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Emmet family papers, 1792-1989, bulk bulk 1851-1989

Emmet family

This site provides access to the papers of Emmet family in the Archives of American Art that were digitized in 2016, and total 22,429 images.

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

Collection Information

Size: 9.1 Linear feet

Summary: The Emmet Family papers document the lives and careers of two generations of the Emmet family from New Rochelle, New York and Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The collection dates from 1792 to 1989, with the bulk of the material dating from 1851-1989, and measures 9.1 linear feet. Through biographical material, two diaries, correspondence, writings and notes, exhibition files, business records, printed material, two scrapbooks, artwork, and photographs of family, friends, exhibitions, and artwork, the papers provide both a rich overview and detailed insights into the daily lives, relationships, and careers of many members of the family. The collection focuses in particular on sisters Lydia Field Emmet, Jane Erin Emmet de Glehn, and Rosina Emmet Sherwood, their mother, Julia Colt Pierson Emmet, and their cousin Ellen Gertrude "Bay" Emmet, all noted painters and illustrators, whose artistic talents flourished during the late nineteenth through the mid-twentieth centuries.
Biographical material consists of family trees and family histories; individual biographical accounts, award certificates, and documentation for Julia Colt Pierson Emmet, Rosina Emmet Sherwood, Lydia Field Emmet, Jane Erin Emmet de Glehn, and Wilfrid de Glehn; a diary titled "Sedgemere Diary" containing drawings and entries primarily by Rosina Emmet Sherwood, and a smaller diary which mentions Rosina's son, future playwright Robert Sherwood; a documentary by Nancy B. Doyle on two VHS videocassettes, entitled The Emmets: Portrait of a Family; and artifacts comprising a rear-view optical device and locks of hair from an early nineteenth century generation of the Emmet family.
Correspondence forms the bulk of the collection and illustrates the interaction between members of this large and influential family and their colleagues and friends, offering a wide-ranging view of life in the late nineteenth through the mid-twentieth centuries, and through two World Wars. The series consists of letters between family members, primarily Julia Colt Pierson Emmet and her daughters, as well as cousins Henry James, Ellen "Bay" Emmet Rand, and Rosamond Sherwood, and friends Cecilia Beaux, Louis Bancel LaFarge, Frederick MacMonnies, Lucien Monod, Roger Quilter, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Emily and John Singer-Sargent, Violet Sargent Ormond, and Stanford White. Topics include experiences of the Emmets while studying art in Paris, Rosina's presentation at Queen Victoria's court, Lydia's work at the Columbia Exposition, Jane's marriage to Wilfrid de Glehn and her friendship with John Singer Sargent, portrait painting activities, the troubles of their friend Susy Metcalfe in her marriage to Pablo Casals, and the activities of Rosina's son, playwright Robert Emmet Sherwood, and friends Alfred Lund and Lynn Fontanne.
Writings and notes consist of scattered manuscripts and poems by family members, two notebooks, one identified as belonging to Jane Erin Emmet de Glehn, and typescripts about Wilfrid de Glehn following his death. Also found is a book, Out of Town, written and illustrated by Rosina Emmet Sherwood, and Edna St Vincent Millay's poem "Autum Daybreak" written in Millay's handwriting.
Exhibition files document an exhibition held at the Berkshire Museum/Danforth Museum in Pittsfield/Farmingham, Massachusetts in 1982 entitled The Emmets: A Family of Women Painters, and include two audio cassettes of recordings from the "Art for Lunch" series at the Berkshire Museum discussing the exhibition.
Business records include account books belonging to Lydia Field Emmet and Rosina Emmet Sherwood, both of which document income from artwork and other sources, and expenses; a contract for the reproduction of Lydia Field Emmet's artwork; and a document concerning ownership of property, possibly of Emmet family ancestors.
Printed Material consists of clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, and reproductions of artwork by Emmet family members and others.
Two scrapbooks contain a combination of drawings, primarily by Rosina Emmet Sherwood, reproductions of artwork, and photographs.
Artwork includes drawings and sketchbooks by Julia Colt Pierson Emmet, Rosina Emmet Sherwood, Lydia Field Emmet, Jane Erin Emmet de Glehn Ellen Emmet Rand, and other Emmet relatives, illustrating the early development of their talent.
Photographs are of family members, including Julia Colt Pierson Emmet and William Jenkins Emmet, their daughters Lydia Field Emmet, Jane Erin Emmet de Glehn and husband Wilfrid de Glehn, Rosina Emmet Sherwood and husband Arthur Murray Sherwood, and Robert Emmet Sherwood as a young man. Also found are photos of friends Richard Harding Davis, Frederick MacMonnies, and Augustus Saint-Gaudens; a series of photographs of the installation at Arden Galleries, New York (1936) for the exhibition Paintings, Drawings and Sculptures by Five Generations of the Emmet Family; and photographs of artwork by Emmet family members.

Biographical/Historical Note

The Emmet family, descended from patriot Thomas Addis Emmet, brother of Irish martyr Robert Emmet, counts many physicians, lawyers, and writers (including cousin Henry James) among its ranks. Although evidence of artistic talent existed in several previous generations, it flourished during the later 19th through the mid-20th centuries in the professional portraiture of sisters Rosina Emmet Sherwood, Lydia Field Emmet, Jane Erin Emmet de Glehn, and their cousin Ellen "Bay" Emmet Rand.


In 1988-1991, the bulk of the Emmet family papers were donated by Rosamond Sherwood, daughter of Rosina Emmet Sherwood (via Katharine Emmet Bramwell of New York), by Rosamond Sherwood's estate (via F. Douglas Cochrane, executor, from Boston), and by Rosamond's nieces, Virginia Sherwood and Julia Shipway. Additionally, one scrapbook was lent for microfilming in 1990 and subsequently donated by Mrs. Earl Maize. Douglas Cochrane then loaned another scrapbook for microfilming (reel 4344) in 1991 which was returned to Mrs. Earl Maize.

Related Materials


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