Active in Philadelphia, Pa.
Size: Transcript: 67 pages
Format: Originally recorded on 5 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 10 digital wav files. Duration is 4 hr., 50 min.
Collection Summary: An interview of Robert Carlen conducted 1985 June 28-July 16, by Catherine Stover, for the Archives of American Art.
Carlen speaks of his early life including his studies at the Graphic Sketch Club and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; opening his gallery in 1937; the early years of the gallery; paintings he discovered over the years; collectors he worked with, including Albert Barnes and Meyer and Vivian Potamkin; other dealers; refugee artists; and the Philadelphia art scene.
Biographical/Historical Note: Robert Carlen (1906-1990) was an art dealer of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
These interviews are 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 others.
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.
How to Use this Interview
- A transcript of this interview appears below.
- Transcript available on line.
- The transcript of this interview is in the public domain and may be used without permission. Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Robert Carlen, 1985 June 28-July 16, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
- For more information on using the Archives’ resources, see the FAQ or Ask Us.
Also in the Archives
- Oral history interview with Robert Carlen, 1988 March 17
- Image Gallery items from other collections related to Carlen, Robert
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 Robert Carlen, 1985 June 28-July 16, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW WITH ROBERT CARLEN
AT HIS GALLERY IN PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA
JUNE 28, 1985
INTERVIEWER: CATHARINE STOVER
CS: CATHARINE STOVER
RC: ROBERT CARLEN
AC: ALICE CARLEN
CS: This is tape 1, side 1. Robert Carlen being interviewed by Catharine Stover for the Archives of American Art. The date is June 28, 1985. The interview is being conducted at the Carlen Galleries, 323 S. 16th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The time is 2 p.m. I understand that you're from Indianapolis.
RC: Yeah, I was born out there.
CS: What year?
CS: And when did you come to Philadelphia?
CS: You know, I think it was a couple of years after that. We were having a lot of bad floods out there. You know, the river. My mother hadn't been well. She wanted to come east to get some medical advice and she was. . . she came here. She didn't like it out there; it was too lonely. It was all farmers.
CS: Did you live on a farm?
RC: We had a general store. We catered to the farmers. It was all Germans settling out there. So my mother decided she didn't want to come back. So we stayed here and my father tried to make a go here. See, it was very bad. You see, during the time there was an awful lot of business trouble. In fact, one of the worst things was we had a lot of trouble about money and financial, you know, difficulty, we had. It was very scarce and was an awful lot like the 1960's here and even the 1930's. So we stayed here.
CS: You came here as a child.
RC: Yes, as a child. But we lived outside the city. Fortunately we had a fair city bus then. We had neighbors like, ah, Booth Tarkington, and James Whitcomb Riley, the poet. We came east and never went back again.
CS: You've been in Philadelphia ever since?
RC: Yes, except a couple of years ago, I had to go back out there on business and it was the first time I saw Indianapolis. It was a very modern city.
CS: I understand that before you opened the gallery you had another career. Could you tell me a little bit about that?
RC: Yes, I had a job. I was . . . I took a job, I was secretary to a man in an engineering company here in the city. At that time I started going to art school at night time. I went quite a while to art school in the evenings.
CS: Which one?
RC: One of the ones, I went to the Philadelphia Art School at Broad and Pine, you know, and then I went to the one, the Graphic Sketch Club.
CS: I think that's called Fleisher Art Memorial.
RC: Sam Fleisher, yeah, that's the one.
CS: Did you know Mr. Fleisher?
RC: Oh, yes, I knew him very well. I knew a lot of the fellows that started there, I mean the painters who started there back in 1905 when I studied at the Graphic Sketch Club.
CS: Who were some of them?
RC: Lazar Raditz, a portrait painter. And ah, I remember a young painter, Leon Karp. And Bill Shulman, he's a very fine painter, and Joe Grossman and a black man there too, Julius Bloch. And Robert Suzanne and Fred Wagner and Leon Karp.
CS: Now, these artists you've been mentioning were students there at the same time you were?
RC: Yeah. A lot of very, very gifted young painters who started down there. Sam Heller, I think he made a fortune during the war painting all kinds of decorative things, you know, wall paintings and waste baskets and all kinds of trays. He made a fortune in the decorators. Somebody retired him he had a lot of money that he'd made . . .
CS: What was the Graphic Sketch Club like when you were starting?
RC: Well, it was a very . . . evenings they had classes and they hired some of the fellows who started out there and later became, you know, private, ah, professional artists came there and used to teach. It was a very good place to get a free education.
CS: Do you remember who some of the instructors were there?
RC: Let's see, I had . . . Joe Grossman was one of them and I had [Lazar] Raditz. We had a lot of them, you know. They weren't hired by the week; they'd come and go.
CS: And how frequently did you used to go to night school?
RC: I used to go every night after dinner. I used to go from 7 till 10 o'clock. It was very good. We had life class and a portrait class, training in drawing and all.
CS: Was it down there on Catharine Street where it is right now?
RC: Yeah, down there in the 800 block of Catharine Street. He left it to Philadelphia. Now it's part of the art museum.
CS: Did many of the other students also go every night?
RC: Yeah, they used to come very frequently. [INTERRUPTION -- SOMEONE LEAVING.] Then I used to work in the studio, Sam Heller's over weekends you know, when we met at the classes at the Graphic Sketch Club. Sam had a studio on Chestnut Street in the Alman Building.
CS: Do you still have any of the work that you did back then?
RC: Yeah, a couple of old things. [Goes to pull things out.] We couldn't afford to buy canvas. It was very expensive so we used to use . . . used to buy cardboard. We'd shellac it and use it.
CS: Is that the same thing that's known as academy board?
RC: No, no. Academy board, actually it was a cheap cotton canvas pasted onto a piece of cardboard. That's academy board.
CS: This is from the life class at Fleisher? [Looking at art work.]
RC: Yeah, we started going up at the Academy nights, you know. That was a big part a few years later.
CS: Were you also going to Fleisher at the same time?
RC: No. You know, when I had a chance, I'd run into the Academy of Fine Arts to their life class and, of course, at that time I had people like Daniel Garber. He was from Indiana too. I don't know where he was born. The art museum has a Daniel Garber. Well, enough to say . . . a few very good artists in those days. Oh, Frances Speight. He was teaching there too at the Academy and, I'm trying to think, someone else, and Redfield was teaching at the time. He painted landscapes.
CS: I know Redfield but I'm not positive that he taught there. Was he a visiting critic or was he on the staff there?
RC: He was teaching there, I think he was on the staff. And, um, all those different fellows taught there.
CS: At the time were you hoping to pursue a career as a painter?
RC: I was hoping only I had . . . I knew, studying, I couldn't start making money especially but . . . . It wasn't very easy, you know, trying to make a living off art. There were so many professional painters around who were having a hell of a time. Then, of course, what came up then, that was '27, '28, '29. And then the American Artists Group came along with their prints, signed and unsigned, unlimited editions, and to me it seemed people that couldn't afford to pay very much for things. It was a real opportunity. I mean you could buy things very cheap. Some of the prints from the American Artist Group, I think it was $1.75 a piece.
CS: Were they very popular?
RC: Well, except the idea that they were original works of art but they weren't signed -- autographed by the artists. They were an unlimited edition; they pulled as many as they could. People started buying them and I was one of the first agents.
CS: How did it come about that you started to sell those?
RC: I was . . . needed to make some extra money for my art supplies and they never were very cheap. Canvas and paints were very expensive. I started selling prints only I had to learn to go around and try to go around.
CS: You say you went around. You mean you went door to door?
RC: I went to see people, sure.
CS: People you knew?
RC: Yeah. Houses selling the idea we were giving the chance to buy something with merit. It was very cheap to buy these prints; they weren't photographs and they were an edition. And then, of course, the other group came along when they saw about that group a couple of years later, Associated American Artists. They started a new group but signed. Now people signed and they were limited editions to a maximum of 250 prints to each plate, tops. I sold a lot of those to people. I sold them the idea they were a good thing to collect. Among those prints I sold back in the days for $2.75 a piece, some of them today are worth $1,000. Grant Wood and Thomas Benton signed ones, today some are worth $1200 or $1500.
CS: What was the price range that they sold for, the signed ones, back then?
RC: They paid 5 dollars in those days. If it was by a man like Thomas Benton, he didn't make very many for the American Artists Group and He was a member of that group. He'd make a plate for them and what they would do is, he would do the plate, it was a perfect stone. And then he would sell it outright, the plate, to the American Artists Group, and he would get . . . what did he get? $200 for a plate, and they would pull the proofs from them, print them up, and then he would sign them, autograph them. They'd sell them for $2.75. Someone could have made a million.
CS: Who were some of the other artists who were in the signed editions?
RC: A number of Americans, you know, John Steuart Curry, he was a member of that group, Peggy Bacon, Wanda Gag [pause] Alexander Brook, he was married to Peggy Bacon; he was a very good artist. Luigi Lucciono, a landscape painter from up in Maine or Connecticut, up there in New England. It was amazing. It was a good thing for the artist, I mean, he would do the plate and sell it outright and got paid for it and then the rest was up to them, you know. They printed an edition, as many as they could get, until the plate chips or wears out nad then they stopped, you see, selling these things like they were drypoint and then drypoint you can't get a great number of prints, you know, from the plate, the plate wears out very quickly. So some of them you only got 10 proofs. These artists we mentioned, Joe Hirsch was another one, a Philadelphia boy. You know, he died recently.
CS: No, I didn't.
RC: Joe Hirsch, yeah. He was in his sixties. Another name was Fred Wagner. His show's opening at the Newman Gallery today. Sam Heller had a studio in the Alman Building, 15th and Chestnut, right next door was Fred Wagner's studio. He used to . . . sitting there all day long with different canvases of Philadelphia views. He painted a lot of winter scenes. Now you should see the price of . . .you should see the price for a Redfield today, I'm amazed. Newman Gallery had them priced $35,000. Years ago, you couldn't sell those paintings.
CS: You sold the prints to people you knew?
CS: Were you in this gallery then or that came a little later?
RC: No, not in the gallery then. I started selling them, you know; I didn't have the gallery yet so I used to go around to see these people.
CS: Were you still working at your other job?
RC: Oh, yes. I was still going to that; I was working at a brokerage house.
CS: This is after you left the engineering firm.
RC: Yes, after I left the engineering firm. That was why I started, after I left the engineering firm, I started going to school in the daytime at the Academy. I tried to save up some money and I thought could work then. Unfortunately, my father was hit by an automobile, he was crippled, and I had to go to work again. Before then, I worked a couple months going to day school at the Academy. I was going to day school at 9 o'clock in the morning till 2 o'clock in the evening and I went home and got dinner and then worked after dinner. At 7 o'clock I'd come back to the Academy and go to the night class so I took advantage of both day and night, I mean.
CS: That was a heavy schedule. I guess you didn't have time to sell the prints.
RC: Yeah, I was trying to sell the prints. When they'd come out over the weekend, I'd go around and see doctors and lawyers.
CS: Before you started selling the prints, did you have any sales experience at all?
RC: No, no, I didn't, no experience. Just busy being a student principally. I started when I opened the gallery in 1934. The first thing I started selling was color reproductions, very good ones from France and Germany, some by Monet, and Degas, you know, these color prints. People knew the names, you know, they'd usually sell. And then when I got in this place here, in the house, I started the gallery. I first rented the back gallery to a girl who started a gallery. She was copying herself as the ACA, American Contemporary Arts, selling these paintings, she used the back gallery.
CS: What was her name?
RC: Selber? Silverman? [Reuben]
CS: About how long was she in Philadelphia?
RC: She . . . for years, she went back, I mean, not at the gallery. Her husband was a medical student and they had a lot of friends in the profession, ah, people. So she thought she could start running an art gallery so I rented her the back gallery so we put on exhibitions of contemporary artists.
CS: She was back there and you had this room for your gallery? REC: What I usually sold was color reproductions and I let her have the commission for all that.
CS: Did you advertise?
RC: Did I advertise? Not very . . . well, we used to get free publicity, you know, in the newspapers, the art critics, and we had different people. We had people, like, one of them was this guy . . . Bound.
CS: Oh, Walter Emerson Bound.
RC: He used to write criticism for the Bulletin and then there was the other man who wrote for the Inquirer.
CS: Didn't he used to have a little art school in Philadelphia? Bound?
RC: No, I don't think so, I don't think so. But he copied himself, the editor of what they called the Delaware River School of painters, up there around New Hope. There were a number of them up there. Still are a number of people painting up there, but back in those days there were some very good ones. Now a lot of those artists, back in those days, are selling very well today, American artists are selling Longfellow? bought himself a Redfield for $48,000. He was lucky to sell anything at all in those days, but not today. There are a lot of people buying the great American artists. [Pause] There's another fellow who went to the Graphic Sketch Club who's a very good painter -- Ben Solloway. He used to do those . . . . He got a job on the New York Times Sunday edition. He made those sketches, you know, like John Singer Sargent, in black and white, of the people who were, you know, in the current plays, you know. Yeah, he used to make the little sketches for the Sunday edition of the Times and then he'd paint it. He originally had an exhibition up in Plumstead right outside of New Hope. His wife lives up there. When he died, she got all his paintings and he's terrific. He turned out terrifically important paintings, flowers. And she's up there studio and flowers up there and she does very, very well. Another artist up there is Folinbee. And some of the others who were up there that grew up all around New Hope, you know, in Agnew and Marvel. And ah, down there nice place, you know, like the French artists when they started painting all along the Seine like the Impressionists, Sisley. [Pause] I'm trying to think of some of them. the French, Monet and Sisley. We all used to go to a small place right along, the right outside the city. You know, like a lot of these people themselves afterwards a few landscapes and some wonderful ones there Monet and Sisley.
CS: The Bucks County artists were doing the same kind of thing?
RC: Yeah, they formed the Delaware River School.
CS: Did they live up there the year round or just in the summer?
RC: No, they got little places up there and they lived up there and usually they'd paint many of the people up there.
CS: Did you ever handle any of . . . ?
RC: Well, some. I gave several shows to Julius Bloch. Some of the others of that school, I mean, who painted up there, yes. But I showed Julius Bloch but they were hard to sell. He had a lot of those Negro paintings, you know. And ah, people didn't have the money so they could buy them.
CS: So it was 1934 that you moved into this building and opened you gallery?
CS: Has it always been called Carlen Galleries since the very beginning? [TAPE 1, SIDE 2]
CS: So you've always lived here?
RC: I got married in 1934 and we moved over to Pine Street in the 1700 block of Pine. Then I rented this place here and we moved over here. And we eventually bought the building here.
CS: About how long was the woman with ACA in the back room?
RC: Geez, about a year, but it got to be all. . . you know. And finally I was figuring since I had the building, she moved herself out to other places. Her maiden name was Adelaide Reuben, and ah, well, it was all a movie trick on Hollywood. So she got an automobile and she became my contact, catalogue contacts.
CS: Did many of the people who came to her gallery also come in here?
RC: No, because I had reproductions and she . . . .
CS: Oh, they were looking for different things.
RC: that specifically, she was [Phone rings, tape turned off.] my old state so I have all kinds and I sell 'em for less than they'd have to pay to be
CS: How many do you have?
RC: Just over 3 1/2 dozen. [Pause. Walks across room.] Yeah, sure, I sell 'em for $400 and the galleries in New York, they get top dollar. [Crosses room again.] My name on them and then I started to get some better things.
CS: What were some of the first good things you had?
RC: Well, I mean, like a good painting was something that had some quality or maybe by a very prominent artist and I'd try to sell it. It was hard to get things, you know, at a reasonable price so I still look in the newspaper, got this fellow who was the nephew of the woman who's in charge of estate. He bought those from one woman to me.
CS: When did you first begin selling art full time? Were you still working in your other job in the period we're talking about?
RC: No, no, no. In 1935 I began to devote my full time here.
CS: OK, you came here in '34 and by '35 you had quit your other job.
RC: Yeah. People said I was crazy to open an art gallery because the art business wouldn't continue.
CS: Well, I know that there are many galleries in this vicinity right now and there have been for a number of years. Back then, were there other galleries nearby?
RC: There were. There was one up at the corner here, this fellow . . . house people I thought was Dave [Coleman] Cohen. His wife's father was a little dealer in Amsterdam. So I used to go over there and see them. He'd get little modern paintings with names on them, very . . . some of them names which we know. It was to supplement their income. They worked next door here. And another guy across the street here. And now, you see, they're all on Pine Street. They've opened up in the last few years, 3 or 4 have just opened in the 1600 block. And then there's another fellow who just opened up one. Course he doesn't need to worry about money; his father is one of the wealthiest men in the world. The McNeils. He's Henry McNeil. His father was Henry McNeil who used to be the big owner of Johnson & Johnson.
CS: Yeah, pharmaceuticals.
RC: His father started working from there part . . . . He was a druggist and his very first company, and he built it up and he sold it to Johnson & Johnson at over 500 million dollars.
CS: You didn't have backing like that when you started, did you? RC; I didn't have any backing. No, no, I should say not. No. It was the space he opened up, did you see it, the gallery? Have you been in there?
CS: I've been in there.
RC: A very nice boy. Now let's see, he's interested in early modern art, Abstraction. And he's interested in the modern school in Germans, Expressionists. [Walks across room. Pause.] Had a beautiful self portrait of Kollwitz. It's bronze. I had a lot of stuff. I was giving it away at 5 and 10 dollars apiece.
CS: When was that?
RC: Oh, back in 1936. During the war years, nobody was buying because of the Germans. She wasn't a German; she was a radical, Kathe Kollwitz. She married this doctor in the poor district in Berlin and . . . he was a Socialist. That was a beautiful head that she'd made.
CS: How did you get her work?
RC: From different dealers. I represented the Valentine Galleries in New York. Course Valentine, he couldn't sell 'em so he used to give 'em to me. I sold a whole bunch to Lessing Rosenwald. I sold a lot of Edvard Munchs.
CS: Did you also get those in New York?
RC: Yeah, I got 'em in New York and I got 'em in Europe, too. Beckman, Pechstien, Nolde, Kirchner. [Laughs] So I sold Kirchner watercolors at $10. Apiece, they're worth thousands today. And all big names among the Germans, bringing a lot of money and I sold 'em for $10 apiece. And I used to get a lot of Paul Klees. There was a woman in London, I forget. She's descended from P. H. Mendelsohn, the composer. She was stranded in London, was a refugee, and someone gave me her name and I wrote to her and she started . . . I started buying things from her. Paul Klees and some of them, huge, seventy-five hundred dollars.
CS: Who were some of your early clients?
RC: My early clients? There were a lot of professional people, doctors and lawyers and accountants. And I had people like Dr. Lessing Rosenwald and I, ah, sold things to Dr. Barnes.
CS: Do you remember the first time you ever met Dr. Barnes?
RC: Yes, I think I went out to the Barnes Foundation; he was awful, impossible, if you know what I mean.
CS: Yes, that's what they say.
RC: Yeah, I remember I had a great big painting over there by a refugee artist [Paul Wieghardt] and he came in to see the show and saw that picture and said, "I'd like to buy that picture," he says, "how much is it?" And I said, "$300." "It's . . . I'll give you $175 for it." That was the way . . . he says. "I'll tell you what. I don't own this thing. I'll speak to the artist and get his ok; I'm pretty sure he'll agree to it." And, oh, he says, "I'm only doing this to have a shown artist." And I saw he was getting a little peeved because he couldn't have his way, so I finally said, "I'll think about it, you can take it." And he sat down and wrote out a check immediately for it, of course, and calls up the trucking company to come pick the painting up, you know. The artist understood, actually. It could get a lot more because it was going into the Barnes collection and you can say you're represented there.
CS: What painting was this?
RC: It was painting My wife will get back, she'll tell you the name of the artist. [Paul Wieghardt]
CS: Ok, I'll write myself a note to ask her who that was.
RC: It was one of the few people who ever studied with Paul Klee. He studied, was a student of Paul Klee.
CS: I'm not sure who you mean but we'll ask Mrs. Carlen when she comes back.
RC: Well, you know Paul Klee?
CS: Of course.
RC: Well, the artist who studied with Paul Klee.
CS: So that was the first sale you made to Dr. Barnes?
RC: Yes, I tell you what I'm selling . . . . You see, he was collecting antiques too, you know. Pennsylvania Dutch. Well, I sold him a lot of things. Now I sold him a lot of the santos. Did you ever see those? From New Mexico, they were really religious carvings, some are painted on what they call a retablo or a panel painted some of the Catholic saints, you know. The Indians out there, Santa Fe and Taos, were very religious and so they . . . make a little shrine in their house and they put a holy picture and put a santos or a saint, hanging up there. And they used to have santeros, these men, the Indians used to travel around the country out there with santos of course. They used to go to Mexico and Arizona, and all over, and they used to paint these pictures for people and they paid $3 for them or $5. And they'd make a little chapel in their house for them. They were very devout Catholics. So the . . . come into their house and you'd see these little paintings and they had little candles underneath them, you know, holy candle, the paintings had gotten dark from the soot, you know, and they make these on top of them, these panel paintings, you know. And then there's another form of 'em, micho, not a micho, a bulto. A bulto was when they actually carved like a horse. I had a big one of the horses, and one of the saints too, and I had a whole collection of those. I bought a collection out there in Santa Fe one summer, through a contact. He goes away to people. I sold a lot of 'em to Barnes. He came in and bought because he knew they were cheap. He'd pay a lot more for them at these other stores. And he came in and bought some from me and other people came in and bought some of the santos. He, um, and then he was turned in, he was always tried, you know, to be a very good patron of young artists. So when I used to have an exhibition here, I'd send him an announcement and he'd always come in to see the show. In the meantime, he bought things out of the show, you know, to encourage them. He would see the success of the show and then when I had Pippin's things here and he said, "Look here, have Pippin come up and put the show up." Barnes came here and I got the paintings over here. Pippins, all his pictures, I had them in the gallery here and Barnes walked in while I was hanging the show. He saw the frames and said, "May I look at them?" And I said, "Yeah." He looked at them and said, "Who's are these?" I said, 'A colored artist -- not educated." He said, "These are very, very good," and he immediately bought four of them. [Laughs]
CS: Even before the show opened?
RC: Yeah. And, ah, so did what's her name [Violette] de Mazia bought one. Charles Laughton bought one. Banres got on the phone and called Charles Laughton out in Hollywood and I told him about them and he said, "I've just bought one for you, too." [Laughs] Claude Rains I sold one to, and ah, an Englishman, oh . . . .
CS: They bought them sight unseen, on Barnes' advice?
RC: Yeah, No, some of them they saw and liked 'em. Laughton didn't see it. Barnes picked it out for him; I wish I could get that one. It's called Cabin in the Cotton. Then I later on heard from what's his name, in California, ah, one of the big movie directors, heard about him and he commissioned Pippin to make a painting for a backdrop, for a movie they were doing -- "The Temptation of St. Anthony." That started Pippin off, you know. [Laughs] He started with a critic in Time magazine. He came down, he heard about Barnes' interest in this Negro painter. And he thought . . . he wrote an article and he starts about a terrible-tempered doctor Albert Barnes.
CS: Yes, I read that article last week.
RC: Yeah, Barnes got very sore. I had another guy come in here; another one of those collectors whom I started selling things to [Titus Geesey]. And he was, ah, Did you see the exhibition of his paintings over there, his collection he gave to the gallery?
CS: Oh, um, Davis Grossman?
RC: No, no, he gave them to the museum on the Parkway. He was one of these collectors and he came in one day and ah, right after he came in, so did Barnes come in and by mistake I introduced them to each other sort of, and they started talking. The first thing they started getting into a fight about different things. [Laughs.]
CS: Oh, do you mean Christiana Brinton?
RC: No, no, no. His collection's down at the museum there, let me think. I'm trying to think of his name. I remember he came in here one day. I just walked out of Pine Street; I walked into an antique shop and saw 2 paintings. And I bought them from this dealer and I came back here and, ah, this Titus Geesey came in here and said he was looking for a painting, an oil painting, a Pennsylvania Dutch one. And I showed him one of the pictures and he liked it very much and he said, he . . . old pictures of the multitudes [Paul Preaching to the Multitudes] and I told him that I got these. They came from Dutch country and image was gave him one. He says, "I'm building a little chapel in my house with a Pennsylvania Dutch place and that's just what I need," he said. "I wanted a religious painting, you know; I'm Pennsylvania Dutch," he says. Later on he said, "You know, I always regret that I didn't buy the two of them." I . . . price on the market multitudes. [Carlen describes the painting] interior of the houses with a group of people rented barns all Pennsylvania Dutch architectural details in the house showing their relations with the . I just remembered his name, Titus Geesey. His collection is out at the museum. These wonderful things there which I sold him. I had a bowl, a lovely bowl, Pennsylvania Dutch. He [Dr. Barnes] saw it, liked it very much and said, "How much is that?" About $50." He says, "I think I'll take it." I thought then . . . , "Well," he said, " Well, how much did you say that was?" I said, "Ah . . . ." He said, "You said $50" and I said "Yes, I did, but . . . ." He got a wonderful buy on that. I sold him a lot; I sold him a lot of Frakture work. He was a doctor in the area and he didn't mind paying. Yes indeed. In those days they were very, you know, commonplace because nobody was collecting them. He was one of the few people collecting them. So he got a lot in the early days when nobody wanted them and, ah, he furnished . . . he's got beautiful ones up there at the museum.
CS: About how long ago was that?
RC: Mm, about 1941. There's a letter in there from him thanking me for when he bought his first painting from me.
CS: By this time you were no longer handling the color reproductions?
RC: Mm, I'd sell anything, anything I could to survive. Yeah, sure.
CS: Oh, you did?
RC: I mean I had a lot of cabinets here filled with French, very wonderful French color reproductions, Renoir, Cezanne, Degas. In those days they made beautiful ones. I had watercolors from Vienna, Cezanne watercolors just like the original painting, beautiful thing. That's the way Barnes was, you know, an awful cheap buyer. A multi-millionaire but a cheap buyer. What's her name, she got one too. The girl that helped him on the book, you know, who worked for him?
CS: Violette de Mazia?
RC: Violetta, de Mazia, yeah. And, ah, she's raised now, heard she's doing very well. I tried to buy a painting from her; she wouldn't sell it to me. Oh yeah, there was another man of course, who purchased things to himself. He came up when I had the Pippin show here and, ah, he says, and he picked out a still life, a beautiful one, with red flower and chair with a red upholstered seat and he says, "Tell you what I'll do. I'll give you $100 for that picture if you let me pay for it at the rate of $10 a month." Now he could have paid a million. Recently, I said, "Hey, how about selling me that picture from there?" I said brought it back to buy. I said, "I'll give you $5,000 for that picture." And he said, "No, I wouldn't sell that picture" he says,"in my collection." Finally woke up to what he had, just like the painting at the Academy that I told you about, the one I tried to buy for Mr. Rockefeller. I offered them $75,000 for it.
CS: Which painting was this?
CS: Oh, the John Brown Going to the Hanging.
RC: John Brown, yeah. Tried to get them to buy it. They didn't even . The person sell it to the Academy.
CS: Well, let's talk a little more about John Brown Going to His Hanging. Legend says that the elderly black woman facing the viewer in the corner . . .
RC: Pippin told me that it was his grandmother.
CS: Pippin's grandmother or his mother?
RC: Mm, I think he told me it was his mother; that old lady standing right in the corner, you know, looking straight out. Part of the crowd. She was, ah, she was . . . .
CS: I read about this in Selden Rodman's book.
RC: Yeah, that's right.
CS: And some people say . . . have figured out when Pippin's mother was born and how old she would have been when Pippin was born and at the time of the hanging, and they decided that no, this is either family legend or a misrecollection, that she was very, very young.
RC: Yeah, that's right.
CS: But Selden Rodman says that Pippin told you on many, many occasions that it was his mother and that you were convinced that it was his mother. [Pause]
RC: Pippin was born in Goshen, New York, you know.
CS: You knew him fairly well, didn't you?
RC: Oh, yes, sure I did. He was here all the time.
CS: But he lived in West Chester? RC; Yeah. He was born in Goshen and then when he was young his mother got a job as a laundress so they moved to West Chester, Pennsylvania.
CS: You had the first Pippin show here in 1940?
RC: I gave you a copy of catalogue?
CS: I think so. Tell me a little about how that came about.
RC: Well, there was a, ah, very prominent Quaker [Christian Brinton], an old man, he used to come and visit Alice and buy something and he came in here one day and said, "Mr. Carlen, I know an interesting painter." he said, "Maybe you might want to show his paintings." And I said, "Sure, be glad to." He said, "Well, they're over at the Walker, the Hudson Walker Gallery in New York, and he has all the paintings over there and he was . . . he's had no luck."
CS: Do you have any idea how Hudson Walker Gallery got hooked up with Horace Pippin?
RC: Christian Brinton told Hudson Walker about him and then Hudson said, "I'll be grateful for these pictures." So Pippin brought them all over to New York and showed them to him and he had them there for almost a year and he wasn't able to sell 'em and so when I went over there and Christian says ". . . and maybe you'd like to do a show" And so I said . . . I went over there and I liked what I saw. I felt that they were unusual, an American artist and the guy that recommended Brinton to Pippin was N. C. Wyeth. N. C. Wyeth lived right out there near, you know, in West Chester. On the Brandywine, out there, Chadds Ford. He, he said, "You know Brinton, he went to a community center in West Chester, mostly women's and here's " He said, "Look, Pippin had a couple paintings in the community show." He said, "Just look at some paintings and ah, and see if you can do anything for him." Brinton came to me and says, "I suggest we try and take these for him and see if you can sell 'em for him." And that's how it worked out that way from Brinton to, I mean from N. C. Wyeth to . . . and, ah, they have some of Pippin's out, you know, there at the, ah . . . .
CS: At the Brandywine?
RC: Yeah, at the Brandywine.
CS: No, I didn't know.
RC: Yeah, Pippin painted and, ah . . . .
CS: Now was the show you had here in 1940 everything from Hudson Walker?
CS: Were there additional works supplied by Pippin?
RC: Oh, yeah, yeah, because there were about 38 paintings and they only had three of them in New York. No, they had more than three; they were all over there but I only saw three of them.
CS: I see. So it was not really a one-man exhibition at Hudson Walker?
RC: Oh, no.
CS: I misunderstood.
RC: No, Hudson didn't have a one-man show.
CS: And this was about how much later that you had the one-man show?
RC: He had . . . . [TAPE 2, SIDE 1]
CS: As I was changing to the second tape, Mr. Carlen said one or two sentences about the 1938 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in which Horace Pippin was represented and made a comment about Albert Barnes purchasing a Pippin work from the Carlen Gallery exhibition in 1940. However, by the time the tape was replaced and read to go again, both Mr. Carlen and I decided that it would be better to resume on another occasion. Second taping is taking place again at the Carlen Galleries, 323 S. 16th Street, Philadelphia. The date is July 2, 1985, the time is 1:30 p.m. Last time we were just starting to talk about Horace Pippin. I know you knew him quite well. What was he like?
RC: What was he like?
CS: Yeah, what kind of person was he?
RC: Well, person hadn't much of an education, only a few years of school. He was born in northern West Chester and then he moved up to Goshen with his mother. She had a job up there, and ah, then he moved back to West Chester. Got married there.
CS: Did you know his wife, too?
RC: Yeah. Got a job down in Patterson, New Jersey; there was a lot of mills up there. He got a job there in an iron foundry up there.
CS: I know he had lots of different kinds of jobs over the years.
CS: I think much of this is recorded in the book and he wrote an autobiography, too, didn't he?
CS: You mention that he was very good with children and he was fond of your daughters.
RC: Yeah. He only had a few years of schooling. He went to work in an iron foundry in Patterson, New Jersey. Then he moved back to West Chester, Pennsylvania. [Pause] Started painting there. [Pause] Did you ever see that book I gave them at the Archives, his diary?
CS: I think that's what I mean when I said the autobiography, his diary.
RC: Yeah, and he illustrated it.
CS: Did he give you the diary?
CS: So he used to come here.
RC: Well, he used to come here every time he had a painting finished. He'd come here or I'd go out to his house in West Chester to pick it up.
CS: You told me he was present at the opening of his first show. Was that the first time you ever met him?
RC: No, I met him when I went out to see him about his paintings, to put in the show. And then of course, he came here two days before the exhibition was scheduled to open. I had to get all the pictures ready for the exhibition, see that they were framed and wired and hung. Friend of mine, he lived around here, an interior decorator. He used to go out to West Chester and he knew Pippin. And it's a shame because he wanted to buy two of Pippin's paintings, the early war ones which were in the exhibition out at the Community Center. But ah, Marlow to this day, it was shame, he thought a lot of them.
CS: What's your friend's name?
RC: Herman [Frances?] Rueben, he was an interior decorator.
CS: You were beginning to tell me last time the story about when you took Horace Pippin out to meet Dr. Barnes.
RC: Yeah, it's . . . with Selden Rodman. I gave him all the information, he wrote it up, and he had the original copy for his book, you know, so I took him up there to talk to Barnes. You know, it's funny; I was talking about it yesterday about a boy that was an adopted son, ah, of Mrs. John D. M. Hamilton. That would be Paul's, and this boy was. She adopted him when he was a baby. Her name is . . . she adopted him when she was first married. And Mr. Mason [the first husband] who's the vice president of Pan-American Airlines and, ah, she lived in Havana, Cuba, and, ah . . . . These two boys, she adopted 2 boys, one was Tony and the other boy's name as Phil and, ah, right after she ah . . . . Every now and then she'd buy a picture. I'd take her out to his . . . tame him out there in Paoli and she bought a farm house, a beautiful place . . . . [Phone rings] Sometimes he used to visit out there. She had a big stone fireplace and she asked him if he'd make a painting because the chairs were covered with leopard skin, you know, spotted, and I was wondering if that picture's ever in . . . .
CS: I know that one.
RC: That was the one she left her doctor son Tony, the oldest one, and after he got the painting, of course, all he was interested in was the money and he took it over to New York where this very active in painting and, ah, she [Terry Dintenfass] put an absurd price on it. I think she priced it at $125,000.
CS: Did it sell?
RC: No, I don't see . . . I was seeing something about it yesterday, about her. She was a tough cookie; very hard, really crazy. She put a fool price, $125,000, on it and just as I was getting it, somebody taking it and, ah, possibly buying it. [Pause] He came near buying it. the price was reduced from 150 to 125,000 thousand. by the time this dealer had reduced the price, the buyer had changed his mind and what the hell he was going to do, I don't know. He took it home and he had it back in his possession.
CS: Both Selden Rodman and Tom Armstrong in their writings about Pippin mention how fortunate he was to have you for a dealer, that you did a great deal to encourage him. Can you give me some examples of the things you did?
RC: Yes, I helped him. I gave him ideas and, ah, he saw the Edward Hicks painting here. I had the Peaceable Kingdom and I said, "Why don't you try your own idea of it, painting something. . . ." and he started painting a picture of the same idea of the peaceful kingdom or he called it Holy Mountain picture. You saw it in the book, didn't you?
CS: Yes, I did.
RC: One of those, he made three copies of the holy mountain picture, and one sold to Encyclopedia Britannica. They were making a collection of American paintings. And then, to my great surprise, I found out a while later they decided to abandon their idea of making a collection of American paintings and they sold that picture to a man here in Philadelphia, a doctor. I was mad as hell because the least they could have done was to let me know about it. This doctor [Ralph Jessar], a medical man, he studied at Barnes and, ah, . . . .
CS: Did Pippin ever go to the Barnes Foundation for classes?
RC: Yeah, yeah. Pippin, we went out there with Selden Rodman. Barnes asked Pippin if Pippin wouldn't like to come there, visit the collection on art, and see got back to him. And he decided to go there and, ah, Barnes, you know, used to give him money for his fare because it was $1.00, I think, from West Chester to Marion. So, $1.00, so he used to go there but then and he felt . . . after two weeks, he told me he was dropping out because he said he listened to the bunch; he couldn't understand them, you know, knew nothing about it.
CS: Did you yourself ever go to the lectures at Barnes?
RC: I went out there when they used to have some sort of concerts and Barnes was very fond of Negroes, you know, because he became interested in Negroes, in, ah, as folk singers. And, ah, I went there a couple of times when he had those concerts, when he would invite people to listen to the Negro choir sing spirituals. But, ah, after a few times going there, he looked at me, he said, "It was too much trouble." He said, "I don't want anything there." I don't understand and could he drop out.
CS: Well, I understand that you also stretched Pippin's canvases for him.
RC: Oh, yes. In the beginning I used to make his canvas for him. I used to get stretchers and put the raw cotton canvas over the stretchers and, ah, then give 'em a coat of glue size nad, ah, then again coat of blue size and when that'd dry, I'd give 'em a couple of coats of priming of white, you know. So you see, I made a number of canvases for him and then later on I was going to France, I bought some very good linen canvas, you know, professional linen canvas. I bought that in Paris for him.
CS: Now did he just not know anything about good materials or he couldn't afford them?
RC: No, the paints he was using when he started painting . . . he had no money to buy paints and he used to go around the houses, around, you know, people who were painting houses there and he would get the cans, you know. There would still be some color still left in there. Yellow ochre, and raw umber, black and white and those were the colors he used in his early pictures. Later on when I felt he could use good colors, you know, strong colors, I had colors made for him in the cadmiums and cobalts. The very finest colors I bought for him. I bought white, I bought zinc white for him. I got him all good colors when he started using fine oil paintings. I thought, I wanted him to have good materials so the pictures you know, stand up, you know, over a period of time so they wouldn't darken. Unfortunately, it happened I used good canvas; I used good white paint, good, ah, good, ah . . . . He used oil and things like that so he could mix his colors with, you know, so that he had good colors. His pictures have held up very, very well.
CS: Did you also advise him on framing?
RC: No, I made his frames for him, you see. I framed 'em for him. Yeah, I framed 'em for him, like the one you see upstairs. That's an 18th Century frame, the Pippin upstairs, you know, the one that's up there?
CS: Over the couch, yes.
RC: That was a very good frame. And, ah, I had that gold leaf it came out beautifully. Yeah, I did him a lot of favors over a period of time. I'd go to antique shops and I'd see an old frame and I'd buy it and make a stretcher the size of the frame so he could use the frame.
CS: Now, did you do things like this for other artists?
RC: Well, the only other one I ever did it for was myself. Because, you know, artists materials are like, they are expensive as all hell, you know, paints, canvas, brushes. I got him new brushes. It was an expensive proposition trying to be a painter 'cause you had to have the money to buy the materials; they were expensive. That's why I want those pictures that held up very, very well. 'Cause of the quality paint I bought for them. I told you this French, the French man, came over here during the war years from Paris and, ah, he used to make colors right here. He made good colors. I used to buy paints from him. Some were 6 to 8, 10 dollars a tube . . . [Interruption]
AC: I just thought of something under people and places. Be sure and have him tell you how Mrs. Elkins bought Karolik here one night at 11 o'clock at night one time, and their connection after that. That's an interesting story. [Interruption -- lengthy discussion.]
CS: Pippin never traveled much except when he was in Europe during World War I.
RC: Yeah, well, I used to, you know, I took him to Chicago; we had a show out there at the club out there. It was a very prominent club of wealthy society women. They had an art club, you know . . . Pippin to the arts and Mrs. Armour of Armour meat packing, all those people were all members and, you know, we had a show out there.
CS: Did you arrange for the show?
RC: No, I arranged with the secretary of the club, yes. And, ah, the irony was when we got out there and got it all paid for, everything, she thought she was being very, very, you know . . . . She said, "You know, Pippin's the first Negro that ever walked over the front steps to go into the club." She thought that was a great honor to him. And then she, ah, I found out that instead of just one artist, she had two artists. One was Salvador Dali and Pippin being the two artists, she had a joint show of . . . . Well, you know it was ironical because . . . . So I said, "You know, look, you're not being very sensible because . . . . " I said, "How can you possibly take a man like Pippin who's self-taught, you know, naive, and put him along side a man like Salvador Dali who represented the essence of academic art, you know." Dali, even today, pictures of his command terrific prices anyhow. The pictures were all out there. I was going to take them back and when he got a commission. Dali got commissioned to paint a portrait of Mrs. Armor and he had a head of her painted on a big silver platter. He made a painting of a portrait which was in silver.
CS: Was Pippin well received in Chicago?
RC: Yeah, sure, I took him out there. Yes, I took him out there; had a good time at the club out there. And ah, once later when we had a show out in San Francisco.
CS: When was that?
RC: Hmm, in 1944. I'll have to find my book, my Pippin book.
CS: Did you take Pippin out there too?
RC: No, I didn't. The pictures were shipped out there and, ah, I did take him to New York, I believe, to the Bignou Gallery.
CS: No, tell me the name of that again.
RC: The Bignou Gallery, that was a very famous French gallery from Paris.
CS: I misunderstood, I thought you said New York.
RC: I did, yes. The Bignou Gallery is in New York and I sold one picture there to . . . a . . . a movie star; he used to play parts of gangsters and take a well-known movie star...
CS: I'm not very good at movie stars. I know the faces and names but not the two together.
RC: Alice (calls wife), will you come down a second. That was Eddy Robinson, wasn't the movie star?
AC: What did you say, honey?
RC: We sold Eddy Robinson a painting, didn't we, yeah?
AC: Eddy Robinson a painting, yeah. Was it a Pippin?
RC: Yeah, sure.
AC: Yeah, remember the time Claude Rains came before the opening of the first Pippin show.
RC: Yeah, that was funny. Claude Rains came.
AC: I was having the maid clean up the place and this man rang the doorbell. It was a riot.
CS: Did you know he was coming?
AC: No, we had no idea anybody was coming. The doorbell rang, the maid was cleaning, getting ready for everybody.
RC: The floors were being refinished?
AC: The floors were being waxed. This man's there and I thought he looked, he looked vaguely familiar. And he said, "I want to see, are the Pippins hanging?" And I said, "Yes they are but the show hasn't opened yet." "Well, I'd like to see them." I said, "You can't walk in there, those floors are wet!" [Laughs] Then I looked at him again and, oh my God, that's Claude Rains! "Well, just a minute. I'll take another look and see maybe they've dried enough for you to walk on them." So in he came and bought, remember, he bought one which we again sold, he sold not long ago.
RC: Yes, he died and left it to his attorney.
AC: Robinson bought the Pippin, the little Pippin, tiny, didn't he? Robinson?
AC: And Charles Laughton bought one.
RC: No, Laughton bought one when Barnes was here.
AC: When Barnes was here, Charles Laughton bought one. And he got, and remember, that was the time he went over to what's his name's Mrs. Hamilton's, and he sat there and drank a quart of scotch. [TAPE 2, SIDE 2] [unintelligible]
RC: Yeah, Eddy Robinson, yeah. He bought that at the Bignou show.
CS: Did Pippin go to New York for that?
RC: Yeah, I think I took him along there. And of course we got a proposition from Vogue magazine.
CS: What was that?
RC: Oh, they were having three artists picked out to make paintings, you know, to be used as a backdrop, as a setting, for the cotton clothes, you know, Vogue magazine. One of those was Chirico, Pippin . . . Alice!
RC: Who was the other, the name of those three artists that Pippin painted the fish net time for the . . . .
AC: He painted Marian Anderson.
RC: No, he painted those pictures in New York at the . . . for Vogue magazine.
AC: The Cabin in the Cotton.
RC: No, not . . . he did the . . . . That's the one he did for the movies.
AC: The cotton one.
RC: Yeah, he did that one, yeah, King Cotton.
AC: Yeah, Cabin in the Cotton.
RC: No, King Cotton.
AC: King Cotton, King Cotton. He did one for Vogue.
RC: Yeah, I said for Vogue. Who was the other one? Who's the other one, Chirico. There were three artists picked out that time?
AC: Pippin, Chirico and I don't know who the other one was. Was it Dali? [INTERRUPTION]
CS: So Pippin had a proposal to paint the backdrops for Vogue magazine.
RC: Well, he was chosen as one of the . . . . He said . . . well he was to do a painting 8 feet tall. And I said, "Pippin can't do that; he's crippled." So they finally decided, we decided he would do a small sketch which they could enlarge. That's when, this is for the Vogue magazine issue, spring issue of cotton dresses. So he did the one for that and he did a picture of an old woman sitting in front of a spinning wheel, you see, spinning cotton, and it had several of the figures, you know, he used in there were tied together by this string of cotton.
CS: Did he ever use a model?
RC: Well, he just did, ah, you know, he and he, ah, and what's her name, the actress [Marian Anderson came out with him, Edward G. [Robinson] in, where was it, Pippin . . . .
AC: Remember that show he had, Bob, in, where was it, Pippin, when we, you went to Chicago with him?
RC: Yeah, what was the society club?
AC: The Arts Club or something like that.
RC: the Arts Club in Chicago.
AC: Something like that.
RC: That's why it's important to get the book so you can see what happened.
CS: That was a long trip if you drove out there together.
AC: We didn't drive out there, we flew out.
AC: You flew out. Oh, I thought you told me you drove.
RC: No, we flew out there and then when we had the sow in New York, then I drove him over to New York.
AC: The first show in New York when Edith Halpert, where she tried to swipe him away from you.
CS: She did?
RC: I told you what she tried to do.
RC: She had a colored boy, you know, who worked for her, maybe, very young. I have nothing against Negroes, but . . . . So she had this boy who I new very well. So, one day Pippin called me and says, you know, what's his name's over here and we were talking about it so one night he came in and he said well, Mrs. Halpert sent him over, sent him over to see me, I mean to say him, see Pippin, and say he felt that, you know, that she, having a more important gallery, could do more for Pippin, you know what I mean, and it would be wise if he dropped me and made her his representative. That was a dirty, lousy trick. You know, I mean, ah. Pippin sat there . . . . He said, "Why should I?" He said, "I'm satisfied with what you're doing, why should I change? Why should I get another dealer?" And that squelched that. But she, they're all trying, you know. They figured he looked like a good thing so they all wanted to be his representative, his agent. [Pause] I just saw another painting by a Negro artist who's very good. Ever heard of Jacob Lawrence?
CS: No, I don't know him.
RC: Negro painter. I have a watercolor by him. I saw it in this dealer, over here, he got it from a clerk here . . . . He priced it $35,000 for the watercolor.
CS: When did Jacob Lawrence live?
RC: He's still alive.
CS: He's still alive?
RC: Yeah, he must be in his 50's. Now he came from Seattle, Washington, during the Hoover administration. He got all the training in Atlantic City, too. I have a beautiful painting by him. He did a number of series of things; he did this one of Harlem in New York, water color. He did this one, ah, medical series, so I bought one from somebody showing big, you know, ah, paintings on a floor of a hospital, and I brought this, ah, collector, and then I tried to sell it. Beautiful thing. I wish I had it today; I offered $600. Try and sell it for a doctor who lives right here in the city here, he's a doctor. [Pause] He'd try anything, like it said in the book, you know.
CS: You said that Pippin had to make a small sketch for Vogue so it could be enlarged because his arm was too crooked?
RC: He made a small one, King Cotton.
CS: Now, I know that his arm was crippled from a war injury. Did he have no motion whatsoever?
RC: No, it was paralyzed, you see.
CS: It was completely paralyzed?
RC: Yes, the only way he could paint was his fingers. He could manipulate the brush in his fingers. He took, put his hand around his wrist and he did this way. That's how he moved, his right arm moved his left hand. That's the way he painted.
CS: Did you ever watch him paint?
RC: No, I never did. That 's the only way he was able to paint and that's why he didn't produce many pictures, you know. He was very slow. It took him a lot of time to paint with small brush strokes. It was almost, ah, you know. [Pause] When we went to New York I took Pippin over to New York, you know, and, ah, to see if the people at Vogue magazine, Ilka Chase, you know, the actress. Her mother was the chief editor of Vogue magazine, you see, so I took . . . we had a meeting over there so I could tell Pippin what their ideas were to see whether he could hire out. So I drove him over the New York so we had the conference there but he couldn't understand their language. They were talking, you know, art, terms of art, all that, and, um, we finally agreed that he was to do a sketch, you see. He suggested an idea to do a sketch for King Cotton, the idea of cotton, you see, of clothing, and when we went home the next morning . . . very strong sunset. You know, the sky was terrific and he said, "Well, I'm going to use that color in my next painting." The next one by Tintoretto from the Christ at the Well. And he did and he painting and Barnes had the original one by Tintoretto and now we had the original one that inspired Pippin. It had beautiful color and texture red. And he painted that picture, and they used that reproduction, you know. And then we got another commission for Pippin to paint a picture; they were doing a movie out in Hollywood called the Temptation of St. Anthony and he did a big painting for that, that kicked around for a while and some guy, that then I . . . they [Horace Pippin's step-son] sold to a guy [Jamison] out in, ah, West Chester, sold it to this guy for $25. and . . . .
CS: When you would take Pippin to New York and you'd be driving in the car a few hours, was he very talkative?
RC: No, no. During the trip over . . . this idea for Vogue magazine, you know, He got a nice fee, they . . . he charged much. It was quite an honor, though, after all, ah, Chirico and Pippin. The other artist, I'll have to look the whole thing up. You never met Selden Rodman?
RC: Does it seem to be important for you to meet him?
CS: Where is he?
RC: He lives in New York. He has a daughter there.
CS: Now, how did he become interested in writing a book on Pippin?
RC: Well, he was interested in Negro folk art. He got interested in the Haitain school, you know, down there. Because of that, he became interested in doing a book on Pippin. He was asked by what's his name, the fellow who, ah, the fellow who was . . . . I don't know his name. [Lee Ault] He's the one who contacted, you know, Selden Rodman and told Rodman . . . he gave Rodman my name so Rodman had to get in touch with me to get the information, the data . . . . So that was the connection there and I introduced Selden Rodman to Barnes. All these, you know, things tied in.
CS: Had Pippin died at the time that Rodman began writing the book? Was Pippin already dead?
RC: No, he wasn't dead. Pippin died in 1946.
CS: And it was rather sudden, wasn't it?
RC: Yeah, that's right.
CS: Remember the last time you saw him?
RC: Yes, it was in summer, July 4th. I was down in Atlantic City with my children. I saw the papers; he died of a stroke. I tried to find . . . I guess that was the Four Arts Club in Chicago which was, ah, I tried the Cosmopolitan Club here in Philadelphia; they just sent literature and interested in so-called cultural events.
CS: Who was the major collector of Pippin's work?
RC: The major collector of Pippin's work was Barnes. It was his, you know, his importance as a collector meant an awful lot, you see, when an artist got his recommendation, you know. Did you get in touch with what's her name, de Mazia?
CS: Miss de Mazia? We have written to her about the Barnes Foundation records and she didn't write back.
RC: Did you ever see the book The Art in Painting by Albert Barnes?
CS: Have you read most of his publications?
RC: No, not very much. I think she's the one who actually and the good notes for the research parts.
CS: What was your opinion of that?
RC: Yeah, it was, you know, I mean, all his, the two of 'em, their ideas about painting, you know, what color meant and how their theories, you know, Monet, Cezanne and all those people. I think you people should write to her because, since you're doing this in connection with Pippin, it's very important, you know, to get her opinion about Pippin, you see.
CS: Ok. Do you know of any, any, ah, writing of that type about Pippin and why his color use or anything, from the Barnes Foundation?
RC: You saw that thing upstairs?
CS: You mean the piece written by Barnes?
RC: Yeah, part of the catalog in which . . . article up there, yeah. I absolutely would write to her again. She's very ill. I think she's got cancer.
CS: I know she wasn't well, but I didn't know the problem.
RC: She's in her eighties. I would write to her. Tell her it would be a shame, you know what I mean, to, ah, you know, Barnes' association with Pippin, because it was so important what he'd done in the beginning about Pippin. Make her feel, you know, sort of flatter her. She's a big shot wheel. Yes, I would try, that would be very important. I had the show in here and she and Barnes walked around. What the hell, you ask yourself, she had more power and influence with him, yeah, sure. She was very pretty. She studied art in Paris before the war. She studied in Paris, so he had a good, good background. [Unintelligible followed by pause.] She used to, supposed to specialize in primitive art, when she did the book for him on the Art of Painting, it was done, you know, from an intelligent point of view. I know that it's going to make him feel flattered that his opinion is so important about Pippin and the association with Pippin and modern painting. Did you get a copy of The Art in Painting?
CS: I don't have my own copy; I got it from the library. Now you were interested in primitive painting before you ever knew of Pippin, weren't you?
RC: Yeah, yeah. I was interested in American primitive art. I was one of the first dealers, you know. We became very active, Edith Halpert and myself and a couple more in New York, became interested in American primitive and American folk art.
CS: Was there anyone else in Philadelphia who was dealing in that kind of work?
RC: Not yet, you see. Not really. We hadn't figured out, you see, and I used to go around to these junk shops where they had all this stuff there and used to pick up some old copper weather vanes, signs, you know, tavern signs and all those things were tentative and folk artists, because, earlier, you see, primitive art . . . . She was one of the first who recognized the quality in Pippin's work and its relationship Did you ever see that book the Museum of Modern Art put out in 1937?
CS: What's the title?
RC: Ah, The Naive Painter.
CS: Oh, I think I may have.
RC: There were some very good ones in there, you know. What's his name, Douanier Rousseau. Some very good ones. Are there any special questions you want to ask me?
CS: Let's start talking a bit about some of the Hicks paintings and how you went about finding them for his show.
RC: The way I went about finding them. Ah, I figured that since that, ah, Hicks, through . . . ah, you know, he was a Quaker, to contact all his contacts. Because interested in his paintings, interested in his paintings, was the Quakers you know and, ah, well known as a preacher and his cousin and . . . . His cousin was, ah, very popular preacher also; he founded this clique in the Quakers, the Hicksites. Difference between the . . . new group which, what's his name started and Hicks . . . .
CS: Thomas Hicks?
RC: No, Hicks . . . . [Pause] [END TAPE 2, SIDE 2]
CS: This is Tape 3, Side 1. July 2, 1985. His cousin's name was Elias then?
RC: Elias, yes. He was a farmer up in Long Island and he was the one who started the split in 1827 between the conservative Quakers and the other group.
CS: They're called Hicksites, aren't they?
RC: Hicksites, yeah. They named it after him. So that they split [Laughs], they split the meetings up in half. They even cut the benches in the middle to divide and they had their start down in Philadelphia on Fourth and Arch Streets. They had terrific fights. Ordinarily, you know, they were against fights.
CS: How did you get interested in Edward Hicks?
RC: Well, because, I got interested because when I saw his paintings I realized that he was a great artist.
CS: Where did you see some of his work?
RC: Well, see something in an exhibition Edward Hicks in the . The Quakers used to buy pictures from him to help him out. You know, he had no income at all and preachers never got paid, you know, he'd get Quaker meeting volunteer and, ah, so what he used to do was he was a house painter and a sign painter. To try to make some money, you know, he had a family to support, and he had this shop right in his house in Newtown and, ah, in his spare time, you know, in the winter time and the fall when he couldn't go out to paint signs or paint houses, he would make these paintings nad would have a stock of 'em. The Quakers, he survived from them, they helped him out. These Quakers, there were an awful lot of wealthy Quakers back in those days. A good many of 'em came to this country back then. There were people who back then had an awful lot of money and bought a lot of land over here and started, you know, large farms here.
CS: So you had seen Edward Hicks's works in museum?
RC: Yeah, sure.
CS: And were impressed and decided to work for . . . .
RC: And decided to collect 'em, sure . . . didn't take much to convince me once I saw his work.
CS: And this would have been very soon after you started your gallery when you began looking for Hicks paintings.
RC: Yeah, yeah. It was, of course, in the early Thirties when I became acquainted with Edward Hicks. We brought in . . . Edith Halpert and she was dealing, too; I knew her very well. Ah, she started a gallery in New York and she called the Downtown Gallery because it was up there, you know, down in that section, West 13th Street and, ah, she, ah, she became interested; she used to come out on this . . . . She wasn't as enthusiastic, I don't think, about Edward Hicks, as much as I was. But she had a man who I don't know who influenced her. He was, he was the man who was the head of the WPA Art Projects [Holger Cahill]. He was the man, he was a friend of, ah, [President John] Kennedy. And I sold his paintings, and I went around start trying talk people into, I said, "For God's sake, these are very great paintings." I told them they'd call him today what I used to call him -- Douanier Rousseau. He was the American Rousseau and, ah, I used to get people in here and I'd show them the paintings, Hicks and try to convince them how important he was . Some people took me at my word and a lot of them did and they said,"If they're so damn good, why don't you hold on to 'em?" One of these paintings . . . . I said, "You can't help people, you know." It's very funny because you give your advice and they reject it.
CS: How many Hicks paintings were you able to acquire?
RC: Hmm, about 30.
CS: And did you have . . . ?
RC: Without speaking very much. This girl [Mary Black] I met, she was the curator down there, at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, you know. It was at what's the name, started the Museum at Williamsburg? And . . . .
CS: Did you have a Hicks exhibition?
RC: Yeah, I had an exhibition.
CS: When was that?
RC: The early Forties.
CS: That was in, right around the same time as Pippin's?
RC: Yeah, I got interested in folk art in general and I figured they were the two most important one's I'd seen. They both had quality in their work. Hicks had taken a lot of Currier and Ives prints, you know, and used them for an idea about painting, ah, peaceful paintings. There were a lot of engravings made in England, you know, and he used that idea. And I tried to get him [Pippin] to be interested, I told him, I said, in historical things because I talked him into picking up, ah, John Brown. And I used to have to go to the library with Pippin and see, you know, and I would look up books and find furniture of the period, you know, so he would sketch and have drawings for his detail matter of the court. He started out with John Brown and, ah, get down very complicated details, you know, so that they were pretty authentic and then he did the same things with the Bible. I showed him a quotation from Isaiah 10, Chapter 11, and he described it, you know, a wonderful description of the place, as Hicks did, the same idea . . . the story of Elias and the lion.
CS: Did you sell many Hicks works?
RC: Did I sell many?
CS: Yeah. No?
RC: Over a period of time, yeah, but . . . .
CS: But not from the exhibition?
RC: No. I forget, I sold, ah, Titus Geesey, he left his collection to the museum [Philadelphia Museum of Art] and, ah, he came in and, he came in and saw me about it. He liked the painting. And, ah, it was the first one I had, that painting right there, a small one, 17 x 12. And he said he'd take it, so fine, so he bought that. And Mrs. Elkins came around and saw the sold sign. But when Hicks' show was over Titus Geesey came in and he said, "Mr. Carlen, I hope you won't be disappointed but friends of mine said that they think the price was too much for a Hicks painting at ? dollars, the optimum. They said usually people pick 'em up for a lot less around antique shows and all, so would you mind if I didn't take it?" So I said, "No," because they saw this thing no dealer would like, you know . . . . You don't buy a picture and leave it, you know, with a "sold" sign on it for the entire length of the show and then ask, you know, to cancel it out. I know, I had another picture in the Pippin show, a study of flowers and, ah, this woman came in and she saw the show and she said, "I'd like to buy one for my son." So she bought one. And she, then another one, she came back again and said, "Mr. Carlen, you don't mind if I don't take the picture because it's too much money for my son, you know, that picture." So I said, "No, that's all right." But I knew the minute he walked out in the Avenue I called Mrs. Elkins. I said, "Mrs. Elkins, the [Hicks] painting you wanted so much that was sold, the people changed their mind. Do you want it?" And she said, "I certainly do. Would you bring it right over." So I took it over to her house, which is where Henry Mcllhenny lives, ringing the first . They sold the house to Mcllhenny. Then she got a dirty trick. Knoedlers said, "We got a better one than the one you have, which wasn't true."
CS: A better Pippin?
RC: No, no, a better Hicks painting. "But, ah, why don't you buy ours and we'll give you credit for yours. We'll exchange it." I thought that was a dirty trick, too.
CS: You've worked with many different collectors over the years, haven't you?
RC: Oh, yeah, sure. You have to have an in among those people.
CS: Who were some of the ones you particularly enjoyed working with?
RC: Well, that was a time when I was very active with Mrs. Potamkin. Most of her pictures she got from me. I sort of begrudge them to her because she acted like she did . . . .
CS: What do you mean?
RC: She wasn't very pushy, well, about what I got for her, you see. She didn't like the idea of people knowing she knew me and she bought paintings from me. She wanted all the credit for herself.
CS: Do you know what other dealers she bought from?
RC: Well, she went around to New York to see Milch because she had a . There's one dealer, he was more than that, you know, had but you had to pay the price, buy from us. So, no, I had a number of individual collectors around me who bought paintings a lot and some were good collectors and some were bad. Even Barnes was a chiseler; I mean he tried to, you know, bargain about a picture, come down in your price. How would you like it if you were a dealer and you had a hard time getting pictures for your gallery, you know, to sell 'em to collectors, you have to make something on it and your . . . have to sell a picture say for $300 and work for it, cut down on the profit tremendously, you know. It hardly compensates you for the time you put in chasing it along, trying to find it.
CS: In addition to Mrs. Potamkin, who else have you worked with a lot?
RC: Titus Geesey. Mrs. Elkins, Col. and Mrs. Garbisch.
CS: Earlier when Mrs. Carlen returned, she mentioned the story about the Karoliks and Elkins.
RC: The Karoliks?
CS: Tell us about that.
RC: Maxim Karolik was a poor Russian, Jewish boy from Russia, and he went over to Paris to study singing and he knew he had a voice but he didn't. In Paris he was introduced to, ah, Miss Codman, Boston Codman, and she . . . ah, he managed to talk her into thinking he had a great voice. So, she starts sponsoring him and she ended up, a woman like that, she was this old lady, she married a guy like that, who came of course from Russia, Jew and Boston. Of course it was hardly acceptable in Boston society. And, ah, she married him and she must have been about thirty years older than he was. She was collecting, you know, her family Boston. She collected furniture; her family was wealthy and so she and the money and that's all he did was to collect furniture and paintings. He got interested in American painting and he started buying American paintings. So he was married to her for a great many years. When she died she left him part of her collection and part of it she left to the Boston museum, the Karolik collection. And, ah, he continued to collect, you know, paintings. He used to come here. Mrs. Elkins was the one who introduced me to him. She brought him one afternoon. She said [laughs], she said, "Mr. Carlen, I have a man who comes from Boston and I'd like to bring him over if you wouldn't mind." She said his name is Karolik and she said he's stinking rich . So I said sure, so she brought him along over here and I started selling him paintings, you know. He was buying American pieces so he was one of the few, few of 'em who bought. I had once . . . . I'll always regret it that I never followed up. I was showing in a booth at an antique show in Norristown and an old lady came to see me, wanted, you know, old family, and said, "Mr. Carlen, would you be interested in buying a collection of paintings? My husband used to collect them," she said, "but he died and I'm all in pieces and I don't know what to do with them." And she said "Kensett." She had a whole house filled, she had a whole house full of Kensetts. A lost opportunity.
CS: Now Mrs. Elkins was going to bring Karolik over to the gallery?
RC: Yeah, she brought him over here one day. So I used to contact him when I'd get some paintings; I'd call Boston where he lived. But, she said, "I"ve got a whole collection; I'd like to sell 'em all to get rid of 'em all." She doesn't like 'em. Lost opportunity. I didn't have enough sense at that time, you know. He wasn't a primitive but he was, ah, a classic artist who had a vision. Had I realized what was being offered to me, I should have grabbed them all.
CS: Do you have any idea what happened to that collection of Kensetts?
RC: No, I think she found somebody who really liked 'em and sold 'em all. I had wonderful things. I had what's his name, the American painter, O'Hara, you know, American painter, a realistic painter?
CS: Tell me his name again?
RC: John O'Hara?
RC: No. An American landscape painter. He had a show, had a show at the Academy a few years ago.
CS: Paul Doobie.
RC: Something like O'Hara. I had wonderful by [Hopper] The Automat. He paid $8,500. I offered it to Mr. Goldman and he was another one who I, and Mr. who . I couldn't persuade him to buy it and I said, "You're going to regret it, Mr. Goldman." last picture. Shortly afterwards it went to the Metropolitan Museum. It sold for a half a million dollars.
CS: Hopper, are you talking about Hopper?
RC: Yeah, Hopper. Edward Hopper sold for a half a million dollars. His etchings today, an etching, mind you, brings 10 thousand dollars.
CS: Have you ever had any Hoppers here?
RC: The only one I believe I ever had was The Automat. One of his most famous paintings. Another artist I had I liked, respected very much, Harnett. I had a lot of Harnetts. I had the great painting, After the Hunt. I had a marvelous one by Heade. Some little right here in town came in, bought one. Glackens was here, John Sloan. [Pause] Prendergast. I sold some Prendergast paintings.
CS: I believe you told me one of the first times I was here that you had represented the Prendergast estate.
RC: The estate, yeah. Mrs. Prendergast had a wonderful great big landscape, one of the biggest I've ever seen. I sold it to Mr. William Goldman and two years later . . . I sold it to him for $7,500, two years later I sold it for him for $75,000. It was a shame you weren't around then . . . .
CS: I'm around now and I still don't have any . . . .
RC: Marry a rich man, my dear.
CS: Today is July 9, 1985, 1 p.m. You were starting to talk last time about some of the paintings that had interesting stories behind their discoveries. Do you remember about finding the Edward Hicks in Redbank, New Jersey?
RC: Yeah. Well, I met this man [Mr. Lovett] at one of the antique shows and I asked him about Edward Hicks and it turned out he was a Quaker. He said, no, he'd heard the name, and he'd check with his sister who was the one in the family interested in those things. He wrote and said, yes, he spoke to her and she said, "Oh, yes, I know Edward Hicks, in fact there's one upstairs in the attic, and I wish you'd come down and tell me what it is." And I drove about three and a half hours to get to this place, it was right near New York state, and he pulled the picture out. And I said okay, it was a nice one. And he said, "What I'd like to know is how much is it worth? So I said, Well, it's worth x number of dollars" and, ah, he said, "Is it worth that much?" And I said, "Yeah.". And he said, "Have you got cash?" This is a Quaker, and I said, "Yeah." So, he said, "Give it to me." So I handed it to him and I asked for a receipt. And he said, "You know, I don't think I'd better sell that. The family won't appreciate letting it go out of the family." I said, "What you now." Well, he said, "yes." He says, My sister's gonna be home about 7 o'clock and my wife will be furious because a . . . ." And she came in and I started at the front door, he's telling her, "Do you believe that the picture here's worth . . . ." I opened the door and all he was interested in was getting the information out of me, what it was worth, and how he had it . . . . I sure bothered stopping. It's not fair . . . . I went to a lot of trouble. So he followed me all the way out to the station wagon out front and he's hollering, give me back that picture . . . money . . . I got in the car. This friend of mine, this painter was listening, and he said, "Now what'd you do?" I said, "Shut up for god's sake. I should have put you in charge. I'll tell you when we get out." And he said, "What's he hollering about?" I said, "I don't know, don't pay any attention to that." Then I drove off and I didn't hear from him again. They called . . . the information and when he got it was surprised then . . . .
CS: You eventually sell that piece yourself?
RC: Oh, Yeah, sure.
CS: Was that one of the items in the Edward Hicks show?
RC: Yes, it was . It was bought by the woman who was married to the son of the president of Bethlehem Steel Company. He [Charles Grace] never liked it. She said he never liked any of her friends who were artists, they were intellectuals. She got good works from them. She told me what happened. She said when they were setting up the divorce, she said, he took all the objects, you know, and divided 'em up and appraised 'em and then they were but she knew he didn't like the Hicks painting at all.
CS: Do you remember which painting it was?
RC: Oh, yeah, it was Peaceable Kingdom, it was a small size; it was a very nice painting. There were one or two things she wanted, Childe Hassam. One was a [sculpture] portrait of the daughter of Jacob Epstein. [TAPE 3, SIDE 1]
RC: She put a lower price on the Epstein knowing that would be the next picture she would take because she wanted that one. And she took the Epstein and, to her shock and surprise, he said." I'll take the Hicks," but she always thought . . . .
CS: So it went to him.
RC: That was the one that went to the sale when I put it in the show. She bought the picture. [Mrs. Carlen enters.]
AC: I forgot to add something, Selden. Did Bob talk to you about . . . ? The first book about Pippin by Selden Rodman. Bob did all the work, really. So that's something else to add to your list of experiences, writing a first book. [Mrs. Carlen leaves.]
CS: Now I believe that you also had an adventure in discovering a William Sidney Mount painting?
RC: Yeah, um, this woman's [Mrs. Lovett] father about fifty-sixty years ago was a collector of paintings. He'd bought a painting that had been painted for a company in Paris who ordered paintings made and they would reproduce them and sell the reproductions. And, ah, eventually they got a number of paintings. They sold 'em out to individuals, so her father had bought this William Sidney Mount. It was a painting of a Negro playing, ah, an ivory boned, ah, you know, guitar. No, it wasn't ivory boned. He was playing the violin. He was a violinist bowed from left to right. And, ah, her father bought it and had it for a number of years. And he, ah, years later, he put it in a sale to sell it and all they could get for it was $20.
CS: Where was the sale?
RC: It may have been a local sale up in New York State somewhere. And he wouldn't sell it. He didn't let it go; he brought it back in. We never knew where the picture was the whole time. This woman [Mrs. Lovett], she had a brother, the one I got the painting [Hicks] from. And shortly after wards I got a letter from her saying that her brother had died suddenly and she knew that I had bought some things from him. There were paintings there and she said, "You want to see 'em. There might be something up there." I drove up to the place and she said, "I've just sold the house and I have to get out of it." She said . . . it was a small house, a two story house. She said the pictures are stored up on the fourth floor and I went up there and the paintings, great paintings, you know. She said, "You can have anything you want for $25 apiece," she said. Well, I got started from the top, put things aside until I'd done something about it and then and on the very bottom, on the floor with all these paintings piled up on top of it was the William Sidney Mount painting. It was a miracle it never got destroyed. So I picked three picture out and I noticed it was getting very late and started pouring. I said, "I think I gotta get going." I said, "Look . . . " I said, "I really don't have any room for three, I'll just take the one which I really like and . . . ." I said, "I'll tell you what, you take these two which I don't like and give 'em away to your friends as gifts." She said that would be very nice; she said, "Yes, I guess they would like 'em." So I took my picture and I drove home and I couldn't believe that I, after all the years it had been missing, it, I'd found the painting.
CS: How many years had you been looking for it?
RC: Oh, this picture was missing since 1864.
CS: Oh, it was known to be missing.
RC: Yeah, I knew that he was supposed to have had it. And she told me that he put it in the sale and he could only get $20 for it and he thought he'd let it go. So here's this picture; it was painted for the company in Paris, printmakers and, ah, these people in Paris. It was the place where a van Gogh used to work, Goupil & Co. The picture was commissioned because on the bottom it was written "this picture was commissioned by Goupil & Co." you see. finally bought it and stuck it away and . . . . So, anyhow, to my regret, somebody came in shortly afterwards and I had the picture hanging up in the hallway and he says, "That's a nice painting." He says, "Do you want to sell it?" And I said, "Yeah." "What do you want for it?" He said, "I got a customer for you," he said, "a man, Mr. Sullivan, who took the farmhouse that was William Sidney Mount's home up there in New York State and converted it into a museum for Mount's paintings. I know you know about it." the next day the man came down and he called and I told him what I wanted for it. He said, "I'm paying you the highest price I've paid for a Mount so far." I wish I hadn't sold it to him. I wish he'd said no, it's too much money for it. He got the William Sidney Mount which is in the museum. Beautiful painting.
CS: I imagine sometimes it's very hard to part with pieces that you've become fond of.
RC: Yeah, sure. He got that painting; I got the . . . . He [Mr. Lovett] called me shortly after I bought the paintings from him, the Hicks painting. He said, "Hey, I've got a collection of Liverpool pitchers from the late 18th century." He said, "I'm loaning them to the historical society up here in the town I'm living in." He said, "I'm having arguments with them." He said, "They keep on asking when I'm going to give 'em to 'em." He said, 'I'm not going to give 'em." He said, "Do you want to buy them? You come right now." And I drove up and I looked and I said, "What do you want for 'em?" He said, "$1,400. I said, "All right," and I began, you know . . . . I paid him for 'em, I packed 'em into the car and drove off with them. So I got the painting and I got the pictures and I got the other painting there.You never know what you're going to find. I mean these pictures, great pictures, have turned up, recently, which Sotheby's, you know, is advertising so much, but ah, pictures which people didn't know where they were, turned up, I mean, in private houses.
CS: Will you tell me about finding the Catlin?
RC: Yes, somebody told me about this woman in Long Island City. She was an old lady, the daughter [pause] of the governor of the Lewis and Clark territory, you know, out west. And, ah, she said, "Come in, Mr. Carlen; I'm going to a nursing home very shortly and I want to sell practically everything I've got so if I see anything I want . . . . " So I looked around and I said, "How about this picture?" And she said, "Oh," she said, "I wasn't going to sell that at first," but, she said, "I had a man come over here from New York who offered me $25. If you want to buy it, I'll sell it to you." She said, "I've given most of the things away that I had of the family's left." I think it was her father or her grandfather was the individual in the Lewis and Clark expedition and so they gave all the articles away associated with him. She had been given one piece of glass that was absolutely beautiful. She said, "It was given by . . . glass . . . a company out West," she said, "They gave it to my father as a commemorative piece." It was a tobacco jar, beautiful glass. So I took these two things, just the painting and the glass. When I got home I showed it to somebody and they saw what was written on the back of the painting. This man apparently hadn't even looked at it; didn't even take it off the wall. The front was so black from the dirt in the house that nobody would have known what it was today. No, it was one blackest paintings by my good friend, painted by George Catlin, in St. Louis in 1832. She said, "It was a portrait of the head of the expedition that went out there and explored." I showed to someone down here who really knew what it was and it was interesting because it was a portrait of her grandfather. He's holding a map of the territories of the Lewis and Clark expedition, painted by George Catlin. A picture like that today would be priceless.
CS: Do you know where it is now?
RC: It's in the museum up in St. Louis. It goes to show you don't know where things are or where they'll turn up. Somebody has the picture, she didn't even know what it was. Here this man who was a knowledgeable person had the nerve to come in there, a dealer from New York, and offers her $25 for it. So she said first she didn't want to sell it. And then I came along and now she said, "I got to sell these things 'cause I'm going into this nursing home and," she said, "I'll sell it to you now for, you can have it for what he offered for it." Most of his pictures, you know, George Catlin, painted I think were given to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington and they unfortunately had a fire there. He painted a famous series of Indians, you know, and they had a fire at the museum and practically every one of the paintings was destroyed. It was a huge tragedy.
CS: You've been lots of places looking for paintings over the years?
RC: Oh, yeah, my God, and chasing all over, travelled all over the country, you know, trying to locate the pictures and when I did I had to make sure they were authentic. But of all of the places which Hicks paintings turned up, the last place where I'd expect one, that's why I said there are so many letters in that box over there about paintings, Hicks paintings, which I had these people write to me and I'd go up and they'd show 'em and I had a horrible time trying to buy because for sentimental reasons they didn't want to part with them. There are an awful lot of Hick paintings in Buck County 'cause that's where the artist lived and where people who bought his paintings mostly were living out there and when I used to get letters from people saying that your grandfather's son . . . Edward Hicks' son married a fellow out in Long Island city and his name is Robert Carle. It was very funny, people would write and tell me, "We have a painting by your grandfather."
CS: Quite a coincidence that the names are so close.
RC: Yeah, it was. People mistook the two, Robert Carle, C-A-R-L-E and my name, Robert Carlen, E-N.
CS: You advertised when you were looking for some of Hicks' paintings?
RC: Oh, yeah, sure. We, I got cheated out of one painting by an old man out there. I remember a Hicks. He said, "Tell me how much you'd give me for that painting?" So I told him. He said, "Well, this man was married to the granddaughter of Edward Hicks, lived up in Newtown, Pennsylvania," where I used to advertise. She said, "All the offers are a fraction of what you offered. You offered $500; I'd like to talk to you." And then when I went out the next day, I got a letter from him saying he sold it to this man for the price I offered him to purchase it for. He double-crossed me and sold it to this man. And this man sold it to Edgar Garbisch. Edgar Garbisch, he was married to Bernice Chrysler of the Chrysler people and then, about a year ago, their entire collection was sold and I couldn't understand why they were selling. It came out about six months later the Chrysler company was in bankruptcy. That's why they were interested in getting rid of it. They got $39 million for that collection.
CS: Did any of the pieces in the Garbisch collection come from you?
RC: Oh, yes, oh, yes. I sold some 18th century English china, porcelain, paintings. He died one day and then she committed suicide the next day. Their collection brought $39 million. It goes to show you people think that their, you know, families, they find out times change and, ah, they find out their whole investment was all tied up in the Chrysler Corporation and here they find out the company was in very bad financial condition and it was going to be sold out. So they decide they'd better get rid of these things before anything further happens. People came to that sale from all over.
CS: Did you go to the sale?
RC: No, I didn't. I bought one piece of glass there that I sold 'em. I sold it, I had bought for him. It was glass. Ah, Mr. Chrysler saw it at an auction house in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He paid $500 for it. He said, "You go in there and buy it." He said, "Get it for me." I went to the sale and the man who originally owned it and sold it at the auction, he was there too, and he was bidding on it and he stopped after $250 and he stopped so I got it and, ah, I went back and told him I got the piece for him and I told him what I paid and he really was shocked. "Why did they sell it for that price? I paid way under what he [Garbisch] said he'd pay for it. I remember I bought a painting for him by Benjamin West; it was a portrait of a little girl named Ash. She lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. It was painted in 1754 before Benjamin West went to England and studied painting, you know. He was a real young painter; it was mostly people around Philadelphia loaned him money so he could afford to make the trip and study over there and ah had the portrait of her Karolik. Ah, Garbisch heard about it and said, "I want you to go up there and try and buy it for me." So I . . . it was wintertime and a snowstorm. I had to go up there to New York state. You can only get so far up on account of the weather conditions we had, so before . . . I get out of a plane and get onto a bus and took us up there. It's where they used to have those concerts, you know. Up there in New York?
RC: No, the other one.
RC: It's the one you hear about in the summertime, people go and camp up there, New York state. S: You mean Tanglewood? That's in Massachusetts.
RC: No, what's the other one? There's another one right there.
CS: I can't think of it.
RC: Up there in the Berkshire mountains [Woodstock] and, ah, I called and told her I was coming up to see her and I went up there and I saw the painting and liked it. She was nice enough to let me take it and never showed it to other dealers. And I said, "Well, I'll take so much for it." And, ah, I called and told him and he said, "No, don't pay the price." So, I went back there and told her he said no. She said, "Well, that's all right; if he doesn't want to pay the price, I'll keep my painting." I didn't get very much out of it, I mean, I got a commission [pause] That was a beautiful painting he [Garbisch] got painted in 1754. Painted this picture when he was in his teens. I remember I got another call relating to Benjamin West. There's a lawyer in this town here, Barnard and he called me.
CS: In the same town where the little girl's portrait was?
RC: No, I don't know how he got my name, but he got my name and he called me and said that he represents an estate in England where they have a number of paintings by Benjamin West. So I arranged to meet him in London and he took me up to the place where it was [Bath]. It was an estate this man left for this school, this charity school for orphans. Most of the pictures were historical, typical of West, and then they had some sculpture, terrific sized pieces of sculpture, some weighed 2 to 3 tons apiece. And I didn't want the sculpture. I picked out four paintings. I said I'd buy those, and he said he'd let me know if he was going to sell 'em and he never let me know and he did sell them to somebody else and again it was not a very nice thing. I didn't get pictures after going, I went all the way up there. It was a place like Atlantic City in England, place around the ocean there. I got a woman who called me here from near Philadelphia. And she said will I look at something and I said yes, I'd go out there. place to buy a picture and she said, "We've just had it appraised," she said, "by the art restorer," and she said, "If you want to pay the price, the restoration price, I'll sell it to you." I said, "Sure, I'd be glad to," and I paid her for painting.
CS: What was it?
RC: It was a portrait of a Philadelphia boy in 1792. Dressed in the clothes of the Blue Boy, it's like the, you know, Gainsborough's portrait, the Blue Boy, and the person I sold it to was John D. Rockefeller III and he, Rockefller, said to me when I took it over to their apartment in New York, he said, "It's absolutely beautiful. It's one of the nicest things we have." so, a short time later he gave it away to the San Francisco museum. They said they hadn't any American paintings, so he settled the collection from his collection of American artists, and he sent the whole collection out there to . He was a wonderful . . . Mr. John D. III. A wonderful person. Funny how, regarding that painting, I got a telephone call from the National Gallery in Washington and they said, "We heard you got that painting, is it still available for sale? I said, "Unfortunately," I said, "I've sold it." And I told 'em who I'd sold it to. They were terribly disappointed. They were having a show of portraits showing the influence of the English school of portraiture and this was very much in the manner of a Gainsborough and that was the reason they specially wanted that painting. That picture was painted by George Patience. His mother was a famous wax artist.
CS: I don't know him.
RC: He was George Wright. His mother was Patience Wright. She did those famous was portraits, you know. But when he was a small child his mother went to England and she took him to museums. TAPE 4, SIDE 1]
RC: She was real important, in wax, did a lot of important historical figures, seemed alive.
CS: Did you ever have any wax portraits for sale?
RC: I had the one her son, George Wright, made of George Washington. It came down from a family in Chestnut Hill. Speight and I sold it to an auction house here, and I went there, a woman there from Sessler's, she was from Sessler's. She was there and she was trying to buy it and she was mad as hell because she didn't get it. Bought that wax portrait and I sold it to Winterthur.
CS: I suppose a number of items in the Winterthur collection have come from you?
RC: I bought a piece of glass, Sandwich glass, made up in Salem, Massachusetts. I saw it in a window of a shop over here on 17th Street. It was lacy Sandwich. A lot of people had seen it but I bought it, took it down to Winterthur and sold it to Winterthur. They were so excited they had a special case made for it because they said it was one of the rarest pieces of sandwich glass they'd ever seen. Here it was in a window in 17th Street and people who should have known better, people, they said they didn't like it because it was clear glass, it wasn't, you know, colored. It wasn't one that had been hand crafted, blue or green or something like that. Winterthur wrote a brochure on it; it's one of the rarest pieces of glass , it was very, very on display on the handle. Till I came, nobody touched it.
CS: You've done a lot of poking around in the little shops in the Philadelphia area?
RC: Oh, yeah, sure. You never know what turns up in the antique shops. I used to get a lot of stuff bought out of houses, you know, people moved out and left stuff there, you know. They'd rummage around getting all kinds of papers and things and sell 'em to these junk shops. That's where we used to buy a lot of our primitive paintings.
CS: Were there any particular shops that were specially good sources for you?
RC: No, any of them. We used to go to junk shops around here and most of 'em turned up things all over the place, see some good paintings . . . recognized American because nobody bought 'em. I bought 'em, I bought one in Pine Street here. It was a beautiful painting of a silver mine in Comstock. I said to the guy, "What do you want for it?" I said, "I'll take it." And he said, "I've seen so many people come in here and look at that painting and say it was too much money. I said I thought it was wonderful and sold it to a dealer in New York. I mean markets were just beginning to develop for American painting.
CS: You've seen many changes in the art market over the years?
RC: Oh, yes, look at that crazy guy they've got now. Did you see that Red Grooms? If I told you what people were paying for his things, you'd think they were crazy: 50, 60 and 70 thousand dollars.
CS: For what one?
RC: I mean, if you saw the paintings you'd realize . . . one customer who used to be a customer of mine whom I got mad at and told him not to bother coming around any more showed me one thing she had just bought. It was ridiculous. It was a child's shovel, a wooden shovel and he had painted the handle; you know what I mean, sort of a caricature. This woman lives right over here at the Barclay. She bought it and I was horrified when I heard. She paid $18,000 for it. Now, I know at the time when I was working, if I'd showed her a thing like that she never would have bought it. In any case, somebody probably influenced her to buy it. Did you see that Red Grooms at the Academy?
CS: Yes, I did.
RC: Everything of his has been sold out. I was over there to see the dealer here on Rittenhouse Street [Benjamin Mangel Gallery] who before the Academy got the things, gave him an exhibition. He said he didn't have thing left when they showed up. He had to get a new collection together. Anybody'd showed me that stuff I'd never have touched it. 'Cause, you know, I mean, it was sort of a caricature-like thing. I can't understand people buying it. Hell, they bought it. Take this picture here. Mr. Wanamaker bought that in 1910. I own it. [Hovenden's Bringing Home the Bride]
CS: This would have been John Wanamaker, not Rodman, right?
RC: This was John Wanamaker, the father.
CS: How did you get this?
RC: These people bought it from Wanamakers. It's crazy. People didn't have any appreciation. The guy who painted that was a teacher of Thomas Eakens.
CS: Thomas Hovendon.
RC: Yeah, yeah, sure. It's going on exhibition for two years.
RC: A number of important museums, Chicago Art Institute, Kansas City Museum. It's going to travel the circuit for two years.
CS: Did you ever meet Rodman Wanamaker?
RC: No, no.
CS: No? He managed the gallery in the New York store, I think he was the son, John Wanamaker's son' he was very interested in modernist paintings. He had a collection, too, Rodman Wanamaker collection. I wondered if you knew anything about that.
CS: I've been trying to find somebody who knows something about Rodman and what happened to the collection. No one seems to know.
RC: I've been trying to find it.
CS: You have?
RC: Yeah, what store was it in, the John Wanamaker store?
CS: I believe it was in the New York Wanamakers.
RC: Where did you find any information on it, and Rodman?
CS: Well, I know he had a small show, just a selection from his collection at the Academy at on least one if not two or three occasions.
RC: When was that?
CS: Oh, I think soon after World War I, early Twenties, maybe a little later.
RC: But they didn't say anything in the article about what happened to him?
CS: I believe that he lived for a great number of years after that. I haven't really done enough research to find out where and when he died and who his direct descendants were. I thought possibly you might even have known him, sold him some works?
RC: No, isn't it funny your speaking about it 'cause, I mean, I've been looking for it. I couldn't understand it. I never heard of it in Philadelphia.
CS: Apparently he had some wonderful works in his collection.
RC: Yeah, well, I wonder . . . . Where did you find any information on him?
CS: All I know is, ah, what I read from these brochures that went with the exhibition at the Academy. I sort of recall having seen a few newspaper clippings that might have been reviews from the time of those exhibitions which might mention a bit about the rest of his collection.
RC: Did you say around what period?
CS: I believe that it was in the Twenties.
RC: Sounds like something that I'm very much interested in.
CS: I've asked a number of people I've thought might know something about it and nobody has any idea of what happened to them.
RC: And they have no records of it at the Academy?
CS: The Academy never owned those, it was just on loan.
RC: Yeah, but you would think they would have some records in their files, you know, of . . . ?
CS: I'll have to go look some more.
RC: Yeah, isn't that funny. Well, if you find anything, let me know, because that's something I've been very much interested in finding out whatever happened to this Rodman Wanamaker collection. I haven't been able to find a damn thing about it. That wasn't at the John Wanamaker store in New York was is directly . . . .
CS: He has his own, this is his private collection that I'm talking about. He was the manager of the gallery in the New York Wanamaker store.
RC: I'm talking about his private collection.
CS: Right, that's what I'm talking about, too.
RC: He had wonderful taste.
CS: That's what they say. RE: He had wonderful taste and here's a collection and no one even knows what happened to it. They can find it in some abandoned warehouse or storage warehouse.
CS: It may have ended up in Europe, also. I know that he spent quite a bit of time in France and he was sponsoring . . . he was a patron and sponsor of a number of American artists and he settled them in a studio in France and he may have gone over there, too. I was hoping you would know about that.
RC: I think I knew, I remember, I may be able to inquire by now. Because, just recently . . . .
CS: How did you happen to get interested in him? Oh, through . . . ?
RC: Because of his father. And then the family was interesting. This picture was stored in a church at 22nd and Bainbridge [Bethany Temple] that John Wanamaker built for colored people back then. Up there it was stored away after it was taken out of the store.
CS: This was from the gallery at the store rather than his personal collection?
RC: See, he bought it. He owned it personally but had it hanging in the New York store. And then when they decided to what they call modernize the place, they took all these big pictures that I don't really remember, huge, you know . . .. He used to go, every year to Paris and, ah, just like his son too, and he used to buy from the exhibition, from the salon, you know, large exhibition annually. When that was all over and the artists couldn't afford -- paintings like that could break 'em -- so he used to go over and buy a group of them and those are the ones that he had in the Wanamaker store for years. Up to 1910 when they were taken out when he sold the building there at 22nd and Bainbridge to the colored people and they made a church out of it. The picture up there was only one important picture up there by a Canadian artist Krieghoff. He was a . . . one just one by Krieghoff. He found those at the auction sales.
CS: When you were out looking for all these things over the years, you spent lots of time going to sales and visiting people's attics and basements. Who was minding your gallery?
RC: My wife.
CS: Did you ever have anyone else working there?
RC: No, what happened when, a couple of years ago, I went down to Florida. I hadn't been well; I had a heart attack. A painting disappeared out of here and I thought they were buying it.
CS: What do you mean?
RC: When we left we had the painters here working on the . . . . And I have a feeling one of the men working here as a painter took that. It was a big picture. It was 30 x 36: with a frame that wide on it. Took that picture out of here and I haven't been able to find it since. Was a painting of the grandson of Thomas Sully.
CS: By Sully?
RC: Yeah, no, It wasn't by Sully, it was of Sully's grandson. The father, the painter who painted that picture by Sully, you know, the one they have here at the Bourse.
CS: Pat Lyons. That's a Neagle.
RC: Yeah, that's the, ah, I'm trying to think of the kid who's the grandson of John Wanamaker. But you didn't find anything in their files on Rodman Wanamaker down at the Academy.
CS: Nothing other than the little leaflets and few newspaper clippings about the exhibition of a selection from his collection shown at the Academy.
RC: They were shown at the Academy?
CS: Yes, small selection, maybe 20 or 25 works. It's just a little leaflet, not a big catalogue.
RC: Do they have aNy extra copes of that brochure there at the Academy?
CS: I don't think so abut I'll write myself a note and I'll make a xerox copy of it.
RC: Yeah, would you just get me a copy of it? I'd appreciate it very much. Maybe we'll work on it and discover what eventually happened.
CS: That would be fascinating. I'm writing myself a note so I won't forget. I'll try to bring it back to you the next time. I'm going to the Academy on Friday.
RC: Good, anything you can find on Rodman Wanamaker.
CS: Somebody who I know you were acquainted with who was important in the Acadmy's history was John Frederick Lewis. Tell me a little about him.
RC: He must have been friendly with Rodman. John had a collection but, ah, of course his father bought, John Lewis, Sr. and then John started buying after his father died. His father left a collection, fantastic, not so much of the American but of the Oriental school. A modest collection of watercolors, you know, Mogul, Indian School, you know, left a collection of one of the most fantastic collections of illuminated, 13th Century religious manuscripts.
CS: Now some of them are at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. [Alice Carlen enters]
RC: Alice, what as the name of that place that we went to at London that time to the beach? Do you remember that man?
RC: When I went to look at the Benjamin West things. Remember when I got to the hotel he took me in his car; he picked me up.
CS: I wasn't with you.
RC: I know you weren't but you knew why we went over there that day.
CS: What did you go to find out?
RC: See that collection that lawyer here wrote to me, he wanted me to see of Benjamin West.
AC: At the boy's school.
CS: No, at the beach, was it Brighton Beach?
AC: No, at Bath, you went to Bath.
RC: That's where the Prince of Wales lived, you see.
AC: You were so disgusted with Bath when you came home. I remember.
RC: I remember the paintings, that and the sculpture he wanted me to buy -- and I said, how, 2 to 3 tons apiece, don't you remember?
AC: Remember all those wonderful sculptures we could have bought by the guy who did Ambrose's sculpture, but we didn't have the money -- or was it Picasso, Renoirs we could have bought?
RC: The Renoirs were not originals. I bought the Daumiers.
AC: The Daumiers. But these were others we could have bought, no, that was in London. We could have bought a lot of sculptures if we'd had enough money.
RC: That was . . . I could have bought a beautiful piece of Henry Moore's for $12,000 and Potamkins lost it because of $500. [Meyer Potamkin's brother]
AC: Now she pays $18,000 for that . . .
RC: Piece of crap . . . .
AC: What's his name, Red Grooms or something?
RC: Red Grooms, yeah. And yet they turned, for $500 they lost . . . .
AC: Little piece she paid $18,000 for.
RC: Oh, that piece of paint, it's nothing but a piece of crap, to me it's junk, worthless.
AC: He has a reputation, whatever that means now.
RC: I'm trying to find out what happened to Rodman Wanamaker's collection. I've heard of it recently and I can't find any information on what he eventually did with it.
AC: You'll have to contact Wanamakers.
RC: Yeah, but they wouldn't know. I know more, you know, what's his name over there . . . .
AC: He's not there anymore.
RC: Yeah, sure he is, he's one of the executives.
AC: No, no, Wanamakers now belongs to Neiman-Marcus.
CS: Yeah, they sold it.
AC: They sold the whole store and he's not with them, I don't think.
RC: He's not? What was name now, his father was a very . . . .
AC: No. Neiman-Marcus have their own people.
RC: What was the name of that man? He died, he lived . . . ?
AC: He lived on Delancey Street.
RC: No, he's a friend of the Sherry's.
AC: A friend of the Sherry's?
RC: Yeah, don't you remember that big tall fellow?
AC: Oh, I know who you meant. He wasn't with Wanamakers.
RC: Sure he was.
AC: No. Gimbels.
RC: He was with Wanamakers.
AC: Well, anyway, he was no great executive there, what's his name was the executive.
RC: He was vice president at Wanamakers. What the hell was his name, now, his ancestor was very famous?
AC: He was very . . . he had a big line of Philadelphia ancestors but don't ask me his name because I can't remember anybody's name anymore and I don't care. [Laughs] I mean the people that I see and know I don't have any trouble with but I can't remember the names of people I haven't even thought of for years and years. Our trouble was we could have bought such marvelous things if we'd had more money.
RC: I could have bought one painting in Lausanne.
AC: Most people that have money don't know what to buy, but we knew exactly what to buy.
RC: I saw pictures in Lausanne, the guy wanted $1,000 for it, fantastic, a G.I, it was called the Salon d'ete, and I remember I thought, my God, what am I going to do with another picture like this, a great big one, an oval? And I turned it down because of its size. The next time I saw that picture it was three years later; it was on exhibition at the L'Orangerie in Paris, you know, it was by Vuillard, very famous, it said pictures, Masterpieces from Famous Swiss Collections. It was a picture I'd turned down for $1,000. I said I saw that picture, fantastic. It would bring over a million dollars today, that picture. The mistakes that I've made! I turned that Hopper down, the Automat. I should have bought that myself. And then it went for one million dollars to the Metropolitan Museum. Some of the pictures I offered to the Academy, when Joe Fraser was there, he didn't buy 'em. He didn't know anything about art.
CS: John Frederick Lewis was at the academy during Joe Fraser's day, wasn't he?
CS: Did he continue his father's collection or he had different collecting interests himself?
RC: No, he continued the things he had, you know who he gave em' to?
RC: Free Library!
CS: The Babylonian tablets?
RC: No, no, no. The collection of 12th and 13th century illuminated, you know. And they got his collection of prints over there, too. They have that print room over there.
CS: I recall Mrs. Carlen telling me that he was one of your early patrons.
RC: Oh, yeah.
CS: He helped sponsor openings?
RC: Oh, yeah. John and I, he was president of the Art Alliance. He was very much interested in young artists. He had the interest and he had the money. You can't get anything more perfect than that. [Pause] People had things during the war years, things they wanted to sell, you know. If you had the money and you had the taste, you could assemble a collection of fabulous stuff. I sold a lot of beautiful things to Professor Rosenwald. Kollwitz, Kathe Kollwitz's things. He was a wonderful collector. He gave his collection to the National Gallery in Washington. I would say it would bring over a hundred million dollars today. I remember the first time I walked into his office. It was so funny. I was . . . . Kollwitz prints, he was living on the boulevard. He picked up things, I got the bill and I walked out of there -- and this was when things were bad -- I walked out of there with a check for over $1,600 for Kathe Kollwitz things. Those things, individually alone, they would bring more than that today.
CS: Did you know the Rosenbach brothers?
RC: Oh, yeah, sure. Philip and Abe. They were a couple of tough cookies. I know that they sold . . . they were very friendly with the Lit family, you know, Lit Brothers.
CS: Were the Lit family collectors, too?
RC: The only things they collected were what Abe Rosenbach sold them. They had that white marble house on Rittenhouse Square, you know, right next to the church there. They tore down the house. When the Lits were married, he furnished the house for 'em decorators. Sold 'em furniture and all kinds of sculpture, everything. They lived there for years and then when they got old they decided they were going to give up the big house and they turned the collection over to the Rosenbachs and they gave it to Freeman's, the auction house. Well, the price they brought, it was unreal, not related to what they paid and they got into a fight about it. He was cheating and . . . . [TAPE 4, SIDE 2]
RC: She left it when she died; it was to be sold. She got it from her grandfather, one of the Vanderbilts, Commodore Vanderbilt, and she left instructions it was to be sold and the money to go to the Glencove Hospital. And, ah, what's his name read about it, offered -- paid $75,000 for it. [Owned by Whitney family not Vanderbilts]
CS: They sold it?
RC: Yeah, they sold it. And he . . . they went there and he was at one end of the room and he had the guy who worked for him was at the other end of the room, and the two were bidding against each other. Funny, he went back and forth. So they went instructions They got into a fight because the . . . with Yale, that's who got the book, you know. [The Rosenbach's bought the book for $110,000 although only authorized by Yale to spend $75,000.]
CS: Oh, for their rare book library, Bienecke.
RC: They got into a fight because Yale said to 'em, "Our instructions were you weren't to go over 75," which finally they worked it out so Rosenbach had to give some more money toward the purchase price.
CS: Did you ever sell rare books?
RC: No. I did get one collection, fantastic thing, I bought up in the Poconos a whole collection of modern French literature, an English guy . . . this man had been a French scholar up at Princeton. He had one magnificent, he had one of the rare illustrated copies, James Joyce, you know, Ulysses, illustrated by, I'm not sure now if it was Matisse or Picasso. But it was illustrated by one of 'em. Things like that are rarely illustrated by . A dealer up in Chestnut Hill, I had to go up there; they had to dispose of the things because he was . He says, you can buy the library for $75. Every heard of anything like that, the entire library, hundreds and hundreds of great classics, rare books in French, all in French, for $75. I went up there and I hardly had any room to put the stuff in the station wagon. He said, "That's what they told me, to get rid of it. He said to sell it for $75."
CS: Did they have any paintings too or just the books?
RC: No, just the books. There was another sale I heard up in Pottsville and, ah, sale of American 20th century Ash Can. This was a coal man that collected paintings. I was up there a couple years ago, went up there to restore a painting first and to appraise it and then restore it, ah, you know, the Ash Can School. This man had been born up there and worked in the mines and he later became a painter. He painted for the bank up there you know coal mine in Pottsville. I went up there a couple years after the appraisal to clean and varnish them. They were nine feet tall. I had to get up on a ladder, you know, to reach up and work on 'em. They had everything there; they had Hassam, Sloan and, ah, the whole school, you know, the Ash Can School. [The bank had commissioned Ash Can artists to paint huge murals to decorate the bank building. Carlen was hired to clean them. The bank representative who hired him to do the job also had a personal collection of Ash Can artists.]
CS: You say you were cleaning and revarnishing; I didn't know you did . . . ?
RC: Yes, I used to clean, you know.
CS: How did you learn to do that?
RC: Just as a painter, you see. [TAPE 5, SIDE 1]
CS: This was all long before you were in business, you were around after the second world war and you were in contact with a number of refugee artists, weren't you? [Long pause]
CS: Well, tell me about some of the refugee artists after World War II.
RC: After World War II. I got a lot of the German expressionists: Pechstein, Beckman, Nolde, Lembruch, Kirchner.
CS: You showed their work here?
RC: No, no. I had, yes, I had some things here but other places every now and . . . . I just spoke to a fellow from around, he said he had a Nolde he got from a private guy, great big watercolor, he sold it $40,000. Did you ever meet him, the guy that has the sculpture place?
CS: Where is it?
CS: Oh, Benjamin Mangel. I haven't been in there in quite a while.
RC: You can get info on Bertoia.
CS: Harry Bertoia?
CS: Did you know him?
RC: He handled his work.
CS: Did you know Harry Bertoia?
RC: No, I didn't know him. I know a lot of people who bought his things. But he made a lot of money. plunder in these things, pick 'em up for very little and sell 'em for high prices and end up making up an awful lot of money. Something that makes me sore, you know, these people who are amateurs, you know, really don't know much about art and decide it's something that nobody does so they decide to become art dealers. [Benjamin Mangel bought Bertoia's work from Bertoia's widow.] How about some of the people down on Chestnut Street? Did you get any of those, all those art galleries? There should be a lot over at the Academy on that. Earle's Gallery.
CS: Oh yeah, that goes way, way back.
RC: 1870's, 1860's.
CS: Thomas Sully was a partner in that gallery. It started out being called Sully & Earle's.
RC: Oh really? There was another had a gallery in Chestnut Street, Hazeltine's.
CS: They were in business for a long, long time.
RC: Yeah, it isn't easy to find these things out -- mostly -- some of the art books, you know, have these galleries -- when they operate.
CS: Unfortunately none of them have saved many records. Those galleries are defunct now and even some of the galleries that are still around that are very old, like McClees was founded in the mid-19th century. They have thrown everything away. Yeah, they have no records. Freemans has no early records.
RC: Did you go out to Ardmore and speak to the fellow who's running the gallery out there?
CS: Michael Reedy, yeah, I spoke to him and he said that they moved so many times over the years that they were just tossed out.
RC: How about Newman's?
CS: Oh, I've been there. He had wonderful photographs of the old days.
RC: They were very active and they didn't keep any records?
CS: They didn't have many that were more than 10 or 15 years old. They did have lovely family photographs of the founder and the way the galleries looked in the 1800's.
RC: Did you find Fred Wagner?
CS: As a matter of fact I found one of Fred Wagner's descendants who said one of her relatives has all of his papers. They are down in the south someplace, they are no longer in the Philadelphia area. Did you know Fred Wagner?
AC: Yeah, sure.
CS: What was he like?
RC: He was, all he did was paint, paint, paint -- and what did she say the relative's name was?
CS: The relative's name? Oh, she's a great niece or something. Oh, I think her name is Mrs. Smith. She lives in Lansdale.
CS: Yes, but it's one of her relatives who has the papers and they're, I think, in North Carolina. Did Fred Wagner have a studio in Philadelphia?
RC: Yeah, sure, he had it right over on 15th and Chestnut.
CS: I know he was on the faculty at the Academy.
RC: And so did what'ss his name have a place over there -- Arthur Carles. Do you have much on him?
CS: Oh, yeah, we've found some very nice Carles papers. Now were Carles and Wagner friends?
CS: Not especially?
RC: Get in touch with Carles' two daughters; they are both in New York.
CS: Yeah, Caroline and Mercedes. There was a big show about Arthur Carles maybe two years ago and the woman who was in charge of that did extensive research. She wrote a dissertation on Carles and she has a book coming out. She's been in touch with them.
RC: Can she send me a copy of the book?
CS: The book hasn't come out yet but I have a copy of the catalogue.
RC: One of the daughters, I think Caroline, is married to a fellow who's an Italian artist whose family is here in Philadelphia. [Joe Mangione] Did you find much on Joe Sacks?
CS: No, I don't know much about him other than that he studied at the Academy and he died recently, didn't he?
RC: No, he died a few years ago.
CS: He died a long time ago. Did you know him?
RC: Yeah, and then Joe Grossman. Have you found records on him? He was working until recently.
CS: Yeah, he had a show at the Peale house in the last few years. Did you ever have a Sacks or a Grossman exhibit here?
RC: I knew 'em very well but, ah . . . did you find things on Leon Karp?
CS: Leon Karp, no.
RC: How about Leon Karp?
CS: I know he also taught at the Academy briefly.
RC: He, ah, worked at N. W. Ayers.
CS: Down on Washington Square?
RC: Yeah and then they moved to New York City. Do you have much on the Pintos?
CS: A little bit, especially now that we have filmed the Fleisher Art Memorial records. The Pinto brothers all started out there and I know they taught there.
RC: They taught a lot at Barnes, too.
CS: Did they know Dr. Barnes?
RC: Oh yeah, he was very fond of them, very close friends with all of them, the four brothers -- Salvatore, Miguel, Biaggio. Biaggio used to [Obliterated by street cleaner]. Did you get anything on Fritz Janschka?
CS: Oh, yeah, tell me about Fritz Janschka.
RC: Well, Fritz was , ah, in the last war, in the army.
CS: He was in the army?
RC: Yeah. He lived in Vienna after, I think he went to art school there. He took training in restoration and in painting. Catherwood had a foundation -- Catherwood Foundation. They sponsored one of the fellows -- Rudy von Ripper -- Baron Rudolph von Ripper. They sponsored him. They brought him to America as the first exchange student. He worked around here for a few years, Rudy von Ripper. And then the next one was Fritz Janschka, came over here as the second one.
CS: Did you have shows for either of them here?
RC: Yeah, I had a show here for von Ripper. He was an interesting painter, a very good modern painter. HE worked here for a few years and then he and his wife moved to Palma Majorca nad he was painting there and also designing rugs. He did a great big rug like this one, beautiful thing, a very modern rug. Did you get Vera White down in there too?
CS: Now, I wanted to ask you about her and her husband. I know she was an artist and they were collectors as well.
RC: Yeah, she was a painter, you know, an illustrator, and Sam White, who was the grandson of S. S. White of the 10th outfit. So he had one picture of a painting of Vicksburg.
CS: Were they clients of yours?
RC: Yes, I knew them both very well. But I tell you who else you'd be apt to have more information on that. They were connected with Durand-Ruel. You know who they are?
RC: in New York. You find their address in Paris. You ought to be able to get a lot of very . . . because he had shows Durand-Ruel.
CS: Oh, Durand-Ruel. I thought you said Julian Rule. Oh, of course. Carroll Tyson is another person like Mrs. White, who was both a painter and a collector.
RC: White's grandfather was, ah, designed the Brooklyn Bridge. [Actually was Mrs. Tyson's grandfather.] They had a beautiful collection. You can find out all about collection they gave the paintings to the museum. I appraised them after they gave 'em. She left the remainder of the paintings worth 6 million dollars and they had a lot of Cezannes and Renoirs. He was a very good friend of Mary Cassatt's. Do you have her down too? Carroll Tyson knew her when he was 20 years old in Paris. She was the one who advised him to buy Renoirs. The other fellow in Paris, people like Soutine, Chagall, Pascin, all those people lived in Paris.
CS: Did you ever sell Carroll Tyson paintings?
RC: No, I may have sold one or two but nothing important. He only wanted big names, you know. I see he's got a dealer in New York, Kennedy Galleries. Their asking prices, you'd drop dead if you knew the kind of prices they were asking for the paintings.
CS: Now was it common for collectors in Philadelphia, I mean, Carroll Tyson and the Whites and Earl Horter, to allow art students to come see their collections?
RC: Yeah, sure. She knew all the artists here like Morris Blackburn.
CS: I remember Mr. Blackburn.
RC: He and I were at the Academy together and then Bob Gwathmey and his wife.
CS: I didn't know that his wife was also an artist.
RC: Oh yeah, sure. Rosalie, they came up here from Virginia, and both attended the Academy. Rosalie taught. There were a lot of other painters. I know there's [Ralston] Crawford. He went to the Academy and now he's well known in New York because he's doing very well, and, ah, so . . . . [Pause] An awful lot of people like Glackens, Sloan and Sheeler.
CS: They were all in Philadelphia in the 1890's and 1900.
RC: And they went to New York. You can get all that information through the Sketch Club.
CS: The Sketch Club has wonderful records. Were you ever a member of the Sketch Club?
RC: No, but they have wonderful records.
CS: They're having a little exhibition; there's not going to be an opening. It's going to be a show of memorabilia nad things from their own archives opening anytime after tomorrow.
RC: Do you have Afleck?
CS: Ralph Afleck? Yeah, I've met him. Were you in school together?
RC: Yeah. I knew him, Ralph, very well. He was a very nice boy. There was a whole group of them at that time. Did you get all the women painters who were part of that group?
CS: Who were some of them?
CS: Oh, Elizabeth Washington. There was a big Elizabeth Washington show at Newman's.
RC: Quite recently. She was very active; she was around 100 years old.
CS: She studied out at Chester Springs. Did you ever go to summer school out there yourself?
RC: No. The Academy has all the records from out there.
CS: Right. Who were some of the other women in that group?
RC: Oh, there was a fellow by the name of Paul Westcott.
CS: Oh, yeah, was his wife Sue May? Sue May Westcott?
RC: I don't know but there were a lot of 'em who were married and they lived out there in Chester Springs. You can find the records of Chester Springs.
CS: Oh, they're in the Academy's archives.
RC: We have an awful lot of artists in Philadelphia. Some of the artists down at the Fleisher collection, like Schnakenberg.
CS: I'm not familiar with him.
RC: There were a number of them, you know.
CS: Some of these, I'm trying to think of who some of the names most frequently mentioned in their scrapbooks are. I think Ida and Frida, is it Leibowitz?
RC: Yes, they were these two girls, they were twins. I gave them shows here. You know they're still active.
CS: I didn't realize they were still living.
RC: Oh, yes, they're married but they did all these trials, they go to these trials and do drawings.
CS: Oh, they're court artists.
RC: Court artists. They're still both very active.
CS: What are their names now? They're married; did they change their names?
RC: You can get then from the Academy because they live over in Jersey near Camden. They started out when they were very young, you know.
CS: When did you have the show here for them?
RC: Oh, it must have been back in the 30's.
CS: Very early. They must have been teenagers.
RC: Very young, yeah, sure. I think the Academy may have a catalog of that show.
CS: I didn't think they had a show at the Academy. RE: No, but they would have catalogs of the shows I had.
CS: Oh, in the library. Did most of your shows have checklists or some kind of printed handout or catalog?
RC: No, mostly you check off the name. Leon Kelly you haven't found? Oh, and Earl Horter.
CS: Earl Horter was important as a collector as well as a painter.
RC: He was a very successful artist. He made a lot of money and put all that money into art. And he worked on the you'll find most of the artists Then of course you have all the ones of, ah, Wyeths. Andy Wyeth and his sister Henrietta and all that. More or less from this area. Andy Wyeth and his son Jimmy, James.
CS: Who were some of the other artists that you've had solo exhibitions for here over the years who've done well?
RC: People mention their names and I remember and then they say, oh, yes.
CS: You've had quite an active exhibition schedule here. Now on previous occasions, but not on tape, you've told me very proudly that your gallery had never been for rent; they were all invited shows. Was it common for other galleries to rent space in Philadelphia?
RC: Folks in New York, sure, all operators do that. How about what's her name, the woman who had the flower shop in 18th and Chestnut, she painted.
CS: I don't know who you mean?
RC: She was a very colorful character. Jessie Drew Bear.
CS: I didn't know she had a flower shop.
RC: She had one for years. She came to this country, had three small children and, ah, opened a shop here. She did very well.
CS: Did you ever have a show for her here?
RC: Yeah, sure. Three or four shows of her. She's a primitive painter. She did what we call Eglosime, reverse glass painting. She knew flowers, I mean, she had got taste.
CS: Where was she from?
RC: London. Her son was the director of the museum up in Rhode Island, museum school?
CS: School of Design?
RC: Yeah. Did you write to Wilmington, Delaware? They had a lot of shows there.
CS: That's a nice museum there. [TAPE 5, SIDE 2]
RC: They had a terrific exhibition of, ah, you know the artist's name, school of very realistic, what do you call it? At one time I was . If I could find today people would pay.
CS: Pre-Raphaelite collection.
RC: Pre-Raphaelite, yeah, Rossetti, Burne-[Jones]. All those people, yeah.
CS: Did you ever have any paintings of that type here?
RC: I had individual pieces.
CS: Tell me a little bit about Mrs. Hamilton who Mrs. Carlen mentioned when I first came in.
RC: Well, Jane Hamilton was Jane Kendall. Her father was the head of the Pennsylvania Oil Company. Kendall was extremely wealthy and, ah, she was very active socially in Washington. She met John Hamilton. He was the national chairman of the Republican party of the United States, and he married her. And she bought a beautiful estate out in Paoli, you know, she was married to him for a few years and, ah . . . . At that time she married again and she divorced him; she married George Able who was in Washington, in Baltimore, the Able family had more newspapers publishers. She married him for a while and then divorced him and she lived in Washington and then she married Arnold Gingrich and he was the publisher of Esquire magazine. And then he died. She stayed on in Washington and went to New Jersey. She had quite a sizeable fortune.
CS: I guess she left a pretty nice collection, too.
RC: More of contemporary things.
CS: I understand you sold her a few Pippins.
RC: I'm trying to think, she had some of, ah, Carles paintings and, ah . . . Franklin Watkins. Did you get anything there about Leopold Seyffert?
CS: I know he is another one who studied at the Academy.
RC: He did a wonderful portrait.
CS: I think there was a big Leopold Seyffert exhibition in April in New York.
RC: He was a wonderful painter. Powerful painter. Specialized in portraiture. I think I just sold two of his paintings.
CS: Who were some of the other well-respected portrait painters in Philadelphia in the early days of your gallery? Was Lazar Raditz still active then?
RC: Yes, but he wasn't all that . . . [unintelligible]
CS: I thought that he had lots of commissions; that he was popular.
RC: Well, he did. Of course he was sponsored by Mr. Albert Fleisher [Sam]. Albert Fleisher when Raditz was young sent him to Europe. He had good connections. That was very important to painters. He used to get a lot of portrait commissions. He studied in Europe for years and he made copies of paintings by Rembrandt and Rubens and all the way they studied in those days. Do you have a fellow down there by the name of [Kenneth] Stewart?
CS: What's the fist name?
RC: He was a very good painter. Mr. Rosenwald set him up on 17th and . You can easily find his name; it's a very good name here, Stewart. And for years he was art director at the WPA. [Speaking to Alice Carlen who just entered.] What was Stewart's first name, Alice? Stewart, don't you remember?
AC: Stewart who?
RC: The painter, you know.
AC: Oh, you mean the one that Edith Halpert handled?
RC: No, she didn't handle Stewart. He worked down at the WP; he was a painter.
AC: Oh, he was at . . . .
RC: What's his name sent him to Europe, Lessing Rosenwald.
AC: I didn't know him.
RC: She can easily find out.
CS: Ok, I'll try and look him up.
AC: Did you talk about Fritz Janschka and all those refugee artists yet?
AC: You'll have a chance to see Paul Wieghardt's work at the Chicago Art Institute because he was on the staff there, wasn't he?
RC: Yeah, sure, I got him a job there. And his wife the sculptress.
CS: How did it come about that you got him the job there?
RC: Oh, I heard they wanted somebody and I recommended him and he got the job. Moved out to Chicago and they've been out there ever since.
AC: He's dead.
AC: Paul Wieghardt, oh yes, he died a few years ago.
RC: Nobody told me. And she's still out there, Nelli Ba-e-r [Bar] out in Chicago. I think she's still teaching there.
AC: Incidentally, somebody you'll want to look up, Herb and Marge Fried. They're actually up at the Museum, Herb and Marge F-r-i-e-d.
RC: In Glencove.
AC: In Glencove, Illinois. They are good friends of ours and they have Pippins. They have a house full of things they got from us. And they're active in the museum.
RC: They're related to the Grossmans by . . . .
AC: She's a sister of Ellie Grossman.
CS: All those paintings done by the Grossmans, the Pippins that ended up . . . .
AC: Well they have a little Pippin too, the Frieds have a Pippin.
CS: The Catherwood Foundation exchange was during wartime or right after?
AC: No, no, it as after the war.
CS: When we first started talking about Fritz Janschka, you then started telling me about the Catherwood Foundation.
AC: Yeah. Well he, they brought Fritz Janschka here. It was after the war. He had been in the Austrian army which was the Nazi army, don't forget.
RC: He came in with the Quakers. brought him, American Friends.
AC: They were living in a little tiny room. We knew them as soon as . . . we saw her the day she came from Europe. She couldn't talk English hardly. He brought her here. And Bob sponsored his citizenship and everything to get him across the border from Mexico here. He had to go back and go across the border. When he wanted to become a citizen he had to go to Mexico.
RC: He wasn't eligible to come direct to America. The quota had been filled. So he went down, I sponsored him down there. He was down there for about a year. And he got . . . what about Siegl, Ted Siegl?
CS: Ted Siegl died about 10 years ago.
RC: Did you get his wife?
CS: No. Helen?
AC: She's a great print artist, very good.
CS: I know her work but I didn't realize that she was his . . . .
RC: Oh, yeah. She was from Germantown.
AC: She had a show here. You should have seen this place when it was an exhibition gallery. It didn't look anything like this.
CS: What did it look like?
AC: Well, it didn't have this kind of light.
RC: No, modern lighting.
AC: It was altogether different. It didn't have all this furniture.
RC: One show I sold 90 of her prints.
AC: It didn't have all this furniture in it. The back gallery was part of it.
CS: This was not an office, it was a gallery?
AC: That was a gallery back there.
RC: You saw the prints she made, we sold a lot of those.
CS: Did you also show pieces out in the hallway as well?
AC: The hallway was usually lined with pictures on both sides of the wall. [Someone leaves]
AC: That picture you have of your booth, back when you had your primitive booth, do you know where that is?
CS: We saw that in the pile when we talked about the photos.
AC: And, ah, you had that picture they took of you with one of the ladies that sponsored the show, the antique show, you were on the one side of the fireplace and she was at the other. Did you ever see the photo of him with Humphrey?
CS: I can't remember. I saw one of Mr. Carlen with Kissinger.
AC: Kissinger and Humphrey, yeah. [Alice Carlen leaves]
CS: Were there any other refugee artists that you gave special help to or were close to in addition to Fritz Janschka?
RC: Oh, Albert Urvan. Yes, that's right. U-r-v-a-n. I think he's the chairman of . . . . I helped him and then I got him a job at the Museum of Modern Art making silk screen prints. That's the one that John Frederick Lewis sponsored.
CS: This would have been John Frederick Lewis, Jr.?
RC: And then what's his name moved to New York and, ah, he did very well and at the end of one year he died.
RC: Yeah, Albert Urvan.
CS: Was there any particular reason why the refugees came to Philadelphia? Is this where the Quakers would settle them?
RC: The Quakers, yeah. The Quakers organization sent them out.
CS: Was Otto Schindler one of them, or did he come earlier?
RC: Schindler was a restorer.
CS: Right, but wasn't he . . . ?
RC: He was the head of it.
CS: Right, but wasn't he a refugee as well?
RC: Oh yeah, sure. He came to America after 2 or 3 years and he had an attack in the bathtub and they didn't find him for weeks afterwards. Yeah, he was very active as a restorer. There was another man who was a very good restorer around here, David Rosen.
CS: I haven't heard about him. Was he affiliated with an institution or did he work on his own?
RC: Yeah, he used to do a lot of work for the museum [Baltimore Art Museum]. Put his name down because it was a good name. He was . . . .
CS: R-o-s-e or i?
RC: S-e. He was a very good friend of the woman who was the author of Mary Cassatt's book.
CS: Adelaide Breeskin.
CS: Would you tell me about Mrs. Mendelsohn in London?
RC: Mrs. Mendelsohn came from a very aristocratic family in Berlin. Her cousin was P. H. Mendelsohn, the author, I mean composer. And during the war, you know, being a Jew, she fled from Germany and she got some of her . . . she had a very famous collection of modern art. I forget, somebody gave me her name. Now I used to buy a lot of Paul Klees from her. She had very good taste. She was staying in London for a while. A couple of years later I heard she was now living in Paris.
CS: Did she ever buy from you or you mainly bought from her?
RC: No, I bought from her. She had people like Paul Klee and Franz Marc.
CS: Did she know the artists?
RC: Oh, yes, she knew them personally, and very well.
CS: I'm interested also in knowing a little bit more about Titus Geesey. What was he like?
RC: Well, Titus Geesey came from York, Pennsylvania. He was apparently . . . he took a business course. Anyhow he got a job with DuPont. DuPont, head of the research out at the and . . . . He worked for years for Mr. DuPont and then he started collecting American art. I sold him some wonderful things and when he died he gave a great many of his things to the museum on the parkway.
CS: His collection is famous. Did he find many things on his own out in the country?
RC: He used to go out to the auctions in Pennsylvania Dutch country.
CS: Who were some of the other dealers in the Philadelphia area who sold the Pennsylvania Dutch?
RC: Arthur Sussel. He was one of the oldest dealers here.
CS: Where was his shop?
RC: On Pine Street. [Actually 18th and Spruce]. And there's another man; I'm trying to remember. Oh, Martha Reeves, she was right over here on . She had very good taste. [Pause] If you got some of the early antique magazines, you would see ads by a number of antique dealers . . . .
CS: Did you ever advertise there?
CS: Is there any particular collector that you especially enjoyed working with?
RC: There was one who was very good. Ah, he was down on 2nd & Chestnut Street, very important collection of furniture.
CS: What was his name?
RC: Ah, his [Reisnyder] collection was sold in October 1929 just before the great stock market. It brought fantastic prices. Some very famous cabinet makers, you know.
CS: You sold to Mrs. Elkins?
RC: Yeah, Mrs. William Elkins. Her sister lives and her cousin . . . .
CS: And Mrs. Waters [sister of Edith Halpert]?
RC: Yeah. There were a lot of people around here who collected good collections. [Pause] Did you get Leon Kelly's wife? The man was a collector. She, I mean married -- Betty Horter (?)
RC: How about . . . did you get books down there from Lessing Rosenwald?
RC: He was one of the greatest collectors.
CS: And he found things in his collection from all over the world, didn't he?
RC: Yes, he bought in London, he bought in Paris, in Germany.
CS: Was Avelthorpe felt to be a gallery?
RC: Avelthorpe, yeah. Put down Dick Sessler. You know, his book shop was in the art business; he had an art gallery there.
CS: And what was the name of the woman who sold trinkets, Mabel . . . ?
RC: That was Mabel Zahn. After she died they sold the business and her son it was horrible.
CS: Mrs. Raymond you mean.
CS: Did Mr. Rosenwald open his collection to students?
CS: Did you sell to the Garbisch collection?
RC: Yes. Edgar Garbisch and his wife. Put down Arthur Block, he was quite a collector.
CS: What did he collect?
RC: He collected old master paintings and books. He was a friend of Dick Sessler's. Did you put down Jules Mastbaum?
CS: No, I didn't write that down but we found most of the records of the Rodin Museum.
RC: His daughter's still around.
CS: I understood she was still around. Do you remember when the Rodin Museum opened?
RC: It was opened at least 30 years ago.
CS: It opened in 1929?
RC: Maybe in the 30's.
CS: The early 30's.
RC: He was a friend of Arthur Block's, at least that's what Paris. Jules bought an awful lot of Rodin, pieces of sculpture. I brought a couple to him -- Rodin.
CS: They're a lot of collectors in Philadelphia.
RC: Yes, they were [Long pause] Did you put down Albert M. Greenfield?
CS: Albert Greenfield, I believe that there are quite a few of his papers at the Historical Society.
RC: Yeah, that's right and he collected an awful lot of Napoleana. Did you go over to the Historical Society?
CS: Oh yes, many times. We microfilmed quite a bit there 30 years ago and will be filming some over.
RC: Did you go over to the library, see the print collection there?
CS: The Free Library, yes. Mrs. Carlen told me that most of your art history education was gotten through the library.
RC: I used the library an awful lot, it's true. The print collection is fantastic. Contemporary prints, they got old prints and engravings.
CS: It's one of their big departments.
RC: There's a man . . . ?
CS: Mr. Heney. I've never been in there. Did most of the collectors know each other?
RC: Most of 'em resented each other. [Laughs] One guy died recently, Seymour Adelman. Died a few months ago. He bought Eakins' house and gave it to the city. He was another guy interested in property, buying things and sell them. He used to hang around auction houses . . . .
[END OF INTERVIEW]
This transcript is in the public domain and may be used without permission. Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Robert Carlen, 1985 June 28-July 16, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.