Thomas Prichard Rossiter and Rossiter family papers, 1840-1961

A Finding Aid to the Thomas Prichard Rossiter and Rossiter Family Papers, 1840-1961, 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

Thomas Prichard Rossiter (1818-1871) was born in New Haven, Connecticut. He first learned painting as an apprentice for a Mr. John Boyd, and also studied with Nathaniel Jocelyn. In 1838 he exhibited two paintings at the National Academy of Design, and in 1939 moved to New York City and opened a studio.

In 1840, Rossiter traveled to Europe with Asher B. Durand, John Kensett, and John Casilaer, and while there visited Rome with Thomas Cole. He decided to stay in Italy until 1846 when he moved to New York City and shared a studio with Kensett and Louis Lang. During this period he relied on portrait painting for his income, but also painted historical and religious paintings.

In 1851 Rossiter married Anna Ehrick Parmly and they toured Europe in 1853. They settled in Paris where Anna gave birth to twins Ehrick Kensett and Charlotte. Rossiter exhibited at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1855. Anna died shortly after the birth of their daughter Anna, and the family moved back to New York.

For a brief period of time Rossiter had an art gallery, exhibiting his work and the work of his friends. In 1860 he married Mary (Mollie) Sterling and moved his family to Cold Spring, New York on the Hudson River. He continued to paint portraits, historical, and religious paintings, and exhibited at the National Academy of Design and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, until his death in 1871.

Ehrick Kensett Rossiter (1854-1941), named after his father's friend John Frederick Kensett, attended Cornell University and became an architect in New York as part of the firm Rossiter & Muller. He was a member of the Architectural League, United States Public Architects' League, and trustee of the American Fine Arts Society. In 1877 he married Mary Heath and they had three sons and a daughter. Their daughter Edith Rossiter Bevan was a historian and avid collector of historical autographs.

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Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The Thomas Prichard Rossiter and Rossiter Family papers measure 0.5 linear feet and date from 1840 to 1961. Included are letters to painter Thomas Prichard Rossiter and letters to his son, architect Ehrick Kensett Rossiter, documenting their friendships with many artists. Notable letters are from James Fenimore Cooper, William Morris Hunt, John Jay, J. F. Kensett, William H. Morris, Samuel F. B. Morse, George Peabody, Cecelia Beaux, William A. Coffin, Daniel Chester French, Will H. Low, Gari Melchers, William Sartain, Augustus Vincent Tack, Dwight Tryon, and many others.

The collection contains Thomas Prichard Rossiter's sketchbook drawn while living in Italy in 1943, and three other sketches including a portrait of his family.

Also found are letters to Edith Rossiter Bevan and her writings on her grandfather, Thomas Prichard Rossiter, including a biography and checklist of his paintings. Bevan also compiled a scrapbook on his career and family history which includes drawings by Rossiter, photographs of the Rossiter family and his artwork, notes by Bevan, news clippings, and other printed material.

A collection of Edith Rossiter Bevan's artists' letters is found within the papers. Letters are from Alexander Archipenko, J. Carroll Beckwith, Reginald Birch, Emma M. Cadwalader-Guild, Andre Castaigne, Fanny Cory, Kenyon Cox, Frank Craig, Charles Dana Gibson, Jay Hambridge, Henry Hutt, A. J. Keller, Rockwell Kent, Fiske Kimball, David Scott Moncrieff, H. Siddons Mowbray, Peter Newell, Rhoda Holmes Nicholls, Ralph M. Pearson, Frederic Remington, Otto Soglow, and Elizabeth Whitmore.

Arrangement and Series Description

The collection is arranged into 2 series:

Subjects and Names

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

Subjects:

  • Rossiter, Thomas Prichard, 1818-1871
  • Rossiter, Ehrick Kensett, 1854-1941

Subjects-Topical:

  • Painters--New York (State)
  • Architects--New York (State)--New York

Types of Materials:

  • Sketches
  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks
  • Sketchbooks

Names:

  • Archipenko, Alexander, 1887-1964
  • Beaux, Cecilia, 1855-1942
  • Beckwith, J. Carroll (James Carroll), 1852-1917
  • Bevan, Edith Rossiter
  • Birch, Reginald Bathurst, 1856-1943
  • Cadwalader-Guild, Emma Marie, 1843-1911?
  • Castaigne, Andre
  • Coffin, William A. (William Anderson), 1855-1925
  • Cooper, James Fenimore, 1789-1851
  • Cory, Fanny Y.
  • Cox, Kenyon, 1856-1919
  • Craig, Frank
  • French, Daniel Chester, 1850-1931
  • Gibson, Charles Dana, 1867-1944
  • Hambidge, Jay, 1867-1924
  • Hunt, William Morris, 1824-1879
  • Hutt, Henry
  • Jay, John, 1817-1894
  • Keller, A. J.
  • Kensett, John Frederick, 1816-1872
  • Kimball, Fiske, 1888-1955
  • Kent, Rockwell, 1882-1971
  • Low, Will Hicok, 1853-1932
  • Melchers, Gari, 1860-1932
  • Morris, William H., 1834-1896
  • Morse, Samuel Finley Breese, 1791-1872
  • Mowbray, H. Siddons (Harry Siddons), 1858-1928
  • Newell, Peter, 1862-1924
  • Nicholls, Rhoda Holmes
  • Peabody, George, 1795-1869
  • Pearson, Ralph M., 1883-1958
  • Remington, Frederic, 1861-1909
  • Rossiter, Ehrick Kensett, 1854-1941
  • Rossiter, Thomas Prichard, 1818-1871
  • Sartain, William, 1843-1924
  • Scott-Moncrieff, David
  • Soglow, Otto, 1900-1975
  • Tack, Augustus Vincent, 1870-1949
  • Tryon, Dwight William, 1849-1925
  • Whitmore, Elizabeth

Provenance

A portion of the collection was donated in 1957 by Edith Rossiter Bevan, daughter of Ehrick Kensett Rossiter, and granddaughter of Thomas Prichard Rossiter. Additional material was donated in 2007 by Patti Rossiter Ravenscroft, Rossiter's Great Great Granddaughter.

Separated and Related Materials

Also found in the Archives of American Art is a Thomas Prichard Rossiter letter to Elias Beirs dated January 12, 1840.

How the Collection was Processed

Portions of the collection received a preliminary level of processing at some point after donation and were microfilmed on reel D33. The entire collection was fully processed, arranged, and described by Erin Corley in 2008 and digitized 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 Thomas Prichard Rossiter and Rossiter Family 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

The collection was digitized in 2009 and is available via the Archives of American Art's website.

How to Cite this Collection

Thomas Prichard Rossiter and Rossiter Family papers, 1840-1957. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Thomas Prichard Rossiter and Rossiter Family Papers, 1840-1961
(Box 1-2; 0.4 linear feet)

Thomas Prichard Rossiter and Rossiter family members papers include letters, artwork, writings, and a scrapbook. Letters are from artists, writers, and other prominent figures of the nineteenth and early twentieth century to members of the Rossiter family. Letters to Thomas Prichard Rossiter include letters from Adam Badeau, John Britton, James Fenimore Cooper, William Wilson Corcoran, Frederick S. Cozzens, Christopher Pearse Cranch, George Wilson Curtis, John A. Dix, Edward Everett, Schuyler Colfax, George P. A. Healy, William Morris Hunt, Richard Morris Hunt, John Jay, John Frederick Kensett, A. Gracie King, Benson J. Lossing, Louis R. Mignot, George P. Morris, William H. Morris, Samuel F. B. Morse, George Peabody, Henry T. Tuckerman, Nathaniel Parker Willis, Richard Willis, and Timothy Wright. Topics include his artwork, letters of introduction, replies to invitations, accounts of travels, and other general news.

Letters to Ehrick and Mary Rossiter include letters from Samuel Putnam Avery, C. H. Farnham, Cecilia Beaux, Edwin H. Blashfield, B. Boutet de Mouvel, William A. Coffin, Timothy Cole, Frederick S. Dellenbaugh, Frank V. DuMond, Herbert W. Faulkner, William Bailey Faxon, J. William Fosdick, Daniel Chester French, R. Swain Gifford, Grolier Club, Birg. Harrison, Louis C. Jones, Troy Kinney, Charles R. Lamb, Will H. Low, Gari Melchers, Don G. Mitchell, H. Siddons Mowbray, Robert Loftin Newman, Walter Russell, William Sartain, Augustus Vincent Tack, Dwight William Tryon, Bernhardt Wall, Henry O. White, and Rufus Fairchild Zogbaum. Topics include purchase of artwork, replies to invitations, social events, accounts of travels, and other general news.

Letters to granddaugher Edith Rossiter Bevan are from William A. Coffin, Herbert W. Faulkner, Dorothy Sturgis Harding, W. Hamilton Gibson, W. F. Hopson, Will H. Low, Arthur N. Macdonald, R. McGill Mackall, H. Siddons Mowbray, Louis Rhead, Walter Russell, Sidney S. Smith, and Louis S. Vaillant. Topics include Bevin's book plate collection, social events, her activities in clubs, and other general news.

Artwork in the family papers includes two sketches by Rossiter and a small sketchbook from his 1843 travels in Italy containing drawings of landscapes, architecture, and people.

A scrapbook was compiled by Edith Rossiter Bevan, documenting Thomas Rossiter's career and Rossiter family history. Included are sketches by Rossiter of his wife, children, and other subjects; a sketch of Rossiter by Felix Octavius Carr Darley (1852); photographs of Rossiter with his family; photographs and reproductions of his artwork; news clippings; and other printed material. Scrapbook pages include detailed typed captions by Bevan containing additional information about the documents.

This series includes a typescript of Thomas Prichard Rossiter's biography and family history and a checklist of his paintings written by Edith Rossiter Bevan. Also found is an autographed photo of William A. Coffin, a friend of Ehrick Kensett Rossiter.

All letters are arranged alphabetically. This series has been scanned in its entirety.

Box Folder
1 1 Letters to Thomas Prichard Rossiter, A-K, 1840-1870
1 2 Letters to Thomas Prichard Rossiter, L-W, circa 1840-1867
1 3 Letters to Ehrick and Mary Rossiter, A-K, circa 1886-1931
1 4 Letters to Ehrick and Mary Rossiter, L-Z, circa 1884-1935
1 5 Letters to Edith Rossiter Bevan, circa 1909-1961
1 6 "Thomas Prichard Rossiter", Typescript and Notes by Edith Rossiter Bevan, 1957
1 7 Checklist of Paintings by Thomas Prichard Rossiter, 1957
1 8 Thomas Prichard Rossiter Sketchbook, 1843
(Oversized, Housed in Box 2)
1 9 Sketches by Thomas Prichard Rossiter, circa 1840s, 1867
1 10 Painting Sketch of Rossiter Family by Thomas Prichard Rossiter, circa 1860s
(Oversized, Housed in Box 2)
1 11 Scrapbook, circa 1850-1958
(Oversized, Housed in Box 2)
1 12 Scrapbook Cover, circa 1958
(Oversized, Housed in Box 2)
1 13 Photograph of William Anderson Coffin, 1905
Box
2 (sol) Thomas Prichard Rossiter Sketchbook, 1843
(Scanned with Box 1, F8)
2 (sol) Painting Sketch of Rossiter Family by Thomas Prichard Rossiter, circa 1860s
(Scanned with Box 1, F10)
2 (sol) Scrapbook, circa 1850-1958
(Scanned with Box 1, F11)
2 (sol) Scrapbook Cover, circa 1958
(Scanned with Box 1, F12)

Series 2: Edith Rossiter Bevan Collection of Artists' Letters, circa 1891-1939, 1951
(Box 1; 2 folders)

Found within this collection is Edith Rossiter Bevan's collection of artists' letters. The letters are addressed to Anna Parmly Paret (a cousin of Ehrick Rossiter), journalist Elizabeth Jordan, and Greta Smith. Included are individual letters from Alexander Archipenko, J. Carroll Beckwith, Reginald Birch, Emma M. Cadwalader-Guild, Andre Castaigne, Fanny Cory, Kenyon Cox, Frank Craig, Charles Dana Gibson, Jay Hambridge, Henry Hutt, A. J. Keller, Rockwell Kent, Fiske Kimball, David Scott Moncrieff, H. Siddons Mowbray, Peter Newell, Rhoda Holmes Nicholls, Ralph M. Pearson, Frederic Remington, Otto Soglow, and Elizabeth Whitmore. Many of these letters concern current projects and illustrations for publications, or answers to requests for information. It appears that the letters were collected by Paret, Jordan, and Smith during the course of their work and were later transferred to Edith Rossiter Bevan.

Artists' letters are arranged alphabetically by writer. This series has been scanned in its entirety.

Box Folder
1 14 Letters, A-K, circa 1899-1937, 1951
1 15 Letters, L-Z, circa 1891-1939