Marion Sanford and Cornelia Chapin papers, 1929-1988

A Finding Aid to the Marion Sanford and Cornelia Chapin Papers, 1929-1988 , in the Archives of American Art, by Erin Corley

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Funding for the processing this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Table of Contents:



Biographical Information

Marion Sanford was born in 1904 in Ontario, Canada and was raised in Warren, Pennsylvania. She studied painting at the Pratt Institute in New York, and worked for a period of time as a stage and costume designer. She developed an interest in sculpture, and studied the direct-carving method briefly at the Art Students League, but was largely self-taught. In 1937 she had her first exhibition of sculptures depicting women performing household chores and everyday tasks. She later created a series called "Women at Work" and her imagery of women would be the subject for which she would become best known, although she also completed bronze portraits and bas-reliefs. In 1941 and 1943 she worked as a Guggenheim Fellow, and became a member of the National Academy of Design, National Sculpture Society, and the National Association of Women Artists. Sanford won many awards and medals for her works and also created sculptures on commission, including a carved altar panel for the First Methodist Church in Warren, Pennsylvania. Marion Sanford died in 1987.

Cornelia Van Auken Chapin was born in 1893 in Waterford, Connecticut. After exploring other interests, including aeronautics, she decided to become a sculptor in the 1920s. She studied with Gail Corbett and in the early 1930s began exhibiting her sculptures of animals. In 1934 she moved to Paris, France and studied with Mateo Hernandez as his only student. Under Hernandez, she learned the technique of direct-carving from life in stone and wood and won the 2nd grand prize at the Paris Exposition in 1937. In 1936, Chapin was the only foreign and woman sculptor elected to the Societaire Salon d'Automne in Paris. The threat of World War II brought her back to the United States in 1939. Chapin won many awards for her sculptures and became a member of the National Academy of Design in 1945 and the National Sculpture Society. She was also one of the founding members of Artist's for Victory, Inc. and a participant in the women's artist group known as "The Philadelphia Ten", a unique and progressive group of women painters and sculptors who often exhibited together in the Philadelphia area.

In the late 1930s Chapin purchased a studio in New York City which had formally belonged to sculptor Gutzon Borglum. She shared the studio with her fellow sculptor Marion Sanford, and often modeled for Sanford's work. Sanford and Chapin remained close companions until Chapin's death in 1972.

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Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The papers of sculptors Marion Sanford and Cornelia Chapin measure 3.0 linear feet and date from 1929-1988. Sanford and Chapin were close companions and shared a studio in New York City. The papers include scattered materials created by and about both women, including biographical materials, one folder of correspondence for each woman, a few writings and essays, newsclippings, exhibition catalogs, other printed materials, and four scrapbooks (three about Chapin and one about Sanford). Photographs are of Chapin only and of artwork of both women. There is also one sound recording of a radio interview with Chapin and several motion picture films of Chapin's home movies transferred onto video, mostly of her time working in Paris.

Biographical material consists of scattered items documenting the careers of Marion Sanford and Cornelia Chapin. Included are a small amount of correspondence of both women, membership certificates, an index card file of Sanford's artwork, Chapin's written description of her sculpting process, and writings by others about Chapin.

Printed material includes exhibition announcements and catalogs for many group and solo shows of both women, news clippings about Chapin and Sanford, and a few reproductions of their artwork. Source files consist of postcards and clippings of various images that were most probably used as references or inspiration for their artwork.

The collection includes four scrapbooks compiled by Sanford and Chapin documenting their careers through news clippings, a few exhibition materials, and photographs of their artwork. There are three scrapbooks about Chapin, and one about Sanford. Also found are two additional scrapbooks on the subject of bas-relief and sculpture. Photographs include several of Cornelia Chapin in her studio and with her teacher Mateo Hernandez. There are numerous photographs of artwork by Chapin and Sanford. Artwork includes drawings of animals, architectural elements, coins, and people, by either Sanford or Chapin. Audio and video recordings include a radio interview of Chapin after she sculpted a bear for the National Zoo and several of Chapin's home movies, most from her time working in Paris.

Arrangement and Series Description

The collection is arranged into 7 series:

Subjects and Names

This collection is indexed in the online catalog of the Archives of American Art under the following index terms:

Subjects-Topical:

  • Sculpture, American -- 20th century
  • Sculpture, Modern -- 20th century
  • Sculpture -- Technique
  • Artists' studios
  • Women sculptors -- New York (State) -- New York

Types of Materials:

  • Photographs
  • Motion pictures (visual works)
  • Scrapbooks
  • Sound recordings

Names:

  • Chapin, Cornelia, 1893-1972

Provenance

A portion of the Marion Sanford and Cornelia Chapin papers were donated by Marion Sanford in 1974. Additional materials were donated by Sanford's caretaker, Brenda Brenwell-Lejeune, in 1999.

Separated and Related Materials

Harvard University Library houses the the bulk of Cornelia Van Auken Chapin's papers, 1877-1959.

How the Collection was Processed

Portions of the collection received a preliminary level of processing after donation. The entire collection was fully processed, arranged, and described by Erin Corley in 2007 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.


How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

The collection is open for research. Use requires an appointment.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The Marion Sanford and Cornelia Chapin 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.

How to Cite this Collection

Marion Sanford and Cornelia Chapin papers, 1929-1988. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1930-1988
(Box 1; 7 folders)

Biographical material consists of scattered items documenting the careers of Marion Sanford and Cornelia Chapin. Material about Marion Sanford includes copyright documents for two sculptures, a certificate of membership in the Allied Artists of Americ, Inc., and a Who's Who biography, as well as an index card file of her sculptures, providing title, date, physical details, awards, and exhibition dates. There is one file of Sanford's correspondence that discusses the sale of her artwork, commissions, and awards received for her works, as well as the handling of Cornelia Chapin's estate.

Material about Cornelia Chapin includes certificates for her membership in the National Aeronautic Association of USA and the Allied Artists of America, Inc., a resume, and obituary. Also found is her written description of the sculpting process for her work "Sandstone Frog," as well as writings by others, including two articles by Dorothy Herzog, and an essay by Chapin's teacher, Mateo Hernandez, putting her work in the context of the history of sculpture. One file of Chapin's correspondence includes letters regarding her participation in Artists for Victory and the National Academy of Design, and discusses her commissioned bear cub sculpture for the National Zoo.

Items are arranged chronologically within each folder.

Box Folder
1 (hol) 1 Biographical Material on Marion Sanford, 1937-circa 1940s
1 (hol) 2 Marion Sanford Correspondence, 1939-1988
1 (hol) 3 Card File of Works by Marion Sanford, circa 1935-1949
1 (hol) 4 Biographical Material on Cornelia Chapin, 1930-1972
1 (hol) 5 Cornelia Chapin Correspondence, 1938-1952
1 (hol) 6 Cornelia Chapin, Written Description of Sculpting Process, 1937
1 (hol) 7 Writings about Cornelia Chapin, 1939-1940s

Series 2: Printed Material, 1931-1972
(Box 1-2; 0.5 linear feet)

Printed material documents Cornelia Chapin and Marion Sanford's careers as sculptors, primarily through exhibition materials and news clippings. Included are numerous exhibition catalogs for group exhibitions that they participated in, such as the Sculptors Guild annual outdoor sculpture exhibition, as well as a few catalogs and exhibition checklists for solo shows. Also found are news clippings about Marion Sanford and Cornelia Chapin that discuss their work and their participation in exhibitions. There are a few clippings about Cornelia Chapin's family, including her sister and poet, Katherine Garrison Chapin. This series also contains printed reproductions of their artwork from various publications.

Items are arranged chronologically within each folder.

Box Folder
1 (hol) 8 Exhibition Announcements & Invitations, 1931, 1939, 1940
1 (hol) 9-14 Exhibition Catalogs, 1933-1949
(6 folders)
Box Folder
2 (hol) 1-2 Exhibition Catalogs, 1950-1972
(2 folders)
2 (hol) 3 News Clippings about Marion Sanford, 1937-1965
2 (hol) 4 News Clippings about Cornelia Chapin, 1931-1965
2 (hol) 5 News Clippings about the Chapin Family, 1941-1942
2 (hol) 6 Printed Reproductions of Artwork by Marion Sanford, circa 1940s-1950s
2 (hol) 7 Printed Reproductions of Artwork by Cornelia Chapin, circa 1940s-1950s

Series 3: Source Files, 1940s-1960s
(Box 2-3; 0.4 linear feet)

Found here are printed source files that include postcards and clippings from magazines, newspapers, and catalogs on various topics, most likely compiled by either Marion Sanford or Cornelia Chapin as inspiration or references for their sculptures. Topics include animals, architecture, human figures, and coins, and also include numerous examples of sculptures done by other artists.

Items are arranged by subject.

Box Folder
2 (hol) 8 Animals, 1940s-1960s
2 (hol) 9 Architectural Design Elements, 1940s-1960s
2 (hol) 10 Bas Relief, 1940s-1960s
2 (hol) 11 Buildings, 1940s-1960s
Box Folder
3 (hol) 1 Children, 1940s-1960s
3 (hol) 2-4 Head & Full-Length Figures, 1940s-1960s
(3 folders)
3 (hol) 5 Medallions & Coins, 1940s-1960s

Series 4: Scrapbooks, 1932-1949
(Box 3-7; 1.0 linear foot)

This series contains four scrapbooks compiled by Marion Sanford and Cornelia Chapin - one about Marion Sanford and three about Cornelia Chapin. The scrapbooks primarily contain newspaper and magazine clippings, exhibition announcements, other printed material and photographs of artwork. Two additional scrapbooks, probably compiled by Marion Sanford, are on the subjects of bas relief and sculpture. Similar to the source files, these scrapbooks contain clippings from magazines, newspapers, and other printed sources of sculptures by other artists, including numerous examples of ancient sculpture and relief.

Box Folder
3 (hol) 6-7 Scrapbook about Marion Sanford (disbound), 1937-1948
(2 folders)
3 (hol) 8 Scrapbook about Cornelia Chapin, 1932-1939
(See Box 5)
3 (hol) 9 Scrapbook about Cornelia Chapin, 1939-1941
(See Box 5)
3 (hol) 10 Scrapbook about Cornelia Chapin, 1941-1949
(See Box 6)
Box Folder
4 (hol) 1 Scrapbook about Bas Relief, circa 1940s
(See Box 5)
4 (hol) 2 Scrapbooks about Sculpture, circa 1940s
(2 volumes; see Box 7)
Box
5 (sol) Oversize, Scrapbook about Cornelia Chapin, 1932-1939
(See also Box 3, Folder 8)
5 (sol) Oversize, Scrapbook about Cornelia Chapin, 1939-1941
(See also Box 3, Folder 9)
5 (sol) Oversize, Scrapbook about Bas Relief, circa 1940s
(See also Box 4, Folder 1)
Box
6 (sol) Oversize, Scrapbook about Cornelia Chapin, 1941-1949
(See also Box 3, Folder 10)
Box
7 (sol) Oversize, Scrapbooks about Sculpture, circa 1940s
(2 volumes; see also Box 4, Folder 2)

Series 5: Photographs, circa 1930-1962
(Box 4, 7; 0.2 linear feet)

This series contains primarily photographs of artwork by both women, and a few of Cornelia Chapin sculpting in her studio and at a zoo in Paris, as well as a few portraits of her. Also found are photographs of Chapin with her instructor, Mateo Hernandez at the Jardin d'Acclimatation in Paris. There are also many photographs of artwork by Marion Sanford and Cornelia Chapin. Photographs of Sanford's artwork are arranged alphabetically followed by the work of Chapin.

Box Folder
4 (hol) 3 Photographs of Cornelia Chapin, circa 1930-1950
4 (hol) 4 Photographs of Cornelia Chapin and Mateo Hernandez, 1934
4 (hol) Photographs of Artwork by Marion Sanford
4 (hol) 5 Abraham & Isaac, circa 1949
4 (hol) 6 By the Sweat of the Brow, circa 1945
4 (hol) 7 Cornelia Chapin at Work, circa 1940s
4 (hol) 8 Dawn, circa 1947
4 (hol) 9 De Profundis, circa 1940s
4 (hol) 10 Diana, circa 1937
4 (hol) 11 Georges Berrere, circa 1940s
4 (hol) 12 Harvest, circa 1943
4 (hol) 13 Hugh Ferriss, circa 1962
4 (hol) 14 Lady with a Lute, circa 1939
4 (hol) 15 Little Boy Holding Flower, circa 1940s
4 (hol) 16 Little Lamb, circa 1961-1962
4 (hol) 17 Lullaby, circa 1944
4 (hol) 18 Memorial Altar, First Methodist Church, circa 1940s
4 (hol) 19 Perry Fitzhugh, circa 1940s
4 (hol) 20 Spring, circa 1940s
4 (hol) 21 St. Mary's Altarpiece, circa 1940s
4 (hol) 22 Miscellaneous, circa 1935-1950
(See also Box 7)
4 (hol) 23 Photo Album, circa 1940
4 (hol) 24 Photographs of Artwork by Cornelia Chapin, Garden Figure, circa 1940s
4 (hol) 25 Photographs of Artwork by Cornelia Chapin, Miscellaneous, circa 1930s-1940s
4 (hol) 26 Photographs of Artwork by Philadelphia sculptor Donald De Lue, 1950s
4 (hol) 27 Photographs of Artwork, Unidentified, circa 1930s-1940s
Box
7 (sol) Oversize, Photographs of Artwork by Marion Sanford, Miscellaneous, circa 1935-1950
(See also Box 4, Folder 22)

Series 6: Artwork, 1929-circa 1960s
(Box 4; 5 folders)

This series consists of pencil and ink drawings of various subjects. None of the drawings are signed, but are most likely drawn by either Marion Sanford or Cornelia Chapin. Included are drawings of animals, architectural and decorative elements, possibly done in preparation for commissioned works, coins, including drawings for a nickel, and numerous drawings of people and children.

Items are arranged by subject.

Box Folder
4 (hol) 28 Drawings of Animals, circa 1930s
4 (hol) 29-30 Drawings of Architectural and Decorative Elements, circa 1940s-1960s
(2 folders)
4 (hol) 31 Drawings of Coins, 1938
4 (hol) 32 Drawings of People, 1929, 1930s

Series 7: Audio and Video Recordings, 1932-1936
(Box 6, motion picture film storage, video storage; 0.6 linear feet)

This series consists of audio and film recordings of Cornelia Chapin. Included is a phonograph album of an interview with Chapin by Mrs. Putnam for WCFM Radio, Washington, DC, on December 9, 1952. The interview, entitled "Interviewing the New Bear Cub," discusses the dedication of Chapin's sculpture, Bear Cub, at the National Zoo in Washington, DC. Also found is a cassette copy. There are nine reels of motion picture film containing home movies of Cornelia Chapin. One movie entitled "Hilltop Happenings: Harpursville Summer 1932", shows Cornelia with unidentified friends or family doing daily chores as well as working on a sculpture of a female figure in her studio. Some of the movies were filmed in 1936 while she was working in Paris, and show several scenes of her and her teacher Mateo Hernandez at their studio demonstrating their direct carving method. There is also a large amount of footage of Chapin and Hernandez with friends at the zoo in Paris, and Chapin sketching horses at a racing event. These films are also available on VHS.

Box
6 (sol) Interview of Cornelia Chapin, "Interviewing the New Bear Cub", 1952
(phonograph record)
6 (sol) Interview of Cornelia Chapin, "Interviewing the New Bear Cub", 1952
(cassette tape copy of phonograph record)
Box
Motion Picture Film Storage Home Movies of Cornelia Chapin, 1932-1936
(9 reels, motion picture film)
Box
Video Storage Home Movies of Cornelia Chapin, 1932-1936
(VHS video copy of motion picture film)