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Arthur Sinclair Covey papers, 1882-1960

Arthur Sinclair Covey papers, 1882-1960

Covey, Arthur Sinclair, 1877-1960

Painter, Lithographer

Collection Information

Size: 5.7 linear ft.

Summary: Found within the papers is biographical material; correspondence primarily with art institutions, patrons, and colleagues; business records including financial material and letters from Covey's brother Floyd concerning business dealings; notes and writings; art work and sketchbooks by Covey and his colleagues including Paul Bransom, Harvey Dunn, and Edward Penfield; a scrapbook primarily containing clippings; additional printed material including clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, reproductions of art work, and books; and photographs of Covey, family members, colleagues, and art work. Project files concern Covey's mural projects and contain contracts, correspondence, and photographs.

Biographical/Historical Note

Illustrator, mural painter; Torrington, Conn. Married to children's book author Lois Lenski.


Donated 1961-1965 by Mrs. Arthur Covey, widow of Arthur Covey.

A Finding Aid to the Arthur Sinclair Covey Papers,
, in the Archives of American Art
Finding aid prepared by Jean Fitzgerald
Biographical Note
Arthur Sinclair Covey was born June 13, 1877 in Leroy, Illinois, son of Byron and Emeline Edwards Covey. His boyhood was spent in various small towns in Missouri and Kansas. As a teenager in 1893, Covey "made the run" to claim land at the opening of the Cherokee Strip in Oklahoma.
From 1895 to 1896, Covey attended Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas, followed by three years of study under Frank Duveneck, among others, at the Chicago Art Institute, from which he graduated in 1899. From 1900 to 1901, he worked as a staff artist and art editor for the
Indianapolis Press
and the
Cleveland Plain Dealer
. For the next two years, he taught at the Chicago Art Institute and established his own studio.
In 1904, Covey traveled to the Royal Academy in Munich where he was a student of Karl Marr, and, from 1905 to 1908, served as assistant to British mural painter Frank Brangwyn and taught at the London School of Art. In 1908, Covey returned to New York and married Mary Dorothea Sale, with whom he had two children, Margaret Sale Covey and Laird Fortune Covey.
Covey received official recognition for his artwork when he assisted Robert Reid and Jules Guerin on murals for the 1914-1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition and received the Bronze Medal. The following year, Covey completed his first commission to paint murals for the Wichita, Kansas, Library, and continued to work steadily on mural projects for the rest of his career.
Following the death of his wife in 1917, Covey married children's book illustrator Lois Lenski in 1921. They had a son, Stephen John Covey.
In 1925, Covey received the Architectural League's Gold Medal of Honor in Painting for his murals at the Kohler Company. From 1926 to 1929, he served as President of the national Mural Painters Society, and from 1929 to 1942, he taught pictorial composition at the National Academy Schools in New York. From 1938 to 1939, Covey created pierced brass on redwood murals for the exterior of the Contemporary Arts Building at the New York World's Fair. In 1939, he decorated the dome and globe of the Land Plane Building at La Guardia Airport in New York.
In the 1950s, Lois Lenski Covey's failing health required that the couple move permanently to Florida's warmer climate.
Arthur Sinclair Covey died on February 5, 1960, in Tarpon Springs, Florida.
The collection is arranged into nine series according to type of material and further arranged in chronological order. Oversized material from various series has been housed in Boxes 6-8 and Oversized Folders 9-12, and is noted in the Series Descriptions/Container Listing section at the appropriate folder title with see also/see references.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1925-1960, undated (Box 1, 6; 4 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1915-1960, undated (Box 1, OV 9; 28 folders)
Series 3: Business Records, 1915-1958, undated (Box 1; 14 folders)
Series 4: Notes and Writings, 1923-1958, undated (Box 1; 10 folders)
Series 5: Art Work, 1921-1957, undated (Box 1, 6, OV 9-10; 23 folders)
Series 6: Project Files, 1916-1959 (Box, 1-2, 6, OV 9-12; 68 folders)
Series 7: Scrapbook, 1914-1960 (Box 8; 1 folder)
Series 8: Printed Material, 1882-1959, undated (Box 2-4, 7; 2.4 linear feet)
Series 9: Photographs, 1891-1959, undated (Box 5, 7-8; 21 folders)
Scope and Content Note
The papers of mural painter and illustrator Arthur Sinclair Covey measure 5.7 linear feet and date from 1882 to 1960. Found within the papers are biographical material; correspondence with art institutions, patrons, and colleagues; scattered business and financial records; notes and writings by Covey and others, including a transcript of an interview with Covey by a radio station; art work and sketchbooks by Covey and his colleagues including Paul Bransom, Harvey Dunn, and Edward Penfield; project files concering Covey's mural projects; a scrapbook of clippings; additional printed material; and photographs of Covey, family members, colleagues, and art work.
Donated 1961-1965 by Mrs. Arthur Covey, widow of Arthur Covey.
Processing Information
The papers were processed in May 2006 by Jean Fitzgerald.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Arthur Sinclair Covey papers, 1882-1960. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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