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

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

Emmet family

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/Historical Note

The Emmet family is an artistic family from Stockbridge, Massachusetts, New York, New York, and London, England. Its members included illustrator Julia Colt Emmet, her daughters, painters and portraitists Rosina "Posie" Emmet Sherwood (Mrs. Arthur M. Sherwood), Lydia Field Emmet, and Jane Erin Emmet De Glehn, who lived in England with her husband, painter Wilfrid De Glehn. The De Glehns used the surname Von Glehn until 1919. The family also includes cousins, painters Ellen "Bay" Emmet Rand (Mrs. William Blanchard Rand) and Edith Leslie Emmet, and Rosina Emmet Sherwood's children, painter Rosamond Sherwood and Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Robert Emmet Sherwood.

Provenance

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, in 1988-1991. Additionally, one scrapbook was lent for microfilming in 1990 and subsequently donated by Mrs. Earl Maize.

Related Materials

Funding

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

Location of Originals

  • Travel scrapbook, Reel 4544: Original returned to Mrs. Earl Maize, daughter of lender R. Douglas Cochrane, after microfilming.

A Finding Aid to the Emmet Family Papers,
1792-1989
(bulk 1851-1989)
, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.emmefami
Finding aid prepared by Jean Fitzgerald
Scope and Content Note
The Emmet family papers span the years 1792 to 1989 (bulk 1851-1989) and measure 9.5 linear feet. They consist of biographical material, diaries, correspondence, notes, writings, business records, a scrapbook, art work, subject files, printed material, photographs, audio-visual material, and artifacts which present a good overview of the careers of portraitists, sisters Rosina Emmet Sherwood, Lydia Field Emmet, and Jane Erin Emmet De Glehn, and their cousin Ellen Gertrude "Bay" Emmet.
The Biographical Material Series contains general family trees and family histories. It also contains individual biographical accounts, award certificates, and personal documentation for Julia Colt Pierson Emmet, Rosina Emmet Sherwood, Lydia Field Emmet, Jane Erin Emmet, and Wilfrid De Glehn.
There are two volumes of Diaries: the "Sedgemere Diary" containing drawings and entries primarily by Rosina Emmet Sherwood, and a smaller diary which mentions Rosina's son, future playwright Robert Sherwood.
The largest series in the collection is Correspondence which 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 and early twentieth centuries. 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 friend Cecilia Beaux. Topics include the Emmets' experiences while studying art in Paris, Rosina's presentation at Queen Victoria's court, Lydia's work at the Columbia Exposition, Jane's friendship with John Singer Sargent, portrait painting activities, the troubles of their friend Susy Metcalfe's marriage to Pablo Casals, and the activities of Rosina's son, playwright Robert Emmet Sherwood and friends Alfred Lund and Lynn Fontanne.
Notes include address books, illustrated notebooks, lecture notes, and miscellaneous lists.
Included in the Writings Series are manuscripts describing family activities, and poems.
The Business Records Series contains a document concerning ownership of property, a contract for the reproduction of Lydia's work, and account books.
Theree scrapbooks contain a combination of drawings, reproductions of art work, and photographs.
The Art Work Series contains drawings and sketchbooks by Julia Colt Pierson Emmet, Rosina Emmet Sherwood, Lydia Field Emmet, Jane Erin Emmet, Ellen Emmet Rand, and other Emmet relatives, illustrating the early development of their talent.
Subject Files include printed material and photographs concerning Prang's Christmas card competition, and the Danforth exhibition. A file on the exhibitions, "The Emmets: A Family of Women Painters" contains letters, writings, registrarial records, photographs, clippings, and audio cassettes.
Printed Material consists of clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, reproductions of art work by Emmet family members, and a book Out of Town, written and illustrated by Rosina Emmet Sherwood.
The Photographs Series contains photographs of family members, including Robert Emmet Sherwood as a young man, friends Richard Harding Davis, Frederick MacMonnies, Augustus Saint-Gaudens. There are also photographs of art work by the Emmets.
Contained in the Audio-Visual Material Series is a videotape The Emmets: Portrait of a Family by Nancy B. Doyle, which gives an excellent overview of the lives and careers of this artistic family.
The Artifacts series consists of a rear-view optical device and locks of hair from an early nineteenth century generation of the Emmet family.
Biographical 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.
The eldest daughter of Julia Colt Pierson Emmet (1829-1908), herself a talented illustrator who had studied under Daniel Huntington, Rosina "Posie" Emmet (1854-1948) studied under William Merritt Chase at his Tenth Street Studio in New York and under Robert-Fleury at the Academie Julian in Paris. Before her marriage to Arthur Murray Sherwood in 1887, Rosina established a studio in New York and continued to submit illustrations to various publications. During her marriage, she slowed her creative activities, until financial reverses dictated her return to her career around the turn of the 20th century. Her daughter Rosamond Sherwood (1899-1990) was also a portrait painter. Her son, Robert Emmet Sherwood (1896-1955) became a four-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright.
Lydia Field Emmet (1866-1952) studied under Collin, Bouguereau, MacMonnies, and Robert-Fleury at the Academie Julian. Upon her return to New York, Lydia continued her studies under Chase, Kenyon Cox, H. Siddons Mowbray, and Robert Reid at the Art Students League, as well as at Chase's Shinnecock Summer School of Art. She established her portrait studio in New York City and began spending summers at Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where she built her home "Strawberry Hill" in 1905. Best known for her portraits of children, Lydia's subjects were members of the socially prominent families of New York, Boston, and Philadelphia.
The youngest sister, Jane Erin Emmet (1873-1961), also studied with Chase in New York, and in Paris. In 1904, she married British landscape painter Wilfrid Von Glehn, who had visited the United States with his friend John Singer Sargent. (The Von Glehns' surname was changed to De Glehn, in 1919.) Settling in London, Jane continued her painting, befriended many artists and composers, and accompanied her husband and Sargent on several art-related journeys through Europe.
The Emmet sisters' cousin, Ellen Gertrude "Bay" Emmet (1875-1941), studied in New York at the Art Students League and under Frederick MacMonnies in Paris, becoming a National Academician in 1934. She married William Blanchard Rand in 1911 and settled in Salisbury, Connecticut. After the stock market crash of 1929, Bay's portraits of prominent society figures provided most of her family's income.
Arrangement
The Emmet family papers are arranged into thirteen series, based on type of document. Individual files for each family member have been maintained in several series to facilitate access.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1881-1981, undated (box 1, OV 13, 7 folders)
Series 2: Diaries, 1855-1933 (box 1, 2 folders)
Series 3: Correspondence, 1792-1985, undated (boxes 1-7, 5.6 linear ft.)
Series 4: Notes, 1878-1978, undated (box 7, 9 folders)
Series 5: Writings, 1877-1936, undated (box 7, 11 folders)
Series 6: Business Records, 1880-1945, undated (boxes 7-8, 7 folders)
Series 7: Scrapbooks, 1870-1895, undated (sols 11-12, 0.6 linear ft.)
Series 8: Artwork, 1854-1895, undated (boxes 8 and sol 11, 0.6 linear ft.)
Series 9: Subject Files, 1947-1982, undated (box 8, 0.4 linear ft.)
Series 10: Printed Material, 1872-1989 (boxes 8 and 11, 0.4 linear ft.)
Series 11: Photographs, 1875-1944 (boxes 9, 10, sol 11, 1.2 linear ft.)
Series 12: Videotape: The Emmets: Portrait of a Family, 1988 (box 10, 1 folder)
Series 13: Artifacts, undated (box 10, 2 folders)
Provenance
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, in 1988-1991. Additionally, one scrapbook was lent for microfilming in 1990 and subsequently donated by Mrs. Earl Maize.
Location of Originals
  • Travel scrapbook, Reel 4544: Original returned to Mrs. Earl Maize, daughter of lender R. Douglas Cochrane, after microfilming.
Processing Information
The bulk of the collection was processed by Jean Fitzgerald in 1991 and 1992. The two scrapbooks that were loaned and donated in 1990 and 1991 were incorporated into the collection during conversion to EAD in 2002.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.

How to Cite This Collection

Emmet family papers, 1792-1989, bulk, 1851-1989. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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