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E.P. (Edgar Preston) and Constance Richardson papers, 1814-1996, bulk bulk 1921-1996

Richardson, Edgar Preston, 1902-1985

Museum director, Art historian

Collection Information

Size: 28.7 Linear feet

Summary: The papers of art historian E. P. Richardson measure 28.7 linear feet and date from 1814-1996, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1921-1996. Within the papers are scattered biographical materials; acquisition files for Richardson's personal art collection; professional and personal correspondence with colleagues, art historians and critics, artists, museums, galleries, and dealers; numerous writings, including manuscripts and research files for his published books, articles, and lectures; general research notebooks and files compiled by Richardson on a wide variety of art-related topics and artists; professional and committee files; as well as a smaller amount of Constance C. Richardson's papers.
Biographical materials include certificates, awards, and honorary degrees, membership information, personal and family photographs, a few sketches, and a transcript of an oral history Interview with E.P. Richardson conducted by the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1982.
There are acquisitions files for the Richardsons' personal art collection that invoices, photographs, correspondence with galleries and collectors, appraisals, price lists, and artwork examination forms.
Correspondence is with colleagues, art dealers, collectors, museums and museum curators, foreign scholars, organizations, galleries, artists, art historians and critics, publishers, editors, librarians, friends, and family. Topics regard purchasing art for various collections, consultations about art and collecting including authentications and attributions, publishing, general art history, lectures, and personal matters, among other topics. There is correspondence with the Archives of American Art, Castano Galleries, Lawrence Fleischman, James Thomas Flexner, Alfred V. Frankenstein, George Croce, Walter Heil, Earl Krentzin, Wilmarth Lewis, Russel Lynes, John Francis McDermott, Philadelphia Museum of Art, J. Hall Pleasants, Anna Rutledge, Charles Sellers, Smithsonian Institution, Regina Soria, Victor Spark, William Stevens, Robert Vose, William Woolfenden, and many others. Scattered correspondence with artists is with Isabel Bishop, Louis Bouche, William Bostick, Eve Garrison, Edward Hopper, Irene Jungwirth, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Hughie Lee-Smith, Reginald Marsh, Gerald Mast, Georgia O'Keefe, Charles Sheeler, Walt Speck, and John Wedda, among many others. The greatest extent of correspondence is with Andrew Wyeth, Harold Cohn, and Frederick Simper. There is also personal correspondence with family and friends, and between E.P. and Constance Richardson.
E.P. Richardson's prominence as an art historian, writer, and expert on collecting is well documented through his prolific writings. Materials include drafts, notes, typescripts, and outlines for articles, exhibition catalog essays, and lectures. Also found are research files and publishing documentation for Richardson's books, including Washington Allston: A Study of the Romantic Artist in America (1948), Painting in America (1956), Charles Willson Peale and his World (1983), and American Romantic Painting (1944). There are also miscellaneous notes and four diaries. Two of the diaries comment on the social and cultural life of Detroit; the authenticity of paintings; Richardson's reflections on contemporary American painting, thoughts about museums, dealers, artists, and art historians (especially Wilhelm R. Valentiner); and travel.
Notebooks compiled by Richardson on a wide variety art-related topics cover nearly six decades. There are also numerous research files organized Richardson about individual artists and art history. And, the art collector files contain reference materials about art collectors and their collections including Lamont du Pont Copeland, Michael W. Freeman, Nelson Rockefeller, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Allen, and the Marquis de Somerlous. There are three index card file boxes containing bibliographic data on published books and articles.
Professional and committee files document Richardson's professional and consulting work for the Art Quarterly, Detroit Institute of Arts, National Collection of Fine Arts, the National Portrait Gallery, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the John D. Rockefeller III collection, Winterthur Museum, the White House, and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
Constance C. Richardson's papers include business and professional correspondence with various institutions, most extensively with the Macbeth Gallery. In addition, there is a smaller amount of personal correspondence, photographs and slides of her artworks, printed materials, two illustrated notebooks on her work, and miscellaneous notes. Also included is Constance's artist palette.

Biographical/Historical Note

Art historian, museum director, and writer E. P. (Edgar Preston) Richardson (1902-1985) served as director of the Detroit Institute of Arts (1945-1962) and Winterthur Museum (1963-1966). He was also a board member of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from 1966-1977 and, in 1954, co-founded the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.


Edith Wilkinson first donated a letter to E. P. Richardson from herself in 1957. E.P. Richardson donated papers to the Archives of American Art in 1958 and 1960 and lent materials for microfilming in 1961. Addition material was donated by Constance Richardson in 1985, and by Martha Fleischman in 2003.

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

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