Robert C. Graham collection of artists' letters, 1783-1935, bulk 1804-1877

A Finding Aid to the Robert C. Graham Collection of Artists' Letters, 1783-1935 (bulk 1804-1877), in the Archives of American Art, by Erin Corley

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

Table of Contents:

Biographical Information

Robert Claverhouse Graham (1913-1994) was the director of the Graham Gallery in New York City. He and his brother James were fourth generation owners of the gallery which specialized in nineteenth- and twentieth-century American art.

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Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The Robert C. Graham collection of forty artists' letters dates from 1783 to 1935, with the bulk of the letters dating from 1804 to 1877. Graham, an art dealer and collector, compiled the unrelated letters of several late eighteenth-century and nineteenth-century painters such as Thomas Doughty, G. P. A. Healy, Daniel Huntington, Henry Inman, Emanuel Leutze, Samuel F. B. Morse, Rembrandt Peale, John Singer Sargent, Thomas Sully, John Trumbull, Benjamin West, and others.

Arrangement and Series Description

Folders are arranged alphabetically by the author of the letter. Multiple letters within folders are arranged chronologically.

Subjects and Names

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


  • Art -- Collectors and collecting
  • Art dealers -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Painters -- 19th century
  • Artists' writings

Types of Materials:

  • Letters


  • Doughty, Thomas, 1793-1856
  • Healy, G. P. A. (George Peter Alexander), 1813-1894
  • Huntington, Daniel, 1816-1906
  • Inman, Henry, 1801-1846
  • Leutze, Emanuel, 1816-1868
  • Morse, Samuel Finley, 1791-1872
  • Peale, Rembrandt, 1778-1860
  • Sargent, John Singer, 1856-1925
  • Sully, Thomas, 1783-1872
  • Trumbull, John, 1756-1843
  • West, Benjamin, 1738-1820


The collection was donated in 1961 by Robert C. Graham.

Separated and Related Materials

Related material found in the Archives includes the recording and transcript of a 1976 interview of Robert Claverhouse Graham conducted by Paul Cummings for the Archives of American Art. The Archives also holds numerous collections of papers related to or created by the artists who wrote these letters.

How the Collection was Processed

The Archives microfilmed the collection on reels D23, D294 and 1236, mostly upon receipt in 1961. The collection was fully processed by Erin Corley in 2006 and digitized in 2007 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

The collection has been digitized and is available online via AAA's website.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The Robert C. Graham collection of artists' letters 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.

Available Formats

The collection was digitized in 2007 and is available via the Archives of American Art's website.

How to Cite this Collection

Robert C. Graham collection of artists' letters, 1783-1935. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Robert C. Graham Collection of Artists' Letters, circa 1783 - circa 1935
(Box 1; 0.2 linear feet)

Robert Graham's collection of forty artist's letters includes letters to and from numerous significant American artists, primarily from the mid- to late- nineteenth century. Found are letters from John Brown, Thomas Biddle, Thomas Doughty, G. P. A. Healy, Daniel Huntington, Henry Inman, Emanuel Leutze, Samuel F. B. Morse, Rembrandt Peale, Luigi Persico, John Singer Sargent, Benjamin West, Joseph Wood, and other artists.

The letters discuss a wide variety of unrelated scattered topics, but are primarily about current work and commissions. Items of note include three letters from Thomas Doughty and one letter from William M. Hart, both Hudson River School painters, to Uriah Levison, discussing paintings Levison commissioned from them. Also found is a letter from sculptor Luigi Persico to the Library of Congress concerning a possible commission for an equestrian statue of George Washington. Letters from Rembrandt Peale concern a portrait of George Washington, and a letter from Thomas Sully to Asher B. Durand requests etchings of two paintings. Also of note are letters from artist John Trumbull, including one to Andrew Robertson in which he discusses many general issues such as the British economy's effect on arts patronage and the engraving of one of his paintings. The collection contains three letters from Benjamin West, including a letter from West to Charles Willson Peale in which he inquires about a painting of George Washington, and a letter to Trumbull congratulating him on the opening of an "Academy of Art."

The collection contains a few additional items, including an engraved bookplate signed by John Callender, receipts signed by Francis Bicknell Carpenter and William Miller, Thomas Biddle's stock certificate for a share in the Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts, and G. P. A. Healy's portrait price list.

Box Folder
1 1 Biddle, Thomas, 1809
1 2 Brown, John H., 1877
1 3 Callender, John, undated
1 4 Carpenter, Francis Bicknell, 1854
1 5 Clark, Aaron, 1836
1 6 Doughty, Thomas, 1852-1853
1 7 Dreer, Ferdinand J., 1860
1 8 Durand, John, 1857
1 9 Hart, William M., 1855
1 10 Healy, G. P. A., 1857-1873
1 11 Hinshelwood, Robert, 1839
1 12 Huntington, Daniel, 1874
1 13 Inman, Henry, 1837, 1851
1 14 Kane, Philip Schuyler, 1935
1 15 Lambdin, James R., 1858
1 16 Leutze, Emanuel, 1845
1 17 Miller, William R., 1849
1 18 Morse, Samuel F. B., 1845
1 19 Neagle, John, 1838
1 20 Peale, Rembrandt, 1839, 1853-1854, undated
1 21 Persico, Luigi, 1845
1 22 Pine, John, 1846
1 23 Renault, John Francis, 1804
1 24 Sargent, John Singer, undated
1 25 Sully, Thomas, 1825-1840
1 26 Trumbull, John, 1816, 1835
1 27 West, Benjamin, 1783, 1808, 1817
1 28 Wood, Joseph, 1807
1 29 List of Miniature Painters, undated