Skip to main content

Bertha Schaefer papers and gallery records, 1909-1975, bulk, 1940-1965

Bertha Schaefer papers and gallery records, 1909-1975, bulk, 1940-1965

Schaefer, Bertha, 1895-1971

Interior designer, Gallery director

Collection Information

Size: 4.6 linear feet

Summary: The Bertha Schaefer papers and gallery records measure 4.6 linear feet and date from 1909-1975, with the bulk of the material dating from 1940-1965. The collection documents the Bertha Schaefer Gallery as well as Bertha Schaefer, the interior designer, through correspondence with artists and galleries, artist files, client files, exhibition material, printed material, financial material, biographical material, photographs, and six scrapbooks. Also found here are oversized blue prints and sketched plans of interior design projects, as well as a number of oversized photographic prints and stereo slides. Correspondence contains handwritten notes by many notable artists, including Marcel Duchamp, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Ad Reinhardt, and Fernando Zobel, with a bulk of the letters from Balcomb Greene.

Biographical/Historical Note

Bertha Schaefer (1895-1971) was an interior designer and director of the Bertha Schaefer Gallery in New York, New York.

Provenance

The Bertha Schaefer papers and gallery records were donated in several installments from 1969 to 1974 by Bertha Schaefer and Bertha Schaefer Gallery Inc. Paul Creamer donated three scrapbooks from the Bertha Schaefer Gallery and the New Bertha Schaefer Gallery in 1979. Additional material was donated in 1984 by Syracuse University.

Related Materials

Originals of loaned material concerning Hale Woodruff, including correspondence, sketches and drawings, articles, photographs, catalogs, announcements, clippings, notes kept while student of Diego Rivera, and scrapbook, were returned to Hale Woodruff after microfilming (and the scrapbook to the Bertha Schaefer Gallery). Loaned material is available on reel N70-60, but is not described in the container listing of this finding aid.

Also found in the Archives of American Art is an oral history interview with Bertha Schaefer conducted by Paul Cummings, April 20-22, 1970.

Location of Originals

  • Reels N69-115 and N70-60: Originals returned to lender after microfilming.

A Finding Aid to the Bertha Schaefer Papers and Gallery Records, 1909-1975, bulk 1940-1965, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.schabert
Finding aid prepared by Anna Rimel
Scope and Contents note
The Bertha Schaefer papers and gallery records measure 4.6 linear feet and date from 1909-1975, with the bulk of the material dating from 1940-1965. The collection documents the Bertha Schaefer Gallery as well as Bertha Schaefer, the interior designer, through correspondence with artists and galleries, artist files, client files, exhibition material, printed material, financial material, biographical material, photographs, and six scrapbooks. Also found here are oversized blue prints and sketched plans of interior design projects, as well as a number of oversized photographic prints and stereo slides. Correspondence contains handwritten notes by many notable artists, including Marcel Duchamp, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Ad Reinhardt, and Fernando Zobel, with a bulk of the letters from Balcomb Greene.
Separated into three series, the Bertha Schaefer Gallery records document the artists represented by and function of the Bertha Schaefer Gallery. The Bertha Schaefer papers pertain to Bertha Schaefer as an interior designer through a large number of photographic materials and client files. Six scrapbooks document artists Will Barnet, Ben-Zion, Balcomb Greene, and Nicolai Vasilieff, as well as the Bertha Schaefer gallery and the New Bertha Schaefer Gallery.
Biographical/Historical note
Bertha Schaefer (1895-1971) was an interior designer and director of the Bertha Schaefer Gallery in New York, New York. Schaefer was born in Yazoo City, Mississippi to Emil and Julia (Marx) Schaefer. She received her B.A. on June 1, 1914 from Mississippi State College for Women, and received a diploma for interior decorating from the Parsons School of Design in New York City. In 1924, after living in Paris for 5 months, she opened Bertha Schaefer Interiors in New York. In 1944, she opened the Bertha Schaefer Gallery of Contemporary Art, which featured American and European paintings and sculpture. "The Modern House Comes Alive" (1947-1948) is one of the key exhibitions she created. Schaefer designed furniture for Joe Singer of M. Singer and Sons Furniture Company in New York, 1950-1961.
Schaefer won design awards from the Museum of Modern Art (1952) and the Decorators Club of New York (1959). In 1958, she was given an award of recognition from the U.S. Department of State for her gallery's assistance in the American program for the Brussels Universal and International Exhibition, and an outstanding achievement in interior design award from the American Institute of Interior Designers. She was a member of several design organizations, including: the American Institute of Decorators, the Home Lighting Forum, the Illuminating Engineers Society, the American Federation of the Arts, and the Art Dealers Association of America. She was the president of the Decorators Club of New York from 1947-1948 and 1955-1957.
Schaefer was one of the first people to use fluorescent lighting in domestic spaces, with Percy Block as her first client, in 1939. In honor of Edison's birthday in 1953, she designed a bathroom for General Electric, applying new developments in lighting. She died on May 24, 1971, after which the gallery was renamed the New Bertha Schaefer Gallery.
Arrangement note
This collection is arranged as 3 series. Records are generally arranged by material type and chronologically thereafter.
Series 1: Bertha Schaefer Gallery Records, 1909-1971 (0.8 linear feet; Box 1)
Series 2: Bertha Schaefer Papers, 1914-1971 (2.6 linear feet; Boxes 1-3, 6-7, OV 8-9)
Series 3: Scrapbooks, 1944-1975 (1.2 linear feet; Boxes 3-5)
Provenance
The Bertha Schaefer papers and gallery records were donated in several installments from 1969 to 1974 by Bertha Schaefer and Bertha Schaefer Gallery Inc. Paul Creamer donated three scrapbooks from the Bertha Schaefer Gallery and the New Bertha Schaefer Gallery in 1979. Additional material was donated in 1984 by Syracuse University.
Location of Originals
  • Reels N69-115 and N70-60: Originals returned to lender after microfilming.
Processing Information note
The collection was processed to a minimal level and a finding aid prepared by Anna Rimel in 2014. The Archives of American Art has implemented minimal processing tactics when possible in order to increase information about and access to more of our collections. Minimal processing included arrangement to the series, subseries, and folder levels. Generally, items within folders were simply verified with folder titles, but not arranged further. Folders with boxes may not be numbered. The collection was rehoused in archival containers and folders, but not all staples and clips were removed.

Additional Forms Available

Portions of the collection are available on 35 mm microfilm reels, N69-126, 42, 271, and 2129, at the Archives of American Art offices, and through interlibrary loan. Researchers should note that the arrangement of the collection as described in this finding aid may not reflect the order of the collection on microfilm due to reprocessing.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Bertha Schaefer papers and gallery records, 1909-1975, bulk, 1940-1965. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

  • No downloads available