A Finding Aid to the John White Alexander Papers,
1775-1968, bulk 1870-1915, in the Archives of American Art, by Megan McShea
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art
Table of Contents:
- Biographical Information
- Overview of the Collection
- How to Use the Collection
- Detailed Description and Container Inventory
John White Alexander was born in 1856 in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania. He was orphaned at age five and taken in by relatives of limited means. When Alexander left school and began working at a telegraph company, the company's vice-president, former civil war Colonel Edward Jay Allen, took an interest in his welfare. Allen became his legal guardian, brought him into the Allen household, and saw that he finished Pittsburgh High School. At eighteen, he moved to New York City and was hired by Harper and Brothers as an office boy in the art department. He was soon promoted to apprentice illustrator under staff artists such as Edwin A. Abbey and Charles Reinhart. During his time at Harpers, Alexander was sent out on assignment to illustrate events such as the Philadelphia Centennial celebration in 1876 and the Pittsburgh Railroad Strike in 1877, which erupted in violence.
Alexander carefully saved money from his illustration work and traveled to Europe in 1877 for further art training. He first enrolled in the Royal Art Academy of Munich, Germany, but soon moved to the village of Polling, where a colony of American artists was at its peak in the late 1870s. Alexander established a painting studio there and stayed for about a year. Despite his absence from the Munich Academy, he won the medal of the drawing class for 1878, the first of many honors. While in Polling, he became acquainted with J. Frank Currier, Frank Duveneck, William Merritt Chase, and other regular visitors to the colony. He later shared a studio and taught a painting class in Florence with Duveneck and traveled to Venice, where he met James Abbott McNeill Whistler.
Alexander returned to New York in 1881 and resumed his commercial artwork for Harpers and Century. Harpers sent him down the Mississippi river to complete a series of sketches. He also began to receive commissions for portraits, and in the 1880s painted Charles Dewitt Bridgman, a daughter of one of the Harper brothers, Parke Godwin, Thurlow Weed, Walt Whitman, and Oliver Wendell Holmes. Alexander met his wife Elizabeth, whose maiden name was also Alexander, through her father, James W. Alexander, who was sometimes mistaken for the artist. Elizabeth and John White Alexander married in 1887 and had a son, James, in 1888.
Alexander and his family sailed for France in 1890, where they became a part of the lively literary and artistic scene in Paris at the time. Among their many contacts there were Puvis de Chavannes, Auguste Rodin, and Whistler, who arrived in Paris shortly thereafter. Alexander absorbed the new aesthetic ideas around him such as those of the symbolists and the decorative style of art nouveau. Critics often note how such ideas are reflected in his boldly composed paintings of women from this period, who titles drew attention to the sensual and natural elements of the paintings. His first exhibition in Paris was three paintings at the Société Nationale des Beaux Arts in 1893, and by 1895 he has become a full member of the Société.
Independent and secession artist societies emerged throughout Europe during this period, and Alexander exhibited with several of them, including the Société Neuvelle in Paris, the Munich Secession, and the Vienna Secession. He was also elected an honorary member of the Royal Society of Belgian Artists and the Royal Society of British Painters in London. His exhibited works sold well, and his influence began to be felt back in the United States. Andrew Carnegie and John Beatty of the Carnegie Institute consulted closely with Alexander in the planning and execution of the first Carnegie International Exhibitions. Alexander also became active in supporting younger American artists who wanted to exhibit in Europe, a stance which resulted in his resignation from the Society of American Artists in Paris, which he felt had become a barrier to younger artists. His promotion of American art became an central aspect of his career for the remainder of his life, most visibly through his presidency of the National Academy of Design from 1909 until shortly before his death in 1915. He also served frequently on juries for high-profile exhibitions, and was a trustee at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Public Library, and the national Institute of Arts and Letters. Around 1912, he helped to form the School Art League in New York, which provided art instruction to high school students.
Alexander returned to the United States nearly every summer while based in Paris, and among his commissioned paintings were murals for the newly-constructed Library of Congress, completed around 1896. In 1901, the Alexanders returned to New York permanently. The demand for portraits continued, and he had his first solo exhibition at the Durand-Ruel Galleries in 1902. Around 1905 he received a commission for murals at the new Carnegie Institute building in Pittsburgh for the astounding sum of $175,000. He created 48 panels there through 1908. During this period, the Alexanders spent summers in Onteora, New York, where Alexander painted his well-known "Sunlight" paintings. There they became friends and collaborators with the actress Maude Adams, with Alexander designing lighting and stage sets, and Elizabeth Alexander designing costumes for Adams' productions such as Peter Pan, the Maid of Orleans, and Chanticleer. The couple became known for their "theatricals" or tableaux, staged at the MacDowell Club and elsewhere, and Elizabeth Alexander continued her design career when her husband died in 1915.
Alexander left several commissions unfinished upon his death at age 59, including murals in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Elizabeth Alexander held a memorial exhibition at Arden Galleries a few months after his death, and a larger memorial exhibition was held by the Carnegie Institute in 1916. Alexander won dozens of awards for artwork in his lifetime, including the Lippincott Prize at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1899, the Gold Medal of Honor at the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1900, the Gold Medal at the Panama Pacific Exposition of 1901, and the Medal of the First Class at the Carnegie Institute International Exhibition in 1911. In 1923, the Alexander Memorial Studio was built at the MacDowell colony in New Hampshire to honor his memory.
Overview of the Collection
Scope and Contents
The papers of the painter, muralist, and illustrator John White Alexander measure 12 linear feet and date from 1775 to 1968, with the bulk of materials dating from 1870 to 1915. Papers document Alexander's artistic career and many connections to figures in the art world through biographical documentation, correspondence (some illustrated), writings, 13 sketchbooks, additonal artwork and loose sketches, scrapbooks, photographs, awards and medals, artifacts, and other records. Also found is a souvenir engraving of a Mark Twain self-portrait.
Biographical Information includes multiple essays related to Alexander, his family, and others in his circle. Also found is an extensive oral history of Alexander's wife Elizabeth conducted in 1928. Correspondence includes letters written by Alexander to his family from New York and Europe at the start of his career, and later letters from fellow artists, art world leaders, and portrait sitters of Alexander's. Significant correspondents include Charles Dana Gibson, Florence Levy, Frederick Remington, Robert Louis Stevenson, Henry James, John La Farge, Francis Davis Millet, and Andrew Carnegie. Correspondence includes some small sketches as enclosures and illustrated letters.
Certificates and records related to Alexander's career are found in Associations and Memberships, Legal and Financial Records, and Notes and Writings, which contain documentation of Alexander's paintings and exhibitions. Scattered documentation of Alexander's memberships in various arts association exists for the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Academy in Rome, the National Academy of Design, the Onteora Club in New York, the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, Germany, the Ministère de L'Instruction Publique et des Beaux-Arts, the Union Internationale des Beaux Arts et des Lettres, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Notes and Writings include speeches written by Alexander, short stories and essays written by his wife, and articles by various authors about Alexander. Extensive documentation of the planning and construction of the Alexander Memorial Studio by the MacDowell Club is found, along with other awards, medals, and memorial resolutions adopted by arts organizations after Alexander's death.
Artwork includes thirteen sketchbooks with sketches related to Alexander's commercial illustration and cartooning, murals, paintings, and travels. Dozens of loose drawings and sketches are also found, along with two volumes and several dozen loose reproductions of artwork, among which are found fine prints by named printmakers. Many sketches are also interspersed throughout the correspondence. Eight Scrapbooks contain mostly clippings, but also scattered letters, exhbition catalogs, announcements, invitations, and photographs related to Alexander's career between 1877 and 1915. Additional Exhibition Catalogs and later clippings, as well as clippings related to the career of his wife and other subjects, are found in Printed Materials.
Photographs include many portraits of Alexander taken by accomplished photographers such as Zaida Ben-Yusuf, Aimé Dupont, Curtis Bell, Elizabeth Buehrmann, and several signed Miss Huggins, who may have been Estelle Huntington Huggins, a New York painter and photographer. Portraits of others include Alexander's friends William Merritt Chase and Edward Austin Abbey. Also found are photographs of groups, juries, family, friends, and studios in New York, Paris, and New Jersey, and a handful of scenic photographs of Polling, Bavaria, where Alexander had an early studio. A large number of photographs of works of art are found, many with annotations. Among the photographs of murals are a small collection of snapshots of the Carnegie Institute murals in progress. Miscellaneous artifacts include a palette, several printing plates, and an inscribed souvenir engraving of a self-portrait caricature of Mark Twain.
Arrangement and Series Description
The collection is arranged into 11 series:
- Series 1: Biographical Information, circa 1887-1968 (Box 1, OV 23; 0.1 linear feet)
- Series 2: Correspondence, circa 1870-1942 (Box 1; 0.7 linear feet)
- Series 3: Associations and Memberships, circa 1897-1918 (Box 1; 2 folders)
- Series 4: Legal and Financial Records, 1775, 1896-1923 (Box 1; 5 folders)
- Series 5: Notes and Writings, circa 1875-1943 (Boxes 1-2; 0.3 linear feet)
- Series 6: Awards and Memorials, circa 1870-1944 (Box 2, OV 24; 0.8 linear feet)
- Series 7: Artwork, circa 1875-1915 (Boxes 2-3, 14-16, OV 23; 1.5 linear feet)
- Series 8: Scrapbooks, circa 1877-1915 (Boxes 17-22; 1.8 linear feet)
- Series 9: Printed Materials, circa 1891-1945 (Boxes 3-4, OV 23; 1.5 linear feet)
- Series 10: Photographs, circa 1870-1915 (Boxes 4-13, OV 25-43, RD 44-45; 5 linear feet)
- Series 11: Artifacts, circa 1899-1915 (Box 6, artifact cabinet; 0.4 linear feet)
Subjects and Names
This collection is indexed in the online catalog of the Archives of American Art under the following terms:
- Abbey, Edwin Austin, 1852-1911
- Chase, William Merritt, 1849-1916
- Alexander, John White, 1856-1915
- Whistler, James McNeill, 1834-1903
- MacDowell Club of New York
- Portrait painting -- 19th century
- Portrait painting -- 20th century
- Portrait painting, American
- Portrait painters -- New York (State) -- New York
- Muralists -- New York (State) -- New York
- Illustrators -- New York (State) -- New York
- Types of Materials:
- Works of art
- Gibson, Charles Dana, 1867-1944
- Stevenson, Robert Louis, 1850-1894
- James, Henry, 1843-1916
- La Farge, John, 1835-1910
- Carnegie, Andrew, 1835-1919
- Alexander, Elizabeth A., d. 1947
- Levy, Florence N. (Florence Nightingale), 1870-1947
- Remington, Frederic, 1861-1909
- Millet, Francis Davis, 1846-1912
Papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by Irina Reed, granddaughter of John White Alexander, in 1978 and 1981.
How the Collection was Processed
The papers were arranged and microfilmed upon receipt on reels 1727-1731, 1807, and 3483. The accessions were merged, re-processed, and fully described in this finding aid in 2007 by Megan McShea with funding from the Terra Foundation for American Art.
How to Use the Collection
Restrictions on Use
Use of the original papers requires an appointment.
Ownership & Literary Rights
The John White Alexander papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
The bulk of the collection was digitized in 2009-2010 and is available via the Archives of American Art website.
How to Cite this Collection
John White Alexander papers, 1775-1968, bulk 1870-1915. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Detailed Description and Container Inventory
Series 1: Biographical Information, circa 1887-1968 (Box 1, OV 23; 0.1 linear feet)
This series contains notes, writings, and printed materials that describe the life of John White Alexander, as well as ephemera and personal documents related to specific life events.
Notes and narratives include biographical essays about Alexander and his guardian, Colonel Edward Jay Allen, taken from published reference works, and notes made by Elizabeth Alexander in preparation of those entries. Personal documents and ephemera include a wedding invitation, an identity card issued for the Paris International Exposition of 1900, a calling card, a circular about an artist named Jacques Alexander, examples of Alexander's signature, and a French visa. Also found are drafts of essays by Elizabeth Alexander about her husband and others in their circle, and an oral history interview of Elizabeth Alexander in three parts taken by DeWitt M. Lockman, a later president of the National Academy of Design.
This series has been scanned in its entirety.
|1||1||Biographical Notes and Essays, circa 1913-1968|
|1||2||Personal Documents and Ephemera, circa 1887-1900 (Oversized items housed in OV 23)|
|1||3-5||Essays by Elizabeth Alexander about John White Alexander, after 1915 (3 folders)|
|1||6||Essays by Elizabeth Alexander about Others in their Circle, undated|
|1||7-9||Oral History Interview of Elizabeth Alexander by DeWitt M. Lockman, 1928 (3 folders)|
|23 (OV)||Oversized Personal Documents and Ephemera, circa 1887-1900 (Items scanned with Box 1, f2)|
Series 2: Correspondence, circa 1870-1942 (Box 1; 0.7 linear feet)
This series contains personal and business correspondence of John White Alexander and his wife, Elizabeth Alexander. Correspondence from the 1870s and 1880s consists primarily of Alexander's letters home to his guardian, Colonel Edward Jay Allen, the Allen family, and his friend, E.E. Phelps, all in Pittsburgh, written from New York and Europe. 1876 letters detail his visit to the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Many of these letters are found with typed transcriptions which contain scattered annotations which appear to be in Elizabeth Alexander's handwriting. In a couple of cases, transcripts exist for letters which are no longer found in the collection.
The remainder of correspondence consists of letters to Alexander from fellow artists, patrons, museums, arts organizations, and friends. Significant correspondents include Charles Dana Gibson, Florence Levy, Frederick Remington, Robert Louis Stevenson, Henry James, John La Farge, Francis Davis Millet, and Andrew Carnegie. These and other significant correspondents are noted in the folder listing. Letters dated after Alexander's death in 1915 are addressed to Elizabeth Alexander, with a single letter addressed to the Alexanders' son James.
A number of sketches by Alexander are found in his letters from Europe dated from 1877 to 1880. There are also scattered illustrated letters and an Illustrated letter from Ivan P. Pranishnikoff is found from 1898. Additional types of records found include scattered receipts and clippings.
Correspondence is arranged chronologically, with undated correspondence filed at the beginning of the series. Additional correspondence is found in Scrapbooks. See Scrapbook series description and folder listing for more details. This series has been scanned in its entirety.
Undated Correspondence, Adams to Garland, undated
(Correspondents include John White Alexander, W.K. Austin, Charles Curran, M.K. Gage, Charles Dana Gibson, and H. Garland)
Undated Correspondence, Johnston to Whistler, undated
(Correspondents include Ella Bond Johnston, O. Latrobe, Florence Levy, E.L. Ryerson, Ebin R. Smith, Robert Louis Stevenson, Harry Watrous, and James McNeill Whistler)
Correspondence, 1875 (8 folders)
(ink drawing found)
|1||21-25||Correspondence, 1876 (5 folders)|
Correspondence, 1877 (4 folders)
Correspondence, 1878 (5 folders)
Correspondence, 1887 (5 folders)
(Correspondents include Harry Alexander, John Burroughs, and Henry James)
(Correspondents include Ministry of Art Education in France and Elizabeth Alexander)
(Correspondents include M.R. Blair, J.J. Cowan, Lydia E. Grosvenor Davis, Mayor F. Grimani of Venice, William Turner Dannat, and Puvis de Chavannes)
(Correspondents include Frantz Jourdain, Fr. Linley Sanbourne, and Cowan family members)
(Correspondents include Samuel Huey, Andrew Carnegie, John La Farge, the Pan American Exposition of 1901, Princeton University, Mabel Carleton Gage, Homer Gage, Hester Knowles, and Harper Brothers to Elizabeth Alexander)
(Includes many letters from John White Alexander written in Boston; also letters from Anne Bradley)
(Correspondents include Anne Bradley, R.D. Alexander, Carnegie Library, H.N. Matzen, F.D. Millet, and D. Webster King)
(Correspondents include Stanford White, Charles Dana Gibson, Joseph Pennell, Alfred East, and John La Farge)
Correspondence, 1909 (2 folders)
(Includes many letters of congratulations written to Alexander on his election as president of the National Academy of Design. Also contains a note indicating that several letters in this folder were removed from Alexander's scrapbook of 1909. See Scrapbooks for more information. Correspondents include Albert Sternan, John W. Beatty, Charles Dana Gibson, Florence (probably Levy), Elbert Baldwin, Edward Robsinon, Samuel Swift, Edwin Howland Blashfield, Anna M. Clarke, William Laurel Harris, Harrison S. Morris, Thomas Hastings, Frank D. Millet, C. Russell, Jeannette Gilder, Robert Underwood Johnson, John La Farge, Fred Crowninshield, Leon Dabo, Henri Martin, and Edward Bok.)
(Correspondents include Andrew Carnegie, Houston Lowe, Birge Harrison, William Hyde, M.A. Dixon, Yale University regarding an honorary degree, Alfred East, John F. Weir, and DeWitt Parshall)
(Correspondents include Edward Redfield, W.D. Howells, Potter Palmer, Geo. Dudley Seymour, Mary Hearn Greims, Josephine L. Goodyear, Geo. Peabody Wetmore, and Leslie J. Skelton.)
(Correspondents include George Hearn, Hugo Reisinger, C. Grant La Farge, Leslie Skelton, Trinity Church, Fred Crowninshield, Geo. Dudley Seymour, the Panama-Pacific Exposition, Timothy Cole, and Edward Redfield)
(Correspondents include Francis Newton, George Hopkins, Cass Gilbert, H.C. Mansfield, Robert Underwood Johnson, and Woodrow Wilson)
Correspondence, 1915 (5 folders)
(Letters to Alexander are found from Campbell Cooper, Carl Becker, Henry B. Snell, and Douglas Volk. Letters of condolence to the Alexanders are found from Charles Dana Gibson, E.J. Allen, E.A.S. Clarke, Maude (probably Adams), Ernest Peix (probably Peixotto), Geo. Wharton Edwards, Edward Woods, Robert Abbe, Robert Underwood Johnson, Franklin Babbitt, Edwin H. Blashfield, Harrison Morris, J. Alden Weir, Janet Van Buskirk, Edwin Baldwin, J. Henry Harper, William Laurel Harris, Adolph Lewisohn, Earl Stetson Crawford, Ernest T. Rosen, C.H. Russell, Frances M. Ward, S.H. Church, Robert De Forest, John H. Finley, John F. Weir, Ben Foster, William Bailey Faxon, William Walton, Charles H. Caffin, Bruce Crane, Herbert Adams, Ed Phelps, Elizabeth W. Roberts, Augusta H.S. Gaudens, Frederic Allen Whiting, Florence Levy, John Beatty, Harry Watrous, and C. Powell Minnigerode.)
(Correspondents include Howard Mansfield, Jane Potter Russell, J. Howland Hunt, Robert Underwood Johnson, John Beatty, John H. Finley, May Allen, Cooper Union, National Arts Club, M. MacDowell, N. H. Carpenter, and S.H. Church)
(Correspondents include Carroll Beckwith, whose letter includes a photographer of her portrait by Alexander, Francis Wilson, Leila Mechlin, Edward Bok, Jean MacLane, Julian Clarence Levi, and W.H. Holmes)
(Correspondents include R.M. MacIntyre, Alex Simpson, Edwin Blashfield, DuBon and Dorothy, L.M. Lockhart, E.C. Babcock, Homer Saint Gaudens, Grace Vanamee, Walter Crittenden, and William Henry Fox.)
(Correspondents include William Barclay Parsons, Gertrude Herdle Moore, Norbert Heerman, Horace Moran, and Edwin Blashfield)
(Correspondents include William Weldon, Norbert Heerman, Harrison Morris, Agnes Holden, and the Museum of the City of New York.)
Correspondence, circa 1940-1942
(Correspondents include Homer Saint Gaudens, Carnegie Magazine, John O'Connor, C. Bernard Shea, and Hobart Nichols.)
|1||69||Correspondence, Envelopes, 1874-1904|
|1||70||Typescript Copies of Selected Correspondence (1912-1916), undated|
Series 3: Associations and Memberships, circa 1897-1918 (Box 1; 2 folders)
This series contains membership certificates, cards, circulars, rosters, and other records associated with European and American art organizations in which Alexander participated, or which solicited his participation. Organizations represented in this series include the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Academy in Rome, the National Academy of Design, the Onteora Club (New York), the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (Munich, Germany), the Ministère de L'Instruction Publique et des Beaux-Arts, the Union Internationale des Beaux Arts et des Lettres, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Items in this series are arranged chronologically. This series has been scanned in its entirety.
|1||71-72||Associations and Memberships, circa 1897-1918 (2 folders)|
Series 4: Legal and Financial Records, 1775, 1896-1923 (Box 1; 5 folders)
This series includes an 18th century road report, copyright forms, a contract, royalty statements, and receipts. Among receipts are insurance payments, membership dues, and financial transactions. Scattered receipts are also found among Correspondence.
Additional records documenting Alexander's artwork are found in Notes and Writings.
This series has been scanned in its entirety.
Series 5: Notes and Writings, circa 1875-1943 (Boxes 1-2; 0.3 linear feet)
This series contains notes, essays, speeches, short stories, news articles, poems, and records of artwork written by John White Alexander, his wife Elizabeth Alexander, and others.
Notes appear to be fragments of essays or speeches, typed and handwritten. A few rough sketches are found among the notes. Speeches by John White Alexander are mainly on art subjects. These include a 1901 talk for New York City's founder's Day entitled "Our Tariff on Art," and a 1912 address to the Onteora Club on the formation of the School Art League.
Short stories by Elizabeth Alexander are found in typescript and handwritten form. Tear sheets for several of her published stories illustrated by John White Alexander are also found. Original drawings of some of these illustrations are found in Artwork.
Articles about Alexander include typescripts of two critical essays by his contemporaries Sadakichi Hartmann and Anne Webb Kamaghan, a catalog description by Julia deWolf Addision, and a collection of transcribed news stories and editorials about his resignation from the Society of American Painters in Paris.
Records of artwork include two bound volumes with information about paintings and many lists of paintings related to exhibitions and storage. The second folder of lists appears to be related to a memorial exhibitions held for Alexander in 1916, and the fourth contains a small notebook with the heading "List of Portraits and Paintings by Alexander painted before 1887."
This series has been scanned in its entirety.
|1||78-79||Notes, undated (2 folders)|
|1||80-84||Speeches by John White Alexander, circa 1901-1912 (5 folders)|
|2||1-3||Short Stories by Elizabeth Alexander, undated (3 folders)|
|2||4||Short Stories by Elizabeth Alexander, Tear Sheets of Published Stories with Illustrations by John White Alexander, 1896-1897|
|2||5||Essays and Speeches by Elizabeth Alexander, undated|
|2||6-7||Articles about John White Alexander, 1900-1901 and undated (2 folders)|
|2||8||Poems Removed from Sketchbook, circa 1875|
|2||9||Poems Written for and to John White Alexander, circa 1897-1912|
|2||10-11||Registers of Paintings and Exhibitions, circa 1887-1913 (2 volumes in 2 folders)|
|2||12-15||Lists of Paintings, circa 1893-1943 (4 folders)|
Series 6: Awards and Memorials, circa 1870-1944 (Box 2, OV 24; 0.8 linear feet)
This series contains award certificates and medals awarded to Alexander during his lifetime, and memorial resolutions and projects carried out after his death in 1915.
Award certificates and medals are found from the Royal Academy of Art in Munich, the Carnegie Institute, and the Panama Pacific Exposition. Additional medals awarded for Alexander's artwork are found from the Societé National des Beaux-Arts, the Paris Exposition of 1900, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Pan American Exposition, the Saint Louis Exposition, the Buenos Aires Exposition, and the School Arts League. Additional medals from civic organizations are also found.
Extensive materials are found documenting the creation of the Alexander Memorial Studio at the McDowell Colony in New Hampshire, including published reports of the McDowell Club and Colony, images in the form of photo postcards and engravings, and a studio book containing photographs of the studio's construction, a history of the studio, and the signatures of resident artists. Notes and correspondence concerning the history of the studio are found tucked in the book.
Over a dozen memorial resolutions issued upon Alexander's death by arts organizations to which he contributed during his lifetime are found. Several of these resolutions exist in ornate, calligraphic, bound volumes.
Additional photographs of the Alexander Memorial Studio are found in Photographs. This series has been scanned in its entirety.
|2||16||Award Certificates, circa 1878-1915 (Oversized items housed in OV 24)|
|2||17-19||Medals, circa 1870-1922 (20 items in 3 shoe boxes)|
|2||21||Blueprint of Alexander's Tomb, 1915 (Oversized items housed in OV 24)|
|2||Alexander Fund and Studio at MacDowell Colony|
|2||22||Reports, circa 1915-1926|
|2||23||Images, circa 1910-1944|
|2||24||Studio Book, circa 1925-1941|
|2||25-29||Memorial Resolutions, circa 1915 (5 folders; oversized items housed in OV 24)|
|2||30||Commemorative Lecture by Edwin Blashfield, 1917|
|24 (OV)||Oversized Award Certificates, circa 1878-1915 (Items scanned with Box 2, f16)|
|24 (OV)||Oversized Blueprint of Alexander's Tomb, 1915 (Item scanned with Box 2, f21)|
|24 (OV)||Oversized Memorial Resolution, circa 1915 (Item scanned with Box 2, f25)|
Series 7: Artwork, circa 1875-1915 (Boxes 2-3, 14-16, OV 23; 1.5 linear feet)
This series contains 13 sketchbooks, sketches and drawings on loose paper, and reproductions of John White Alexander's artwork in a variety of print media, including fine prints by various printmakers. An engraved portrait of Alexander by Arthur G. Learned is also found at the end of the series.
Sketchbooks contain drawings, sketches, cartoons, and illustrations in pencil, ink, wash, and gouache. A few are dated in the original. Others have been assigned dates during processing based on their content: cartoons and illustrations are dated to Alexander's main period of newspaper and magazine work (1873-1899), and sketches related to murals are dated to the murals' years of execution (Library of Congress, 1896; Carnegie Institute, 1905-1908). Additional notes on sketchbook content are found in the folder listing.
Loose sketches are filed by media, including charcoal, pencil, wash, and ink. Most of the pencil sketches are preliminary studies of allegorical figures and appear to relate to mural projects. Wash and ink drawings are more finished in appearance and were executed on Bristol board, and may have been published illustrations.
Reproductions of artwork consist of halftone prints, etchings, and engravings of Alexander's cartoons, paintings, murals, and illustrations. Reproductions are found on loose pages and in two oversized volumes. Many of the reproductions are fine prints and are signed by the printmaker. Names include George Bartle, John William Evans, Thomas Heard, William Fowler Hopson, Thomas Johnson, Frederick Juengling, W.H. Morse, Caroline A. Powell, Harry Elliott Sylvester, John H.E. Whitney, and Henry Wolf.
The second volume of reproductions also contains other types of materials, including six photographs of artwork, one sketched caricature of Alexander dated 1885, and five photographs picturing Alexander around 1903 to 1913. Among the loose reproductions are two large color prints are signed by Alexander, and installation views of the 1915 memorial exhibition at Arden Galleries.
Additional sketches and illustrated letters are found in Correspondence and Notes and Writings series, and additional art reproductions are found in Scrapbooks and Photographs. This series has been scanned in its entirety.
Sketchbooks, circa 1873-1899 (3 folders; oversized items housed in box 14)
(sketchbooks contain primarily cartoons and illustrations and are dated to Alexander's main years of newspaper and magazine work)
Sketchbook, circa 1880-1881
(inscribed July 1880; contains sketches from life; also contains sketches of illustrations depicting African Americans)
(travel sketchbook with dated sketches, one of which is labeled "Tangier")
Sketchbook, circa 1891
(cover reads "B. Alexander, 1891"; may have belonged to Elizabeth Alexander, who went by the name Betsy or Bessie; contains seascapes, figures and a page of text)
Sketchbooks, circa 1896 (2 folders)
(contain pencil sketches of figures, landscapes, and several lunettes that appear to be related to Alexander's Library of Congress murals, executed 1896)
Sketchbook, circa 1905-1908 (Oversized items housed in Box 14)
(among the work in this volume are sketches from Alexander's murals at the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, executed 1905-1908)
Sketchbooks, undated (4 folders)
(five undated volumes containing a variety of work in pencil, wash, gouache, and ink; two volumes were purchased in Europe.)
|3||11||Charcoal Sketch, undated|
Pencil Sketches, circa 1896-1909 (5 folders; oversized items housed in OV 23)
(loose sketches in these folders are mainly of allegorical figures; many are recognizable from Alexander's murals at the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, executed 1905-1908; a few cartoons are found; folders are dated to the period of Alexander's mural projects)
Wash and Ink Drawings, circa 1873-1899
(contains a series of maritime scenes in wash and gouache on Bristol board, and a single figure in period costume; assuming these are illustrations, they are dated to Alexander's main period of illustration.)
|3||Etchings, Engravings, and Reproductions of Artwork|
|3||18||Bound Volume 1, circa 1886-1894 (Oversized items housed in Box 15)|
|3||19||Items Removed from Bound Volume 1, circa 1886-1894|
|3||20||Bound Volume 2, circa 1885-1996 (Oversized items housed in Box 16, sol)|
|3||21-24||Loose Items, circa 1886-1915 (4 folders; oversized items housed in OV 23)|
|3||25||Etched Portrait of John White Alexander by A.G. Learned, undated (Oversized items housed in OV 23)|
|14 (sol)||Oversized Sketchbooks, circa 1873-1908 (Items scanned with Box 2, folders 31-32 and Box 3, folder 6)|
|15 (sol)||Bound Volume 1 of Art Reproductions, circa 1896-1909 (Items scanned with Box 3, folder 18)|
|16 (sol)||Bound Volume 2 of Art Reproductions, circa 1886-1894 (Items scanned with Box 3, folder 20)|
|23 (OV)||Oversized Sketch, circa 1885-1896 (Item scanned with box 3, f12)|
|23 (OV)||Oversized Etchings, Engravings, and Reproductions of Artwork, Loose Items, circa 1886-1915 (Items scanned with Box 3, folder 21)|
|23 (OV)||Oversized Etched Portrait of Alexander by A.G. Learned, undated (Item scanned with Box 3, f25)|
Series 8: Scrapbooks, circa 1877-1915 (Boxes 17-22; 1.8 linear feet)
Eight scrapbooks date primarily from 1888 to 1915, with some earlier clippings in the first volume from Alexander's first trip to Europe in the late 1870s. Scrapbooks begin shortly after his marriage to Elizabeth Alexander and contain annotations that appear to be in her handwriting. Thus, the scrapbooks may have been created by her.
Most of the contents of the scrapbooks are newspaper and magazine clippings, with articles about Alexander's art activities and reproductions of his paintings. Also found are scattered letters from patrons and organizations announcing honors and thanking Alexander for commissioned portraits. Other types of items in the scrapbooks include exhibition invitations and catalogs, invitations to club events, programs for speaking engagements, and a few photographs.
Exhibition catalogs in the scrapbooks include Alexander's one-man show at Durand-Ruel Galleries (1901-1902), Pratt Institute (1905), the National Arts Club retrospective (1909), the Albright Knox gallery retrospective (1909), and the Art Institute of Chicago (1913). Other special contents of individual scrapbooks are noted in the folder listing.
Contents of scrapbooks are in loose chronological order, with each volume covering three to five years. Scattered items fall outside of the date ranges indicated for each volume. Additional volumes containing art reproductions, engravings, and photographs are found in the artwork series. Additional exhibition catalogs and clippings are found in the Printed Materials series.
This series has been scanned in its entirety.
Scrapbook, circa 1877-1895
(contains 1893 letter from Puvis de Chavannes re: membership in the Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts, 1896 letter from Prince Eugene of Sweeden and Norway inviting Alexander to exhibit)
|17 (sol)||2||Scrapbook, 1895-1900|
(contains photograph of the jury of Etchings and Engravings, Paris Exposition, 1900, on which Alexander served; 1901 letter from Emile Loubet, president of France, and a notice of the same year of his honor of Crois de Chevalier de L'Ordre Nationale de la Legion d'Honneur; 1904 letter from Edward Coates awarding him the Gold Medal of Honor by the Pennsylvania Academy)
(contains letters from Henry van Dyke, V. van Syckel, Jane Potter Russell, Walter Gunnison, and K.M., possibly Katherine Mackay; also, telegram from JWA to EA informing her of the Carnegie mural contract for $175,000)
(Contains program for MacDowell club event with tableaux by Alexander; extensive publicity for the Carnegie Institute murals; and a 1908 note from H. W. Mabie)
(contains letter from George A. Hearn; programs and publicity for Maude Adams productions of John of Arc and Chanticler)
(contains note from Florence Levy re: honors from the School Art League; letter from Robert Underwood Johnson re: membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters; 1912 photograph of the Pittsburgh International Jury, of which Alexander was a member; an invitation to a dinner honoring Alexander Drake, reproducing a cartoon by Alexander)
(contains annotations related to publicity over Alexander's failure to complete the Carnegie murals)
Series 9: Printed Materials, circa 1891-1945 (Boxes 3-4, OV 23; 1.5 linear feet)
This series contains magazine and newspaper clippings, exhibition catalogs, circulars, bulletins, reports, books, pamphlets, and brochures.
Clippings in this series are often duplicated in Scrapbooks, especially those dating to Alexander's lifetime. Later clippings are unique to this series. The scope of subjects found in this series is also greater, including not only stories about Alexander's career, but also about other artists, family matters, and Elizabeth Alexander's career before and after her husband's death.
Exhibition catalogs are found for Alexander's solo exhibitions, before and after his death. Scattered catalogs for other artists' exhibitions are also found. The 1905 catalog of a Pratt Institute exhibition contains prices, and a 1915 catalog for his memorial exhibition is marked with scattered corrections and sales. Additional exhibition catalogs are found in Scrapbooks.
Circulars include an unsigned, printed letter of protest to the Metropolitan Museum of Art related to an exhibition of European modernists. Entire issues of a variety of magazines are found, several of which contain major articles related to Alexander and his artwork. See details in the folder listing. Bulletins and reports relate to organizations in which Alexander was involved or exhibited. Miscellaneous printed materials include calling cards, a magazine subscription, and a civil defense poster.
Additional printed materials are found throughout the collection, especially in Artwork and Scrapbooks. See series descriptions for more details. The bulk of this series has been scanned. Items not scanned include newspaper and magazine clippings, and for some published items, only the covers have been scanned.
|3||26-27||Magazine Clippings, circa 1896-1922 (2 folders; oversized items housed in OV 23; not scanned)|
|3||28-30||Newspaper Clippings, undated (3 folders; not scanned)|
|3||31-38||Newspaper Clippings, 1900-1914 (8 folders; not scanned)|
|3||39-48||Newspaper Clippings, 1915 (10 folders; not scanned)|
|3||49-51||Newspaper Clippings, 1916 (3 of 12 folders; not scanned)|
|4||1-9||Newspaper Clippings, 1916 (9 of 12 folders; not scanned)|
|4||10-16||Newspaper Clippings, 1917-1918 (7 folders; not scanned)|
|4||17||Newspaper Clippings, 1924-1940 (not scanned)|
|4||18||Exhibition Catalogs, undated, 1902-1905|
|4||19-21||Exhibition Catalogs, 1915-1918 (3 folders)|
|4||22-24||Exhibition Catalogs, 1937-1945 (3 folders)|
|4||25||Exhibition Poster and Wall Text, undated (Oversized items housed in OV 23)|
|4||26||Circulars, circa 1908, 1921|
|4||27||Memorial Essay by William Laurel Harris, circa 1915|
Magazines, circa 1914-1933 (6 folders)
(Articles include "A Visit to Mr. Alexander's Summer Studio," by Elbert F. Baldwin (page proof); "Is Our Art Distinctively American," by JWA in Century, various obituaries and memorials; "The JWA Murals" in Carnegie Magazine; "The Portrait Work of John W. Alexander" by John V. Sears)
Bulletins, 1913, 1937
(School Art League, Mint Museum of Art)
|4||35||Société Royale Des Beaux-Arts (Brussels, Belgium), 1908, 1911|
|4||36||New York City Improvement Commission, 1907|
|4||37||Autobiography of Worthington Whittridge, after 1941|
|4||38||American Academy of Arts and Letters Book of Record, 1922|
|4||39||Smithsonian Institution National Gallery of Art, 1922|
|4||40||Pamphlets, Brochures, and Mailings, 1926, undated|
|4||41||Miscellaneous Printed Materials, circa 1891-1945 (Oversized item housed in OV 23)|
|23 (OV)||Oversized Magazine Clippings, circa 1896-1922 (see Box 3, f27; not scanned)|
|23 (OV)||Oversized Exhibition Poster and Wall Text, undated (Items scanned with Box 4, f25)|
|23 (OV)||Oversized Miscellaneous Printed Materials, circa 1891-1945 (Item scanned with Box 4, f41)|
Series 10: Photographs, circa 1870-1915 (Boxes 4-13, OV 25-43, RD 44-45; 5 linear feet)
This series contains photographs of John White Alexander, friends and associates, family members, studios, places, exhibitions, and works of art.
Dozens of formal portraits are found depicting Alexander, many taken by notable photographers, including Zaida Ben-Yusuf, Aimé Dupont, Curtis Bell, Elizabeth Buehrmann, and several signed Miss Huggins, who may have been Estelle Huntington Huggins, a New York painter and photographer. Also found are photographs made in the well-known studios of Pach, Sarony, and George Rockwood. Portraits of others include Alexander's friends William Merritt Chase and Edward Austin Abbey.
Groups portraits depict Carnegie Founders' Day, the Metro Club, and the National Academy of Design. Juries include the Carnegie International Exhibition, the National Academy of Design, and one group identified as both the Academy jury and the last meeting of the Paris Society of American Artists.
Annotations are found throughout the series, in what appears to be either John White Alexander's or Elizabeth Alexander's handwriting. Mrs. Alexander's annotations in particular sometimes contradict information found in the photograph itself, or on other photographs of the same subjects. Contradictory annotations are particularly common among jury, studio, and personal photographs, and photographs of works of art.
Photographs of Alexander's studios include spaces in New York City; Paris; Sea Bright, New Jersey; and Onteora, New York; Alexander is pictured in some of the studios. Also found are photographs of the Alexander Memorial Studio built at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire after Alexander's death, several of which were taken by photographer Jesse Tarbox Beals. See Awards and Memorials for more images and documentation of the MacDowell studio.
Individuals identified in personal photographs include Alexander, Katherine Beatty, Ed Moran, Thomas S. Clarke, and Alexander's son, James. Also pictured here is Alexander with portraits painted at the Cowan residence in Scotland circa 1900, and Alexander in a mummy costume circa 1903-1904. Numerous photographs of unidentified children appear to have been taken in Alexander's Paris studio. Photographs of Polling, Bavaria show scenic views and architectural details.
Photographs of works of art span Alexander's career and are sometimes annotated with titles, dates of execution, and often owners. Note that annotations are sometimes contradictory. Photographs of paintings are arranged in broad chronological groups, with approximate dates noted in parentheses in the folder listing. These dates have not been verified, however, and many paintings are undated.
Original glass negatives are found for several personal photographs, photographs of studios, and photographs of works of art. Several of the negatives of works of art are retouched and numbered in the original. Recent prints have been made from the original negatives are filed along with vintage prints. Note that recent prints of paintings have been cropped to the picture frame and do not show the negative images in their entirety.
Additional photographs are found in Awards and Memorials, Artwork, and Scrapbooks. The bulk of this series has been scanned. Items not scanned include photographs of artwork, and duplicate photographs.
|4||Portraits of John White Alexander|
|4||42||Photographs by Curtis Bell, circa 1900-1915 (Oversized items housed in OV 25)|
|4||43||Photographs by Curtis Bell, Copies, circa 1900-1915 (Not scanned)|
|4||44||Photographs by Zaida Ben-Yusuf, circa 1900-1915 (Oversized items housed in OV 25)|
|4||45||Photographs by Zaida Ben-Yusuf, Copies, circa 1900-1915 (Not scanned)|
|5||1||Photographs by Bradley, circa 1913 (Oversized items housed in OV 25)|
|5||2||Photographs by Elizabeth Buehrman, circa 1909-1912 (Oversized items housed in OV 25)|
|5||3||Photographs by Elizabeth Buehrman, Copies, circa 1909-1912 (Not scanned)|
|5||4||Photograph by Dana (Photography Studio; Brooklyn, NY), circa 1870-1879|
|5||5||Photographs by Davis and Sanford, circa 1911 (Oversized items housed in OV 25)|
|5||6||Photographs by Aimé Dupont, 1915 (Oversized items housed in OV 25)|
|5||7||Photographs by Davis Garber, undated|
|5||8||Photographs by Miss Huggins, circa 1903-1913 (Oversized items housed in OV 25)|
|5||9||Photographs by Miss Huggins, Copies, circa 1903-1913 (Not scanned)|
|5||10||Photographs by Chester Abbott Lawrence, circa 1904|
|5||11||Photographs by Pach (Photography Studio, New York), circa 1912|
|5||12||Photograph by Otto Reitmayer (Photography Studio, Munich), 1877|
|5||13||Photographs by Rockwood (Photography Studio, New York), circa 1888-1896|
|5||14||Photographs by Sarony (Photography Studio, New York), circa 1879-1885 (Oversized items housed in OV 25)|
|5||15||Photographs by Sarony (Photography Studio, New York), Copies, circa 1879-1885 (Not scanned)|
|5||16||Photographs by E. Syms, undated|
|5||17||Photographer Unknown, before 1880|
|5||18||Photographer Unknown, circa 1890-1909 (one glass negative moved to Box 7)|
|5||19||Photographer Unknown, circa 1890-1915, (two glass negatives moved to Box 7)|
|5||Portraits of Others|
|5||20||Edward Austin Abbey, circa 1880-1889|
|5||21||William Merritt Chase, circa 1870-1879 (Oversized items housed in OV 26)|
|5||22||Robert Louis Stevenson, circa 1880-1894|
|5||23||Ruth McEnery Stuart, undated|
Unidentified Sitters, undated (two glass negatives moved to Box 7)
(Probably subjects of portrait paintings by JWA)
|5||26||Group Portraits and Juries, circa 1900-1915 (Oversized items housed in OV 26)|
Studio, Alexander Memorial Studio at the MacDowell Colony, after 1915 (4 folders; oversized items housed in OV 27)
(includes photographs taken by Jesse Tarbox Beals and Favor Davis; additional photographs and images are found in Awards and Memorials)
Studio, New York City, circa 1898-1915 (Oversized items housed in OV 27; 3 glass negatives moved to Box 7)
(J.W. Alexander pictured)
Studio; Onteora, New York, circa 1913 (Oversized items housed in OV 27)
(J.W. Alexander pictured)
Studio, Paris, circa 1892-1898 (Oversized items housed in OV 27)
(J.W. Alexander pictured)
|5||34||Studio; Sea Bright, New Jersey, circa 1888-1908|
|5||35-37||Personal Photographs, circa 1882-1912 (3 folders; oversized items housed in OV 27; glass negative moved to Box 8)|
|5||38||Personal Photographs, Copies, circa 1882-1912 (Not scanned)|
|5||39||Polling, Bavaria, circa 1878-1886 (includes negatives)|
|5||Photographs of Works of Art|
|5||40||Installation Views, Art Institute of Chicago, circa 1903, 1907 (Oversized items housed in OV 28)|
|5||41||Library of Congress Murals (1896) undated (Not scanned)|
Carnegie Institute Murals In Progress circa 1905-1908
(snapshots with workers pictured)
|5||43||Carnegie Institute Murals, Preliminary Drawings circa 1905-1908 (Not scanned)|
|5||44-47||Carnegie Institute Murals (1905-1908) undated (4 folders; oversized items housed in OV 28-36; not scanned)|
Carnegie Institute Murals, Lantern Slides circa 1908-1915 (glass slides moved to Box 8; not scanned)
(8 glass slides made by Charles Beseler of New York and identified in what appears to be JWA's handwriting)
|5||49||Unidentified Mural undated (Not scanned)|
|5||50-59||Paintings (circa 1879-1899), Vintage Prints, undated (10 of 16 folders; not scanned)|
|6||1-6||Paintings (circa 1879-1899), Vintage Prints, undated (6 of 16 folders; oversized items hosued in OV 37-39; not scanned)|
|6||7-25||Paintings (circa 1900-1915), Vintage Prints, 1906, undated (19 folders; oversized items housed in OV 40-42; not scanned)|
|6||26||Paintings (circa 1898-1904), Recent Prints from Glass Negatives, undated (original negatives moved to Boxes 8-13; not scanned)|
|6||27||Poster, Sculpture, and Drawing (circa 1880-1915), undated (Oversized items housed in OV 43; not scanned)|
Photographs of Works of Art by Others (circa 1880-1899), undated (Oversized items housed in OV 43, rolled documents 44-45; not scanned)
(includes a portrait of John White Alexander by Frank Duveneck, a portrait of P.W. Bartlett by Charles Sprague Pearce, and around 20 rolled and fragile prints of Rodin sculptures with the note "Given to JWA and EA in Paris circa 1899")
|6||29||Photo Lab Envelopes, 1910, 1921, undated (Not scanned)|
|7 (pam)||Glass Negatives, Portraits of John White Alexander, (Scanned with Box 5, f18-19)|
|7 (pam)||Glass Negatives, Portraits of Unidentified Sitters, (Scanned with Box 5, f25)|
|7 (pam)||Glass Negatives, New York City Studio, (Scanned with Box 5, f31)|
|8 (pam)||Glass Negative, Personal Photographs, (Scanned with Box 5, f37)|
|8 (pam)||Glass Slides, Carnegie Institute Murals, Lantern Slides, (See also Box 5, f48; not scanned)|
|8-13 (pam)||Glass Negatives, Paintings, circa 1898-1904 (See also Box 6, f26; not scanned)|
|25 (OV)||Oversized Portraits of John White Alexander by Curtis Bell, Zaida Ben-Yusuf, Bradley, Elizabeth Buehrman, Davis and Sanford, Aimé Dupont, Miss Huggins, and Sarony, (Scanned with Box 4, f42 and 44, Box 5, f1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 14)|
|26 (OV)||Oversized Portrait of William Merritt Chase, (Scanned with Box 5, f21)|
|26 (OV)||Oversized Group Portraits and Juries, (Scanned with Box 5, f26)|
|27 (OV)||Oversized Photographs of Studios, (Scanned with Box 5, f28, 31-33)|
|27 (OV)||Oversized Personal Photographs, (Scanned with Box 5, f38)|
|28 (OV)||Oversized Photographs of Works of Art, Installation Views, (Scanned with Box 5, f40)|
|28-36 (OV)||Oversized Photographs of Carnegie Institute Murals, (See Box 5, f44-47; not scanned)|
|37-39 (OV)||Oversized Photographs of Paintings, Vintage Prints, circa 1879-1899 (See Box 6, f6; not scanned)|
|40-42 (OV)||Oversized Photographs of Paintings, Vintage Prints, circa 1900-1915 (See Box 6, f25; not scanned)|
|43 (OV)||Oversized Photographs of Drawings and Poster, (See Box 6, f27; not scanned)|
|43 (OV)||Oversized Photographs of Works of Art by Others, (See Box 6, f28; not scanned)|
|44-45 (RD)||Photographs of Rodin Sculptures, (see Box 6, f28; not scanned)|
Series 11: Artifacts, circa 1899-1915 (Box 6 and artifact cabinet; 0.4 linear feet)
This series contains a variety of objects found among Alexander's papers. The metal door plate reads "J.W. Alexander, Artist" and is signed J.C. Michel and Son. Printing plates are for an ex-libris engraving and two newspaper photographs. Souvenir pendants are from dedications of the Carnegie Institute in 1907 and the New York Public Library in 1911. Title plates from exhibited paintings include one for "Sunlight" and another for a portrait of Mercer Beasley, LLD.
The bulk of this series has been scanned.
|6||30||Door Plate, undated|
|6||31||Hand-sewn Book Cover, undated|
|6||32||Laurel Wreath, undated (See Artifact Cabinet)|
|6||33||Palette, undated (See Artifact Cabinet)|
|6||34-36||Printing Plates, circa 1915, undated (3 folders; not scanned)|
|6||37||Relief Model for Pendant, undated|
|6||38||Souvenir Engraving of Mark Twain Self-Portrait, 1902 (Not scanned)|
Souvenir Pendants, 1907, 1911
(made for School Art League award; see Awards and Memorials for Alexander's award medal dated 1911)
|6||40||Title Plates from Paintings, circa 1899-1911|