Skip to main content

Elihu Vedder papers, 1804-1969, bulk 1840-1923

Vedder, Elihu, 1836-1923

Muralist, Painter, Author, Sculptor, Illustrator

The papers of Elihu Vedder in the Archives of American Art were digitized from 17 reels of microfilm. Photographs from Series 7 have been digitized from originals. The bulk of the papers have been scanned, totaling 21,794 images.

Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Collection Information

Size: 9.2 linear ft.

Summary: The Elihu Vedder papers measure approximately 9.2 linear feet and date from 1804 to 1969, with the bulk of the material dating from 1840 to 1923. The collection documents the life and work of the painter and illustrator, who was perhaps best known for his illustrations of the 1884 edition of "The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam." Papers include correspondence, writings, diaires, photographs, a limited number of drawings, books and printed material, legal and financial papers, and scattered personal and family papers.
Correspondence consists of incoming and drafts of outgoing letters concerning both personal and professional matters. The majority of the business correspondence was written by Vedder's wife, Caroline R. Vedder, on his behalf and documents the sale and exhibition of Vedder's work, commissions for paintings, and his illustrations for books. Also found is corresondence between and amongst various members of Vedder's immediate and extended family (including early letters between his parents, Elizabeth and Elihu Vedder, Sr.), and between Caroline R. Vedder and her immediate family (including her mother, sisters, and nieces).
Writings consist of drafts, manuscripts, typescripts, and illustrations for various books that Vedder wrote late in his career after he had stopped painting, and for various other poems, essays, and stories, as well as some writings by others. Also found are several diaries belonging to Vedder and Caroline R. Vedder, which record some of the daily activities and travels of Vedder and his wife. Photographs include ones of Vedder, his studio, his friends and family, and his artwork, as well as ones of various residences, from various trips, and of an unidentified exhibition of Vedder's work. Drawings include a study for "The Rubaiyat" and "The Artist's Daughter," along with scattered sketches, plans, and bookplates. Also found are copies of Vedder's published books, and clippings, catalogs, art reproductions, and other printed material.
Also in the collection are scattered legal papers (wills, deeds, and agreements of various family members), financial papers (such as receipts and statements), notes on family history and other family papers, miscellaney, and numerous annotated envelopes and enclosures that once housed some of Vedder's papers.

Biographical/Historical Note

Painter, muralist, sculptor, illustrator, writer; Rome and the Isle of Capri, Italy. b. 1836, New York, N.Y.; d. Jan. 29, 1923, at the age of 87; Symbolist painter.


Material on reels 515-529 and 671 donated by Lawrence Fleischman and Harold Love, 1962 through 1964. Books, Doubts and Other Things and Miscellaneous Moods donated by Irving Burton, 1964 and 1977. Material on reel 2323 donated by Mrs. John Breck, 1981.

Related Materials

Related material found in the Archives of American Art includes 3 letters written by Elihu Vedder that comprise a small collection donated by Charles E. Feinberg.


Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.