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Charles and Leta English Hess papers, 1895-1987

Hess, Leta English, 1921-1986

Art teacher, Painter


Collection Information

Size: 2.1 Linear feet

Summary: Biographical material, correspondence, photographs, writings, a scrapbook, and printed material document the Hess family and the painting and teaching careers of Leta English Hess and her husband Charles Hess.
Biographical materials (1921-1986) include birth and death certificates, documents pertaining to Leta Hess' father Joe English, a memoir written by her mother, Mae Serrano English (1975), diplomas, teaching certificates, awards, resumes, and her diary (1935-1939). Correspondence consists of letters received (ca. 1940-1980); files for individual correspondents, including Alan Bayles, Charles Hess, Leta's son Chuck Hess, Mimi Lawrence, and Frank Rivera; and files for the Corcoran Biennial Exhibitions (1956-1961) and the Leta and Charles Hess Retrospective Exhibition (1983-1986). Also found are ten letters from Stanton Macdonald-Wright to Hess (1954-1965) relating to his views of the relationship between patrons and artists, the 1956 Paris art scene, contemporary art criticism, the art market, and his break with the Duveen Graham Gallery.
Photographs show Leta Hess (1920s, 1940s), her paintings and exhibition installations (ca. 1942-1985), and family members, including Joe and Mae Serrano English, Charles Hess, and their children (1950s-1980s); and slides of Hess' work. Writings by Leta Hess include term papers, a statement of intent for her Master of Arts degree (1954), notes on painting (1960, 1975-1986), some written jointly with Charles Hess, and lecture notes (ca. 1953-1964). A scrapbook pertaining to her art and teaching contains a curriculum vitae, a 2 p. essay on painting, clippings of reviews, exhibition announcments, photographs of exhibitions, and copies of letters concerning awards and exhibitions.

Biographical/Historical Note

Painters, art instructor; California.


Donated 1990 and 1997 by Charles Hess.

Language Note

English .

How to Use This Collection

Alternative Forms Available

Ten letters from Stanton Macdonald-Wright to Charles Hess (1954-1965) were microfilmed on reel 4386 and are available for use at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Microfilmed materials must be consulted on microfilm. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Charles and Leta English Hess papers, 1895-1987. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.