Roi Partridge papers, 1909-2003, bulk 1909-1984

A Finding Aid to the Roi Partridge Papers, 1909-2003 (bulk 1909-1984) , in the Archives of American Art, by Catherine Gaines

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Biographical Information

Roy George Partridge (later known as Roi) was born in Centralia, Washington, in 1888, the son of a newspaper publisher and a pianist mother who accompanied silent films in Seattle movie houses. His mother enrolled him in a drawing and painting course at age 10. By 1907, the family had moved to Kansas where Partridge enrolled in studio courses at the newly established Fine Arts Institute of Kansas City. From there he then went to New York City to study at the school of the National Academy of Design during 1909 and 1910.

In 1910, with an art student friend from Seattle and enough cash to last a month, Partridge traveled to Europe and through a severe economy and by selling his etchings, managed to stay for four years. Between 1910 and 1914, he studied etching with Brockhoff in Munich, and rented a studio in Paris from 1911-1914. Once he had produced a sufficient number of prints, his friends John Butler and Clare Shepard arranged for an exhibition of his work in Seattle. They were assisted by Imogen Cunningham who sent her photo to Partridge and began corresponding with him.

The outbreak of World War I forced Partridge's return to Seattle where he and Imogen Cunningham finally met face to face. They were married within a matter of months. In their early years together, Roi managed to earn a living selling his prints and Imogen worked for Edward S. Curtis, whose photographs of American Indians had not yet achieved recognition. The couple soon produced three sons, Gryffyd and twins Padraic and Rondal. The family soon moved to San Francisco where Partridge worked as an artist in an advertising agency that also employed Maynard Dixon. During this time, he became friendly with the young Dorothea Lange who worked at the shop where Partridge had his film developed. After their marriage, Dixon and Lange established a close, long term friendship with the Partridge family.

In 1920, Partridge joined the faculty of Mills College as an art instructor, teaching design, painting, printmaking, lettering, and photography for 26 years. Partridge was such a popular teacher that the number of art students rose sharply and, for a time, art became the institution's most popular major. He was named chairman of the Art Department in 1923, and served as the first director of the college's art gallery from 1925 through 1935.

While teaching, Partridge remained an active artist and participated in exhibitions throughout the country at venues such as the Honolulu Art Academy, de Young Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Toronto Art Gallery, and the Museum of Modern Art. Among the prizes and medals awarded him were: Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, Seattle (1909), National Academy of Design (1910), Panama Pacific Exposition (1915), Art Institute of Chicago (191), Brooklyn Museum (1921), San Francisco Museum (1921), Los Angeles Museum of Art (1922, 1925, 1929), California Society of Print Makers (1929), and Library of Congress (1943). Partridge is represented in the permanent collections of many museums, colleges, and libraries, among them: Walker Art Gallery, Honolulu Academy of Art, San Diego Fine Arts Society, Milwaukee Art Gallery, Mills College, Scripps College, New York Public Library, and Library of Congress. Partridge also illustrated several books, and The Graphic Art of Roi Partridge: a Catalogue Raisonné by Anthony R. White was published in 1988.

Imogen Cunningham and Roi Partridge, both strong-willed and not given to compromise, divorced in 1934. They reconciled in the 1960s and remained on friendly terms until her death in 1976. Partridge's second wife, Marian Lyman, died in 1940. The following year, he married May Ellen Fisher, a teacher, who survived him.

In addition to his professional activities, Partridge pursued a wide variety of other interests. During the 1920s, he, Imogen, and their boys took numerous camping trips throughout California and New Mexico. With his third wife, May Ellen, he became an avid folk dancer and enthusiastic gardener, raised chickens and chinchillas, and kept bees. They had the opportunity to travel to Hawaii and Japan. In Japan, Partridge expanded his Japanese print collection which was eventually donated to the Mills College Art Gallery.

Roi Partridge died in Walnut Creek, California, on January 25, 1984.

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Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The papers of California printmaker and educator Roi Partridge measure 1.0 linear foot and date from 1909-2003, with the bulk of the material dated 1909-1984. Found here are scattered correspondence, notes and writings, a scrapbook, printed material, and photographs. Several of the documents date from the time Partridge was married to photographer Imogen Cunningham, particularly family correspondence and a travel log of family car camping trips to the west. The same travel log documents one sketching trip Partridge made with Eugen Neuhaus.

General and family correspondence consists largely of incoming letters with some copies and drafts of outgoing letters. General correspondence is mainly professional in nature and documents exhibitions, commissions, teaching, memberships in artists' organizations, and participation in the WPA Public Works of Art Project. A small number of letters from friends concerning personal and social matters are scattered throughout. Among the correspondents are Ansel Adams, Sherwood Anderson, John Taylor Arms, Hollywood Riviera Galleries, Dard Hunter, the Estate of Bertha Jacques [Elizabeth Linsky, executor], National Academy of Design, and Print Makers Society of California. Family correspondence includes letters to Roi Partridge from family members. Letters to Gryffyd's family are from Imogen Cunningham and Roi Partridge; letters from others about family members are also included.

Among the notes and writings are a travel log that documents car camping trips through California and New Mexico taken by Roi Partridge, Imogen Cunningham, and their three sons between 1924 and 1926. The volume also includes Roi's account of a 1926 sketching trip taken with Eugen Neuhaus along the California coast.

A scrapbook contains clippings and feature articles about Roi Partridge, along with exhibition announcements and reproductions. Additional printed material is about or mentions Roi Partridge and his family, Ansel Adams, and Imogen Cunningham. There are also family Christmas cards with reproductions of etchings and drawings by Roi Partridge.

Photographs are of people and art work, including photographs of Roi and May Ellen Partridge, and Donald Bear, the first Director of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (Janet Lineberger - later Mrs. Gryffyd Partridge - served as his assistant in the early 1940s). There are numerous photographs and negatives of art work by Roi Partridge (with appraisal and catalog information), and a photograph of Peter Blos' portrait of Partridge.

Arrangement and Series Description

The collection is arranged into 5 series:

Subjects and Names

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

Subjects:

  • Cunningham, Imogen, 1883-1976
  • Jacques, Bertha
  • Neuhaus, Eugen, 1879-1963
  • Partridge, Roi, 1888-1984
  • Public Works of Art Project

Subjects-Topical:

  • Etchers--California--San Francisco
  • Printmakers--California--San Francisco

Types of Materials:

  • Christmas cards
  • Drafts (documents)
  • Notes
  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks
  • Travelogs

Names:

  • Adams, Ansel, 1902-1984
  • Anderson, Sherwood, 1876-1941
  • Arms, John Taylor, 1887-1953
  • Cunningham, Imogen, 1883-1976
  • Hunter, Dard, 1883-1966
  • Linsky, Elizabeth
  • National Academy of Design (U.S.)

Provenance

Gryffyd Partridge donated his father's papers to the Archives of American art in 1992 and 1995. A final gift was received from Janet [Mrs. Gryffyd] Partridge in 2003.

Separated and Related Materials

A portion of the gifts received from Gryffyd Partridge were separated and filed with the Imogen Cunningham papers, some of which had been earlier donated by Gryffyd.

The Archives of American Art holds the papers of Imogen Cunningham, Partridge's first wife, which contain additional Partridge family correspondence and photographs. An untranscribed oral history interview of Roi Partridge conducted by Steve Steinberg in 1980 is also available.

How the Collection was Processed

The 1992 accession was processed and microfilmed on reel 5028 in 1995. Two additions were merged and the collection was processed and described by Catherine S. Gaines in 2007.


How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

The collection is open for research. Patrons must use microfilm copy. Use of the unmicrofilmed portion requires an appointment.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The Roi Partridge 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.

Available Formats

A portion of the collection are available on 35 mm microfilm reel 5028 at Archives of American Art offices, and through interlibrary loan. Note that the arrangement of re-processed papers may not match the microfilm.

How to Cite this Collection

Roi Partridge papers, 1909-2003 (bulk 1909-1984). Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Correspondence, circa 1909-1993
(Box 1; 0.3 linear ft.; reel 5028)

General and family correspondence consists largely of incoming letters with some copies and drafts of outgoing letters. General correspondence is mainly professional in nature and documents exhibitions, commissions, teaching, memberships in artists organizations, and participation in the WPA Public Works of Art Project. A small number of letters from friends concerning personal and social matters are scattered throughout. Among the correspondents are Ansel Adams, American Artist, Sherwood Anderson, John Taylor Arms, Art Instruction, Hollywood Riviera Galleries, Dard Hunter, Estate of Bertha Jacques [Elizabeth Linsky, executor], National Academy of Design, and Print Makers Society of California. Family correspondence includes letters to Roi Partridge from Uncle Arnold Frank George, his father, and son Padraic. Letters addressed to Gryffyd and family are from Imogen Cunningham and Roi Partridge; letters from others about family members are also included.

The series is arranged into 2 subseries:

Subseries 1.1: General Correspondence, 1915-1993

Box
1 Roi Partridge, 1915-1993
(2 folders)
1 Roi Partridge, 1930-1934, undated
(reel 5028)

Subseries 1.2: Family, 1909-1985

Box
1 Roi Partridge
1 From Arnold Frank George (Uncle Frank), 1909-1916, undated
1 From A. E. Partridge [father], 1942-1944, undated
1 From Padraic [son] and Marjorie Partridge, 1960-1973, undated
1 Gryffyd and Janet Partridge and Family
1 From Imogen Cunningham [mother], 1961-1972
1 From Roi Partridge [father], 1947-1983, undated
(4 folders)
1 From Roi Partridge [father], 1955-1984, undated
(reel 5028)
1 From Others (re: Family), 1942-1978
1 From Others (re: Family), 1980-1985
(reel 5028)

Series 2: Notes and Writings, 1924-1964
(Box 1; 5 folders; reel 5028)

Found here are notes, lists, a poem, and a travel log that documents car camping trips through California and New Mexico taken by Roi Partridge, Imogen Cunningham, and their three sons between 1924 and 1926. The same volume includes Roi's account of a 1926 sketching trip along the California coast with Eugen Neuhaus.

Box
1 Lists of Prints by Roi Partridge, undated
1 Miscellaneous Lists, 1964, undated
1 Notes, Talk on the Differences between Engraving and Etching, undated
1 Miscellaneous Notes, 1976, undated
1 Poem by Roi Partridge, "To Our Friends Who Art Not in Heaven," undated
(reel 5028)
1 Travel Log of Roi Partridge and Imogen Cunningham, 1924-1946
(1 vol., reel 5028)

Series 3: Scrapbook, 1922-1977
(Box 1; 0.1 linear ft.)

A disbound scrapbook containing clippings and feature articles about Roi Partridge, along with exhibition announcements and reproductions.

Box
1 Scrapbook, 1922-1977

Series 4: Printed Material, 1913-2003
(Box 1; 0.25 linear ft.; reel 5028)

Printed material consists mainly of articles and miscellaneous items about or mentioning Roi Partridge and family members, Ansel Adams, and Imogen Cunningham. Also included are exhibition announcements of Roi Partridge, his photographer son Rondal, Imogen Cunningham, and other artists; A Seattle Heritage: The Fine Arts Society, a book by Anne H. Calhoun that mentions Partridge; and family Christmas cards with reproductions of etchings and drawings by Roi Partridge.

Box
1 Articles
1 Ansel Adams, 1982
1 Imogen Cunningham, 1951-2001, undated
1 Elizabeth Partridge, 1995-1999
1 Janet Lineberger [Partridge], 1941
1 Loren Partridge, 2003
1 Roi Partridge, 1959
(reel 5028)
1 Roi and May Ellen Partridge, 1976-1995, undated
1 Rondal Partridge, 1997-2003
1 Book - A Seattle Heritage: The Fine Arts Society by Anne H. Calhoun, 1942
1 Exhibition Announcements
1 Imogen Cunningham, 1984-1999, undated
1 Roi Partridge, 1977-1990
1 Roi Partridge, 1988, undated
1 Rondal Partridge, 1996
1 Other Artists, 1981-1995, undated
1 Miscellaneous Printed Material
1 Imogen Cunningham, 1951-1993, undated
1 Roi Partridge, 1988
1 Rondal Partridge, undated
1 Arts Organizations and Museums, 1913-1993
1 Reproductions, Christmas Cards featuring Etchings by Roi Partridge, 1967-1981, undated

Series 5: Photographs, 1940-1987
(Box 1; 0.3 linear ft.; reel 5028)

Photographs are of people and art work. People depicted are Roi and May Ellen Partridge. There is also one photograph of Donald Bear, the first Director of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (Janet Lineberger - later Mrs. Gryffyd Partridge - served as Bear's assistant in the early 1940s). Photographs and negatives of art work by Roi Partridge (with appraisal and catalog information) were removed from an unknown number of three-ring binders. In addition, there is a photograph of Peter Blos' portrait of Partridge.

Box
1 Art Work by Peter Blos - Portrait of Roi Partridge, circa 1949
(reel 5028)
1 Art Work by Roi Partridge (with appraisal and catalog information)
1 Drawings of California, 1987, undated
(2 folders)
1 Drawings of Hawaii: Box 1, undated
1 Drawings of Hawaii: Box 2, undated
1 Drawings of Japan, undated
1 Photographs, undated
1 People
1 Donald Bear (first Director, Santa Barbara Museum of Art), circa 1941
1 Roi Partridge; Roi Partridge and May Ellen Partridge, undated
(reel 5028)
1 Negatives - Art Work by Roi Partridge
1 Drawings of California, undated
1 Drawings of Hawaii: Box 1, undated
1 Drawings of Hawaii: Box 2, undated
1 Drawings, Unidentified (California, Hawaii, and Japan), undated
1 Photographs, undated

Name of Index

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