Nickolas Muray papers, 1910-1978

Muray, Nickolas, b. 1892 d. 1965
Active in New York, N.Y.

Collection size: 0.9 linear feet

Collection Summary: Biographical material, letters, subject files, an interview transcript, notes, writings, art works, photographs, and printed material.

Biographical material includes a membership card and an identity card for the United States Olympic fencing team (1931-1932), 2 biographical accounts, and an 18 page autobiographical account. Letters and cards, 1925-1965, are from notables photographed by Muray including Judith Anderson, Miguel Covarrubias, John Galsworthy, Martha Graham, Jascha Heifetz, Frida Kahlo, Mary Martin, Claude Monet, Agnes (Mrs. Eugene) O'Neill, the secretary of George Bernard Shaw, H. De Vere Stackpoole, Ruth St. Denis, and H. G. Wells (1925-1965). Seventeen letters include 2 Christmas cards displaying photographs of Muray in costume, a Christmas card from Frank Crowninshield decorated with an etching by Gari Melchers, and 2 condolence letters to Muray's wife.

Subject files contain letters, notes, and printed material concerning a color photography course taught by Muray at New York University (1940-1941), his Signal Corps application (1942-1944), "Peoples of the World" trip (1957-1962), and survival of a heart attack (1961-1962). An interview transcript is from Muray's appearance on the Fleischmann's Yeast radio program (1929).

Also included are membership lists for the Coffee House (1963), the Circle of Confusion, and lists of celebrity portraits (1965); Muray's reviews of the performing arts, a profile of Muray by Katherine Ursula Parrott; commentary by Paul Gallico for "The Revealing Eye," a mock-up for "The Great Tribes of Africa" (1969), both books of Muray's work; 4 drawings, 3 by illustrator Willy Pogany; photographs, 1911-circa 1960, of Muray with his family, at work, as a member of the 1928 Olympic Fencing Team, Muray with Miguel Covarrubias, Diego Rivera, and Frida Kahlo; carbro prints of Loretta Young, 3 models, and arrangements of food. Three of the photos of Muray are by Edward Steichen. Additional material includes clippings (1920-1969), a book, "Celebrity Portraits of the Twenties and Thirties" (1978), and printed material (1924-1926).

Biographical/Historical Note: Nickolas Muray (1892-1965) was a portrait photographer. Born in Hungary. Began as professional photographer around 1921. In the 1930s, he established one of the first color labs in the United States and became a master of the carbro process. He also wrote reviews for "Dance" magazine, flew airplanes, and in 1928 and 1932, he represented the United States as a member of the Olympic Fencing Team.

Donated 1988 by Mimi Muray, the daughter of Muray's fourth wife, Peggy Muray.

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  • Microfilm reels 4392-4393 available for use at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.
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