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

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.