A Finding Aid to the Leon Kroll Papers,
1905-1974, in the Archives of American Art, by Erin Corley
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
Leon Kroll (1884-1974) of New York, N.Y., was a painter.
Leon Kroll was born in New York City in 1884. As a teenager he attended classes at the Art Students League and studied painting with John Henry Twachtman. In the early 1900s he began taking classes at the National Academy of Design, where he won student prizes, and had his first major exhibition in 1906. In 1908 he won a scholarship to study art in Paris and attended the Académie Julian, studying at the atelier of Jean-Paul Laurens. Through he practiced realism, Kroll was also influenced by French impressionist painters, specifically Paul Cézanne. While in Paris he also met Genevieve (Viette) Domec. They married later in 1923 and had one daughter, Marie-Claude.
Upon his return to New York in 1910, Kroll had a one man show of his Paris work at the National Academy where he received critical acclaim. The next year he began teaching at the National Academy of Design. During his career, he also taught at the Maryland Institute, Art Institute of Chicago, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and was a guest instructor and lecturer at several other schools.
Kroll was part of a circle of New York artists that included several members of "The Eight", and he was especially close with Robert Henri, William Glackens, George Bellows, and Eugene Speicher. During his time in Europe he also became friends with Marc Chagall and Robert and Sonia Delaunay. He exhibited at the Armory Show in 1913 and during the next few decades won numerous major national and international prizes in painting, including first prize at the 1936 Carnegie International Exhibition. He had his first retrospective exhibition at the Worcester Art Museum in 1937. Kroll was especially known for his paintings of female nudes, but also painted New York City street scenes, New England landscapes, and portraits. Beginning in the late 1930s he was commissioned to paint murals at public buildings including, among others, the U. S. Department of Justice Building, the war memorial in Worcester, Massachusetts, and the auditorium at Johns Hopkins University.
Throughout his career Kroll was a very active member of professional arts organizations. He was an Associate and later a Academician at the National Academy of Design, and his memberships included the New Society of Artists; American Society of Painters, Sculptors, and Gravers; Artists Equity Association; Four Arts Aid Association; and the National Institute of Arts and Letters among others. He also served as a board officer for many of these organizations. Kroll was active in the federal arts programs from the 1930s to the 1950s and close friends with Edward Bruce, director of the U.S. Treasury Department's Section for Fine Arts.
Kroll maintained a studio in New York City and spent summers at his home and studio at Folly Cove, Gloucester, Massachusetts. Leon Kroll died in 1974 at the age of 89.
Overview of the Collection
Scope and Contents
The papers of realist painter, muralist, and art instructor Leon Kroll date from 1905 to 1974 and measure 6.0 linear feet. The collection documents Kroll's painting career, teaching, and active participation in numerous art organizations. Over one-half of the collection is correspondence with artists, schools, galleries, museums, patrons, arts organizations, and others. Also found are scattered biographical material, writings and notes, legal and financial records, exhibition catalogs, clippings, other printed material, photographs of Kroll and colleagues, loose drawings, and nine sketchbooks.
Biographical material contains chronologies, biographical essays, awards, price lists, interview transcripts, and a file about the Committee on Government and Art. More than one-half of the collection consists of Kroll's personal and professional correspondence with artists such as Gifford Beal, George Biddle, Isabel Bishop, Barry Faulkner, William Glackens, Robert Henri, Paul Manship, Hobart Nichols, Eugene Speicher, Maurice Stern, Esther Williams, and many others. Additional correspondence is with art critics, curators, dealers, students, patrons, schools, museums, and numerous arts organizations. There is also extensive correspondence with arts administrators regarding government art projects, especially his friend and fellow artist Edward Bruce, Director of the U. S. Treasury Department's Section for Fine Arts.
Writings and notes by Leon Kroll including autobiographical essays, drafts of lectures and speeches, lists, and other scattered notes. Also found is a small amount of writings by others, including an essay by Julia Langsam describing her experience as an artist's model for Kroll. Legal and financial records include contracts, loan agreement, art sales receipts, and several ledgers recording consignments and monthly receipts and expenditures. One ledger specifically documents financial transactions for his mural commissions for the Justice Department and the Worcester War Memorial.
Printed material contains numerous news clippings about Kroll and his work and includes several articles written by Kroll. Also found are exhibition announcements and catalogs for Kroll's solo exhibitions, material about the Worcester War memorial, and miscellaneous printed items.
Photographs include one of Kroll with his family, Kroll in his studio and working on murals, and several of him with other artists as jurors for art exhibitions. Artists depicted include Isabel Bishop, Reginal Marsh, John Sloan, Raphael Soyer, Eugene Speicher, and others. Also found are photographs of Edward Bruce, as well as photographs of exhibitions, artwork by Leon Kroll, and artwork by others. All of the original artwork in this collection is by Leon Kroll and includes loose drawings and nine sketchbooks containing drawings of landscapes, figures, portraits, and animals.
Arrangement and Series Description
The collection is arranged into 7 series:
- Series 1: Biographical Material, 1906-1969 (Box 1; 0.2 linear feet)
- Series 2: Correspondence, 1905-1973 (Box 1-4; 3.6 linear feet)
- Series 3: Writings and Notes, 1932-1972 (Box 4-5; 0.5 linear feet)
- Series 4: Legal and Financial Records, 1921-1974 (Box 5; 0.6 linear feet)
- Series 5: Printed Material, 1924-1972 (Box 5-6; 0.4 linear feet)
- Series 6: Photographs, circa 1900s-1960s (Box 6; 0.4 linear feet)
- Series 7: Artwork, 1911-circa 1950s (Box 6; 0.3 linear feet)
Subjects and Names
This collection is indexed in the online catalog of the Archives of American Art under the following terms:
- Art--Economic aspects
- Art patronage
- Art teachers--New York (State)--New York
- Art and state
- Artists' models
- Artists' studios--Photographs
- Muralists--New York (State)--New York
- Painting, American
- Painters--New York (State)--New York
- Types of Materials:
- Beal, Gifford, 1879-1956
- Biddle, George, 1885-
- Bishop, Isabel, 1902-
- Bruce, Edward, 1879-1943
- Faulkner, Barry, 1881-1966
- Glackens, William J., 1870-1938
- Henri, Robert, 1865-1929
- Langsam, Julie
- Manship, Paul, 1885-1966
- Nichols, Hobart, 1869-1962
- Speicher, Eugene E. (Eugene Edward)
- Sterne, Maurice, 1878-1957
- Williams, Esther, 1907-1969
Leon Kroll donated a portion of his papers in 1968. His widow, Genevieve Kroll, donated the rest of the papers in 1976.
How the Collection was Processed
Materials donated by Leon Kroll were microfilmed upon receipt on reels D326-D331. Materials donated by Genevieve Kroll were not microfilmed. Both accessions were merged, arranged, and described by Erin Corley in 2007-2008 and scanned in 2009 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
How to Use the Collection
Restrictions on Use
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
Ownership & Literary Rights
The Leon Kroll 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 and is available via the Archives of American Art's website. Photographs and printed reproductions of artwork as well as select financial documents have not been scanned.
How to Cite this Collection
Leon Kroll papers, 1905-1974. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Detailed Description and Container Inventory
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1906-1969 (Box 1; 0.2 linear feet)
Biographical materials include autobiographical essays and chronologies compiled and updated by Kroll. The essays list schools he attended, prizes and honors, museums he is represented in, organization affiliations, etc. Also found are lists of paints and supplies found on his palette and lists of artwork and prices. Award certificates document the numerous honors he received from the National Academy of Design during his time as a student and during his early career. There are two interview transcripts, including one interview done for Columbia University in which he discusses his childhood and education in detail. This series also contains a file Kroll kept on the Committee on Government and Art which includes meeting minutes, reports, correspondence, and press releases, and other miscellaneous documents and records.
Items within each folder are arranged in chronological order. The bulk of this series has been scanned; business and calling cards have not been scanned.
Series 2: Correspondence, 1905-1973 (Box 1-4; 3.6 linear feet)
Correspondence is the largest series within the collection and contains both Kroll's personal and professional correspondence, the bulk of which dates from 1930 to 1970. There is correspondence with many fellow New York and European artists, including members of the social realist and ashcan schools of painting and artists he met in his travels and participation in national and international art organizations and committees. There is also correspondence with students and publishers, requests for him to teach, lecture, or write articles, and business correspondence reagarding exhibitions, sales, donations, and commissions. There is very little family correspondence. A small amount of correspondence is in French.
Artists that Kroll corresponded with nclude John Taylor Arms, Gifford Beal, George Bellows, Edwin Blashfield, George Biddle, Isabel Bishop, Marc Chagall, Arthur Covey, Randall Davey, Sonia Delaunay, Edwin Dickinson, Barry Faulkner, Ernest Fiene, Joseph Floch, William Glackens, Ellen Day Hale, Samuel Halpert, Robert Henri, Joseph Hirsch, Robert and Edward Hopper, Berthe Koch, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Richard Lahey, Paul Manship, Ezio Martinelli, William McKillop, Gari Melchers, Hobart Nichols, Henry Schnakenberg, John Sloan, Raphael Soyer, Eugene Speicher, Maurice Sterne, Stuyvesant Van Veen, Hutton Webster, Esther Williams, Hamilton Wolf, and Andrew Wyeth among many others.
Kroll also corresponded with many art historians and critics, curators, and gallery owners, such as Arthur Byne, Alfred Churchill, Frank Rehn, and Louis Stern, and several art patrons and collectors such as J. S. Carpenter, Etta Cone, Aldus Higgins, Julius Lempert, and Carl Weeks.
A large amount of the correspondence found here is Leon Kroll's professional correspondence with arts organizations, clubs, and committees in which he participated. This includes the American Society of Painters, Sculptors, and Gravers; Artists Equity Association; Municipal Art Committee of New York; National Academy of Design; and the National Institute of Arts and Letters, among many others. These files may contain copies of letters between other members, press releases, printed material, meeting minutes, or memos he sent to members. Also found is correspondence with arts administrators regarding federal government art projects and funding, including Edward Bruce, Forbes Watson, and Edward Rowan.
In general, letters are filed alphabetically by person or corporate name. Names with five or more letters are filed in their own folders, and the remainder of correspondence is filed in miscellaneous files. Selected correspondents whose names do not appear in headings are indicated in a note following the folder heading. Some correspondence with individuals may also be filed according to the name of the organization with which they were associated. Where they exist, Kroll's outgoing letters are interfiled with incoming letters.
This series has been scanned in its entirety.
Series 3: Writings and Notes, 1932-1972 (Box 4-5; 0.5 linear feet)
Writings and notes include draft essays, lectures, speeches, notes,lists, recommendations, annotated address book and engagement calendar. Subjects of writings include art technique, art history, Kroll's art, and the work of other artists. Lectures and speeches were generally given at art organizations such as the American Federation of Arts or at art schools and universities. Additional writings include drafts of recommendations of artists for grants, memberships, or appointment to committees. Lists of people consist of drafts of invitation lists, member lists, and mailing lists. Scattered writings by others include an essay by Julia E. Langsam describing her experience as an artist's model for Kroll and additional writings about Kroll by unknown authors.
Writings are arranged in rough chronological order. This series has been scanned in its entirety.
|4||64||Annotated Typescripts, "Painting the Nude," 1963|
|4||65||Autobiographical Writings, circa 1930s-1940s|
|4||66||Artist Recommendations, circa 1940s|
|4||67||Lectures at Finch School, 1935-1936|
|4||68||Speech at Worcester Art Museum, 1937|
Series 4: Legal and Financial Records, 1921-1974 (Box 5; 0.6 linear feet)
Found here are contracts for Kroll's mural commissions for the U.S. Justice Department and the Worcester War Memorial, teaching contracts, including ones for the Art Students League. Additional legal documents include copyright registrations for a few of Kroll's paintings, the last will and testament for his sister Lenore Landsberger, and various leases and exhibition contracts.
Financial documents include numerous loan forms and sales receipts for his artwork, including ones from Downtown Gallery and the Carnegie Institute. Other bills and receipts primarily deal with framing or shipping. There is also an appraisal of paintings and etchings belonging to Florence Carpenter, an art collector and a patron of Kroll's work. Ledgeres record monthly financial transactions such as art consignments, cash receipts, and cash disbursements. There is also a ledger documenting transactions for his mural commissions for the Justice Department and the Worcester War Memorial.
Items are arranged chronologically within each folder. Portions of this series have been scanned; tax documents, stock market records, insurance documents, and notes of expenses have not been scanned.
|6||2||Notes and Lists of Expenses, 1945, 1947, 1958, 1964 (Not scanned)|
Series 5: Printed Material, 1924-1972 (Box 5-6; 0.4 linear feet)
Scattered printed materials about Kroll's career include news clippings; exhibition announcements and catalogs; postcards; invitations; brochures; and material documenting his work on murals for the Worcester War Memorial, including a catalog for an exhibition of the murals, brochures, and a map of the War Memorial auditorium. Various bulletins, news letters, and reports found here are from art organizations and the federal government.
Material in each folder is arranged in chronological order. The bulk of this series has been scanned; postcards and reproductions of artwork have not been scanned.
|6||3-8||News Clippings, 1924-1968 (6 folders)|
|6||9||Undated News Clippings, circa 1920s-1960s|
|6||10||Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1927-1972|
|6||11||Worcester War Memorial Printed Material, 1941|
|6||12||Bulletins, Newsletters, and Reports, 1929-1970|
|6||13||Blank Postcards, circa 1920s (Not scanned)|
|6||14||Reproductions of Artworks, circa 1940s (Not scanned)|
|6||15||Miscellaneous Printed Material, circa 1929-1966|
Series 6: Photographs, circa 1900s-1960s (Box 6; 0.4 linear feet)
Photographs are of Kroll, of Kroll working in his studio, of Kroll serving for juried exhibitions, of Kroll with other artists, and of Kroll's homes. Three photographs of Kroll in his studio and working on murals are by Paul Hansen and Jane Rogers. Artists depicted in images with Kroll include John Taylor Arms, Gordon Grant, Raphael Soyer, and John Sloan, fellow exhibition jury members Isabel Bishop, Reginald Marsh, Eugene Speicher, Paul Sample, and Homer Saint-Gaudens. Also found are three photographs of Kroll's colleague and friend, Edward Bruce, and a few photographs of unidentified people, possibly family members.
Photographs of exhibitions include those at the Art Institute of Chicago, Depauw University, and the Carnegie Institute. Photographs of artwork include paintings by Kroll and of his mural commissions, including drawings and details of the Worcester war memorial mural.
Folders in this series are arranged according to subject matter and photographs within each folder are arranged in rough chronological order. This series is partially scanned. Photographs of artwork and duplicate photographs have not been scanned.
|6||16-17||Photographs of Leon Kroll, circa 1930s-1960s (2 folders)|
|6||18||Photographs of Edward Bruce, circa 1940s|
|6||19||Photographs of Unidentified People, 1940s|
|6||20||Photographs of Leon Kroll Homes, circa 1930-1950|
|6||21||Photograph of "Whistler House," circa 1930s|
|6||22||Photographs of Exhibition, Art Institute of Chicago, circa 1920s|
|6||23||Slides, Exhibition at Depauw University, circa 1959 (Not scanned)|
|6||24||Photographs of Exhibitions, circa 1935-1957|
|6||25||Photographs of Artwork, Worcester Murals, 1938-1941 (Not scanned)|
|6||26-30||Photographs of Artwork, circa 1900s-1960s (5 folders; not scanned)|
|6||31||Photographs of Artwork by Others, circa 1920s-1940s (Not scanned)|
Series 7: Artwork, 1911-circa 1950s (Box 6; 0.3 linear feet)
Nine sketchbooks and two folders of loose drawings done by Kroll are found here. Drawings are of figures, nudes, portraits, animals, and landscapes. The sketches are done in pencil, colored pencil, and pen and ink. The earliest sketchbook, from spring, 1911, includes typed notes regarding each of the 36 drawings. Some sketchbooks also include other handwritten notations.
Sketchbooks are arranged in rough chronological order. This series has been scanned in its entirety.
|6||32-33||Loose Drawings, circa 1930s-1940s (2 folders)|
|6||35||Sketchbook, circa late 1920s|
|6||36||Sketchbook, circa 1931|
|6||37-38||Sketchbooks, circa 1930s-1940s (4 volumes in 2 folders)|
|6||40||Sketchbook, circa 1940s-1950s|