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Charles Rand Penney papers, 1923-1994, bulk 1945-1994

Charles Rand Penney papers, 1923-1994, bulk 1945-1994

Penney, Charles Rand, 1923-2010


Collection Information

Size: 22.9 linear feet

Summary: The papers of art collector Charles Rand Penney measure 22.9 linear feet and date from 1923 to 1994 with the bulk of the collection dating from 1945 to 1994. The majority of the collection consists of Penney's art collection files, which include printed materials, correspondence, notes, and photographic materials. Also found within the papers are catalogs from exhibitions that featured artwork from Penney's collection.

The bulk of the papers consist of Penney's art collection files documenting artists, artworks, exhibitions, and various other projects. Artists of significance represented in the files include Jean Arp, John James Audubon, Milton Avery, Harry Bertoia, Alexander Calder, Stuart Davis, Philip Evergood, Emil Ganso, Robert Goodnough, Red Grooms, Edward Hopper, John Marin, Reginald Marsh, Joan Miro, Henry Moore, Louise Nevelson, Isamu Noguchi, Beverly Pepper, George Segal, John Sloan, Theodoros Stamos, Saul Steinberg, and Ulfert Wilke, among many others. Also included are files for artists that participated in the "Toronto 20" portfolio project in 1965. The files do not include Penney's files relating to Charles Burchfield, Wester New York state artists, or objects from the Arts and Craft movement.

A few notable exhibition catalogs found in the series of catalogs of the Charles Rand Penney art collection are "Charles Burchfield: The Charles Rand Penney Collection," "The Graphic Art of Emil Ganso," "Drawings from the Collection of Charles Rand Penney," "Quilts Coverlets Hooked Rugs from the Collection of Charles Rand Penney," "The Charles Rand Penney Collection: Twentieth Century Art," and "An American Visionary: Watercolors and Drawings of Charles E. Burchfield."

Biographical/Historical Note

Charles Rand Penney (1923-2010) was an art collector from Buffalo, New York.


The collection was donated in 1993-1994 by Charles Rand Penney.

Related Materials


Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Smithsonian Institution Collections Care and Preservation Fund.

A Finding Aid to the Charles Rand Penney Papers, 1923-1994, bulk 1945-1994, in the Archives of American Art
Biographical/Historical note
Charles Rand Penney (1923-2010) was an art collector from Buffalo, New York. He was well known for his collection of art by Western New York artists, but also collected art from Europe, Africa, Oceania, and other regions of the United States. His travels contributed to the eclectic mix of paintings, drawings, sculptures, hooked rugs, quilts, and tribal art found within his art collection.
Penney cited receiving the watercolor
in 1933 from Western New York artist Bob Blair as the beginning of his life as an art collector. Years later, Penney served in World War II, attended law school, and began practicing law in the 1950s. His collections grew quickly during the late 1950s through 1970s. Penney collected over 100,000 works of art during his lifetime, much of it guided by dealers James and Merle Goodman.
In 1963, Penney began donating artwork to the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, New York. In total, approximately 400 works of art were donated to the gallery including
Big Diamond
by David Smith and Beverly Pepper’s
Vertical Ventaglio
(1967-1968). Penney also donated over 1000 works of art to the Burchfield Art Center in Buffalo, New York.
Arrangement note
The collection is arranged as 2 series.
Series 1: Art Collection Files, 1923-1994 (Box 1-23, OV 24; 22.7 linear feet)
Series 2: Catalogs of the Charles Rand Penney Art Collection, 1966-1991 (Box 23, 0.2 linear feet)
The collection was donated in 1993-1994 by Charles Rand Penney.
Processing Information note
The collection was processed and a finding aid prepared by Sarah Mundy in 2015 with funding from the Smithsonian Institution's Collections Care Pool Fund, using accelerated processing strategies recently implemented by the Archives to increase information about and access to more of our collections. For this collection, accelerated processing included arrangement to the series, subseries and folder levels, adhering to the creator's original arrangement as much as possible. Generally, folder contents were simply verified with the original folder titles, but items within folders were not arranged further. All materials were rehoused in archival folders and boxes for long-term stability, but staples and other fasteners have not all been removed.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center.

How to Cite This Collection

Charles Rand Penney papers, 1923-1994, bulk 1945-1994. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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