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

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

Richardson, Edgar Preston, 1902-1985

Art historian, Museum director

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). Director, Detroit Institute of Arts, 1945-1962, Winterthur Museum, 1962-1966, Board Member and President of Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1966-1977, art advisor to John D. Rockefeller III, and member on numerous boards, including Winterthur, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Smithsonian Arts Commission and National Portrait Gallery. Author of numerous books on the history of art. Founder and director of the Archives of American Art.

Provenance

The E.P. (Edgar Preston) and Constance Richardson papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by E.P. Richardson in 1958 and 1960; by Constance Richardson in 1985, and by Martha Fleischman in 2003. An additional letter to E. P. Richardson from Edith Wilkinson was donated by Wilkinson in 1957.

Related Materials

Related collections among the holdings of the Archives of American Art include an interview with E.P. Richardson dated February 6, 1978 conducted by Linda Downs; and several miscellaneous manuscripts that include an E.P. Richardson Letter to Rockwell Kent, June 15 1959; E.P. Richardson letters to Lawrence Arthur Fleischman, May 13, 1962 and August 22 1954; and a Yasuo Kunioshi letter to E.P. Richardson, July 25 1948.

Additional E.P. Richardson papers are found at the Detroit Institute of Arts and in the archives of the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum.

Funding

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

A Finding Aid to the E. P. (Edgar Preston) and Constance Richardson papers , 1814-1996, bulk 1921-1996, in the Archives of American Art
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Finding aid prepared by Barbara Aikens and Kelly Nolte
Scope and Contents note
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.
E. P. Richardson was born in 1902 in Glens Falls, New York and died in Philadelphia in 1985. He graduated from Williams College in Massachusetts in 1925 and studied painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts for the three years following graduation. In 1930 he became educational secretary at the Detroit Institute of Arts, was quickly named assistant director in 1933, and served as director from 1945 to 1962. He left Detroit to take the position of director of the Winterthur Museum, where he remained until 1966. Richardson married Constance Coleman in 1931. Born in Berlin, Germany in 1905, Constance Coleman Richardson was an award-winning and widely exhibited realist style painter of American landscapes. She gave up painting in the 1960s and died in 2002.
While at the Detroit Institute of Arts, E. P. Richardson co-founded the Archives of American Art with Lawrence Fleischman, and served as the Archives' first director. Richardson was also art advisor to John D. Rockefeller III for over ten years, editor of
Art Quarterly
from 1938 to 1967, and a member of various boards, including the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the Smithsonian Arts Commission, and the National Portrait Gallery. He authored numerous books including ones on artists Washington Allston and Charles Willson Peale, and
The Way of Western Art: American Romantic Painting
(1939),
Painting in America: The Story of Four Hundred and Fifty Years
(1956),
A Short History of Painting in America
(1963), and
American Art, an Exhibition of the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, 3d
(1976).
Provenance
The E.P. (Edgar Preston) and Constance Richardson papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by E.P. Richardson in 1958 and 1960; by Constance Richardson in 1985, and by Martha Fleischman in 2003. An additional letter to E. P. Richardson from Edith Wilkinson was donated by Wilkinson in 1957.
Processing Information note
Multiple accretions of E.P. Richardson's papers were merged with several previously separated miscellaneous manuscript collections, including a Christmas card from Carl Ruggles to the Richardsons, a letter from Edith Wilkinson, and a letter from Charles Sheeler. Constance Richardson's papers had also previously been cataloged separately and was reunited with the original acquisition.
Once merged, the collection was minimally processed in 2015 by Kelly Nolte with funding provided by the Smithsonian Institution Collections Care and Preservation Fund. The finding aid was prepared by Kelly Nolte and Barbara Aikens.

Additional Forms Available

Small portions of the papers and several individual letters that were previously cataloged as separate collections are also available on microfilm reels 2803, 267, 3470, and D10. Material available on this legacy film includes letters from Hazel J. Lewis from Macbeth Gallery, exhibition catalogs, financial records, and clippings (267); two illustrated letters to the Richardson's from Charles Culver (2803); letters to Richardson from the Hoosier Salon Patrons Association and from Lloyd Goodrich (3470); single letters from Sigfried F. Aram, Charles Sheeler, and Edith Wilkinson (D10), and a holiday card from Carl Ruggles (D10). The legacy microfilm is available for use and interlibrary loan.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original material requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Contact References Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

E.P. (Edgar Preston) and Constance Richardson papers, 1814-1996, bulk, 1921-1996. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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