William Anderson Coffin papers, 1886-1924

A Finding Aid to the William Anderson Coffin Papers, 1886-1924, in the Archives of American Art, by Jean Fitzgerald

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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

William Anderson Coffin (1855-1925) of New York City was a landscape and figure painter and art critic. He organized several notable exhibitions and art-related charitable events for relief work in post-World War I France.

William Anderson Coffin was born near Pittsburgh in Allegheny, Pennsylvania on January 31, 1855, the son of Isabella C. Anderson and James Gardiner Coffin. Coffin studied art and graduated from Yale University in 1874. Three years later, he left for Paris and studied with academic artist L�on Bonnat. Coffin exhibited in the Paris Salons of 1879, 1880, and 1882.

In 1882, Coffin moved to New York City, participating in many exhibitions, including at the National Academy of Design. He also wrote as an art critic for Scribner's and Harper's Weekly, among other publications. From 1886 to 1891, he was art critic for The New York Evening Post, and was art editor at the New York Sun from 1896 to 1901.

Coffin directed the Fine Arts Division of the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo from 1900 to 1901, and participated as a member of the New York Advisory Board of the Panama-Pacific Exposition in 1915. Coffin was also president of the American Artists' Committee of One Hundred that established a relief fund for families of French soldier-artists. For this charitable work, Coffin received the medal of the Legion of Honor from the French government in 1917.

Coffin was a member of various arts organizations including the Lotos Club, the Architectural League of New York, and the National Academy of Design. His artwork is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Municipal Gallery of Venice, Italy, the Albright Art Gallery, and the Brooklyn Museum.

William Anderson Coffin died on October 26, 1925 in New York City.

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Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The papers of New York painter and art critic William Anderson Coffin date from 1886 to 1924 and measure 1.6 linear feet. Found within the papers are scattered biographical materials and correspondence; project files for the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, the American Artist's Committee of One Hundred, and the exhibition of works by American Artists at the Luxembourg Museum in Paris; three additional scrapbooks; printed material; and photographs.

Scattered biographical material includes membership cards and an autobiographical essay. Correspondence is with colleagues and related generally to receptions and events, including an invitation to the launch of the U. S. Battleship Arizona. There are one or two letters each from Frank W. Benson, Edwin Howland Blashfield, Royal Cortissoz, Walter Gay, and Whitney Warren.

Three series of project files document Coffin's work for the Fine Arts Division of the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, the American Artists' Committee of One Hundred that established a relief fund for families of French soldier-artists, and an exhibition of artwork by American Artists at the Luxembourg Museum in Paris. Files contain a variety of materials, such as letters, drafts of reports, meeting minutes, photographs, catalogs and brochures, and other materials. There are two oversized scrapbooks for the Buffalo Pan-American Exposition. The files for the Luxembourg Museum exhibition include a letter signed by Louis Bouch�, Bernard Gussow, Alfred H. Maurer, Joseph Stella, and William Zorach protesting the exclusion of their work.

Three additional scrapbooks contain clippings of articles written by Coffin when he was employed as an art critic for The New York Evening Post, Harper's Weekly, and The New York Sun.

Printed material consists of miscellaneous clippings primarily about Coffin, programs from American Rights Committee exercises, a Dixie Club of New York concert, a Lotos Club concert, the Lafayette-Marne Anniversary exercises, and souvenir tickets to various art-related events including several Paris Salon Vernissage events sponsored by the Soci�t� des Artistes Francais.

Photographs include an album of photographs of Coffin, various family members, and residences; a photograph of Coffin posing with an unidentified group of his colleagues; and photographs of family friends. Project files also contain photographs.

Arrangement and Series Description

The collection is arranged as 8 series:

Subjects and Names

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

  • American Artists' Committee of One Hundred
  • American Rights Committee.
  • Benson, Frank Weston, 1862-1951
  • Blashfield, Edwin Howland, 1848-1936
  • Bouche?, Louis, 1896-1969
  • Committee for the Exhibition of American Painting and Sculpture (Paris, France).
  • Cortissoz, Royal, 1869-1948
  • Exposition d'artistes de l'e?cole Ame?ricaine. (1919 : Paris, France)
  • Gay, Walter, 1856-1937
  • Gussow, Bernard, 1881-1957
  • Lotos Club (New York, N.Y.)
  • Mauer, Alfred
  • Mus�e d'histoire et d'art (Luxembourg)
  • Pan-American Exposition. (1901: Buffalo, N.Y.)
  • Socie?te? des artistes franc?ais.
  • Stella, Joseph, 1877-1946
  • Warren, Whitney, 1864-1943
  • Zorach, William, 1887-1966
  • Art critics--France--Paris
  • Art critics--New York (State)--New York
  • Art Exhibitions France Paris
  • Art, American
  • Harper's Weekly
  • Landscape painters--New York (State)--New York
  • New York Post
  • Painters
  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks
  • World War, 1914-1918--Civilian relief--France

Provenance

The William Anderson Coffin papers were donated in 1970 by Stewart Klonis to whom the papers were given by Mrs. DeWitt M. Lockman of Manorville, Long Island, New York.

How the Collection was Processed

The papers were minimally arranged prior to microfilming on reel 109 and further arranged and described in a finding aid by Jean Fitzgerald in 2010. The collection was prepared for digitization by Judy Ng and digitized in 2016, 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 and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The William Anderson Coffin 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 its entirety in 2016 and is available on the Archives of American Art's website.

How to Cite this Collection

William Anderson Coffin papers, 1886-1924. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1916-1922
2 Folders; Box 1

Biographical material consists of a calling card; a place card; membership cards for the American Legion, the Citizens' League for America, and The Allies; and an autobiographical essay concerning the influence of L�on Bonnat, Coffin's art instructor in Paris.

This series has been scanned in its entirety.

Box Folder
1 1 Calling Card and Place Card for Coffin, and Membership Cards, 1916-1922
1 2 Autobiographical Essay Concerning the Influence of L�on Bonnat, 1922

Series 2: Correspondence, 1915-1924
8 Folders; Box 1

Correspondence consists of scattered letters exchanged with colleagues that do not relate to other series. There are one or two letters each from Frank W. Benson, Edwin Howland Blashfield, Royal Cortissoz, Walter Gay, and Whitney Warren, and an invitation to the launch of the U. S. Battleship Arizona.

This series has been scanned in its entirety.

Materials are arranged chronologically.

Box Folder
1 3 Correspondence, circa 1915-1924
1 4 Correspondence, 1915
Includes U.S.S. Battleship Arizona invitation.
1 5 Correspondence, 1916
1 6 Correspondence, 1917 January-June
Includes correspondence from Frank W. Benson and Royal Cortissoz.
1 7 Correspondence, 1917 July-December
Includes correspondence from Edwin Howland Blashfield and Whitney Warren.
1 8 Correspondence, 1918
1 9 Correspondence, 1919
1 10 Correspondence, 1920-1924
Includes correspondence from Walter Gay.

Series 3: Project File for the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, 1900-1901
0.3 Linear feet; Boxes 1-2

This series documents Coffin's involvement as director of the Fine Arts Division of the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo and includes letters, drafts of reports, scrapbooks of clippings, and an album of photographs.

This series has been scanned in its entirety.

Materials are arranged by document type.

Box Folder
1 11 Letters, 1900
1 12-14 Drafts of Reports, 1900-1901
1 15-16 Drafts of Reports, 1900-1901
1 17 Final Copy of Part 2 of Rough Draft, 1900-1901
1 18 Final Copy of Part 3 of Rough Draft, 1900-1901
1 19 Pan-American Clippings Scrapbook 1, 1900-1901
Oversized material housed in Box 2, Folder 2
1 20 Pan-American Clippings Scrapbook 2, 1900-1901
Oversized material housed in Box 2, Folder 2
1 21 Photograph Album, 1901
Box
2 Oversized Pan-American Scrapbook 1 scanned with Box 1, Folder 19, 1900-1901
2 Oversized Pan-American Scrapbook 2 scanned with Box 1, Folder 20, 1900-1901

Series 4: Project File for the American Artists' Committee of One Hundred, 1914-1923
14 Folders; Box 1

This series documents Coffin's involvement as president of the American Artists' Committee of One Hundred that established a relief fund for families of French soldier-artists and includes letters, a ledger of donations, a financial report, address lists of donors, catalogs for fund-raising exhibitions, brochures listing the American Artists' Committee of One Hundred, and a photograph of a relief sculpture Fraternit� des Artistes by Antonin Merci�, used as a logo for the organization.

This series has been scanned in its entirety.

Materials are arranged by document type.

Box Folder
1 22 Letters, 1915
1 23 Letters, 1916
1 24 Letters, 1917-1923
1 25 Ledger of Donations to the Relief Fund for the Families of French Soldier-Artists, 1914-1916
1 26 Documents Inserted in Ledger of Donations to the Relief Fund for the Families of French Soldier-Artists, 1914-1916
1 27 Financial Report for the Relief Fund for the Families of French Soldier-Artists, 1917
1 28-30 Address Lists, circa 1914-1923
1 31-33 Address Lists, circa 1914-1923
1 34 Exhibition Catalogs, 1915-1916
1 35 Brochures and a Photograph of Art Work, circa 1921-1923

Series 5: Project File for the Exhibition of Works by American Artists at the Luxembourg Museum in Paris, 1919-1920
11 Folders; Box 1

This series includes original and photocopied materials documenting Coffin's involvement in the organization of an exhibition of art work by American Artists at the Luxembourg Museum in Paris. It includes correspondence including a letter signed by Louis Bouch�, Bernard Gussow, Alfred H. Maurer, Joseph Stella, and William Zorach protesting the exclusion of their work, minutes of meetings, miscellaneous writings concerning the exhibition, and miscellaneous printed material.

This series has been scanned in its entirety.

Materials are arranged by document type.

Box Folder
1 36 Correspondence, 1919 January-February
1 37 Correspondence, 1919 March
1 38 Correspondence, 1919 April-August
1 39 Correspondence, 1919 September
1 40 Correspondence, 1919 October
1 41 Correspondence, 1919 November-December
Includes letter of protest signed by artists.
1 42 Correspondence, 1920
1 43 Minutes of Meetings, 1919
1 44 Minutes of Meetings, 1920
1 45 Miscellaneous Writings, 1919
1 46 Miscellaneous Printed Material, 1919

Series 6: Scrapbooks of Clippings of Articles Written by Coffin, 1886-1913
0.3 Linear feet; Box 2

Scrapbooks contain clippings of articles written by Coffin when he was employed as an art critic. Scrapbook 1 contains clippings written for The New York Evening Post. Scrapbook 2 contains clippings written for The New York Evening Post, Harper's Weekly, and The New York Sun. Scrapbook 3 contains clippings written for The New York Sun and The New York Evening Post.

This series has been scanned in its entirety.

Materials are arranged chronologically.

Box Folder
3 1 Clippings Scrapbook 1, 1886-1891
3 2 Clippings Scrapbook 2, 1891-1900
3 3 Clippings Scrapbook 3, 1900-1913
Original scrapbook is stamped with page 33 twice.

Series 7: Printed Material, 1912-1924
6 Folders; Box 1

Printed material consists of miscellaneous clippings, programs, and souvenir tickets from various art-related events.

This series has been scanned in its entirety.

Materials are arranged by document type.

Box Folder
1 47 Clippings, 1912-1916
1 48 Clippings, 1917
1 49 Clippings, 1918-1919
1 50 Clippings, 1920-1923
1 51 Miscellaneous Programs, 1916-1919
1 52 Miscellaneous Souvenir Tickets, 1917-1924

Series 8: Photographs, 1905-1923
10 Folders; Box 1

Photographs consist of an album of photographs of Coffin and various family members, a photograph of Coffin posing with a group of his colleagues, and photographs of family friends.

This series has been scanned in its entirety.

Materials are arranged by subject and document type.

Box Folder
1 53 Photograph of Coffin with Colleagues, circa 1910-1920
1 54-56 Family Photograph Album, 1905-1911
1 57-58 Family Photograph Album, 1905-1911
1 59-60 Photographs of Family Friends, circa 1918-1923
1 61-62 Photographs of Family Friends, circa 1918-1923