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Allyn Cox papers, 1856-1982

More Information

Stephanie Ashley
Scope and Contents
The papers of New York, N.Y., and Washington, D.C. painter and muralist Allyn Cox measure 11 linear feet and date from 1856-1982. The collection documents Cox's personal and professional life through biographical material, family and general correspondence, writings and notes, research material, printed material, sketchbooks and loose sketches, and photographs. Photographs are of Cox at work, the Cox family, including Kenyon and Louise Cox, Cox's friends and colleagues, events, and Cox's artwork.
Biographical material includes family birth, death, and marriage certificates, and passports for Cox and his wife Ethel, whom he married in 1927; professional membership cards, awards and certificates; records related to sales of furnishings from the Cox family home in Essex, Massachusetts; and an untranscribed interview of Cox by Tony Janak of NBC TV.
Cox's family correspondence is primarily with his mother, Louise Cox. Also found is correspondence with Cox's sister, Caroline Cox Lansing, and his brother Leonard Cox and Leonard's wife, Sylvia, and letters from Ethel Cox to her mother. Additional correspondence relating to the disposition of Kenyon Cox''s artwork and archives to various institutions, can also be found here.
General correspondence documents Cox's career and professional relationships with artists and architects, including John Barrington Bayley, Fabrizio Cassio, Arthur Conrad, Roscoe DeWitt, Stuart Frost, John Harbeson, Francis Keally, Adrian Lamb, Edward Laning, Charles Downing Lay, Deane Keller, Philip Trammell Shutze, and Cliff Young; art institutions and organizations including the Art Commission of the City of New York, the Art Students League, Dumbarton Oaks, the National Society of Mural Painters, and the Smithsonian Institution; federal, state and local government agencies including the American Battle Monuments Commission, the Architect of the Capitol, and the General Grant National Memorial; members of Congress including founder of the United States Capitol Historical Society, Representative Fred Schwengel; and private social clubs in which Cox was active, including the Century Association, the Cosmopolitan Club and the Cosmos Club. Correspondence documents Cox's most well known commissions including work for the George Washington Masonic National Memorial and the United States Capitol, as well as work for many private clients including banks and residences.
Also found are typescripts, manuscripts and notes for Cox's lectures, as well as Ethel Cox's diary from 1923-1936 and her diary excerpt from 1955. Ten folders of research files, consisting primarily of clippings, comprise Cox's source material. Additional printed material provides scattered documentation of Cox's career through announcements and catalogs, and magazine and newspaper articles written by him or about his work. Also found is one folder of clippings about Kenyon Cox.
Four sketchbooks and circa twenty-two loose animal, figure, architectural and landscape sketches comprise Cox's artwork, in addition to two 1943 sketches Cox entered into a War Department mural competition. Also found is an 1873 sketchbook of Kenyon Cox, with sketches of people and scenes in Ohio.
Photographs are of Cox from childhood to the 1980s; his family, including parents, siblings, and grandparents; friends including Philip Trammell Shutze and Warner Bishop; family residences; artist models; events; and artwork, including many of Cox's commissions. In addition to photographic prints, slides, and negatives, the series includes vintage formats such as an ambrotype, 8 tintypes, 2 cyanotypes, and a platinum print. Of particular note are circa 16 photos of Kenyon Cox, one taken by Pirie MacDonald and three of him teaching a class at the Art Students League, and a series of circa 1906 photos taken in a garden, of Louise and Kenyon Cox with their children and others. Also found are 10 glass plate negatives of artwork by Cox.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The bulk of the Allyn Cox papers was donated in 1977 and 1983 by the Estate of Allyn Cox, Stephen M. Pulsifer, Exectuor, including material that had been loaned for microfiliming in 1969. Two mural sketches were donated by the Essex County Greenbelt Association in 1984.
Related Materials
Also found in the Archives of American Art are the Allyn Cox papers relating to U.S. Capitol murals, 1970-1974, donated by the Committee on House Administration, via Cindy Szady in 1981. Papers include a resume; a cost estimate by Cox for designing and executing mural decorations in the U.S. Capitol, 1970; a letter, 1974, from the Office of the Architect of the Capitol to the Capitol Historical Society enclosing photocopies of printed material pertinent to the unveiling and dedication of the Capitol rotunda frieze in 1954; miscellaneous printed material, 1971-1974; and 15 photographs of the murals in the Capitol.
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art. Glass plate negatives in this collection were digitized in 2019 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Women's Committee.
Processing Information
The collection was processed and a finding aid prepared by Stephanie Ashley in 2015 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Glass plate negatives were re-housed in 2015 with a grant provided by the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund.