big collection like that you learn the whole range. I mean, you can see the original material all the way through. Small things . . . . It's up to you to learn, by going around finding it. In a big collection you have it. And when I wasn't busy doing something that was specific in relation to the Department, I spent my time going through the boxes so that I knew the things.
RB: What were you looking for? What particularly . . . ?
HF: I was only learning what the material was, and who the people were, whether it was in the American field, or whether they were the early German things of which are a lot and very or whether they were the Italian prints, of which they have a unique group in Boston.
RB: What was Henry Rossiter like to work with? Was he easy to . . . ?
HF: Oh, he was a fascinating man. He was a very fascinating man. He taught me an awful lot. He wasn't an exacting taskmaster. He expected you to do things, when he asked you to do things, you carried them out. But he didn't badger you. He was a very considerate man. But I was interested in the things. I think that I learned, so that I was of some use to them. And there were two or three other people in the Department. It was already a fairly good sized one, you know, in those days.
RB: Did you have exhibitions very frequently?
HF: Well, I had an awful lot to do with putting them up. I had to frame them, and I had to hang them, and do what Mr. Rossiter wanted. I learned all those techniques, you see. The whole thing.
RB: What about relations with patrons, or with the public?
HF: Oh, I had to see them. That was one of the things. I was always out in front. In the front room. Mr. Rossiter was back in his office. There was usually somebody else in the room with me, but the other people very often were not there. I was left to do this once I got familiar with the thing. Oh, sure.
RB: Were there a good many connoisseurs coming in?
HF: There were quite a lot of people who were coming for one thing or another. Either they were coming because they wanted to look at prints and they were interested in them from the point of view of the collector, or there were people coming who were looking for design, or they were coming looking for some specific thing to check. And they wanted the literature as well. I had to know where all the books were, and all that kind of thing. Every detail that would be dealt with; somebody who would come into a print room, which is like coming into a library and wanting the material.
RB: Did you get to know any Boston artists, for example, at that time?
HF: Not so much. No, no, I didn't. I came to know the staff very well. I used to be rather frightened of that rather austere staff room of the curators. I'd go in once a week and then I would (laughs) . . . . They were a pretty formidable out fit.
RB: The curators?
HF: Well, there was old John Lodge, and there was Mr. Kershaw in the Oriental Department, and then there was Lacey Casky, who was the Curator of Classical Art, and Mr. Hipkiss, who was the Decorative Arts. And then there was dear old John Briggs Potter who was Curator of Paintings. Poor man, he was never allowed to do a thing because the trustees really were the people who ran that department. (Laughs)
RB: Really? Where they very . . . ?
HF: Well, there was dear old Denman Ross who never let you get away with anything. (Laughter) After all, Denman practically owned the place at that time.
RB: Did you know him?
HF: Oh, yes. Very well.
RB: How was he? What was he like?
HF: Well, he was a strange . . . . He was like a Chinese . . . . He was an extraordinary man, if course, who had fantastic knowledge in the European, but in the Oriental field, especially the Near East, and I came to know him later, but you see what happened was that, after I'd been three years in Boston, there was an opening in Cleveland for the curator, because Theodore Sizer who had been there was called to be the head of the Yale Museum, and to be the chief professor there. And his wife I'd grown up with. She's somewhat older, but she knew . . . . And so when it was a question of looking around, Tubber knew that I was in the print room, he came to see me. And it was through him that I was sent to Whiting and was finally engaged to go as his successor as curator of prints. And that was the fall of . . . .
HF: '27. Yes, that was the fall of '27. And so then I went out there and at the age of 25 I was full Curator of Prints.
RB: Were you married by this time?
HF: No, no. No, no. And Ruth Praisse, who was then the young associate in the Department, and she and I worked from 1927 together until 1967, which is 40 years of association in the Print Room. And I think through the opportunities that we had, the backing that we got, both from Mr. Milliken and from the trustees of the Cleveland Museum, who gave us very liberal sums of money, we were able at a very crucial time to put together, to purchase some of the most important prints that came to this country. I think it would have been considered . . . . I think the monies we spent that probably some people would have though were excessive, but you see that though two wars there were a great many things that were freed because people in Europe, simply couldn't hold them. Or in the case of the second War, when refugees came, a great many very fine things could be bought. And also, great collections like the Lichtenstein collection. And the later things that we got in Cleveland were largely from the Lichtenstein -- from Fritz Lichtenstein's print collection, you see. Very unique. Very important early things, all of which of course, cost a good deal of money. And it was the backing that Mr. Milliken and the trustees gave, not questioning it. I mean they let us do it. I think that we had that opportunity at the time, and I think slightly later that Harold Yolokin has had the same backing in the Art Institute of Chicago. You couldn't do it today. You can't do it, but the things are not available. The prices are so terribly high today. The prints . . . . Have you seen the latest catalogues of some of these things? You'll see the prices of them.
RB: Did you know that when your friend . . . when Theodore Sizer mentioned the opening . . . ? How did you learn of the opening?
HF: He came to me. He came and said, "Would you be interested in this? I said, "Oh, certainly I'd be interested." He went to Rossiter first, said, "May I ask Henry Francis if he would like to come?" And then he came to me, and I said, "Well, I should certainly be interested." So then I went to Cleveland.
RB: Did you feel you'd been at Boston long enough?
HF: No, but I just thought and Rossiter told me, he said, I think you ought to go. I think this is a good opportunity.
RB: Did you go out first and look at it? 1. HF:No, I saw Mr. Whiting. He always used to come and stay at Ogonquit, where he had his summer home. I went up there and I was really engaged. Then I didn't go to Cleveland until the Fall.
RB: Well, we got you to Cleveland in 1927. I was wondering if one of the first things you could do is perhaps describe a bit Frederick Allen Whiting, who was then the Director of the Cleveland Museum.
HF: He was the person who was Director, and hired me this first time. And I came to know him very well in those first two years, because it was only those two years when I was in the Print Room there that I saw him. I used to see him after he'd left, but he was a very unusual man. He was an organizer and an administrator. He was not a trained person in the arts at all. That is, he didn't pretend to and one of the reasons he was called was because he'd put -- what is it, the Indianapolis?
RB: The Herron.
HF: The John Heron Art Institute, yes. He had been responsible for organizing and opening that. He had done such a good job, as he had in the Society for Arts and Crafts, that he was called in 1914 to take over. And, you see, in Cleveland during the 19th Century, there were three bequests, individual, separate bequests, unrelated, which were left for the founding of a museum. And they waited from the early 1900's until 1914 to incorporate these together, which was a very smart thing and make it not in the name of any one of those donors but the Cleveland Museum of Art. Over each door there was a different name. There was a Huntington door. And there was a . . . . What was the other one? A Huntington . . . . Well, I forget, but anyway, the three foundations. The Huntington was the big one, and from that they built the building. Mr. Whiting was called to superintend the whole thing and he was very smart, with the local architect, because the original plans were all right as far as the plan inside was concerned, but they had dressed the building all up with all kinds of fancy things on the outside, and Mr. Whiting knew that this was quite inappropriate. And he had sense to get the firm of Huber and Bemish, who were responsible for it, to hire a Mr. Wheelwright from a Boston firm who had had some contact with the arts and crafts, who really polished up the building and now it's a very handsome building that it is today from the front. If you know how it looks, it's a classical business.
RB: Their idea was to spend a great deal on the external . . . ?
HF: It had names, it had names of everybody, all over the front of it, you see, and trick decoration of one kind and another.
RB: Did this mean that they had plenty of funds for acquisitions?
HF: Oh, they had plenty. Always.
RB: Was there a collection when Mr. Whiting came?
HF: Yes. There was quite a bit of it. It had been already left. The collection of Hinman B. Herbert, which was one of the original funds, included a group of pictures, many of which he had bought from the artists themselves. Nineteenth Century Americans, that is Martin Heade. There were things by Bierstadt, John Gadsby Chapman, very fine ones, Tait, Eastman Johnson -- all the people who were his contemporaries, you see. And this made a very nice nucleus, plus the second Jarvis collection, which had not gone to Yale. When he deposited his things, the money that came to him he reinvested. And the Holden family in Cleveland -- Mrs. Liberty Holden -- bought them and took them to Cleveland, and when the Museum opened they gave that whole collection as the Foundation of the Primitive. Then from there on there were gifts that kept coming, you see, from various different collectors in Cleveland, and this is one of the reasons that they not only got money, but that they got works of art. And, unlike other cities, like Pittsburgh, the thing didn't get deflected to New York or elsewhere. It as all kept in Cleveland. This is one of the advantages of the place, that it was very much a homogenous setting.
RB: Did a great deal, do you think, of that, have to do with Mr. Whiting and the way he was running the Museum?
HF: Mr. Whiting helped it. Yes, Mr. Whiting was one of the people who . . . . The original trustees had great respect for his ability to do this. And because they did, they backed him. And I think their own original good sense kept it, when they combined the three. The interlocking trustees combined it, then they hired a man like Whiting, you see, who really helped this along very much. And as an organizer and as a person who promoted membership and promoted an interest in the place because of its activities, I think he did a great thing.
RB: How was he when you came out?
HF: I was devoted to him. I was very fond of him. He was extremely . . . always kindly, never lost his temper. Never got excited about anything. Really, a man who was very easy, but he was very careful to be always sure that you knew your own mind on things when you came to promote . . . if you were asking for something, you see, to get. And he was perfectly willing to follow you when he was convinced that you were . . . . And he was quite smart in the people that he'd brought, including William Milliken, you see, whom he brought from the Metropolitan, who'd gone to the war and come back, and then there was no place for him in the Metropolitan, which they had promised him. That was a great, a terrible blow to him. And Mr. Whiting came along just at the crucial moment and said, "Come to Cleveland." And os William did, and, of course, stayed the rest of his life. And I think Mr. Whiting's doing that. The man who really counted the most in the long run was William Milliken.
RB: But you, shortly after you came, undertook your initial exhibition, the Master Drawings?
HF: Oh, that was before I arrived. Yes, that was my first business. I met William in New York, and he introduced me to the dealers and we collected the dealers. We went to see Belle Greene. We borrowed from Miss Greene a group of very fine early Fairfax Murray drawings from the Morgan Library Collection. We went to the Metropolitan. We borrowed a group of very fine things from them. Then I went up to Cambridge and Paul Sachs was extremely generous and lent me ten or a dozen of his finest pictures. And we went to a lot of dealers, and so forth, and by the time we got done we had about 150 drawings that covered quite a range in time. They were early drawings and they were 17th and 18th Century drawings, and then there were 19th too. In other words, it was a full . . . quite a large space we covered, too. I think it was a very interesting lot of drawings.
RB: Were you given a free rein in Cleveland to set this up?
HF: Oh, absolutely. Oh, yes. Absolutely.
RB: Was this one of the first drawing exhibitions they'd had?
HF: Well, it was an early one. Yes. It was an early one. And it was a lot. One which we selected. I regret that there's no catalogue of it because it would have been interesting to have had it.
RB: What was the effect in Cleveland?
HF: Well, it as a fact, that we sold several of them, as we had the habit, you see, the Metropolitan refuses to buy -- or did until recently I think, to borrow things from dealers because they didn't want any sales business. Now, in Cleveland, this didn't exist. We borrowed from dealers; always had a very good relationship with dealers, this way, because we sold constantly off the wall. And at that first exhibition, I can remember even to this day, about six important drawings that were sold at that time. We bought one of the finest Ingres that we still have in Cleveland. Another Ingres was bought. There was a fine Degas was bought. There were quite a number of things. In other words, it did promote an interest in the community, an active interest in the community.
RB: When you came to Cleveland, was the art-minded community fairly extensive in Cleveland?
HF: Well, I would have said that it was. Yes, as most cities go. Far better than most places, yes. But this was not only Mr. Whiting, because you see by the time I got there William Milliken was very much mixed up in this whole thing as Curator of Decorative Arts and Painting. And between them, and one or two other people -- there was an Oriental curator, there was a Textile Curator . . . . It was already beginning to expand. After all, it was only 11 years old when I went there, but the thing began to widen this way. We used to have a constant program of exhibitions. We started with that particular one, and that same year we used to have the Carnegie, the foreign section of the Pittsburgh-Carnegie show, always came every year up until the time they gave up circulating it and then we would have the Wiener Bechstader show that came (that's pottery) and all kinds of things, you see. There were Oriental exhibitions, too. And Harold Hollis came in '29. He had a big Oriental show from which two or three very important things came out of this, which the Museum bought. This was always the intent. That when a big loan exhibition was gathered together, especially from the dealers, that something always would stay. If only the Museum bought, but usually other people did too.
RB: Well, in '28 then you went to Europe, France, Germany, Britain, and there you did, among other things, work with dealers?
HF: I was given money to buy, and I travelled around an learned . . . .
RB: Did you know some of these dealers from your earlier trips?
HF: Yes, I did, in London, and from there then I went to Paris and met other people, some of whom had come during the two years that I was in Cleveland because, you remember, they travel around a great deal themselves, so that I built up my acquaintanceship with these people to begin with on that first trip.
RB: How did you work with them? Was it a very trusting relationship you had?
HF: Always, because we never bargained. And unfortunately that has not always been so in more recent times but then it's got a pretty tough game lately. But in those days we were offered things . . . and I was only that once actually given money to spend myself while I was away because mostly the trustees like to pass on these things, but that first year Mr. Whiting did give me a limited sum. I had only $5,000. It doesn't sound like very much but I managed to get quite a lot.
RB: Who were some of the dealers you met?
HF: Oh, Gus Meyer who was the greatest of all the European dealers at that time, the head of Colnaghi. Gus Meyer, the son of Vincent Meyer, who was a collector in Washington. He was a very well-known Jewish banker. And Gus was his son, and became a British citizen and the head of Colnaghi, and was responsible for all the deals that came from the Hermitage to Mellon, and other things. They all came through Gus Meyer, August Meyer, and he was a very extraordinary man.
RB: What was he like when you knew him?
HF: Oh, again he was a very charming, very urbane man. Very kindly. When I first saw him as a student, that summer I went . . . . And the great people are always this way. Duveen was the same, you know. The young people who came to Duveen, he was very decent to . . . he was rough with other people but he never was with the students who came from Fogg. Never. He could be imperious and disagreeable and everything, but he never was with students. He always would take 'em around by the hand and show them things. And Gus Meyer was the same. So that in my early dealings with him, and there were many others, I mean that were awfully nice, but he was the big one. Then I knew Colin Agnew at the firm of Thomas Agnew. I've come since to know, perhaps best of all, the dealers in my entire history, Jeffrey , who is Sir Geoffrey now, who is the head of Thomas Agnew in London. But you came to know these people very well. And you can have a very good relationship with them if you play along. And they are usually, if you don't bargain, they're inclined not to raise the prices and when they see you coming put a third (laughs) on everything.
RB: For them this would mean just playing along?
HF: Yes. If you expect them to be decent with you and give you a fair market price on things, you don't quibble. So I would go and get these things, mostly, that first summer I was able to buy, but I also sent back other things. And then they send them out to you and you present them to the Accessions Committee of the trustees, and usually they buy 'em.
RB: The trustees in Cleveland were quite good?
HF: Oh, they were wonderful. They were wonderful. I lived, in the 40 years I was there, through three generations of trustees, and the old tycoons gave us the freest rein. And we could do almost anything we wanted up until after the First War. The next generation were very friendly with us, but they were much more cautious, and we had to convince them. I think that they knew a good deal about things too. I think, perhaps, they were more knowledgeable, the second generation. I think the third generation are very interested but I don't think they know an awful lot. I wouldn't want to offend them by saying so, but I think they have interest in the place without having a real knowledge. But that's as it goes. You see, the things change so, people die and other people are appointed and it's never quite the same, the makeup of the board. And furthermore, it's been enlarged in Cleveland, which I think's a mistake because the original 12 is an awfully good number. And, you see, when you look at places like Boston, or the Metropolitan, where they have 30 or more people, that's too big. You can't handle that kind of thing. Granted, it's divided up into committees, so that I don't suppose they're all on the Accessions Committee, or they're all on the policy-making committee, but nevertheless it makes for a much more difficult thing to hold it together. If you have small group -- Kansas City only has three. I'm not sure that that isn't too small . . . but still it's much easier for the staff to work with. Very much. They can also be a greater block, if they don't like what you do.
RB: But you're saying that as a curator that you'd have a better if it were a small enough group.
HF: Yes. Oh, I knew them all intimately. I always have, I've known the whole lot.
RB: Could this extend to the personal . . . social life, too?
HF: Well, always, because you see that was one of the things that you got when you went to Cleveland -- the orchestra and the college, and the art museum, and all these things were treated . . . You came to know all these people. You went to dinner in their houses; you knew them intimately. Oh, yes, I considered three of the trustees, four of the trustees in the early days, Leonard Hanna, Ralph Coe, Lloyd Williams; I knew them all intimately for years. They were the younger members. Leonard died in '57 just before we opened the wing for which he'd given the money. Ralph Coe died only two, three years later, and Lewis Williams only the year that I'd left the Museum; so I'd known them all those years. I knew others too: Mrs. Bowle, Mr.Severance, and Mrs. Prentiss. I knew them all very well. They were a very remarkable group of people and they had great interest. And, you see, in the case of the Severances -- Mrs. Prentiss was a Severance. She married Dr. Allen first, who was responsible for things at Oberlin. He was a great Oberlin backer. And she gave the the Dudly Allen Museum at Oberlin, Mrs. Prentiss did, in memory of her husband. But when John Severance died, his estate was terribly entailed because of the Bethlehem-YoungstownSheet & Tool quarrel over the ownership of the steel. You remember, these people who were on the wrong side of the fence got rather badly hit. And Mr. Severance's nephew, who's still a trustee, Severance Milliken, immediately incorporated the thing and brought it out of the hole, so that in the Thirties, in ten years, after '36 when he died, he was able to turn 3 million dollars over to the Museum as an endowment for purchase right there. Mrs. Prentiss, when she died, left a very large sum of money, to both the Oberlin . In other words, all that Severance money went back into the city. And that money was Harkness money because the first Mrs. Severance was a Harkness. And you know when a Harkness dies the money goes back into the Harkness fund, but if there's been issue, then the money doesn't. So that the children of the next marriage, which were Mr. Severance and Mrs. Prentiss, they inherited all that money. And it really was Harkness money to start with. But then the Harknesses came from Cleveland anyway so that it was quite understandable. But it all went back into the city. It never left, any bit of it.
RB: Did the trustees that you've mentioned express explicitly what they had in mind for their city? Were they quite idealistic?
HF: Very much so, I think. They, all of them, were really keenly interested in doing all kinds of philanthropic things. I consider Mr. Cleveland number one, was William Glenn Mather, who was the head of Cleveland Cliffs Iron, you know, which is one of the big steel businesses, and I think there was nobody in all the years that I was there whom I had a greater respect for than that man. And he was a wonderful president for years of the Museum. He lived in a Charles Platt house, which I think was one of the most beautiful Platt houses in America, out on the lake shore -- and I could show you pictures of it -- called "Gwynne." Maybe you know all about it, but it's very beautiful. Constantly we would go out there and they were very hospitable. And they would open the house, you know, and we'd have big parties and things, which had to do with the Museum. And when there were distinguished people, they would have them. They were very civic-minded, all of them. And that was one of the reasons why the things . . . why the Orchestra was so supported. You see, you couldn't have kept, for example, you couldn't have kept a man like George Szoll, all these years, if you hadn't have had real backing. You give him a free hand, you give him the money
RB: In '29 you were again in Europe. You were in France, Spain, Barcelona.
HF: Yes, I happened to go. I was doing the same thing and I was doing the same thing in '29 I did in '28, which was a spring tour to see the dealers. But when there was a big show like that, and very often that was one of the things that would spearhead a trip to Europe. We couldn't all of us go every year. And, as far as that was concerned, Mr. Milliken did have really an unwritten arrangement by which he did go every summer. The result was that the rest of us were more or less left in charge for three months in the year and it so came, in all those years that I'd been there, that I'd been there the longest and I knew the thing the best, and in actual count of months I was the director of that institution for over seven years. You can check up on all the time.
RB: When Mr. Milliken was abroad?
HF: Or other people. Yes.
RB: What had you particularly gone to the Barcelon Exhibition for?
HF: Wdll, just because it was the great in which the medieval things had come from all the treasures of the cathedrals, like Garenna [Gerona] and all over Spain. It was a fantastic show of which I still have the little catalogue, which is up there somewhere high on the . . . . No pictures whatsever, but a wonderful gathering together. The only time in which these things have ever been shown all together that way. This is what's so wonderful about the tapestry show now in . . .
RB: The Metropolitan Museum?
RB: In '29 also, Paul Sachs asked you to return to the Fogg under Forges and Sachs as the Assistant to the . . . ?
HF: To the directors.
HF: That's what it was called, the Assistant to the Co-directors. You see, Walter Siple had been, and Walter Siple went as Director Cincinnati. And was for a good many years. Paul Sachs said that he wanted somebody who he had known in the past and who knew the Fogg, and he hoped that I would do it. Well, I'd only been two years, so it was rather a hard decision to make. Furthermore, I knew that by doing that I wouldn't have as much to do with the works of art. And, at this time, I was a little homesick. I still loved Boston and the surroundings and this was a new quirk to the whole business. I did realize that I would lose a certain freedom of departmental work, however . . . . And then about this time we'd become engaged and this seemed to work in very wel, so I agreed to go.
RB: You wife was in Cambridge?
HF: Yes. She was in Cambridge working for Paul Sachs. Her father had had a Sabbatical from his . . . . He was the head of the department of classics at Middlebury College for 35 years and this was his Sabbatical, and we'd met in '29. And when they came, she went back to work with Paul Sachs. Then we became engaged and we were married that year. But I went back and for two years we were in Boston.
RB: You were Assistant . . . ?
HF: I was Assistant to the two Directors.
RB: What work did you do there?
HF: I was the bottle washer. There is no question about that. I put on exhibitions. I ran errands for everybody. I looked afer all the visiting people like Chauncey Tinker and Sir Orwald Stein and all kinds of people who came to lecture and have things. Oh, it was everything. And I had also all the portraits in the Unviersity to look after. Let me tell you that was something, particularly as Prexy Lowell was counting all the silver that was to go into the houses and giving so and so this picture and so and so that.
RB: Was he a very meticulous man?
HF: Oh, he was a fascinating man. He was the most autocratic (Laughs) old boy that ever happened. He said, "Now Francis, don't you think we can give Frisper Merriman this picture?" (Laughs) "Take it out for Lowell House." So I was rushing constantly over there to University Hall to work for this business and rushing around to the houses to see, because this is when they were building all those houses.
RB: All those new houses?
HF: Oh, sure, and they were all being very carefully furnished and decorated by the President, no less.
RB: And you had to run herd? Run herd on all this?
HF: Oh, I had to do the whole thing. I found it very interesting.
RB: Was it enjoyable?
HF: Oh yes, it was quite fun, but it was very conffusing. I don't think it had .
RB: Well, were you meanwhile during those two years at all able to do any studying?
HF: Oh, mercy, no. Not a bit. No, I was the foot messenger for everybody concerned, and it was all right. I did put up a few pictures roundabout, and so forth, but my business mostly was in quieting the nerves, because one of the people who used to come all the time since he lived up Brattle Street was dear old Denman Ross. And Paul Sachs called me into the office and said, "Now, Uncle Denman, you know, we all love Uncle Denman. So that, you know, sometimes Uncle Denman gets in the way." And I, knowing what he had done at Fogg in the three years I was at the MFA, I knew that he was really (laughs) a caution when it came to the staff.
HF: Oh, yes.
RB: Was he very autocratic?
HF: Oh yes, everything he said, you see, went. He was the great trustee. He and Mr. Bigelow were the most important two people, and his word went! William Endicott too, in Boston. But so did he think he could do the same thing at Fogg? And Edward Forbes, of course, who was a darling, had known Denman since he was a child, and one thing and another, he was a little more tolerant of Ross's interference, but Paul Sachs . . . .
RB: What did Ross try to do, for example?
HF: Yeah, he would like to muss in to see what they were going to buy, you see, and then he'd say, "Oh, I don't think you should do this." And he had no say whatsever and so forth, but he just thought he did. And his collection, all those little paintings, you know, that he made . . . . He himself was a painter, you know, developed his system.
HF: The Ross system. All of that was housed in the old Fogg where we started. When I came back to do the job with them, it was in the new Fogg. We had been students in the old Fogg, which was called Hunter Hall, or something of that sort; now it's been torn down.
RB: But Ross' things were still there at the Museum"
HF: Oh, yes. Oh they still are. Only you never see them.
HF: Oh, he'd come in, and one of the things, of course, being an Orientalist, he very much resented Charles Hoyt.
RB: He was the curator?
HF: No, Charles Hoyt was the collector whose great things are now in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Do you remember Charles Hoyt and Rowland Burdon-Muller? Rowland Burdon-Muller lived just above where your . . . up on Mt. Vernon Street. He's now only very recently gone to live in Switzerland, but he lived for years. And he was Charles Hoyt's great friend and they lived together. And of course, their Oriental collection was . . . some of the finest things in the pottery line that have ever gone to Boston. But in that time they'd not been given . . . Charles Hoyt was still alive, and he was very close to Langdon. He was more Langdon's age and everything. But dear old Uncle Denman used to come in and say, "Every time I come in to the Museum, " he'd say, "it just seems to be more hoity-toity, every time." (Laughter) He didn't like it a bit.
RB: Did you work at all with Langdon Warner? Was he easy to work around?
HF: Oh yes. I adored Langdon. Langdon was a wonderful man. Oh, I used to see a great deal of him. Always downstairs in his basement where he held forth. But, of course, there were wonderful things at that time and they were still . . . . That was before the Winthrop things had come, was it not? Or had they come? I don't know. The Winthrop things came later because I remember Greenville Winthrop going to New York. And one of the things I did during these two years was to be sent to New York when they dismantled the Nawmburg apartment and bought all those things, including the woodwork in the room. And I had to sit there while they took pieces out of the wall and numbered the whole thing. And they had to load it aboard trucks and one thing or another. And so that whole Naumburg business, which I wasn't sure was really quite up to what it should have been, but they brought it back and put it in, you know. Do they still use it? I've never been in the place, I don't know, because it wasn't up in my time.
RB: Well, a good deal of this was rather tedious for you then, was it?
HF: Well, it was interesting and I learned an awful lot. It was nothing lost, but it was not in the field of the fine arts. )
RB: What was Forbes like? How was he to work with?
HF: He was the sweetest man. Well, he was always . . . Where Paul Sachs was so direct and forthright and everything, you see. Edward was always full of . . . . He'd hem and haw. He was never . . . but he was a sweet human being. And really incredibly sensitive and intelligent about all these things. And I shall never forget when they opened, before I came there, when they opened the new Fogg, Mr. Lowell getting up and said, "If it hadn't been for the superb mendacity of Messrs. Forbes and Sachs, why the place (laughs) wouldn't exist." And that's what Edward would do. He would go to New York and sit in Tom Lamont's office until it was time for everybody to go home. They couldn't throw him out. And he'd go and say, "Well, now, we need money for this, that and the other thing, and I'm pledging $50,000. Would you be willing to join me this way?" And he built the whole thing. Because he and Sachs, you see, all this business for the Business School, $10 million. to the laboratory and for the Fogg. $2 million, $3 million, 5 million. And he raised this. So it was this kind of thing. He had a wonderful ability for . . . . He was, after all an Emerson and a Forbes; and he could put on a little of that weight. But he also had a great interest in Harvard and, of course, I'm sure that a lot of the river land which Harvard has now built on was all due to Edward's effort. That was brought up, don't you think? I think that was a good deal of it, was his doing.
RB: Did you know Harold Edgell much then?
HF: Oh yes, Oh I knew them all very well.
RB: He was Dean of the Architecture School.
HF: Yes, I always knew him because i . . . .
RB: Was he a very easy sort of man?
HF: Oh, yes. I was very fond of him. Very fond of him. Lots of people weren't, but I was. And I knew him all along until the last days. I used to see him when he was the Director in Boston and I used to see him in Europe. And I'd see him actually at I'Tatti with Berenson. This, all of this, thickens up, you know, very much. And we were, because the classes were small when we were students, Frances and I saw and knew them all very well personally. But I kept up with most of them, and John La Post particularly. He used to come to Cleveland with his students and he'd always call up ahead of time and say, "Now, we'd like to spend the day going around the Museum." And then he'd take his students and say, "Now who did that?" "Don't look at the label," he'd say, and then he'd make them recite about the whole business. And this was lots of fun for me, and I used to take them to the private collections which we had a perfect entree in. They would all let us come. They were very generous about that kind of thing. You could go . . . I would bring people at any time in Cleveland.
RB: You thought you might be stranded at Fogg, but then you were asked back to Cleveland.
HF: Well, then Mr. Whiting was asked to become the head of the American Federation of Arts in Washington. And he felt that this was a bigger job; and he really wanted to do it because, with Mr. DeForrest, he had built that all up. So he decided that he had done his job at the Museum and he wanted to go to Washington. And this is why he went on. I think it was . . . .
RB: What had he intended it to be, the American Federation?
HF: He wanted the American Federation to be what, in a sense, I suppose, the Smithsonian Institution has now taken over, thanks to . . . . This was before the Mellon Collection and everything. You see, he wanted a big Washington center, and I think the Federation was what he had in mind as a basis for this kind of thing. After all, it was a very amorphous setup in those days, and he felt that he could do more there as an organizer. And this is what he wanted to do and that's why he left. Meanwhile, William was made the Director.
RB: He'd been there some ten years or so?
HF: Oh, yes, yes. He'd been there, you see, ah, more than that. Nearly twenty, hadn't he? Nineteen, no, ten years, about ten years. Yes, a little over ten years. And he gave up one . . . . He retained his Decorative Arts Field, which was his medieval field that he wanted to continue, but he wanted somebody to come and take the Painting Department over. And I had had such fun with him those two years and we were very close -- that he came and said, "Come back and be both Curator of Paintings, and take over the Print Room too." And I had as my associate Leona Prasse, whom I told you I worked with all those years. So it was still a small place by 1930. And Harold Hollis whom I had known very well -- he was a classmate at Harvard -- had come as the Oriental Curator through Langdon. You see, just the way Larry Sickman, through Langdon, went to Kansas City, so Harold Hollis who, I'm sure, to this day is a dealer in New York. Harold Hollis. And, in fact, Sherman wouldn't be where he was if it wasn't for Howard, because he came and studied under Harold to begin with.
RB: Hollis was there at the beginning?
HF: Well, he came the year I left. When I went back to Fogg, he came that fall. He said I was a terrible traitor that I'd left him alone. (Laughs) But I've known him. I correspond with him all the time. I mean, it's an old relationship.
RB: When you came back then you knew Milliken well; you knew Hollis and . . . ?
HF: Oh, yes, I knew Hollis.
RB: And you knew, of course, the trustees. Who else?
HF: And then Thomas Monroe came the year we did, in '31, was the Head of the Education Department, taking the place of Rossiter Howard, who had gone off to be the Head of the Education Department at the Philadelphia Museum. And head of the Education Department when I first was there, Rossiter Howard.
RB: How did the Education Department work with you curators in those days?
HF: Well, they'd call on us to do as much as we would be willing to do with them. It was a very active school operation with all those things. In fact, next to Toledo, it's the earliest in the country in its organized form. In fact, it was so much so that in the Thirties, counting all the part-time people who taught classes and one thing or another, they employed nearly fifty people. Now that's a big department. And they worked with the public schools. They kept two public school teachers in the building. They had about ten other people in the Education Department. I used to think it was the tail that wagged the dog but still it was a very remarkable setup and still is. And now it includes the College, because every curator on the staff of the Museum is a professor in the department over at the University.
RB: Was the College at that time connected?
HF: No, it was not connected. And it was Thomas Monroe . . . . When William Milliken bought Thomas Monroe from Rutgers and the Barnes Foundation, because Tommy worked for Barnes, Hughes came as the Head of the Department, and was responsible for the starting of the Aesthetic Society, and stayed there and retired the same year I did. And I only saw him last year, he's quite a sick person now, sadly, down in Florida, when we went down there last spring. But he and I went from '31 to '67, and he was the head of the department all those years.
RB: What did you get into when you came back in '31, the fall of '31, as the curator of both paintings and prints?
HF: I wonder what happened then. I'm not sure . . . .
RB: In '33 you were once again in Europe for the summer. . . ?
HF: Oh, yes, but before that, when I came back, we did have two falls running. We had two exhibitions called "Art Through the Ages" which were again those shows, those autumn shows that we went and borrowed from the dealers. And the only reason I mention these was the fact that from Wildenstein's and a number of other places the Cleveland Trustees and various collectors bought quite extensively. We kept quite a number of pictures. And this was very much responsible for their willingness to lend.
RB: Would the dealers, the great dealers such as Wildenstein, come, or their representatives come, to Cleveland?
HF: Oh, Yes. We were in touch all the time. And, of course, all through those years I used to go three and four times a year, really many more times, but I used to go at least 3 or 4 times, either to put together an exhibition of contemporary oils or contemporary watercolors; which for ten years after I went there, we used to continue. Until the war came and nobody wanted to do this. Then we gave them up, but . . . .
RB: Was it all very lively?
HF: Yes. I'd go to all the . . . . I'd just go everywhere in New York, and I would borrow fifty to a hundred pictures for those shows. So that I came to really know all the people, of course, naturally . . . .
RB: You have a great deal of interest in Cleveland to see the work?
HF: Always. Always. And when we would give the American show, it always followed the May show, and the jury who came for the local show in May would always choose a small group of oils that would be shown in June with the contemporary American show.
RB: You said something about the May show in Cleveland. Was it something that pre-dated you and continued with you?
HF: Yes. Mr. Milliken began it in 1919. It had existed as a local thing in which the artists themselves were given space in the Museum, but then the Museum became the operator of the whole thing and took on the organization and the whole business. And it was that group, particularly did it. To begin with, of course, it was . . . paintings and sculpture were the natural things that were shown, but the crafts were the thing which Mr. Milliken instituted so much. And it was what developed an extraordinary, very, very unusual group of potters, and also textiles so that . . . . I could show you all the way . . . .
HF: Oh, yes. And every year this would come along and it was . . . . I suppose there was no exhibition that was given that brought so many people, because we sold every object in the thing. And they would sometimes, at its height, in the late Thirties and Forties, we would sell as much as between 25 and 30 thousand dollars from that show alone. And you see this was a great . . . this was a great spur.
RB: There was a great deal of pride in what was produced locally.
HF: Yes. It raised the whole tone. There was an amateurish quality to the whole thing, which is one of the things I think that Sherwin rather got the better of it at times, so that he was inclined to cut down on the thing. And I understand the reason he did so because the quality was the thing that he felt should be shown, particularly when he came in. In other words, the whole business was much better known, but in the earlier days there wasn't so much brought in from outside, and this was one of the ways that it could be stimulated.
RB: When you were there, you mentioned a little earlier, I guess, that Mr. Milliken brought in an exhibition from the Weiner Brothers?
HF: That came . . . .
RB: How did that come?
HF: That was just a separate exhibition on its own which had been put together by some potters in New York, and was circulated to Chicago and Buffalo and wherever it was, you see. And we came in on many of these things. Jut the way Mrs. John Pope, still to this day, you know, circulated wonderful exhibitions, which she puts together, and you pay the fee, which is pretty heavy sometimes. But you have them. For example, we did that with the French drawings she put together. We did it with the Chatsworth drawings. We did it with a lot of things. Those shows were always offered to us and we took a great many of them. We used to have a budget up to $20,000 a year in those early days just for shows that we subscribed to. Now, today, it would have to be much bigger than that because most of Mrs. Pope's shows would go up to $10,000 themselves.
RB: How did the Education Department work in with all this?
HF: Oh, they always just came right along and implemented it when the shows came. They learned about it and took the classes in, and talked about it. It was all jelled.
RB: They didn't press you curators too much, did they?
HF: Well, we were asked to do a certain amount of it, but they had their own very competent people. And they would have meetings in which the curators would talk to the Department. You see, we'd discuss the whole exhibition with the Department and they could come to us any time they wanted. And though we were occasionally asked to do these things, particularly to give a Friday evening lecture once, you see, this kind of thing as well as all the others, most of those classes and everything were taken care of by the Department of Education. They did it.
RB: Around that time, could you describe what it was like working with Mr. Milliken?
HF: Well, I was very . . . . He was one of my . . . still is, one of my dearest and closest friends. In fact, I just had a telephone call for him before he sailed yesterday. Going back to Europe again. Spent most of his (laughs) life there. But he was, of course . . . he's an extraordinary man. He's absolutely inexhaustible. He has tremendous vitality, and in those days he would run the rest of us ragged because he was so . . . he'd spend . . . . He's a bachelor. All of his life he was married to the Museum. He'd spend hours there all the time. It was his. He owned everything in it, and everybody! And this didn't always go down well (laughs); but for those of us who accepted this situation, we had a wonderful time. And he was a very inspiriting person, and terribly enthusiastic about everything he does. And still is, at 84.
RB: Did he, say, in the Thirties, give you fairly free rein?
HF: Very free rein. Very free rein.
RB: He didn't interfere, say, the way Denman Ross did?
HF: Oh, yes. It's entirely different. He never failed to express his opinion and call things to my attention, but I made the decisions for the things that came into my department. And he backed me up very strongly. Oh, no, we worked very closely together always.
RB: The curator was given a good deal of autonomy?
HF: Oh, very; a great deal. This was what made it fun. This was why one really had the chance to do what one wanted. Now I did follow a lot of things that William was interested in, too. I mean, he wasn't behindhand in seeing things. He called them to my attention. You see, even though I'd been there many long years when Sherman became the Director, certainly our earliest years we agreed completely on what we bought. Occasionally, we disagreed. And once or twice, toward the end, I didn't like some of the things that were proposed and said so. And we didn't get 'em. But, mostly, we always worked pretty well together. But the curator has a very wide . . . . He certainly did under William Milliken.
RB: What sort of things were the major acquisitions in the Thirties and the Forties?
HF: One of the greatest pictures that ever came into the Museum, or ever will, came not through me; I published it, but it came because Harold Parsons had known Edward Warren in Lewes, England, because Harold Parsons was Sam Warren's son, you know, and had the great collection and was responsible for getting most of the finest Greek things for the Museum of Fine Arts. You remember that? And Harold Parsons was a personal friend of Edward Warren's.
RB: And Parsons was buying at that time?
HF: Yes. Parsons was buying at that time, and this was in '29 and '30. They first saw the wonderful Filippino Lippi, which belonged to Edward Warren. And which had belonged to his parents, and was kept in the Marlborough Street house on the top floor in a cold room, so that it was never exposed to any heat. And that beautiful picture, when the Warren family broke up the house, he took it back as his part, along with the gems and things. Well, no, I guess he put that together himself. But the family owned the picture and he took it to Lewes. And when he died his lawyer, his executor, was given the right to dispose of that picture, provided it did not go to a dealer. Edward Warren didn't want it to go to Duveen. And you know, it's an enormous tombeau. It's a wonderful, great, great picture, absolutely flawless condition. It's never had a crack. It's never had anything wrong with it. It's a fantastic piece. And Harold knew about this, and knew the lawyer, and came to William and said, "Now they want quite a sum of money for this, but this is a picture which I think you should get." And William said, "Fine." So he went to the Holden family, and old Mrs. Holden was still alive. She's the lady who bought the Jarvis group. And you know, Beverly Sills, who sings now in the New York opera. Well, she's married to Peter Greenough, whose father was Harry Greenough of Boston, whose wife was a Holden of Cleveland. And it's all tied up. And his grandmother was old Mrs. Liberty Holden, whom I'm referring to. This picture . . . . Mrs. Bowle (who was Peter's aunt) was one of the trustees of the Museum and Mrs. Liberty Holden's daughter, who was most interested in painting. She got the family together, and they raised the money and gave it as a memorial to Mrs. Liberty Holden during her lifetime, and with her consent in 1929. And so that wonderful picture came. And, of course, I came at that time. And so William said, "All right now, this is your chance. You publish this." So this was the first great picture that came at that time. Have I mentioned this? Anywhere around here . . . I think I do somewhere. However, that came in '31 or '32. Yes, Holden Collection in '32, Filippino. The summer of '33 we went back to England and we spent most of the time in England, and I saw Harold Parsons then quite a lot. He enlarged my whole dealer connection with people like Langton Douglas, who was after all the one who wrote the book on Sienna and was a great dealer in his own right in London. And there were wonderful things that came from him too. And I remember spending a good deal of time . . . . And Harold was there in London that summer. And Frances and I had a house out in Chelsea and we had a wonderful time. Harry was a little boy, and we just stayed there. We did go to the Continent a little, but mostly in England.
RB: Going to great houses as well?
HF: Oh, yes, I went. I was thinking . . . the thing that occurred to me was the fact that at that time . . . that was the first time that I ever went to Apsley House, but Harold took me. And later the Duke of Wellington, who was then Sir . . . was Gerald Wellesly, who was very much interested in Apsley House. And he -- his older brother died -- and he later became the Duke. He's the Duke who has just died. But he had a tremendous amount to do, you know, with the things in London as one of the trustees of the National Gallery and everything. And I remember that particularly. And then old Henry Oppenheimer was still there. Well, I saw quite a lot of very interesting things.
RB: A great many things were probably coming on the market then, weren't they, from the Depression?
HF: They were. That was the whole thing. And that was the reason largely for doing it. Then, as I say, we did go to the Continent to many other things. But it was particularly that, and there were several things that came that summer, pictures that were interesting.
RB: Was Milliken buying also on his own?
HF: Mostly, but always in the decorative arts field, largely in the medieval field, and that's again as if you see that these things, I could show this . . . .
RB: So a number of these things he acquired during the depression?
HF: Mostly. The finest things came from the Thirties right up until after the Second War, usually because there was a tremendous moving of things. It was tragic in one sense, in Europe, because a lot of things came which shouldn't, but they did.
RB: Were you getting anything through people like Duveen?
HF: We got a few things from Duveen. We got one fine sculpture from the Dryfus group. And I remember going constantly in New York during these years to see Duveen, and when we came to the '36 show, you see, the big exposition.
RB: The Great Lakes Exposition?
HF: We depended upon ann these dealers, and Duveen was among them. And he was very generous, and lent us things, and it was quite a show. And it was that time that we were able to get . . . . Even Mr. Rockefeller lent us two or three pictures, and oh, we got them everywhere, from the museums and from Europe, even from the Louvre. At that time that was rather unusual to do, you know; you didn't get things so easily from European museums then.
RB: What was the great power, the drawing power with the Great Lakes Exposition?
HF: Well, it really wasn't much of anything. This is it. It was an awful crummy exposition, telling the honest truth. Billy Rose and the (laughs) Aqua-, what did they call it, the Aquacade? Oh yes, down on the Lake Shore. Well it was a regular, a very small provincial exposition, somewhat like the Chicago World's Fair of '33 down on the Lake Shore.
RB: How did you bring into it . . . ?
HF: Well, this was up in our own galleries, and one thing and another. Oh, it had to be. It wasn't at the exposition, but it was in connection with it, you see. Oh, it was very much advertised and everything. Of course, we had floods of people. We had so many people we didn't know what to do. The place was just jammed and packed, and I can remember the docents of certain afternoons where they would be packed into galleries, and this one would get done, and they'd wait, and then they'd all shift, and keep on going. Oh, it was ridiculous. This was where it really got out of hand, when there was so many people. Today they wouldn't do that; they'd have electronic set-ups, yes. But in those days we didn't have them. I prefer it.
RB: Did you enjoy the success of it?
HF: Oh, of course. Why certainly. Yes, we were worn silly but (laughs) but we did, sure, oh yes. It as all very . . . well, the fun was putting it together. But then at that same year, there's one thing that I, I really consider one of the more important things, was the fact that I persuaded Leonard Hanna to give us money, in addition to our exhibition funds, to bring the first show from the Museum of Modern Art to Cleveland. The Van Gogh show came. And you know, that was the first Van Gogh show, and it was a great success in New York, and they were willing at the time to circulate it because they wanted the money to pay for it. So I had to get somebody . . . . Williams said that there is no money, "We'll have to get it somewhere." So I went to Leonard in New York on one of these . . . and I said, "Couldn't we bring it? How would you advise my going about it?" He said, "I'll underwrite it." So it came and the reason I mention this is the fact that later on, and I always forget where it comes in. The first one in which he sponsored a whole series of shows from the Museum of Modern art. In which they were willing to do this, because again, the cost of putting these shows together was so great that they had to have a partner somehow. As time went on, there became more than two, there became sometimes three people because they go so much. But a lot of people . . . But, you see, the thing is that a lot of people who lent, didn't like them junketing around, so that it was better those first years when there were only two. But I think we did about ten exhibitions that way, including the first Picasso show which brought the Guernica to Cleveland. And we had these exhibitions and Mr. Hanna underwrote all of them; Hanna Fund, because in '43 he established this big rust which he called Hanna Fund. And he gave it to various . . . he gave it to Caramel House which was the Negro settlement in Cleveland that had a play house. He was interested in Cleveland Play House; he gave it to the Museums, he gave it to the Indians, he gave it to all kinds (laughs) of things that had to do with Cleveland. And Hanna Fund continued until his death in '57. And when he died Hanna Fund stopped and he divided his money. And you see, when he did die and left that money . . . . Of course, he was the most wonderful trustee because you could work with him, and I used to go constantly to him about the various purchases we wanted to make, and so often he would buy them outright from Hanna Fund. If Mr. Milliken and I wanted, or agreed, and he agreed, there was no question; the trustees merely accepted it. We decided it, and this was fun. So that, when he died, to me it was an awful blow because, though an awful lot of money came, we didn't have his, his . . . . It was entirely different. He left ten millions to operate the Museum, as an endowment. Ten million for purchase, but when it came to us, it was well in excess of thirty-three million, and, of course, today is very high up, it has a lot of money. And it is what gives them the chance to do what they can still, but it isn't quite the same somehow.
RB: Was he quite a student of art himself?
HF: Oh yes. Oh yes, he did most because he was the youngest trustee on the board when I came there, and had been made a trustee at a very early age. And he had a very fine collection of prints. He had, he bought everything that George Bellows ever did and gave us the entire collection so that it is one of three; the one in Boston, the one in Cleveland, and the one that Mrs. Bellows.' They're the three complete groups. And his Durers all came, and, of course, the thing that he loved best of all were the 19th . . . were the Impressionists and Post Impressionists and early Picassos.
RB: He enjoyed Picasso?
HF: Oh, he had a wonderful collection of his own, and the great David, which we bought, was a Hanna Fund picture before he died.
RB: Now when was the Picasso Exhibition, or other such quite contemporary ones?
HF: Well, they might . . . . [END OF SIDE 1] TAPE 31 - SIDE 2]
HF: When it came to Paul Sachs, you see, I was at Harvard in my Club. I went there in 119, 1920, and I had no specific . . . . When I went to Harvard I had no particular plan, you see, as far as I had no idea of what I wanted to do, and I wasn't very much of a student, and I enjoyed life greatly, so that in the middle of my career I found myself out. And then my friends said, "For heaven's sake, you are interested in the fine arts, and one thing and another, and you've lived all your life among pictures, with your uncle's collection and one thing and another, why don't you think of it in terms of a profession, from a museum point of view?" So I went to Mr. Sachs, and I told him my story and said I wanted to do this, but if he felt that I could be admitted again and could concentrate in the fine arts, that is what I would do. He said, "All right, I'll do everything I can to help you. You get yourself a job this summer and do what the Dean's Office asks you to do to get reinstated." Which I did.
RB: You hadn't finished your undergraduate . . . ?
HF: No. This was in the middle of my undergraduate business, my sophomore year. So I went through the course of sprouts that summer, took a couple of courses and had a job in the Weidner Library under dear old Archie Coolidge. And he made me transliterate a lot of Russian books which he had brought from Russia and which they had to catalogue. And he gave me the alphabet and he said, "Now you figure this out." (Laughs) So I had a wonderful time looking through the books and fixing the card for them, you see, which was my job.
RB: You enjoyed that?
HF: Oh, indeed. I enjoyed it. It was wonderful in the stacks of Weidner, it was marvelous. And the courses were fun, so that was all very well. And then the rest of my years at Harvard were devoted to the fine arts completely. And that was a wonderful group of people who were there at the time. And, of course, Paul Sachs was my chief mentor because it was in the field of prints and drawings that I began to do this, and then, of course, it expanded into the painting field. And, of course, John La Post was one of the important people. And Kingsley Porter was another. And George Harold Edgell. I had courses with them all and always with Paul Sachs.
RB: You saw them regularly? Was it quite an intimate relation with students?
HF: Oh, very. Because we were a small group, you see, at the time; it was a small number. And that, of course, was where I met my wife, because she was at Radcliffe in the department also. And so we all, Jim Rorimer and Russell Hitchcock, all the people who are on that list, you see, were all there at the time.
RB: And a good many you kept in touch with.
HF: Always, yes. In the field, we didn't . . . and George Case. I mean they were all there. At his home.
RB: But Paul Sachs stood out as your mentor?
HF: Well, he was, from my point of view. He was the person I had gone to. He was the person who, yes, kept an eye on me, and really was responsible for all my courses, and what I took, and how I did it. And, of course, we did a great deal as far as he was concerned up in Shady Hill. His enthusiasm, you know was infectious. He really had a fantastic . . . he wasn't the scholar in the sense that a lot of the other were, but he had this collector's eye. I think a lot of us developed at the time in much the same way. We weren't . . . we wouldn't be rated as scholars in the sense of the Ponofskys and von Stechows (who incidentally just died the other day, you may have seen) and people of that kind. They were good trained German scholars, but I think that the connoisseur point of view was the thing which he inspired in people.
RB: And what was so attractive to you in that?
HF: Well, because he was very personal about everything. And we used to go in the cases of his drawing courses, museum courses and things, we met so constantly up at Shady Hill, right in his own house. We'd sit around on the floor and he would do the thing from the originals or from books of big reproductions. It was very informal but you got a great deal. And, of course, Shady Hill at that time . . . Harvard didn't have the intelligence to keep it. It was one of Mr. Charles Eliot Norton's houses; it was one of the most beautiful places in Cambridge. When Paul Sachs lived there, it was filled with wonderful works of art, and with his marvelous library, and it was a very charming setting for all these youngsters who went there. And the house was full all the time. And his three daughters were very much in the picture because they knew all of us too. I mean it was a real meeting place for a great many people.
RB: Was it quite an intensive session?
HF: Always, always, because he was a very intense man, you know. He had that terrific impulsion. This was why he gave up the banking business; became a silent partner, because he was the eldest of the sons (Arthur Sachs was younger), and continued his connection only that way, and came to Cambridge, joined Edward Forbes who really appreciated the very qualities that Paul Sachs had, Edward didn't. But they both had the same idea in mind, and they were a strong pair, you know, in the building up of that . It was really extraordinary. When they opened the new Fogg, I remember Mr. Lowell saying if it hadn't been for the extraordinary mendacity of Messrs. Forbes and Sachs (laughs) that drive would never have gone over. Remember two million for fine arts, three million for chemistry, and five million to match, was it not? Another for the business school. And all that happened in those years of the Twenties.
RB: Sachs worked in a very outspoken, in a brilliant way, and Forbes was somewhat different, wasn't he?
HF: Yes, he was more hesitant, and so forth, but there was a persistence there too. They were complements, there was no question. They were so different that they got along beautifully. They really were. And all Edward's hesitancy, Paul would always be behind to say, "Well now, Edward, don't you think this would be the way we should do things? I'm convinced myself." Edward said, "Yes, yes, that's they way it should be." (Laughs) Oh, they were wonderful together, because they were such a curious combination.
RB: And you, as a student, would see this.
HF: Oh, we were terribly aware of all this. Yes, of course. And Mr. Balch was a wonderful teacher, too, in a very different way, because his business (whichI regret now that I never took) had to do with techniques, you see, and all that business of learning the various techniques upstairs. We learned to draw and to paint, and particularly in the Ross method from Arthur Pope. That was very important, too. But that was a rather different business. Edward's was a case of the Italian Primitive, which, of course, was his particular love, and fresco painting and this . And you had a very close personal relationship with him then, because you couldn't do the thing, you see, if you weren't constantly being advised with him personally, with what you were doing. I mean, it was an actual project, a personal project.
RB: I see. Yes.
HF: When it came to Paul Sachs, as we got into the more advanced things, the same held, if you were doing a piece of work with certain drawings, or with a drawing, or with an artist, you see. So, I suppose today the classes are much bigger, but I wonder if there isn't still a good deal of this contact. I saw Agnes Mongen yesterday, and she said that this afternoon she was giving a seminar on drawings. You can't do that kind of thing. First of all, she couldn't have more than, I should think, ten or a dozen people, and crowd them into that room, it's so small. You . . . .
RB: So you are saying this very close, intensive work was the great value.
HF: Oh, I think so. And I think it's what a great many people . . . what really enthusiased them to do. The Henry Mollhennys, the John Browns, all these people, you see, who became collectors. I'm sure of it. And you know, what is it called? It isn't the seeing eye, it's the discerning eye. It's one of those awful titles that they have presently at the Fogg which shows the very interesting anonymous gifts that were made from classes from the Thirties onwards Harvard's received itself, and they are very interesting and fine things, which is their current show. And this is an example of what this all meant.
RB: When you left Harvard to go into your profession in Cleveland, did you feel you were bringing perhaps the best training you could have had?
HF: Oh mercy yes, at the time it was so considered, because there were very few other places. It was one of the very first, and the reason . . . . Of course, I went first . . . Paul Sachs said, "I don't want you to stay around here because I don't think you are a person who is going to get the most out of books. You should go where you work in a museum." so he got me a job as a departmental assistant to Henry Rossiter at the M.F.A., and, in a sense, that's where I had spent the summer prior to the fall of '24, in the British Museum all summer, which Mr. Paul Sachs said, "You either go to Berlin, or you go to the British Museum, either one of them, and work in the print room this summer. And then you will begin in the M.F.A." So I was there for three years, and it was the contact with the actual objects which he said. And I think he felt that all along with other people, but he felt it particularly with me, and I am very grateful for it because that's where I learned really what I knew. Then, when Theodore Sizor went to New Havne, to start a department and join Dean Meeks, who was the architecture person at New Haven, but that was the beginning of the Department in Yale, you see, which was a little later. I took Tubby's place, and I had known him because I'd known his wife. I'd grown up with his wife; she's somewhat older, but we'd lived out in the country nearby.
RB: You took his place at the M.F.A.?
HF: No, I took his place in Cleveland; when he went to Yale, I went to Cleveland. I was just exactly three years at the Museum of fine Arts, and then I went to Cleveland in 1927, where I stayed exactly two years in the Print room only. I was curator of Prints.
RB: Were you during this time still in touch with your mentor, with Mr. Sachs?
HF: All the time, all the time. Because at the end of my two years with Cleveland, in '29, Walter Siple, who'd been his assistant in the new Fogg, became the Director and Paul said, "I'm lost with out Walter and I've got to have somebody. Will you come back and be the assistant to the Director?"
RB: In 1929?
HF: In 1929. And I was put on the spot at that time. My wife and I had just become engaged, and I think Cleveland rather bored her. didn't decide altogether, but there were other features in it. There was more money and one thing and another. So it was a new, broadening of things, and so I decided finally to do it. And I think it was probably a good thing to do, and yet, that job of being an assistant, you know is . . . . I was left to do an awful lot of the running of the place, because both those men were not only busy teaching, (Edward and Paul) but they were constantly running around at that time raising the money for Mr. Lowell, for all this business. So I had a good deal of . . . .
RB: You got tired of running it while they were gone.
HF: Yes, I was pretty young at this period. I went to Cleveland as a full curator at 25, and so, two years later, I was, you see, I was still at the end of my twenties when this whole thing happened. Well, it was simple enough to do, but still it was a very good experience. And then, in 1930, Mr. Milliken became the Director in Cleveland. And I had become very close to William Milliken during those two years. Like Paul Sachs, he was a man of extraordinary energy, and vitality, and excitement about works of art and everything. This was what made him such a great director in Cleveland. And at that time he had absolute complete support of the board of Trustees in Cleveland, which -- there were only twelve of them -- and they were older men, who were collectors, but they were very careful when the appointed people to their staff. It was only eleven years old, to let them have complete freedom to do what they wanted, you see. They never interfered. I only mention this because as time went on, after I returned to Cleveland in '30, as Curator of both Prints and Paintings . . . . Again, remember, it was a small museum at that time, and although it had a certain amount of money, it was nowhere near as richly endowed as it became during the course of the succeeding years. But we did have great freedom. Later, that ceased to be so. The trustees became . . . they were the next generation, and the present ones today, I think, have far less knowledge of the fine arts. I think they are terribly concerned about the policy and one thing and another, but the old group, when I first went there, relied on us to do it, and this is what gave us a wonderful opportunity. And that's why I'm sure it was the thing to have done.
RB: Is this in some contrast to, say, the M.F.A., or even the Fogg?
HF: Yes. You see, it would have been very different at the M.F.A. I felt and I knew this during those three years because, though I was of no importance at all as a young member, I used to see . . . I knew the whole staff. I knew John Lodge, I knew Kershaw, I knew Cocmaraswamy, I knew all those people because I was very kindly included in the lunch room, although I didn't go there all the time, because I found it rather overpowering. But still I was the classicist. Old Mr. Kershaw, who was like a Chinese Lo Han himself, was the man with the pottery. Tomita was there. Hipkiss was the . . . .
RB: What was overwhelming for you?
HF: Well, they were just people; they were older men, and they knew one another very well, you see, and I felt like rather a juvenile.
RB: Kind of clubish.
HF: Well, it was a regular staff. They were very nice to me but I was just a youngster.
RB: Were the trustees, did they give the same latitude in the . . . ?
HF: No, they did not. Because there was old Dr. Ross whom I was very fond of, and had considerable contact with those two years in Fogg, but what Ross said, went. And, who was . . . William Endicott was the treasure, and there were three or four others, and they were all . . . . They followed in the footsteps of the men who had come before like Warren. Warren wasn't Bigelow. Bigelow, at the beginning of things. And yes, old Sam Warren. And they were very . . . what they said, they directed the thing. The staff had, even when it came to purchases, you see, Dr. Ross was always out in front of his curators. The curator of paintings was then dear Mr. Potter, and he was (John Potter) . . . they were very fond of him but he was not a decisive person at all, you see, and completely under the, the business of the trustees.
RB: Do you suppose the trustees liked it that way?
HF: Yes. They wanted it that way, I'm sure, this was the whole thing. And the only one who really probably stood out very much was John Lodge, because he . . . . I don't think that he ever quarreled with Denman Ross, I think they worked together. And I'm sure he was appointed largely as Ross' choice. But the other men were, I know, for example, that Henry Rossiter, who was no pushover, goodness knows, had his own visiting committee, and old Mr. Gardner, ( Jack's nephew, you know, George Peabody Gardner, Sr.) was the member of the . . . chairman of the visiting committee. And I remember so well, the policy, they used to have in order that they would put across the purchases they want, because George Peabody Gardner wasn't, I think, he was a trustee, though I may be wrong. However, it was . . . it was a very different relationship, staff and trustees, with what I found when I went to Cleveland
RB: Well, in William Milliken. How would you characterize him when you first knew him? Did you first meet him when you got to Cleveland?
HF: No, he was abroad, because he was always abroad every summer. He had an arrangement with the trustees that he had three months in Europe every summer, and that was one of the ways, of course, that he accomplished so much. First he learned the languages which he speaks, all the languages, Italian, German, French, and everything, fluently, and this gave him his contacts with the dealers and things. He was also, again I wouldn't call him, any more than I do with Paul Sachs, a scholar in the good German sense, you see. Not bibliographical and encyclopedic.
RB: But a great connoisseur.
HF: But as a great connoisseur. Yes. It was this extraordinary ability as Paul Sachs did, you see, an eye for things, and just a nose for . . . . And, of course, his field was the medieval one which he had started when as a young assistant at the Metropolitan. The Morgan Collection had all come and he had been set to work on that. And, having graduated from Princeton, under . . . . My trouble is, I can't remember the names of people. Who was the . . . ?
HF: Well, he was one, but the other one . . . ? Frank Jewett Mather. Morey and Mather. He had the Princeton background of the medieval business too, you see, and this, this sort of led off. So that when he came to Cleveland this was always his prime interest, that is, his own personal decorative arts interest. Responsible for the Guelph Treasure, responsible for the wonderful things that are out there, because there is no (except for Dunbarton Oaks, and, of course the Metropolitan) there's nothing comparable in the medieval field to what is in Cleveland. And he is responsible for it solely.
RB: You first met him then in '27, in the fall when he returned from Europe?
HF: That's exactly it. And he meet me in New York, and he introduced me to all the dealers, and we rushed around until I was absolutely worn out, because he had all this business. And I met them all and we gathered together an exhibition and came back for my opening show, you see, which was the opening . . . .
RB: The Master Drawing show.
HF: That was the Master Drawing show. And, of course, this relationship continued.
RB: You found from the start it was rather congenial?
HF: Very congenial. Always congenial. And it wasn't a case of his telling me what to do ever; we always enjoyed doing things together. And he made suggestions, and he listened to mine. And it's been that way for thirty, forty years. In fact, I'm still in correspondence with him and he will be visiting us in early November. He's had his 85th birthday in London just recently and he's going strong. He's wonderful!
RB: Are there any particularly, during your time in Cleveland, or any high points in your relationship with him?
HF: Oh, we had a wonderful time during 1936 after we'd gone back -- you see, went back in '31. He was made Director in '30, and we moved back to Cleveland in '31, and were there until retiring. You see, we'd left Fogg, and I think Paul Sachs understood it perfectly well, although I don't think he was very pleased to have another disruption. (Laughs)
RB: He was counting on your staying?
HF: Well, I think he did, but I think he saw that I was just being a bottle washer, which is really what I was. (Laughs) And he thought the other thing was better. And I did have an opportunity out there I never would have had at Fogg. Never. As it so happened later on when it became -- had all this money to spend, you see, this really gave us the chance to buy a great deal.
RB: You were saying, in '36 . . . ?
HF: In '36 they had a sort of a, they had a fair, you know, like the Chicago World's Fair. They had a small one, a Great Lakes business, and it was centered in Cleveland. And of course it had an industrial . . . it was shipping and all kinds of things. But it also had ramifications that had to do with the city, and all the cultural activities were very much in line, and they gave us a large sum of money to gather another big show, a fine arts show. It was supposed to be at the Museum, just the way they had done in Chicago. So that really gave us . . . we had a year and a half of rushing around and selecting what we wanted, and getting things from Europe, and so we worked together very closely on that thing. And it was a wonderful show. It was one of those shows that never should have been because we moved around things that had no business to be shipped anywhere, and they were. Wonderful panels; we had things from the Rockefellers, we had things from the Louvre, we had things from England, we had . . . . I would have to show you the catalogue, if it is necessary, but it really was a very fine exhibition, which included mostly pictures that went all the way from the Fifteenth Century right up to the late Nineteenth Century.
RB: Had you and Mr. Milliken worked very closely?
HF: All together. Yes, we did. We flew all around the place, across the continent, hither and yon, and met in New York very often to get things. And it was necessary to do this because you had to go to the museums and you had to see the various people, and persuade them that it was work doing, you see, and you'd make your choices in what they'd let you have, and one thing and another. So we did work that out. Well, we continued to do this after that show. We had a number of others right straight along that we were doing all the time. And he had to take over all the directorial business which required him also, you know, to be on so many committees and things, which I think is a terrible detriment. And as life went on in Cleveland, more and more did that take place and he was out of town more and more, and I was given the job of being the acting director. And I figured out that I had . . . .
RB: Yes, you mentioned a number of years.
HF: Yes, really, which it was . . . I was running the show. But I think that where we . . . I think that building up the collections, the purchases that were made, the things that we saw, what we brought to Cleveland . . . . He backed me and my associate Lee Prasse, my associate in the print field. He was wonderful in being . . . never questioning the prices, some of these high prices of things that came, because he knew that the sources from which these . . . absolutely, you couldn't get them today. There is no market any longer for these things. They're gone. They've disappeared. And when you see them, they are so astronomical in price that what we paid for these things that seemed high, now doesn't seem high at all today.
RB: The Depression didn't seriously affect the . . . ?
HF: Yes. The Depression did, to a certain extent, but . . . .
RB: You had enough funds though, to take advantage of the Depression?
HF: We didn't do too much buying during those years, but it picked up again after '36, you see. This was what happened. There were, let us say, from '29 . . . from '31 till about '36, it was less . . . we had less opportunity to do it. But then, then from '36 on, things seemed to pick up considerably. And the monies didn't come until into the '40's and the 50's, the extra ones. But still, Mr. Severence's collection, Mr. Severance died, he was the president, died in '36 and left not only everything in his house, which didn't come to us at once, because it was entailed until after ten years, they encorporated his estate, the estate. It was brought back, so that there was about three million dollars came just for the endowment of purchase alone. And that all came, and that stepped up the business. Then the Marlat Bequest, which was completely unknown, I mean it just happened. After the Marlats died, Mr. Milliken didn't even know, none of us knew, they were going to leave this money. That added to the buying so that by the '50's we had quite a sizeable number of paintings. And that's long before Leonard Hummel, you see, which was the big, the big . . . he died in '56. And the Hanna Fund didn't come until then, the Hanna Bequest.
RB: Did you and Mr. Milliken work out a policy as to what you would make Cleveland especially strong in? You've mentioned his early interest in medieval art.
HF: Well, there were two things as far as he was concerned, because there was two areas that he knew, and he said that, as people in the future would come along, of course, certain tastes and certain interests would be the major issue in what to do. So he said that one followed one's own bent where one knew, and therefore in the medieval field this was what he was inclined to concentrate, not at the expense of everything else, because there were other things that were bought, you see, there were always things. In the Eighteenth Century was the other thing, the French Eighteenth Century, so that there was a very good group of things.
RB: But the trustees, had they an ideal of an eclectic or overall collection?
HF: Always, always. Never specializing. No.
RB: Never specialized. And yet they took advantage that you and Mr. Milliken had quite specialized expertise.
HF: Yes. They were willing to follow him in his selection of the medieval things and the French things. When it came to the print room, both drawings and prints, we built up the early things wherever we could get them. But that didn't for a moment stop Mr. Ralph King, who was one of the most enthusiastic print people, who died before my time. I never met him, but he had been responsible for the starting of the whole print collection. He left a great lot of things, including Rembrandts and Whistlers. His Whistler collection was almost complete. And all of that made quite a start for the whole collection of the more contemporary. And all the Toulouse Lautrec material, and wonderful things, he had bought prior to my coming there.
RB: You particularly were going after early things for the reason you stated earlier, that they might not reappear?
HF: That's it. It was becoming . . . prices were going up. Things were becoming less and less, and the sources were drying up.
RB: Plus, also, under Sachs you would have concentrated on those, wouldn't you, as a student? Primarily?
HF: Oh, that would have been part of it, yes. but it wasn't the only thing. It was a pretty broad business. And, of course, the Museum of Fine Arts has the largest collection of graphic art probably in this country. Maybe the Met.'s as big, I don't know. But it certainly wasn't then, because Ivan's built it up greatly, the Metropolitan, you see, but it already, through Sir Francis Bullard, who was probably the greatest single collector, and then later, our friend, Russell Ireland (William G. Russell Ireland) who was very much with Mr. Gardner, and I mentioned Mr. George Peabody Gardner.
RB: You're speaking now of the M.F.A.?
HF: At the M.F.A., yes. Mr. Gardner was the chairman of the board, the chairman of the visiting committee. Russell Ireland was Henry Rossiter's pal, I mean they were constantly buying things and going to auctions together, and he later became a trustee of the Museum, too. So that we had a very broad . . . his interest was in later things quite as well as early things. It was a very general scope. And, you know, when you come to build a collection like that, you build what appears. You can't say, well, I'll only do it in this field, because so many things turn up that people sell, as they're doing today. Now, if the British put on this business, this tax, you see, you're going to see a tremendous evaporation of . . . a further drain on . . . . I hope it doesn't happen because I think it's a tragic thing if they do. But it will happen. This is how they come, and you can't tell what it is. It could be a Holbien today, or a Whistler the next, or a Sargent another. But you buy what is good and you can use.
RB: And at least in your early years at Cleveland you had a board of trustees that realized this to be the case and allowed you to, then.
HF: They wanted it general, because they knew that wherever there was a specialty, the older museums would have it, you see. But they were perfectly willing to follow any suggestion that we made. I was never refused, practically never refused a thing in the meetings, or Mr. Milliken. Once or twice there were questions; they usually had to do with the source, if the source didn't have a good legal background. They were always very fussy about that. I mean this is like the late unpleasantness up here about something.
HF: They were awfully fussy about that. We had to be sure that there was nothing that would get us in wrong.
RB: That everything was open.
HF: Then we had a very good relationship with the dealers. And this I hand to William Milliken, too, because he kept a very friendly relationship with them in that he never bargained. He didn't. He'd say, "Of course, we'd like the lowest price you can let us have," and everything off was fine; but he never boggled at their figures. The result is that when they saw us coming, they didn't double the price. I mean it was one of those . . . it was a very good relationship. And I never . . . didn't think we ever paid . . . if you looked at them today, and I can show you the prices we paid for almost all the pictures in the entire time I was there, because I have still the records, which you will get. I'm going to do that too. I didn't put that on the list that I have of certain numbers of museum things.
HF: They're not too high.
RB: There were certain dealers that you became particularly friendly with. Were they personal friends?
HF: Always personal friends too, but these ones were the ones that I carried on special correspondence with, you see, whom I knew outside of the . . . that is whom I still keep up with as friends. But I knew, I knew old Felix Wildenstein. I was very fond of him. I preferred him to any of the rest of them. He was the one who was the nephew, not the direct line you know, who was the head of the New York office, and he was, oh, he was a very delightful gentleman. Much more so, I think, than Georges because Georges was a scholar, and of course he was the one who knew the most. I did see old Nathan when he was a very old man. He was the father of the founders of the firm, and I saw him in Paris once, never to meet, but I mean he was around. And the New York office at that time was run by Felix. He had always lived in this country. He would go back every year to France, but he was here. And only after his death did Georges come. Now today Daniel, who is more interested in his race horses, you probably, if you read the New York Times, you saw his horse yesterday won an enormous . . . a million dollars he won on the racetrack. I don't know whether it was Auteuil or where, but, anyway, he's more interested in that. So there are other people and I can't remember. I wish I could remember . . . .
RB: But Milliken was primarily your introducer. Paul Sachs must also have put you in contact . . . ?
HF: Well, No. William took me mostly. Well, when the dealers came to Boston when we were students, very often they did come out and talk to the classes a bit. But the people whom I knew in the dealing world, I knew through William. Or I met myself afterwards, you see, I just went and found them myself. But it was his introduction. So that a lot of this whole museum business I really got from William. And this, of course, continued right straight through, but we were associated for thirty years or more.
RB: Now you have said something about the exhibitions, such as the Great Lakes Exposition and the May Show and other things, and we'll talk more about them later. But I would like to ask at this point now, you've talked about collecting, about not boggling at prices, about very rare things and terribly important things that you and Mr. Milliken acquired. I am wondering in a city . . . what was the mandate, would you say, in a city such as Cleveland, in which I suppose a vast majority of the population were workers in heavy industry? Was there a sense in all of this of doing something that would be of some use to them or their children?
HF: Not specifically. Yes, just as the public. They were a very enthusiastic public, you know, we had enormous attendance.
RB: And you've mentioned exhibitions where a broad social cross section would come.
HF: Oh, everybody, yes. It was a very democratic business. At the time, as it is today, it was largely foreign born. You see, 70 percent . . . it's the biggest Hungarian city outside of Budapest in theworld. There is a great Polish group. There are a lot of Russians. There are all the 1848 Germans who lived over on the west side. So that it's a very mixed European Continental population. But they are very keen about all the cultural things, you see, so you've got great support from them. And an enormous membership -- eight, nine thousand members. They really did awfully well with them.
RB: Very early you did this?
HF: Yes, early. It was early in the game. And the educational department was one of the things that Mr. Whiting, the first Director, was most interested in, because he knew that unless he could bring people in this way, he wouldn't get any support. And so he made a great deal of it. We used to say that it was the tail that wagged the dog, because there were so many part-time teachers and one thing or another. And there was a relationship very early with all the public schools, way back in the Twenties. This Mr. Whiting made his particular point and contribution, because he saw in this the great need it would be to be the backing of the Institution. And I think it's continued.
RB: But with this also you meant the backing from the rich men in Cleveland was contingent on . . . ?
HF: Yes. Oh yes. They also wanted it to be something that the public made the very most of, and they even took away the entrance fee. You see, there hasn't been an entrance fee . . . only in the early days were there two days a week in which there had to be an entrance fee. And they demolished that in the Thirties because they said this is silly. We don't get enough those days to pay for someone to take it in, you see. And they said it should be free. So it's always been free. Everything, even the concerts, there isn't a thing. Once in a while toward the . . . after the War when, for example, we had the Berlin Masterpieces came as a block exhibition, you know, it was traveling around. We had . . . in order to have that show, we had to charge. Not that we got the money, but that's the way they paid some of their troubles at home, you see. This money went back as a rehabilitation of the Berlin of the installation and things of that kind. That was understandable, but never charges which came into our pocket. And this was a policy of the trustees which I think was right.
RB: So it was perhaps rather different, say, from what you'd learned in Boston in terms of the broad support from the public?
HF: What do they do today? There is a charge?
RB: There is now. But I was wondering then, as you knew the Boston Museum . . . ?
HF: Well, you see there isn't in Cleveland today; there's no entrance fee.
RB: But when you were at the Boston Museum the visitation was not nearly so great as when you went to Cleveland?
HF: Oh, no. Oh my, no. It was absolutely more of . . . .
RB: Yes. More of an elite, as we say now.
HF: Yes. No comparison. But I think that's all grown generally throughout the country. In fact, I think the proliferation of museums is rather a vicious business. I think there are too many. One of the things that is a strength to both France and to Great Britain, is the fact that there is a certain limitation in this kind of thing unless there is a private endowment. So that, and this is one of the things which I feel is so sad about a place like Chatsworth, that when they had to make a tax adjustment there, that they removed the objects, you see, and took them to London. Because when you go to Chatsworth, you used to see those things, although today they're scattered. One's at the British Museum or two or three, something's at the National Gallery, the rest are at the Tate, and so forth. And you don't see them in terms of what their big collection was. They could still have owned them, and there are charabancs of people who are constantly going there, you see. This is one of the reasons that I fear that it's a mistake that the Lehman Collection goes to the Metropolitan, because I think that the unit like the Frick is very important, and I think that the Lehman Collection was good enough to have done that. Just the way I think the Winthrop Collection out here at Fogg should have stayed in its house in New York. And it could have been like Dunbarton Oaks which belonged to Fogg.
RB: Why would you say they should? Because there is more of the ambience?
HF: Because you can see the things; they're not tucked away. You see, it is very true they can't possibly show all the Winthrop things over here. You don't see but very . . . . You see, it's like the iceberg, most of it's down below and the heirs keep pulling it out all the time; in the house you saw it all.
RB: Now, in Cleveland you and Mr. Milliken were acquiring things that had come from such . . . from breakings up of such.
HF: Yes, of course.
RB: But you could say, well, they're on the market, and what can we do?
HF: Yes, and then you do that. There was no thought.
RB: Cleveland now, as a major museum started quite late, but at that time you didn't feel or the trustees didn't feel that it was all redundant to begin creating a collection of masterpieces?
HF: Not in that area because there was such an enormous population, all northeastern Ohio, that the two places, Toledo and Cleveland, they didn't conflict at all, you see. We very rarely ever had shows in the two museums from the same source. That is, we were very careful not to duplicate what went, when Otto Whitman had a show in Cleveland, he worked with Perry here in Boston, or with somebody in Chicago, and we didn't interfere in that. When we had a show with the Museum of Modern Art and Kansas City, or something like that, Toledo didn't either, you see, os that we . . . . The population in Cleveland would go to Toledo to see the great Dutch Show. They'd come to us when we had the Venetian Tradition, and things of that kind, but we never crossed it up. And the collections are somewhat the same, excepting a few specialities in Toledo like the glass collection, the Libby Glass, and so forth, but mostly, you see, it's an all around group, as Cleveland's an all-around group, and Detroit is. But you must remember it's a huge population in all those areas that use the place, so it really doesn't duplicate too much.
RB: Could you say anything, at least a bit, about any philosophy or rather, mode of installations that you developed? Installation of objects? Obviously it's quite different for a print show than for a show of three dimensional objects, or for paintings. What were you trying to do? Did you have a good deal of control over or absolute . . . ?
HF: Until very recently, until Sherman Lee came, we had no designer, or anybody at all. It was entirely up to us, each, in the department, to put on our own exhibitions.
RB: And in general, how did you try to . . . ? At what level did you try to pitch them? Were there large explanations or was there something on the walls?
HF: Always labeled. Always labeled. Where we were able, and had the money, we would put out a catalogue where we could do so. Anything to help.
RB: What of the physical installations? Were they to dramatize things?
HF: No. It was very . . . Once in a while, for example, when we had the Weiner Beckstadt Pottery, or big shows of glass, there was an attempt to make something in keeping with the objects shown. But when it was an old master show, it was always played down, the simpler they were. Not that's not true today. No. It's a very different story, very different.
RB: When you were doing these things without a designer, did you ever try to create something of an environment, or an ambience, with furniture and suggested wall covering?
HF: Yes, we would do that. For example, when the collections came from Mrs. Severence and Mrs. Prentice, which included tapestries and furniture and Chinese porcelains and everything, they were shown as a group.
RB: Well, what do you think a show or an exhibition should get across?
HF: I should vary, always vary things, so there was never a sameness about it. One of the things I do object to today is the fact that they've closed out so much of the . . daylight, you know, and use artificial light. I find that very trying at times because I think they overdo the picture aspect of it in terms of spotlights all over the place. That I find difficult. I much prefer to see things, if possible, with a maximum of out door light. I think it's better for sculpture, and I think for most pictures, most European pictures, because after all they are painted with that in mind. I know that Bill Ward in Cleveland as the designer. . . . And I think it gets into an interior decorating setup, which is quite artificial at times. At least it is to me, I find it so. Now I tell you the most beautiful show that I've seen recently, I think, was the Chinese Show up here (at the M.F.A.) that they did in terms of the things that had been exhibited in Paris, now in Toronto. That brought out all the things which had come, you remember, prior to these excavations, which Boston was very rich in, and they put . . . . Did you see that show?
HF: It was fantastically well done. But that was played down. That was not over, over shown. At least I didn't think so.
HF: No, I think it was very simple, but I think it was beautifully illustrated, you see, and explained. I think not only in the catalogue, but all the wonderful labels and things, there wasn't a boring moment in the thing. At least that's the way I felt. Now I'll admit also that some of the big shows the Met. has had recently, you know, of their own, the wonderful medieval shows that they had two or three years ago, I think that they did them. But I feel that there they tried to . . . there was a pit of peek show business in some of them. Now there are moments when that is effective. And I think it has to do with the type of objects you're showing, and I think you can kill some things by it. I think others deserve it. I think there is an aspect in the Baroque world in which you can do these things. I think when it comes of Assyrian reliefs and things, you are as simple as you can be. I mean this is . . . and I think one can feel that.
RB: And what do you, as you say all this, what do you expect, or want, the effect to be upon the viewer?
HF: Well, one of interest so they won't pass by. I don't want too much crowding, I want something where they are drawn to see things. One of the things I also dislike about all this earphone business that they do, is that people are inclined to listen too much, tap their foot, and not look at the object. I think they're so busy trying to take it all in. (Laughs) This is one of the reasons that we never had it, you see, in Cleveland. R: And you would like people to make some of their own judgments and reactions.
HF: Yes. And I do thing the labeling is good. I don't like people to go and look at the label and so forth. On the other hand, I think to have an exhibition without labels is wrong. And one of the things which we always tried to do which was my own peculiar interest, was to give the source material from which the things themselves had arrived. And you don't find that everywhere. And we made a point of the "ex-collection this and that." And everybody says "Why do you put all that information? That's no use to the public, and so forth." "Well," I said, "to anybody who knows what these names mean, that is very interesting because it is an inclination of taste in relation to the former collectors." You see, this was it, and very often it is a substantiation of the quality of the object. Now, granted, that is esoteric in its performance, but I still think it's worth it.
RB: But this you always had in conjunction with labels, with some information, and putting an object in perspective?
HF: Always. There's every label in Cleveland . . . . It certainly was true in the print room. We made a very great point of doing that, you see, so that we . . . . And I've always insisted, when it came to catalogues, that you should give the dealers' names. Very often they don't like you to do that because they don't want . . . well, there are a hundred reasons why they don't want it. But I think that, in the long run, they do. And I think they should be included because, after all, it is to their credit that they got these things. So we've done that now. And the latest . . . . I don't think you may have seen the latest. At long last! When I left in '87 the first catalogue of our early paintings was to come out. It's only just come out. That's a long time aborning. But in that catalogue we do include the dealers' sources, and I think it should be and it's becoming more.
RB: Now you mentioned another time that you had a long acquaintance with Bernard Berenson. Could you explain how that came about, and characterize it?
HF: I will indeed, because it was in the middle of things. It was a very important business as far as I was concerned, because it was the whole reach of the Fifties, in which we were then buying some of our greatest Italian pictures.
RB: Yes, the great bequests and funds were coming in.
HF: That was when we had the opportunity to do it. So I had occasion to find this very valuable. It so happened that when I went in '37, in the spring of '37, to Italy, we went around . . . that was the first time we went to I'Tatti and saw Mr. Berenson, and I think only twice. And I never expected that we would have such to do . . . . The war came, you know, and all, so that business, so that I never went, after '37 I never went to Europe until after the war. That was twelve years more. And I was not among the monuments officers, I was not in the war. Everybody else left, and I was told to stay, and so I stayed in Cleveland. And after the war, in '48, they gave me a sabbatical of nine months, and it was then that we went to Rome and I did some work in Rome that I wanted to do. Then, in early '49 we went to Florence, and we were there from February until June, and it was then that we really came to know Mr. Berenson. And I had many things I wanted to find out from him, and it was a very congenial relationship. He was by then an old man, but a wise one. And wiser from the fact that, I think in his early career, you know, he had made himself quite disliked by a lot of people, partially because of his relationship with Duveen. Also because things were becoming rather hot as far as these opinions were concerned. (Laughs)
RB: Could you respect him?
HF: Oh, I loved the man dearly. I think he was one of the most interesting people I ever met. And he had great wisdom and great wit. And, of course, much of it was sarcastic and sardonic, but it wasn't mean, and it was pretty telling.
RB: Can you think of any example?
HF: Oh, I have so much; this is the difficulty. It's awfully hard for me to quote that. I have in my diaries a great many things that were said at that time, you see, that we did sit down, but I just don't remember them. It was just the general business, and I think that both my wife and I, we found him very congenial. We used to go . . . he loved to walk, you know, and we walked all through the Italian . . . . Every afternoon that he asked us, he'd take us on a nice zero around. And he walked a great deal. Even in his eighties he was quite active, you know. And the place, of course, was . . . . He said that he'd become a monument, and people were constantly coming out there all the time. I guess the tax arrangement worked much the way it does here, that you didn't get taxed if you opened the house, you see. And then he was interested because, of course, he'd built the library. The library was wonderful, and lots of people, lots of young people, came and studied who had nothing whatsoever to do with Harvard particularly, or anything else, so of course it didn't belong to Harvard then. I wonder if it wasn't a mistake he left it to Harvard? I think that it might have been perhaps less endowed but it would have been smaller, and the way it was in his day. You go there today and I think you find there's a certain institutional aspect to it, which has changed it.
RB: When you went there, you and your wife . . . ?
HF: Oh, yes. It was a private house, yes, and we used to stay with them. We went and stayed at I'Tatti. And it was a, it was a wonderful atmosphere. And there were constantly interesting people coming, not only scholars but he knew all kinds of people. He was very much interested in all the contemporary writers, like Mary McCarthy. You see, all of Mary McCarthy's books on Venice and Florence were largely because of her contact with Berenson. And, in fact, he was terribly concerned when she wrote them because he disliked them and told her so, and this really rather broke up the friendship for a long time. And we would meet people, you see, this was the fun, this was the whole thing. This was where I met a lot of young people and interested like John. The first time I ever met John Pope Hennessy was when he was just a young student (that was in '37) and this was the beginning of our contact with him. Of course, he comes here a great deal now, and he used to come to Cleveland, and I relied on his judgment, too. But it was contacts through Berenson this way, you see.
RB: Berenson was a very sharing man, you found?
HF: Oh yes, very, very. And very much interested. He loved anything to do with Boston; I think this had something to do with it too. Because he felt, though he never came back to live here, you see, he felt that his whole background really came from this part of the world. This is why he left it all to Harvard. Oh, he had a great soft spot. He'd say . . . well, he thought he might come back, and we said, "Oh, don't. You'd be so disappointed with the whole of America. It would just ruin your whole . . . keep your . . . keep your memory fresh the way it is." But it was very exciting. And there were serious moments in relation to pictures. He would grab photographs that I would bring and say, "Oh, may I keep this and that and the other." You see, and this was the way he built up . . . he was so interested in things. But he did help me in many cases with things that I wanted to know about, pictures, either that we had offered to us and wanted to buy, or things that were in the collection that I wanted to sell. He was very generous with all of this.
RB: Was he at that point still going traveling at all, looking at things?
HF: Yes, and I did that with him, because we met in Venice at the time of the great Bellini Show. We were there a week with him going to the Show. And then we went with him; we went with him to Bologna, twice. Once to see . . . . What was it called? Well, it was the Seventeenth Century show that was full of Guernico and Gurigoliani and so forth, and that was very interesting. I forget what it was called; I think it's probably listed. But there were two moments and while we were at Bologna and we'd stay in the hotel with him, then we'd see the show, and then he'd take us to places round about. He always had a car. And it was a very wonderful opportunity to do these things with him. And then, when we were in Venice, he would always take us in the mornings that we were there, and there were usually my wife and I, but there would be other people who were there, John Walker, or whoever was around, you see, and we would go off walking to see a church here or a church there and things. And I remember one time when we were right in front of St. Marco, and he was telling us all about St. Marco because he knew every stone about the thing, and he saw me look at my guide book and he said, "Put that away!" He said, "You can study that when you get home." He said, "You listen to what I tell you." (Laughs) He said, "I want you to look and don't look at guide books." And this was wonderful. He said, "I'll tell you about this, and I'll tell you more than you'll ever find in the guide book." Which was true, because he did know these things, and cared deeply about them, you see.
RB: Was he actively studying himself at the time?
HF: Oh yes, he was. But, of course, his writing by that time had become much more philosophical, and had to do with his own biographical business. And, of course, I think that the aesthetics book is a very interesting, probably the best one that he wrote. Lots of people don't think they're so much; and I'm not sure that he was a great writer. I think that he was a great personality, and a great, a great conversationalist. Fascinating, fascinating. And a searching person in relation to his individual contacts with young people. You see, he could bring them out. And he was terribly direct with them, quite disconcertingly so. I think, for may, but this was what they got out of him, you see. A very strong personality. A tiny little man. And you'd be waiting for lunch, if you were going to be there, and you were having an aperitif before the fire in the living room, and Nicky Mariano was there and perhaps other guests, and one thing and another, and suddenly without ever hearing him, this presence appeared. You know, he was a little bit of a man, all beautifully dressed and everything; and the room would be filled. It was almost a psychic business. It was very strange. He had this effect. And this is why a lot of people don't like him, you see.
RB: Did he ever talk at all to you about his earlier times with Duveen?
HF: Oh, yes. He . . . he was very . . . he was rather chary about talking about things with Duveen, because, you see, he finally had a quarrel with Duveen. And where I go to New York now and I find people like Rudy Hineman. Do you know Hineman, the dealer? Well, of course, he hates Berenson, and everything that is to do with Berenson's memory because here was a case where they didn't get on at all, you see, and I don't think that B.B. liked him personally, you see. This was the thing. And I never can appear on the scene but what Rudy starts telling me all the iniquities and what he and other people are going to do because they've got hold of all the Duveen letters and they are going to publish them. Has this ever come out? I don't think so. No. Well, it may. And I'm not sure it would be to B.B.'s credit because I think he felt . . . I don't think he was happy about this. And if he sold his soul, he did it for a reason. He did it because he wanted to put it all back into the library, which is where it went. And, of course, when he died, the endowment was not big enough. This is why I think McGeorge Bundy and other people were a little . . . they disappointed him very much in their attitude about taking it, and I think they should really have said quite firmly, "We can't do this unless it is more heavily endowed than it was." I understand now one of the foundations has given them a million dollars to do this.
RB: They could have done that. Berenson might have been able to get people to help him?
HF: Well, I don't know. He wouldn't do that. He wouldn't ask them. He wouldn't ask them at all. And he felt, and as far as they were concerned, if they lived in the house and used the library, they could handle it, but the moment it was turned over, you see, they had to do all kinds of things.
RB: Did . . . I wanted to ask you now, you say he had a soft spot for Boston, Berenson did. Did a good deal of this revolve around his relationship with Mrs. Gardner?
HF: No. His relationship with Mrs. Gardner was not a good one. And he was . . . he was very critical of her. And when they say Mrs. Gardner sent him abroad, that isn't true at all. Mrs. Gardner paid nothing. She later employed him on a commission basis to buy for her, but she was not responsible. And dear old Miss Bessie, Berenson's, B.B.'s sister, who is still alive and in her late nineties, is very bitter about this because in some of the biographies, you see, it was given that it was entirely due to Mrs. Gardner that he was set on his career, and it was not true. And he used to . . . I think this was one of the reasons, but as he was rather reticent about Duveen because of troubles and his own . . . of his own, he didn't feel very happy about the relationship, himself. I think the same held with Mrs. Gardner, and I think he worked with her, but I don't think that he had nearly as good relations as he did with some of the other collectors whom he worked with. I don't think . . . know Freer -- not Freer, I'm trying to think . . . . Who's the Baltimore man?
HF: Yes, Walters. He was very fond . . . and of course he wrote the catalogue. One of the first things he did was the Johnson, and perhaps one of his . . . . He always said he thought it was one of the best things he'd done. That, and, of course, the drawing, the Italian and Florentine Drawing.
RB: Well, this soft spot in Boston was numbers of years at Harvard and . . . ?
HF: Yes, which he loved, you see. This was a romantic business: the fact that his family was Lithuanian who'd come here as refugees. And he said that his father, what little they were able to make, was spent in bringing other members of the family out. They were always trying the help, and B.B. did this all his life with his family. In fact, there's a very interesting story of one of these very distant relatives who lives very simply out in Ohio countryside, who admired him so greatly that she used to send things to him although she'd never even seen him, because she was pleased just to have the relationship and loved his books. B.B. finally sent my wife down, asked her if she'd go and look her up, and see what it was like. And it's really quite an extraordinary story, which she would better tell you because I wasn't on the scene and didn't see the whole thing. But he was interested, you see, he really did care very, very deeply. And of course, his man of business was Lawrence Berenson, who was -- Arthur Berenson? Lawrence Berenson . . . he was a lawyer and banker in New York, was really responsible for all the financial business that went on prior to Harvard.
RB: Your friendship continued down to his death?
HF: Oh yes. I was there on his last birthday when he was carried into the room because he couldn't walk in. In '59, June of '59. He died that fall. And we were there with Fraya Stark, and John Walker, and John Walker's daughter, and my son was there, and quite a number of his Italian friends. It was a very nice party at I'Tatti, but he was then very much of an invalid.
RB: Still talking?
HF: No. He was pretty far gone that night.
RB: Your wife has worked closely with you on a good many of the things you've done?
HF: Always. Always, yes. She's been in the background but she knows as much about it or more than I do. And though she's never held . . . . After we were married she had jobs, she worked as a research person . . . prior ot Agnes Mongen, she was working in the drawing things for Paul Sachs, and then she went and did just a menial job at the Metropolitan for a while, and returned to P. J. in '27 or something like that ('28), and had a specific job to do for him on the drawing things which took her to Europe, when she went with her parents. My father-in-law, being professor at Middlebury, had a sabbatical and they went and spent a year or more abroad. And she worked then for Paul Sachs. That was before we were married. Thereafter, she never had any fine arts job, but of course she's been . . . she, wherever we go, she knows as much about it as I do.
RB: She's as keenly interested in what you've done?
HF: Oh yes, yes. I mean this was our close bond. There are plenty of others, but that was . . . we always, we still do. Laughs) Absolutely, so that she was trained right as I was in the fine arts department.
RB: Was this a major sustenance to you through the years that you wife was . . . ?
HF: Oh, of course.
RB: There must have been times when you were thrown back a bit by policies at that Museum, or feelings.
HF: Yes. Well, there certainly were. At the very end of things when there was a great change. And a part of it which I prefer to forget, was at the time when William Milliken was retired, and I never have liked the way that happened. And there was a good deal of unpleasantness, and of course we . . . . And some of that is all detailed in the letters to Berenson. And this is one of the reasons why I think, when my wife sends them back, she will clamp a . . . . `
HF: Yeah. Because I think there are too many people alive who are, who are involved. Laughs) And I think it was unfortunate, because I think what he had contributed was so great that the people who, the trustees, who were against him at the time, you see, were quite wrong in their judgment.
RB: Were they chiefly against him because he was getting older and they thought . . . ?
HF: No. They thought that he was too . . . that he was assuming too much authority, which was not true because he'd always . . . . He was doing exactly what he'd been doing earlier, you see. And he knew better than they did, you see. This was the whole thing.
RB: Yes, you made this point earlier. This younger generation did not have . . . ?
HF: They didn't understand. No. They thought . . . they didn't like what he did. They thought he was too autocratic.
RB: Well then, policy, as you stayed on until your retirement, moved away from what you were accustomed to?
HF: Well, it was quite different under Sherman Lee. And I knew Sherman when he was a student, before he came to Cleveland, years ago, before he came. And he did not, he . . . . If I get into this, you see, I get into a personal thing which I think is very difficult to discuss, because he was not sympathetic with what we had done. He didn't like William, and he had something to do with William's getting out. I mean there was . . . there's a very unhappy business. Now, I would have done better, perhaps, not to have stayed. But I wanted to stay because I wasn't done, and I never had any quarrel with Sherman, though I disapproved of a lot of things that he changed and did. And we had to . . . . You see, when Mr. Milliken left, he never had the advantage of Mr. Hanna's money in terms of the bequest. He and I, and Sherman, because Sherman was there from the Fifties, Curator of Oriental Art, we all worked with Leonard Hanna very closely. And Leonard Hanna was an extraordinary trustee. Of all the trustees, he was the most interesting because of his great interest in various things, everything from prizefighting to Cleveland Museum of Art, and gave great quantities. He was a Maecena; he had an enormous amount of money to deal with, and power, because he was behind the whole M. A. Hanna Company at the time; he was the chief person though he never appeared as an officer. But he was one of the big owners. You've heard of Mrs. Paul Moore, you know, in New York? Does that mean anything? And the Bishop of New York is her son. Well, he was Leonard's nephew. And they, all of them, were M. A. Hanna money, you see. This is it, as well as, of course, there was the Chicago Moore money too. However, their interest . . . the Moores were more interested in Yale, and Leonard used to say to Frannie Moore, "Yale is your business, Cleveland is mine." And he supported the Yaramu House, which is the Negro settlement; he left them a lot of money, and he was very much interested in the theater in New York. Carousel and things like that were largely financed by Leonard, and he also . . . . Of course, the Museum was his favorite, so that, when he died, he left ten million for endowment of running, and ten million for the endowment of purchase, which today are probably nearer eighty millions.
RB: This changed things, didn't it?
HF: No. I regretted it because I loved to deal with Leonard. When I had something I really wanted terribly, for example, a very extraordinary . . . . You know, when I mention Jean Duvais, what the engravings are like? You know, the Apocalypse of Jean Duvais, which they have up here? Well, one of the very greatest sets that ever came on the market, came from a Swiss collection, and it was the kind of thing that only somebody who really understood what this was all about . . . . It was found, it wasn't so that it could be . . . . We could have broken up the book, but I didn't want to do that because it had the text, it had the preface, it had all kinds of things, remarks by former collectors, and one thing and another, but I could take that to Leonard and say, "Now this is something for which you've got to pay $50, $60,000. We must have it, and it's rather removed from the general run of things, you see, you're going to pay an awful lot for something." And he aid, "Well, we can't break it up, can we, and show it?" And I said, "No, you cannot. If we get it, it's got to stay the way it is and you can show it in a case one at a time, or whatever, because the binding could have been Rembrandt's." And the whole business. They're not sure of that, but I mean there was this kind of. . . . He understood this, you see, and he'd get it. Now, the money today is in the hands of the trustees, and the director, and the curators, if they get a chance at it. But it is a different way of doing things, you see, and when Hanna Fund, which was hi gift to the Museum from the Fifties until he died, or down in the late Forties until he died. You see, he would give money to buy pictures with the Hanna Fund and he said, "William, if you and I agree on this, or William and Sherman and I agree on this, Hanna Fund will buy it." And this was the way we did it, and that was the most exciting way. And this was the way we built up the wonderful group of Impressionists and Post-Impressionist pictures which he was largely responsible for which has the name Hanna on the bottom. After his death, it was the Bequest of Leonard Hanna, you see, that's the difference. On the labels you see the Bequest of Leonard Hanna. And we bought wonderful things, and I worked with Sherman in my department, very amicably, in buying a lot of these things. Occasionally we disagreed and I, I am glad that I was able to stop certain things because I thought they weren't valid. but on the whole it worked out all right. But the whole policy of the place was different, and I didn't feel as much at home with it. And this is one of the reasons why I don't like what they've done today, because, you see, he's put on another addition at a very great expense, and he went and got Marcel Brauer to do it, and of course they had to pay for the Brauer name. I think it was a mistake, and I don't like what they did. And now he is changing the whole, the whole interior installation, and I, I fought that very much because there was a whole summer in which he set the staff to do this while he went to Europe, and I thought we proved very conclusively that what he had in mind was a dangerous thing to do in relation to the Museum. Because I thought that the spaces that he was trying to crowd things into, things would be too large and wouldn't look well. And you see, you've got to deal with a certain amount. You've got your old building, then you've got a new area, which was very much easier to handle the installation. And now he's got still another one. But there's an awful lot . . . and he's gone to the National Council for the Arts to get these grants, you know. Some, some of them, I understand, are handsome. I wonder if I'd think so? I haven't gone back because I don't want to.
RB: Since your retirement, have . . . ? You've just said you have stayed clear of the Museum, but what have you . . . ? Have you been keeping up with the print world and paintings?
HF: Oh, I watch all these. I occasionally go to exhibitions.
RB: Doing some writing?
HF: No. I don't do anything like that anymore. But I certainly keep up with the literature, and I follow the exhibitions. One can enjoy that without having (laughs) any responsibility. Oh, no. I've had all I want to. TAPE-RECORDED INTERVIEW WITH HENRY SAYLES FRANCIS WALPOLE, NEW HAMPSHIRE JULY 11, 1975 INTERVIEWER: ROBERT F. BROWN
HF: HENRY SAYLES FRANCIS
RB: ROBERT F. BROWN
RB: This morning we were going to talk something about the Cleveland Museum by way of your discussing certain of the important acquisitions and exhibitions there, including, rather beginning before you even arrived at the Museum. Let's begin with that idea.
HF: Of course, it is primarily, in this case, almost entirely devoted to the department of paintings, which was one of the two which I was Curator of. Because I went originally in 1927 as Curator of Prints and Drawings only, and in '31 came back to be also Curator of Painting. The Museum opened in 1916. There was a large inaugural exhibition of which there is a huge catalogue now very hard to find. I wish I had one but I do not. At that time, before the Museum opened, there had been a number of substantial gifts which had been made and which were shown at that inaugural exhibition. One of the largest groups was that of the Holdon Collection which had been bought by Mr. and Mrs. Liberty Holdon some ten or fifteen years earlier, and had been the second collection of Jarvis, whose first group of primitives has been acquired by Yale University.
RB: How was the second group brought to Cleveland?
HF: And the second group were a few pictures which he had retained plus others that he collected in the 14th and 15th Centuries, and a few 16th which he was particularly interested in, and which at the early part of this Century -- and in the turn -- around 1900, were not particularly . . . they were very specialized subjects that not very many people were interested in in this country. Yale bought the first group. The second group was gathered together by Jarvis and then deposited on loan at the Metropolitan, and at that time it was catalogued and it was substantially what the Holdons finally bought from Jarvis. And after it had been in the Met for some years, it came to Cleveland, and was installed on Mr. and Mrs. Holdon's place in a separate gallery. When the Museum was put together in the period from 1910 to '16, three foundations were brought together as the Cleveland Museum of art: the Huntington Trust, the Hurlburt Collection, each left separately witha certain amount of money, and the third one . . . . What was the third one? I forget. But anyway . . . .
RB: It wasn't the Holdon?
HF: The Holdon was only a gift at that time; that was their contribution.
RB: But they weren't the major founding money?
HF: No. They were not the major founding money, but they gave for their great contribution was this collection.
RB: These were all manufacturing families?
HF: Oh, it's an old New England family . . . moved out there and have been there for most of the 19th Century. At the same time, a number of very important pictures were given by one of the Trustees, Mr. J. H. Wade, who later did endow the Museum with a very large sum of money, and whose family were equally important in the whole building up of Cleveland in the 19th Centurh. And he and his wife were interested in all kinds of collecting, and had a beautiful big house on Richard Avenue, regrettably torn down today. It was a sort of 19th Century brownstone pagoda. It was a very handsome house and very much of a dated piece which should have been kept. Today it would have been kept as a monument.
RB: Was there a presiding committee from 1910 to '16, deciding what should be kept and what the Museum was going to be?
HF: The various groups of Trustees were on the various bequests, and they got together and formed themselves as a group of Trustees and combined the monies, and by that means they were able to build the building and start the whole thing with an endowment. They raised a general endowment at the time, too, and the Holdon gift, the Wade gift, and quite a number of others were promised and lent at the time, and it made quite a substantial contribution to the inaugural exhibition.
RB: Did the Museum know exactly, did it want to be a broad museum on the order of the Met?
HF: Yes. The idea was that it would not be complete, in the sense that it would try to cover everything in large quantity, you see, but that it would try to keep a high quality, but cover all the fields; the Oriental field, the American painting, decorative arts, painting, graphic arts, and so forth. It was to do everything, and gradually it started in a very small way. In fact, when I got there in 1927 it was only eleven years old, and it was still small, and though it had a certain amount of endowment, it was to increase very greatly as the years went on. It was a relatively small setup at that time. It was also dedicated to education, and this was one of the ways in which Mr. Whiting, the first Director, was greatly interested in.
RB: You mentioned that before as one of the first to pioneer public education.
HF: Yes, and this was the way that they felt they could interest the people of Cleveland and get a substantial backing for the whole thing. Well, the exhibition included the Holdon Collection, of which there were -- oh, some fifty pictures, so that it's impossible for me to tell you about everything that was in it. There was a very fascinating -- one particularly -- a Florentine 15th Century horse race which . . . . Front, that is a marriage chest. This was removed from the chest before Jarvis it. The companion piece is in the Bargello in Florence, right under the St. George in the main gallery there. It is the companion to this; exactly the same, and they were the Marriage chests of if that means anything to you, but the two of them were. And in this case it shows a wonderful horse race in the streets of Florence, with all the palazzi 'round about, and over on the lefthand side -- the way one knows about it is that it has the banners of the family -- to celebrate the marriage of these two people, and of course it goes back to the early part of the 1400's. Well, it was pictures of that kind, and in this case, of course, it's not the masterpiece in the Leonardo sense, but it is a very interesting early document and quite a lovely picture. And there were many others like the Lorenzo di . They were minor people without big names, but they were very good pictures, and this was a good foundation upon which to build.
RB: And was part of the conception to be a teaching collection?
HF: Not only that, but it was also, as I say, to show high quality in anything in the various fields of painting, which was what went on. Then there were a number of other gifts that came at the time.
RB: This was at the time -- in 1916, at the time of that Inaugural?
HF: In 1916. Mr. Wade gave a very beautiful Monet of Antibes, which I will show you a photograph of later, which was shown at that time. And then the Hurlburt Collection included mostly American pictures of the 19th Century which he has been particularly interested in buying from the contemporary artists of his own time. He didn't give this; he left it as a Foundation so that it is on permanent loan. It's just one of these things which, curiously -- the numbers, one sees this; the numbers of every picture show the date first with the number afterwards, but in the case of a loan like that, the number comes first and the date afterwards.
RB: Right. Was Mr. Hurlburt a very knowledgeable collector?
HF: He was one with flair. And he was much interested in his contemporary American artists whom he knew personally, and from whom he bought very interesting pictures. He knew Eastman Johnson and he bought two excellent small Eastman Johnsons. He bought most of the people of the period: Church and . . . .
RB: Did you ever meet Hurlburt or was he gone before your time?
HF: Oh, no. He was dead long before. He died in something like 1880, something of this kind. But this was one of the original things; he left his collection with a certain amount of money toward the founding of a museum, you see. Well, in due course, around 1910, with the Huntington Trust, which was purely money and the biggest one of the three bequests. That's how it came to be deposited at the Museum. And the money that Hurlburt did leave was used to buy American pictures mostly from then on and we acquired several very important things.
RB: When you arrived at the end of the Twenties, had there been many additions beyond these foundation bequests?
HF: Yes, because they immediately set to work to build up the early American pictures and they called upon Lawrence Park, who was the well-known Stuart authority, to come and suggest pictures to be bought. For example, they bought this wonderful early Robert Feek?? of Charles Authorp who was the Boston Tory who went to Halifax and took along all his belongings, but it's a very fine one. Or, a every well-known Copley portrait of, oh, what's his name? Oh, you know, the Paul Revere portrait is like it and this is . . . . It's just that I have one of these blocks and I can't think of it. But a fine Copley like that and A Stuart of this kind of Mrs. John Thompson Mason, or portraits like this one by Joseph Wright of George Washington which was supposed to be one of the closest .
RB: So the aim here was to buy very selectively?
HF: That's right. And so this American collection, when I got there, it was already very good. There were some 20 or 30 pictures and they'd been very well chosen and though they've been added to in late years, one or two things, it is substantially the nucleus which makes for the colonial group.
RB: And this linked up with Mr. Hurlburt later.
HF: Well, that was the whole idea. And, when the came along and had the opportunity they bought from the Hurlburt collection such pictures as this very important one of Cole and it's a beautiful canvas.
RB: That's the one that sweeps so greatly into depth and then with the peak in the distance.
HF: Oh, it's wonderful. And the thing about this that I think is so interesting, that they paid $500 for that picture and it's a large and important one and years later we had to pay 5 figures for another, thus showing the difference. Also, along in 1924 came a very important Homer which was recommended by one of the dealers in Boston, Mr. . This was a picture that had all of Homer's own letters and everything because he considered it one of his finest things. Early Morning after Storm at Sea. And they paid at the time what was considered a very high price, but Mr. Wade gave the money for it and thereby started . . . . We now have a very interesting group, not enormous, but very interesting group of Homer things, that is, a couple of other oils, and there are half a dozen fine watercolors early and late, and as a whole I was able later on in the print room to buy up the entire collection of wooden cuts and so . . . .
RB: But at no time, or I suppose there were a few areas, did they try to think of buying on block, collectively? Early Morning after Storm at Sea of 1902 is one of his, Homer's own . . . .
HF: Oh, mercy no, yes, when it came . . . .
RB: You say it was very well-documented with letters . . . ?
HF: Oh, yes, it is. Then Mr. Milliken came in 1919 and he came only as curator of decorative arts from the Metropolitan. He was not curator of paintings for two or three years.
RB: Whiting was then director, right?
HF: Yes. There were various other gifts that came from Mr. Wade, a wonderful Mary Cassatt in the 20's. This came in 1920, just after Mr. Milliken arrived. And then about '22 he became curator of paintings, too. And Mrs. Keith gave a very fine William Chase which , which is probably one of his finest portraits and Mrs. Keith was a Clevelander, and this picture she knew that the Metropolitan had things and she was more interested in having his work dispersed in other museums and so that was added. Then Mr. Milliken had the chance to make acquisitions from the Hurlburt and from a group that were called Friends of the Museum. He got together and got a number of people who would underwrite a certain amount of money per year for the purchase of fine pictures.
RB: And was he quite good at doing that?
HF: Oh, yes, he was wonderful. And the things that were very interesting, these are all the pictures that came before I was there so that, when I arrived, one of the great Greco's, Greco, he had bought The Holy Family which was probably the most important picture when I got there in the whole collection from the point of view of three-star business. It's a very fine example. And so that was there, and so when I arrived it was a nice small collection of interesting things. He had also bought this extraordinary Spanish-French bishop that had come from a chapel in Toulouse itself and it's always been called Southern French. It's greatly disputed but the Spanish authorities think that it is. But the tradition of course from Spain and all its paintings somewhat under the aegis of Italian infiltration. Remember that the Popes were at Avignon at about that time and they bought the style of Simoni Martini and there is unquestionably a link. On the other hand, the techniques of this is much more like the gesso treatment and embossing and one thing or another that you find in Spanish painting.
RB: Mr. Milliken would get the Friends of the Museum to buy these, but he had, as a curator, he had great authority?
HF: He found these pictures at the dealers.
RB: But he had authority then, the director did not try to over . . . ?
HF: Oh, no. They worked together . This is one of the reasons why today I feel there is considerable difference. And I think that you'll find that Mr. Anthony Clark, who has recently had such a rumpus, will tell you that he didn't have that freedom. Mr. Whiting was interested in his curators doing these things. He was not a specific authority in any field. He was an administrator and a very good one.
RB: Mr. Milliken was . . . he was a very knowledgeable . . . ?
HF: Yes, and especially in the decorative arts field. That was his principal one. But for the present, there were only two or three people and he was in charge of painting. From the American things, he bought for a very small sum of money.
HF: He used to bring together each year, he'd have an American painting show, he'd have a watercolor show that was American and French. Every other year they arranged to have the foreign section of the Carnegie in Pittsburgh come up. That was every other year. And this happened, and continued to go on after I had come there, and exhibitions of this kind. From each of them they tried to always buy one object. And that is of course is the famous Bellows which would bring a king's ransom today for which he paid the exorbitant sum of $2,000 to Mr. Bellows for that. I think he did very well and he bought also, before Odille Redon was accepted anywhere, he bought two of the very finest. This is a great big pastel of violets and for again a substantially small sum of money. And this was bought from Hurlburt money. This was Hurlburt too.
RB: The Rodzn, would he have bought through a dealer or at the show?
HF: In this case he bought this through a dealer. This he bought through a show. The Bellows came from an exhibition which he had assembled. This he saw in New York and bought directly from the dealer; it was not an exhibition.
RB: Was one of Mr. Milliken's particular strengths an eye for something of great quality?
HF: Yes, he knows the field very well. And these things came along. You see, you buy when you see what you can find that's tops. So your system is never . . . in fact you make a terrible mistake if you try to gap-fill, because only when something comes along should you do that because if you want to have everything represented, you would get a lot of secondary things too, if you're not careful.
RB: And there were the means at the Museum if something . . . .
HF: Enough. Enough. At this time there wasn't an awful lot of money and this is where he did an extraordinary thing when he got the Toulouse Lautrec because, again, this was before there was a great rage for Toulouse Lautrec at all, and he paid, oh, $6,000 or something like that for a picture like that which today would being in 6 figures.
RB: And again, this was in the Twenties. A time when other prices were quite inflated.
HF: The Toulouse was in 1925 and the Rodzn was in 1926. And then, I don't know whether I have the . . . where is the other Albert Pinkham Ryder that he bought? I'll try and find that later. Then he embarked on another field which he persuaded his Friends to be much interested in and this was . . . the Friends of the Museum. And he said, "There are great pictures which are today, Italian pictures which are not exactly the things that people are most interested in and if we're very smart and I know of a source where we can get certain of these 18th and 17th Century pictures. And let me present to you things that are of this importance." So that he got the wonderful synagogue of asco, which is one of the finest of a large collection that Italico Brass had in Venice. Italico Brass was a well-known collector and dealer and a painter as well, who had this most beautiful palazzo in the northern part of Venice which he had saved from becoming a brick factor. And we used to go there and see these wonderful things and he was quite obviously a dealer. And his grandson is to this day, has a fine collection of things. They've never sold off all their . . . but Chick Austin bought for Hartford a companion piece to this, no, Chicago is the companion piece, but Chick bought another one. But they were not considered important then.
RB: There was very little interest at that point. They were thought to be the decadent end of the Baroque.
HF: Yes, they weren't thought of very much. But this is a marvelous picture and he was responsible for that in 1930. When I arrived on the scene, he had already gotten a picture that I consider the greatest steal of the collection. I don't thin there is anything that we've ever bought that is any more important than the Fillipino Lippi. It's the very beauteous, very famous Warren Tondo. You know, Edward Warren is the son of Samuel Warren, the most important president of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. This picture sat on the top floor of the Marble Street house for many years. Samuel Warren had bought it with the intention of its going to the MFA. You know, it's a huge picture. I'll show you the size of it and how it sits on the wall. When he died, he divided up the things that he had for the children and it went to Edward Warren who lived in Lewiston [?] in England. He was the classic scholar who was responsible for recommending with Marshall most of the things that are the finest in the MFA's Greek and Roman collections, the two great marble heads and so forth. Well, this picture was in his house in Lewiston [?] [Lews] at the time of his death and he did not want . . . . It had never been cradled; he wanted it to a museumHe didn't want any dealer to handle it. And he wanted his executor to find a place for it.
RB: He didn't intend for it to go to Boston?
HF: No, by that time he had very little connection with Boston. It had to be sold because his estate needed . . . it wasn't a question of a gift at all. Sam Warren had intended it as a gift and that's where it should have been, but this was on the market and Edward Warren's great friend was Harold Woodward Parsons who was our foreign buyer who was a classical scholar and a dealer in Rome and lived there. But it was through Harold that it came to Cleveland's attention. So then it was a question of what to do about the picture because it was more money than we'd ever . . . . So Mr. Milliken thought of the Holden collection and went to all the members of the Holden family because there were about 6 or 7 children of old Mrs. Liberty Holden and it was to be her memorial but given to her before she died, she'd know what it was all about. (Laughs) She was crazy about the idea; she thought it was wonderful. She was living in California. And so they got together and they provided the money and the picture was bought from England from the Warren estate. I had already arrived on the scene in 1927 and that following summer I was left alone. I don't know why I was, but I was in charge of the Museum. Mr. Whiting had gone to the Maine coast, William Milliken was in Europe, and I was the neophyte who was left in charge in the doldrums of July and August when a telephone call came from Baltimore saying that on the dock had come a picture off the boat from England and it turned out to be this. Well, we knew that it shouldn't remain on the dock in Baltimore and so forth. So I was in a swivet and os was everybody else on the staff who had to do with these things. So we called Mr. Whiting and he said get all of the trucks and everything you can and have it brought right directly to Cleveland, and it was. So that, in a sense, I was not even curator of painting but I was in charge of things. When I did come back in 1931, I did write the article on it because it was then that it had become accepted and so forth. But I think that it is one of the most exciting . . . .
RB: So that was through Parsons and Milliken working in tandem? And then you later worked with Parsons for years and years?
HF: Yes, I did until '36 when he finally retired because he . . . became . . . he said, we then had three or four other curators and he said, "I don't think you people need me; I will always keep in touch with the Museum but I will not accept a fee any longer." Because he was then working for Kansas City and Omaha too. And he said, "You'll always have my first choice when I see something that you need because this is the condition under which I've agreed to do the other people. I have and I will give you Harold Parsons full." I have a life-long correspondence with him in which he . . . endless pictures that were brought to our attention. A very interesting lot of stuff. But you see this was one of the early things that I had to do with him.
RB: How did he get into it himself?
HF: He was a classical student. He knew Edward Warren very well and, though he had a certain independent income, I think he felt that he wanted to do something else. And rather than go into the teaching field, he became a private dealer, somewhat the way Berenson did in the early days, because he was interested in works of art and gradually became very important in this whole realm. That takes us up to the time when I appeared on the scene. I'll show you briefly some of the first things which I got. I can't show them all because it's impossible, but one of the more important was this early Bridal Pair by an unknown artist of South Germany, a beautiful picture of about this size . . . .
RB: About 2 1/2 feet high?
HF: Yes, a very fine one which I found at Guilderstein. William and I met in New York and I said I'd seen this picture and I wanted him to see it and I wondered if we couldn't buy it for the Holton fund. We'd saved up the money by this time. This was in the early Thirties. At that time one has to remember that the Depression had set in and . . . .
RB: Your funds had shrunk?
HF: Well, not only that we'd save up the money, but the prices had shrunk because people like Lichtenstein (? see above) weren't selling things at all so they made a very reasonable price on this which we could accommodate. We already had some interesting German pictures which would start a nucleus and this was so important that we decided that this would be the basis.
RB: How did you decide the importance of this?
HF: The general character. It's an unusual subject matter. It is a bridal picture, obviously a portrait. It is full of all kind of symbols, for example, the fact that he wears the forget-me-not, and the fact that she has the same textile on her sleeve that he wears: this is the chivalric custom and so forth. And the very date of the thing are the costumes of the whole business. And on the back was, not when we got it because it had been split, a fantastic panel measuring the same size of two skeletons with lots of toads and vipers. (Laughter) I think it was a terrible pity that it was split off but it exists. I forget where it is but . . . it's in Colmar, or one of the museums in southeast Germany or France. But it was one of the more important things at the time.
RB: So you arrived and acquiring such things as this in '32 or so was pretty adventurous?
HF: We got some nice pictures.
RB: You felt pretty confident after acquiring things like this, didn't you?
HF: Well, this was our business, to be constantly in touch with the dealers and, though I worked closely with William Milliken, by this time, of course, he was the director, and from '31 until '58 when he retired, we were very close. 1933, Chicago had a big fair, an exhibition . . .
RB: The Century of Progress.
HF: Yes, and that was quite an exhibition which we all took in. And then the following year they did the same. 1936 we had a fair in Cleveland, believe it or not. It was the decade of fairs. I suppose this had something to do with the Depression. So we had a big exhibition too, modeled very much on the Chicago one and from it we bought several pictures. We were very lucky at that time to get a lot of loans which later on would never have been lent. Panels that shouldn't travel and one thing and another.
RB: Was this an international exhibition?
HF: Yes, it was mostly an international exhibition. It ran all the way from the 15th Century to Picasso. In fact, we had Marcel Duchamps Nude Descending the Staircase at the final end of it, and The Bird in Flight of Brancusi. So, two or three pictures one way or another came from that exhibition, including this very remarkable Master of Haly, which is part of a diptych, that is, two panels, the other came later to the National Gallery in Washington. And, being an Austrian or a German piece, we were very anxious to have it. It's a very beautiful picture.
RB: And this came from a European collection?
HF: They came through Dr. Hirsh who was the Swiss dealer in New York who is mostly a collector of classical antiquities. But he always had fine pictures and fine textiles and he was a very knowledgeable man, a great friend of Harold Parsons, and this was partially the way it came to our attention.
RB: First exhibited and then later purchased.
HF: And Mr. Severance, who was the president of our Board and was a great collector himself, which I will show you later, his collection came to us and he died in '36 and the entire group of his things came to us. So this was a memorial to him. These didn't come in '36 but they were left but they didn't come for ten years because his estate, due to the Depression, was in bad condition. But when it finally did come, not only did we have all the pictures and everything but a very substantial sum of money.
RB: You designated this a memorial, recognizing him, or . . . ?
HF: Yes, well, more or less, of that kind. This you perpetuate, somebody who was a great servant and friend of the Museum, you perpetuate by buying. And it was bought through subscription again from other people. It was like the Friends, you see, they bought it that way. Also from the exhibition we bought this incredible Bassano which was in the Bassano show in the '50's. It was considered one of the most important pictures in the whole exhibition in Venice. That belonged to Van Fellows Platt who lived in Englewood, New Jersey, and it was too big for his house. He was motoring . . . there's a wonderful book of his motoring around Italy back in the early 1900's and he bought things among which was this very large picture by Bassano. He couldn't keep it in his house so he lent it to the Metropolitan. And, after his death, it was for sale and we had borrowed it at the time from Mr. Platt, in 1936 and we bought it for the large sum of $9,000 which is almost nothing in terms of what it is. It's a wonderful picture.
RB: Again, at that time, a later 16th Century painting, wasn't of great interest, was it?
HF: No, not so much. And anything which was large like that didn't have a ready market. And by the same token we got this wonderful Andrea del Sarto which you can see here the size of it. It's a marvelous picture. It's all one panel and it is the Sacrifice of Abraham and the finished picture is in Dresden. And then there is a small version of it, quite different, in the Prado. And this was the unfinished one which is much livelier than the others because it isn't all smoothed down. It's much more Michelangelo-esque. And we were crazy about it. Kirk Askew had it in Durlaka and Kirk lent it to us because we were very close friends of Kirk's, personally as well as in a business way. And we bought that.
RB: We, you mean you and William Milliken? Because even though director, he always took a close interest?
HF: Always. Oh, yes. I've mentioned the Severance collection and I'll just show you two of the very finest pictures which came. As I say, they didn't actually come to the Museum for some years but they were left to us in '36. This wonderful Reynolds, which was again top quality Reynolds portrait which has always stood as The Ladies Annabelle of York and they were relatives of Patrick Lindsay's wife, you know the Lindsay family. Patrick is now one of the chief people at Christie's in London. And his father was Lord, oh, I can't remember his name. But it's the Lindsay family who had a very large collection in Scotland. But his wife's family were the Yorks. Mr. Severance had bought this back in the early 1900's, and when he died it came with the collection included in here and the other great picture, probably his greatest picture, was The Burning of Parliament and one of the two Marshall versions that Turner had done from actually being present. The other one is in the Philadelphia Museum and they both came from the Marshall collection in England. And from my point of view, Kenneth Clark, when he saw it said that picture is a document which should never have left England. But it did and I think that they'll never find a Turner like that, so large. In fact, recently, it went to the big Turner show in Burlington House. Then, another of our trustees was a great collector of miniatures and he decided not to wait until he was dead but he gave us in the '30's his wonderful collection of portrait miniatures that numbered some hundred. And he continued this interest all during his lifetime and after his death . . . .
RB: Who was this?
HF: Edward Belden Greene, and he's the son-in-law of Mr. J. H. Wade and this was his particular interest. Well, it came in '51, a little later.
RB: And isn't that today one of the more important American collections of European and English miniatures?
HF: Yes, it is, it's mostly English and European. There are two American things in it. But it is, with the Kansas City one and the one in the Met, it is the most important. Oh, the Baltimore Museum has a fine . . . but it is a marvelous group and his daughter added later on two or three very important ones that we found at the time and hoped that she would feel like adding to the collection as she very generously did, including this marvelous Hilliard, which was wonderful. So that these things in a case like this, where it comes as a lump, you see, there was a continued interest.
RB: And you knew that these possibly would come from Mr. Greene?
HF: Oh, he told us he was doing it.
RB: So you didn't, therefore, actively yourself . . . ?
HF: Oh, no, we didn't, but a thing in that field. William Milliken had bought one earlier before Mr. Greene really got under way which was a Hilliard, a very fine large Hilliard and this was just one of the things. Then there were other gifts that came along in the '30's and '40's. Commodore Louis Beaumont had bought a number of important pictures from Duveen and he was a Clevelander and when he died he left a half a dozen pictures. That is by Wateau and comes from the Potsdam collection and is recorded in all the . . . .
RB: He bought this after World War I?
HF: Yes, and Duveen had bought it, you see, directly from, it was in a private collection. It wasn't in the Hohenzauer collection in any museum. It was still a private thing so that they were able to sell it after the War and this is how it came out. But again it was an important addition for us and was a gift.
RB: Had you any Wateau at that time?
HF: Oh, no. I had a drawing I had bought from Richard , a very fine drawing. But we never thought we'd have anything more and along comes Commodore Beaumont and gives us this which is a nice picture. The same was true, and this is somewhat later but the same is true of the Rockefeller family because when John D. died he left his life interest to his second wife. And she didn't wish to keep a lot of them because they were either like this one, too large. This one had been designated . . . this is a Thomas Lawrence, and it is a . . . .
RB: And he had designated certain things to Cleveland, hadn't he?
HF: This one picture, and it's a great a big, huge, very fine Lawrence, a very famous Lawrence.
RB: Did he provide any income to the Museum?
HF: No, but this was left in his will to us.
RB: So Rockefeller was not a family that you could rely on?
HF: The Rockefellers, they were members and they gave certain things but the . . . .
RB: They were to Cleveland, hadn't they?
HF: Yes, but you also have to remember that the Rockefeller family were run out of Cleveland because they didn't have a very pleasant reputation among a loft of other old oil owners in Cleveland during the end of the 19th Century. And they made it rather unpleasant for old John D. who didn't have great . . . . There were members of the Rockefeller family who remained, that is, nieces and nephews and others and so forth. He looked after them all right so that they knew no pain but they weren't rich in the same way that . . . . But John D., Jr., the old John D. didn't have any interested in Cleveland at all, but John D. Jr. had a certain feeling for it and he had given us some statuary and things earlier and, as I say, a certain amount of money but he left this very important picture. Well, then the American collection, we kept adding things to, and I'll show you a picture like this of Cropsey which we were able, we bought the Cole, you know, I showed you earlier and this one is Cropsey's Running Maid and it is a very fine large picture which came at a reasonable price.
RB: Was this in the Depression still, or was this later?
HF: No, this was later, we've moved on to the end of the '30's before the War. But we continued to do this occasionally when we found an American picture that was important like this.
RB: It's fine to fill a gap but on the other hand it had to be very high quality as well.
HF: That was it. We bought it only because we weren't hunting for American pictures per se but when we found an American picture at a reasonable price of that importance, and it was a big picture, we bought it. Then we came to the '50's. In 1943, no, not the '50's but in 1943, Mr. Leonard Hanna, who had been a trustee as a young man from almost the start, not quite, because he was too young, but he was very early brought on because of his interests in works of art and, of course, during his own lifetime he put together a very interesting collection of 19th Century French pictures of the period of Impressionism on.
RB: Did he mainly work through a few dealers?
HF: Oh, yes, he worked through the dealers but he built this for himself but he became as trustee of the Museum so much interested that when he created his charitable trust called "Hannah Fund" without the "D," it's just HannahFun. he did all his Cleveland charities, supported Yaramu House which was the Negro settlement, did a lot in the Cleveland Playhouse, and things of that kind. We became, the Cleveland Museum, became one of the beneficiaries because of his interests. So that from time to time he said, "I am interested in adding 19th Century French pictures. If I find something I shall call your and William's attention. If you find something, you will speak up, and if you, William and I agree, I will see . . . and we believe that it should be added, I will see to it that I find a place for it?"
RB: At that time, you didn't have a very strong ?
HF: Oh, we had a few, I mentioned the Monet, we had a few. So that from 1943 starts the HannahFun group of things that finally ended up when Leonard died in 1956 and left his own collection. Mrs.
HF: And of course bequeathed the Museum the largest sum of money which they had ever had. But the first purchase was this picture which he saw on Fifth Avenue in Duveen's window, and Duveen as a rule did not deal in, that's Renoir, Mademoiselle L'eco, a very small early Renoir and a very beautiful one so he telephoned us and said, "How would you like it?" And of course we jumped and it's probably the most popular picture that the Museum owns. I think it's perfectly beautiful. And it's still when Renoir was a very young man so that it has the characteristics of his genre painting style and also Courbet with the lovely greys and things. So that in 1943, it starts, the Hannah thing. At the same time out of the blue came a wonderful bequest of several million dollars from some people who he didn't know anything about who lived in Cleveland, Mr. and Mrs. William Marvin Marlett. William Milliken nearly died one morning when he got a letter with the fact that this had happened. And he said, "You know, I didn't know that they had any money at all. I know they live in a very modest house up on the Heights and they were $10 members." (Laughter) He left, he didn't leave it, his wife left it. And the first purchase that we made from the money when it came, it was to be left for the purchase of paintings except for the Cleveland school and as William said I had spent my time when they had come in trying to persuade them to, but from our local show , the shoe, and he said they quite obviously didn't approve of it because they cut it out. (Laughter) So we bought this wonderful Goya portrait, which is a late Goya and when I show you at the end the early Goya, I think you'll feel that, this is of the period 1924, see, it's very late in Goya's life and it is a lovely . . . .
RB: And this was bought in the '40's?
HF: This came at the same time, in '43.
RB: So, despite the war, these were terrific times.
HF: That was it. And then Mrs. Johnson Prentice, Mr. Severance's sister, died about this time and her whole collection came to us, too. So that by this time we were beginning . . . . And she left a large sum of money to the Museum as Mr. Severance did, so that from here on really is where the purchasing . . .
RB: And you knew what she had in her collection?
HF: Oh, I knew her pictures very well.
RB: Did you have the right in those cases to if you pleased?
HF: Oh, yes, we were left complete . . . . In fact, one of the stipulations in the early days in the Museum is that nothing would be accepted -- gifts, bequests, or anything -- that we didn't have complete say-so in relation to it both as to the hanging, that is, nothing would have to be hung together, you see. That was one of the things dear old Henry Kent of the Metropolitan made them write into their charter when the Museum was founded. And where you risk occasionally somebody's not liking this, in the long run it is the thing that saves you.
RB: Gives you great flexibility.
HF: Mr. Milliken was very persuasive in proving to the combined trustees that their things would always have a label on them and they'd be far more effective if they sat not together as an unrelated group but if they were in the collection. So the Hannah collection, I want to show you a group here of things that came along of the late 19th Century, things that he . . . . I want to show you now a group of the Hannah things simply because it's easier to do it that way than it is to try and fit them in. Leonard was very much interested in this Gauguin which Guildenstein had and at the time he brought it to our attention again and we saw it, of course it's a very important picture. It's almost as big as that door. It's really a big one. It's a very, very fine picture. And he suggested it and we, of course, immediately acceded to that. On the other hand, along came Hoak [?] from Paris and he brought this very large and very beautiful Pisarro. You know has a collection which is in the Guggenheim there is a big Pisarro, one of the largest, in which you can see the hillside with the village. This is some years later but again one of the largest of the pictures that he ever painted because he didn't paint many of these big canvasses.
RB: You were particularly interested in a large one?
HF: No, it was just that it was a very beautiful picture. And Pisarro never designed things. He started with one corner and worked his way over. Or, he'd start in the middle and he'd work out this way, so that this wasn't his best idea. It was large pictures, you see.
RB: And yet, this is beautiful, without a doubt.
HF: Oh, it's a beautiful picture. And so that when it came to us this was another one that came into the Hannah group. The same being this wonderful one of the jungle by Papalucco. So that he covered . . . . These things again appeared and when you found them on the market you bought what you could. And one of the most important of all was the great Degas which I don't seem to have a photograph of at the present moment. But I consider it the most important picture that we got of that period. It's the of Dances. Again, it's a very large picture, as long as the shelf over there.
RB: Seven or eight feet long?
HF: Yes, a really big picture and very important. And here you'll see some of the other things that we just looked at. This is a Hannah picture of Bertinelli, that was the original wa picture.
RB: This was from Hannah Fund?
HF: Yes, these were all from Hannah Fund.
RB: He did not dip in his pocket again beyond the Fund?
HF: No, no, because this was all by permanent agreement and this was where he did it. And perhaps the most important of the late ones was this very early Picasso called La Vie which had been bought by the Rhode Island School of Design and Mrs. Danforth didn't like it so they sold it, and it was in New York and when we had first exhibition of Picasso because another thing that Mr. Hannah provided through HannahFun was an arrangement whereby that we would help underwrite the exhibitions of the important shows that they gave during these years and that they came to Cleveland as the second showing. So that when the Picasso show came, and it was a magnificent show, there were two or three pictures that did not come, including this one. And that was because Beeneau owned it and did not want it to travel. Again, it's an enormous picture and very heavy; it had a great heavy frame. So that when William Milliken was in New York and he and Leonard were gallery-looking, they came to Jacques Seligman and saw this picture which he had gotten for sale, they called me on the 'phone and said, "What do you think of it?" And I said only this, that it was one of the greatest sorrows that we didn't have it in the show. "So you don't have to ask me twice, that is the thing we want most." And, later on, when Leonard's own pictures came, a very fine pink one came for which I had already bought a small sketch because he got it from the Carnegie and we'd always had it on loan at various times, and today there are quite a number of small things that he had and recently they bought two abstracts, probably paid the highest price of any picture that they've ever bought, one of the more recent ones, from the Hannah Fund. I think too much but that's neither here nor there. So that more or less finishes the particular work. Then he became interested more widely in other things, that is, he would buy a Greek piece if it cmae along, or he'd buy a medieval piece and so forth and so that he expanded his point of view in relation to this. Perhaps it was because he had more money in the Hannafun at this time. So he said we'd buy some old masters. And we began with this wonderful Lorenzo lotto which came on the market. Rosenberg and Stiegel had it and we went to see it and that was the first of a whole series of early things that were added later on to his particular interest in French pictures.
RB: Did Leonard Hannah spend a great deal of time studying these things himself?
HF: Well, he had a great deal of knowledge. In the M. A. Hanna Company, he was never a member of it, he was the owner. But there wasn't a thing. He explored everything they ever did.
RB: And at the same time spent a good deal of time with you collecting and pondering?
HF: He looked after that, he was a Yale graduate, he backed Joe Lewis; he underwrote "Carousel" and lots of . . . . The Marlat was also going along at the same time and we had had in the exhibition in '56 two of Arthur Sachs' great pictures. Now Arthur Sachs was the younger brother of Paul Sachs, you remember. He lived in Paris with Sam Sachs, his grandfather. And his first wife had been interested in earlier things. His second wife was more interested and his own interest had turned to 19th Century things so that he put on the market quite a number of these earlier pictures. And this one has a very extraordinary . . . . You know, it's a tiny little picture. And it is a French picture that was discovered in the early part of the 19th Century. It's an anonymous French picture. Panofsky says that it's not French, that it's Bohemian. Other people say . . . . I'm convinced myself that it's not Flemish. I'm convinced in every way that it is a French picture like, like the miniatures. The faces as you see are French. But whatever it is, it is a jewel, an absolute jewel. It was a book cover and the back of it is all silver embossed with a wonderful coat of arms and everything which leads one to think that it may have been a royal commission to celebrate the birth of the Dauphin in the late 15th Century, early 16th Century. However, it was in the Duke of Desau's collection and there it was discovered by a dealer and originally sold to a collector in Germany and from there it came to the hands, I think it was Delaco, who sold it to Arthur Sachs. Prior to that, however, oh, it was Fritz Lucht who knew about it and he took it to Jameau at the Louvre thinking that this kind of picture was something that they'd want. This was before the Louvre bought things at all and they found great difficulty in doing so but they said they'd like it. They kept it for over a year and Lucht said, he told me this himself, he said, "I finally got tired waiting for them so I went and asked what they were going to consider doing." And they said, well, they were awfully sorry bout they just didn't think that they could buy it. So it was from there that it went to Delaco to Arthur Sachs and we had known this because this used to be shown at the Fogg during all of that time that it should have been one of those pictures that stayed along with the other ones which we bought. I've always thought that he should have given it . . . .
RB: But there was a place for it in Cleveland?
HF: Oh, we bought it, the Marlat piece. It's one of the things which I consider the most interesting that we have. The same is true, old Joe Bunner had this extraordinary, beautiful great Spanish picture by the Ruebealos master.
RB: Joe Brummer was there?
HF: Joe Brummer was probably the shrewdest dealer. Jimmy Royal Marlat got his finest medieval things from Joe Brummer in New York for years. And this picture, old Joe himself was so fond of that that he used to keep it locked up in a box and only when John Laposte would bring down his Spanish classes would he get it out to show to them. And Harold Parsons saw it in New York one time and took me to see it and I told Leonard about it and so we went to see it but Joe said no, he was sorry, he wasn't going to sell it and we were crazy to have it because it's just a great piece, it doesn't matter who painted it or anything about it. It happens to be one of a series of which there are two others known but there are probably a half a dozen of them as they do in Spanish pictures and so forth. Well, anyway, when Joe died I had expected a letter from him which said that if he ever did sell it he would only sell it to us. So I reminded old Mrs. Brummer [Beaumont] when it was decent to do so that this had been the business and produced the letter and Ernest said, "All right, we'd sell it," and so we got it.
RB: You had to be quite patient in . . . .
HF: Yes, we bought that with the HannahFun too.
RB: You must have found it sometimes annoying, the dealer's own predilections and whims.
HF: Oh, yes, and Joe Brummer was one of the few dealers who didn't get along very well with Milliken because they were always trying to up one another's knowledge and I think laugher) Joe knew an awful lot. In the manuscript field, along came a very important one by the Master of the House Beaucoup [?] of course was the great fellow for early prints and and William Milliken wanted to but it and I said, "Well now, this is a case where it fits in with our German group to such an extent that I think that it should come from Marlat because we'd never bought anything other than just straight panels or oils." So we started, which has continued now, we've included fine manuscripts in the Marlet as paintings and this was one of the first and we did it for that reason. A couple of years later this marvelous George De Latour arrived. It is one of the two signed and dated George De Latour's. It belonged to Delache College, south of London. It was in the vaults, in the magazine, nobody paid much attention to it so that when a retiring professor left, they thought they'd give him a nice gift, you see. So it was presented to him and that marvelous man, who lives in Holland and Paris, named Vital Leblaque, B.B. used to refer to him as Ta-ta Leblaque because he said if there was any really good picture on the scene, Ta-ta found it. (Laughter) He found this right under the nose of Colnagi and Agnew in London and had it for sale and Knoedler had it for sale in New York and I just happened in one day and Henschel said, "Oh, we've just received a very interesting picture; would you like to see it?" Well, I nearly lost my mind. This was the first George Latour that had been on the market for years and when he showed us the signature and the date . . . . So I rushed around to Leonard and said, "You've already bought a couple of pictures this year but here's something you've got to see." So we went around and he was as much impressed and so it came. [END OF FIRST SIDE] [SIDE TWO] July 11, 1975
HF: I mentioned other pictures which had been bought at the same time or shortly before.
RB: This was bought when? In the 50's?
HF: Yes, this was bought in the 50's. We had also seen prior to this a very marvelous Rubens which I don't have at the moment, a photograph, of Isabella Brandt, the portrait which he had done for himself. And Rosenburg and Stiegal had it, and it belonged to Marcus Coppel, who was one of Bogas group, you know, who were really interested in buying for the Kaiser then along came Hitler and all. Coppel and , Simon? and quite a number of them, and bit by bit, in order to keep themselves alive, poor things, they . . . . This was all they had with their works of art. We had bought this, from, we had bought it, and at the same time, very shortly after we had bought the Rubens, I saw a Rembrandt at Knoedler's shortly before this and I was nearly wild, because the price was the same, and the picture was of great importance. It is in the Collection today, and it is the , you know, the wonderful late portrait. I always . . . . That was one of the things I coveted in the worst way because you don't find late Rembrandts of that great importance. However, we did find a fine Rembrandt of an entirely different kind.
RB: But you got the Rubens, and you settled for that at that time.
HF: Oh, we got the Rubens before this. Then, we came along and Otto Kahn's picture came on the market and he left it to go, it says here: "One of the Rembrandt portraits of Jews in the Amsterdam Ghetto, a dramatic late work owned by Otto Kahn and bought by the Museum from the Metropolitan Opera Association because he wanted to do something for the Metropolitan and he wanted to raise as much money as he could. He had never lent this picture out of his apartment. He lent other things, wonderful pictures, but this picture he cared more about than others, and it was always over the fireplace in the study, library. And he left that for that purpose and we saw this. I had seen the other one first, but we saw this and of course we nearly went wild again. So I took, this was somewhat after this, we took Leonard to see it and he said, "Oh, yes, that's something we must have." Though we tried to get the Erickson picture, we were the runners-up to the Metropolitan. And the only reason we didn't get it was because, instead of giving us an unlimited bid, they said, "You can't go beyond a certain thing." And all Jimmy had to do was have his trustees decided and they just upped it another $5,000. So, that's how they got it. But if we could have kept at it, I think we might have gotten it.
HF: Which one was this?
HF: The big Erickson Aristotle. Yes, the Aristotle. That was considerably after this, but subsequently even to that Sherman bought another Rembrandt which, I was no longer responsible. I was still there, but I didn't have much to do with it because I wasn't very keen about it, and I never have been very keen about the last one. Of the four or five pictures that they have, this is the one that I think is the most beautiful.
RB: Did you ever know Kahn? As a student . . . ?
HF: No, no. When this came out, it was, you see . . . . What happened was that Knoedler gave the highest price and therefore got it as the dealer, and then we bought it from them directly. I shall never forget they wanted a TV performance so we had to go over to the southwest of Cleveland, William and I, and we had never done a TV business. This was the first, certainly together, of this kind of thing and William muffed it, and my dear wife was lying on the couch outside, waiting for us to get done with this thing and watching as they . . . . And she said laugh a more ham performance she had never seen.
RB: You sat flanking the painting on television?
HF: Yes, we had it and we were showing photographs and things, and she said the shiny photographs caught the light and nearly blinded the eyes of the people looking at them. Well, it was a farce, but it was a wonderful picture. Then, more wonderful Sachs pictures which very early, I said in '36 we had had, you see, then finally they came to and we bought the big Tintoretto. Which used to sit, oh that was in the Fogg for years, that picture used to sit there and I still think, I consider it the finest one that has ever crossed the Atlantic. And, Arthur Sachs sold his wonderful early one to National Gallery. Then we bought this one next, and then we finished up with this wonderful Titian. These came with about four years, four or five years between. But, it really finished up the pictures. There was one other that I would like to have had, from Arthur Sachs' collection which I would like to have had, which was the so-called, oh yes, it is a Giorgione, Portrait. A fragment of the Glasgow picture which is now in the National Gallery in London. A very beautiful picture, which was one of his half dozen great Venetian pictures. But these two were, this was Marlat, I think, and this is Hanna. We bought them with different . . . .
RB: But the Marlat funds you had total, or the trustees, of course with Mr. Hanna.
HF: With Mr. Hanna it was the Hanna Fund. So that, yes, and the trustees would rubber-stamp anything that we said. And we, in the case of a picture of this kind, we never were refused, provided they had the money. You see, they would do it, so that when the fund had the money, and a picture like that came along, they did. We also got that wonderful van Dyck that was in the Morgan Collection and for years was in the Morgan family. I don't think it was ever in the Morgan Library, but it was in the London house, and came, and was for years in Knoedler's on loan, and we had seen it there for years and never knew it was for sale, and then finally it came and we acquired it. We bought a pair of these great big from Italico Brass again in Venice, and these came along in the early 50's. Also, a Franz Hals, this time from the Wade Fund, which William Milliken saw that. He was the one who discovered that, it was in the Rosenberg and Steigal's again and it came from the Vienna Rothschild Family some of whom live right here, up in Vermont, you know, and this was in the house in Vienna. And, of course, so often things of this kind still coming out as late as in the 50's. Which included the Lichtenstein pictures, after all, we know that the big Leonardo, one of the most important things that was ever bought by the National Gallery was Mrs. Elsie from her bequest they bought the, the . . . . They began selling, the Prince began selling when his relatives flocked to him, you know, and he had to support them, he had some way that he had to have more, more money. He wouldn't have done it otherwise, and he began to do this, and I discovered this through Frederick . I went to the Storey William Store in New York and he showed me some of these pictures that he was working on, and I said, "How come these things are coming up?" Well he told me the story, he said Frederick Mantha most of them, you might go and ask him about them, as I did. And one of the first was this very remarkable, this is great picture too, by Se Baldo, now Lotto and Sebaldo, you know, were the followers of Titian, in the North of Italy. A Brutian, he was a Brutian, but a fantastic painter, who also looked at the work of Bellini. You found a lot of characteristics of Giovanni Bellini in his . . . . this is a huge panel. It was an and again it was not a high price, but it is one of the most unusual, and of course it is not a subject that a private collector or anybody . Therefore, a picture of that kind is . . . an entombment. Yes, it's an entombment. Yes, but if you saw it, you would realize how extraordinarily lovely it is. And a very important picture. And we bought one or two other things that came from the Lichtenstein. Of course most of them gone to the National Gallery. Among other things is this wonderful Burgundian portrait.
RB: This also is from the Lichtenstein?
HF: No, this is not. In fact, I don't even remember where it did come from, I don't remember its background. But the Lamont had it, I think probably through Spain, which has always made me wonder whether it is Burgundian or whether it isn't Spanish or Portuguese. And, you see, here, this is interesting, this is, just to compare it, you get the characteristics, this is purely Burgundian, with Philip the Bold and this is what it is compared with, everything about it, the way it's treated, this wonderful cut velvet and all. But I still wonder if it isn't Portuguese. It came out of Spain; it is a very beautiful picture. More gifts came to us from time to time because in the case of this very fine Delaquez portrait, the family had kept it for a long time, and they wanted to make a memorial to their P. 39 missing something that is really good. Then, after William retired, and Mr. Hanna died in '57, then the money came, you see, then we had big money.
RB: But it was not to be for building; it was to be for purchase or part of it was.
HF: He divided his bequest into two evenly, one was for the administration, and the other was for painting, but this was after '58, when Mr. Clark's business had subsided, so we started. And then, most of these all came along in the '60's. This one was a Flemish picture by Gerard David that we bought. That was the first picture after Sherman became director. Then we got this very, this big Rubens, which is . . . . There was a terrible quarrel because, you know, there is another on the same size that belongs to Paul Getty in England. And it has the down here, it has . . . .
RB: The Diana?
HF: Yes, the Diana, and you have it, there is an awful quarrel as to which is which, and whether one is Rubens. Well, it's pay your money and take your choice. But I have always been perfectly certain this was his own work, and it was a substantial picture, let me tell you, it is a very handsome picture. Have you ever seen these in Cleveland? And we bought the Claude Lorraine, a very large and handsome one.
RB: this would all be from income, not from . . . ?
HF: Oh, never . All from income.
RB: At that point, in the early '60's, the principal was about 30 million, you say?
HF: It started as 30 million, and of course today it is very much lower than that, I don't know what it is now, but the market has gone down, but I mean this is what it was.
RB: In effect, although the Met, for example, has a larger endowment, yours is pretty nearly second, and you have less to tend than they do.
HF: Yes, I think so. I don't know where it stands today, and I suspect that places like McBrown's Kimbel business probably has as much if not more. I don't know how he stands. But at any rate there is still plenty of money. This is interesting because it has a pair of little side panels by Fra Fillipo Lippi, that is Fillipino's Papa, and I was crazy about them, because with one other picture, when the Cook Collection in London was sold, and we'd seen this in the early days a lot, I'd spent a good many summers in London, several, my wife and I one summer particularly used to go out to the cook Collection because it is a very exciting private collection, which was traded to the Museum.
RB: Was it in a country house?
HF: Well, it was in Richmond Park. Yes, it was in Richmond Park. So it was a crime, when it was, when the family, when the old boy died and the family broke it all up and sold all these things. And they went everywhere, they've been scattered all over the world, you know; there were wonderful things. Some went to the National Gallery in London, but only a few. But, anyway this came up, and I loved these pieces and they're about this size, they're really quite beautiful, and the Master Franc Madonna of which we are supposed to have a copy. I don't know whether I can find it here or not.
RB: Is the figure on the right of St. George, and on the left is . . . ?
HF: Yes, is the, is the, I can show you here where it is, because I think we have the . . . . Here it is, here, you see, here are the two and this was the copy of the picture that was supposed to go between and then there is a drawing which shows what he intended to do with this whole matter. So that . . . .
RB: You had the copy before . . . ?
HF: Yes, the copy was a Holden picture. But it was probably the one that was here, which was the lost piece. One more, i told you about buying the Cole, the early one. This is the one that we paid considerably more for, but it is a very interesting . . . . But just another one added to the American Collection. Then I was fascinated when I discovered in new York this pinnacle, and it is quite a big picture.
RB: A pinnacle? The top of an altarpiece?
HF: A pinnacle, the top of a big altar piece. And this is a great altarpiece because it is Berenson's great St. Francis, and this that up here are . . . . You see, this is the way the backside, that is at I'Tatti now, that he found, you know, years and years ago, and they have pretty well constructed the whole altarpiece. This is the one that was in Southern France, and this was supposed to be, this way you see they were fore and aft. And this was over here, this is the St. Francis area of it. So when Mrs. Drey had this, I said, "Good Heavens, we've got to buy that picture."
RB: Mrs. Dryer in New York?
HF: Drey, D-R-E-Y, Mrs. Elizabeth Drey. And so I finally persuaded Sherman. I think he thought that it was a little fragmentary, but it is a big piece, but it's very beautiful, you know, and it belongs with us, so we got it. Of course, they will never be able to reassemble the whole thing, but I think that's a case where you get something that is interesting because of itself even if it is a fragment.
RB: But, in this case, did you attempt to show photographs of the other parts of the altarpiece, in your installation?
HF: Oh, surely, we showed it.
RB: In most of these things that we have seen, do you try to have a large percentage of them on exhibit, at all times?
HF: Oh, they're all up.
RB: You don't have large racks or any of that sort of thing?
HF: Well, we do, but there is space enough now. Then we bought a wonderful, I don't seem to have, now maybe I do. You know, you've been to Williamstown, and you've seen in the Sterling Clark their great big Ugilino, that great big one. That was for sale at Guildenstein, and at the same time Mont had this one, which is smaller, but came from, probably from Spain, we're not perfectly certain where it did come from because a lot of his sources were bad. We were hard put to it to know which to buy, the other is considerably larger, and the price was, though not much more, we spent a long time fussing around of this and we finally, before they bought that other one, we finally bought this one.
RB: The smaller one, the Spanish . . . ?
HF: Well, it's a big, a big . . . . This one, yes, as I say, came from, no, it may not, I don't think it comes from Spain, I think it comes from a monastery in, on the border of France and Switzerland, that's where it comes from, I'd forgotten. But . . . .
RB: In this area?
HF: Well, no. It was just as a whole altarpiece, that was really in very beautiful condition, because even all this part of it, now the one in Williamstown doesn't have the original frame, the way this does, you see. This is all original frame, this is why I wanted it because I felt that this was absolutely correct in all the ways, and the very few blemishes that took place in the thing, that isn't true of the Williamstown one, first of all I think it was too bad they ever let Hachig, you see, has allowed some of these restorers to do a little more than they should.
RB: Rather drastic repair?
HF: I think so. And in that particular case, Marching, I don't think you could trust. I once asked Mr. Berenson about it, when he was in Florence in the 40's, I went to his place. Then he moved to Switzerland. Marching, you know, he became old, and his family worked with him on this, and I think they did an awful lot of this business. And he had one of the I'Tatti pictures of Bellini and when it came back, I didn't like its appearance at all, and I said to Berenson, "What about this?" He said, "Well, Marching cleaned it." And I said, "Is it ? for the Bellini." And he said, "Oh, no, he's coming back to put the Bellini on it." says B.B. (Laugh) I think that he felt that it had been pretty well . . . .
RB: That was a bolder generation.
HF: Well, this is the way I feel about Marching. I don't like what he did, and this is the way I feel about the Williamstown picture, but though it isn't ruined or anything, but I thinnk that it was rather strenuously treated, whereas this was not.
RB: Do you think something of that happened with Berenson and Duveen, when they were getting things ready, too?
HF: Well, I know Duveen had all kinds of awful people, and I don't think Berenson was particularly happy about it. Perhaps the greatest picture that came after the Lippi is that picture which came from the man, Hime, in Paris. And when Charles Sterling saw it, he knew that Hime had sold it to us, He said, "That never should have gotten out of France." And I said, "My dear Mr. Sterling, it never was in France; it was bought directly from Switzerland and it had come out of Spain, yes, (laugh) it hadn't come out of France." It is the great , and I think it is perhaps the most exciting, exciting picture that we added.
RB: And you did this?
HF: Well, Sherman . . . Hime showed Sherman as he was leaving Paris, the photograph. He said, "I don't have the picture yet." And so Sherman said, "I'll take it along, and I'll talk to Henry Francis about it." So, when he produced this, I said, "You didn't tell him to send it?" (Laugh) "Let's have it come." So Sherman said, "That's all right by me." So he had it finally shipped and of course once we got it we never let it out of the building. And we, I don't think we paid too much for it, and I think the money was in hand. It is really, if you ever do see it, it is . . . absolutely glows. It is a fantastically beautiful picture.
RB: And this was a case where you felt you had to bring it to Cleveland and then deal with the problem of buying it?
HF: Oh, yes. Oh, sure. This was a case . . . where possession is nine-tenths of the law. Hime was perfectly willing to do it, I mean, and he showed it. It was one of those chance things that Sherman happened along at the appropriate moment.
RB: There is always the chance, isn't there? You can never plot these out like a predictable campaign. This was in the early 50's that you got the ?
HF: Yes, let's see, well, not so early, not so early. Yes, '61.
RB: And you thin this could have been one of the greatest . . . ?
HF: Oh, I think it is one of the most exciting pictures we ever got a hold of. That, my wife has that always up here, you see. (Laugh) It's terrific. Then there were a couple of other very important ones, including this one which is a very . . . to me there is no question about it. I consider it absolutely, that is a picture too, you see.
RB: This is Velasquez?
HF: Yes, but Margaret says that Velasquez never had anything to do with it; so does Mr. Leo Steinberg. And I said, "I'm sorry but I don't agree with you; I've seen the picture since it was in the cook collection, and when it came up at auction Sherman and I agreed that we would go all out for it. Having lost the Rembrandt, we decided this time we would take a high dive. And we had to pay an awful sum of money for it, particularly as it is shot at, but I am convinced that it is . It's the whole treatment of the thing, and you know this whole Shada business, you see, that is so typical of the way Velasquez treated figures. And there are a lot of other reasons why.
RB: You would have liked to have even a fine one, though, would you?
HF: Well, if you could ever find one, where do you get it? Except for the one that the Met bought, there aren't any. You can't. Oh, I think this is an earlier one. This is not as late as some of the good . . . but I think it is a very beautiful picture, and we'll never get another chance. They just don't exist.
RB: This was in the mid-'60's you got this?
HF: '65, '65 exactly . Oh, I think this is a beautiful picture. I have no question about it but I know that it is . . . . Then more American Pictures, there is a sunset you can see over the Connecticut Valley, this is by Frederick Church, and it is one of the most beautiful pictures. Sherman found that; I didn't find that. But I said, "Goodness," when he bought it, "Don't let that escape, because it is such a beautiful one." They now have a very nice, and you see the young man who is there, his name escapes me at the moment, is particularly interested, one of the associate curators, is particularly interested in the American Field, and he has added some other very, very interesting pictures, including this. This came before he did, but . . . . Then was always terribly amused that we had bought this picture. We got this from a combination of Rosenberg and Steigal's David, Cupid and Psyche, because he said it never occurred to him that any mid-western trustees (laugh) would permit the buying of this picture. And the Education Department didn't like it; they used to lead their classes around the gallery. [laugh] Oh, it's a marvelous picture; it's simply wonderful. Of course it's been one of the laughing, the trustees, matter of fact, thought that it was absolutely wonderful. And it is, of course, it is a late, signed picture and after he had been thrown out of France. And it belonged to the Princess and was in a storage warehouse in Brookline for years and years. (Laugh) And this is how it came out. When she got hard up, she brought it out and, I forget, I think it was Newhouse who had it. They had it together, Newhouse and Rosenberg and Steigal. And when Sherman saw it in New York he said, "What do you think of it?" And I said, "This is another case where if (laugh) you don't , you make a terrible error.
RB: And your trustees actually . . . ?
HF: They loved it; they really did love it. They thought it was wonderful. Honestly, the sad part of it is, there was a Bouche which showed very much of the rear end of a young lady in the front of a picture and I said, "Sherman, now having bought the David, let's buy the Bouche." And Sherman said, "I don't think that we can get that by the boys this time." (Laugh). So they didn't. And then that's the Jacques I showed you. These are just the late things here. And this is a wonderful great Marin that we bought at the very end of my stay there. These two, this early Goya, which we probably paid more than for any other.
RB: What Charles III and . . . ?
HF: Well, it's, no, Louis de Bourbon, who was the . . . . Yes, do you remember there is one in the National Gallery? They broke the family up which was a terrible mistake. But, Guildenstein had this, and we bought this as our fiftieth anniversary business from the Huntington Fund, which never bought, usually, it was used always for support; it was the original Fund. But, when it came to the anniversary, they thought it would be nice to have some works of art with the Huntington name on them so they took, they made a special reserve fund, and we bought several things, including that. As we did this wonderful Durer drawing which came from Mr. Luch's collection from the Netherlands Institute at the time, and the only reason that he parted with it was because he had some things that he wanted to buy, and he had no money. And he wrote me. I was up on Lake Champlain and it came through, the letter did, and I sent it to Sherman, and Sherman said, "Well, I don't think we can do it, because he wants an awful lot of money for it." Which of course he did, and he wasn't going to sell it for less than he could get. And he said, "This must not be publicized as mine for a number of years because I don't want them to realize that I have done it." But he said, "I need the other which are Flemish things, Dutch and Flemish things, which I need more and I have other Durer things." But this is a very famous Durer drawing, so at the same fiftieth anniversary we got this. And then most last, last purchase was that which came from the Stockley Collection which was the great collection in Brussels, you know, and which was in that beautiful house, the house, and when he died he left, divided among his children, and one of them kept the pictures, but the others sold, and one of them sold this. Very , it's probably one of the earliest Italian pictures that one can actually spot the hand on, you see. And it is a beautiful triptych, it is just a little picture, smallish picture, but it is very fine, absolutely beautiful. And absolutely perfect condition. Since then, I'll show you just a few other things which they had bought but which I've had nothing to do with.
RB: You had nothing to do, no or anything?
HF: No, not at all. Because in this case it's a very large sketch . We, Sherman and I disagreed about one that I wanted to buy, so we didn't get it. But I think it was more now this is an enormous picture, this is a great Modello.
RB: Adoration of the Shepherds.
HF: And I suppose that it is very handsome, but I have never seen the original.
RB: You've not gone out again, have you?
HF: No, I haven't gone out. This one is a Constable which we did have, ten years before I left and we couldn't do anything about it, and it went on back to New York. It was passed through with the dealer's hands, and later on it came up for sale again and they were able to get it, and I am terribly pleased because it is a really nice one.
RB: What was it called, the Constable?
HF: I forget what it is called; I can't tell you. And the last thing that was recently bought, is this Gruenwald, which follows along in the German tradition. And we have quite a lot of them now. And it makes a nice nucleus. This of course is a fragment, the whole altarpiece was broken up, I think, as early as the Eighteenth Century. They don't know where parts of it are, but this appeared in a Swiss private collection and Sherman saw it, but I didn't know anything about it. but, you know, one of the drawings that is well known, that was in Berlin .
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 Henry Sayles Francis, 1974 Mar. 28-1975 July 11, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.