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Ferdinand Perret research material on California art and artists, 1769-1942

Perret, Ferdinand, 1888-1960

Painter, Art historian


Collection Information

Size: 1 item

37 microfilm reels.

WPA-FAP Photographs (unfilmed): 137 items.

Summary: Research material on California art and artists from the Ferdinand Perret Research Library of the Arts and Affiliated Sciences.

Included are an artists' card file and its supplement, containing biographical information on and references to more than 7000 artists and art educators; 169 notebooks on California artists arranged alphabetically by artist, containing clippings, photographs, reproductions of works of art, catalogs and announcements; 152 notebooks, arranged chronologically, relating to the history of art activity in Los Angeles from 1769-1942, containing clippings, illustrations, checklists, and announcements; four v. of clippings from San Francisco area newspapers; five notebooks of handwritten and typed items on California artists and art associations, pre-1840 to 1940; a notebook on California Missions, containing miscellaneous printed material; and photographs relating to the WPA-FAP Southern California Art Project, ca. 1937-1941. Also included is a letter from California artist, Ben Messick to Perret reagrding printed material for Perret's research libary.

Biographical/Historical Note

Ferdinand Perret (1888-1960) was the son of a French textile engraver. He immigrated to the United States in 1906, settling in Los Angeles, where he worked as an artist and a paintings restorer. His work led him to begin serious art research, and in 1909 he established the Perret Research Library. For the next four decades Perret collected items for his library, with a large part devoted to the study of California art and artists.


Perret donated his library to the Smithsonian Insitution's National Museum (now the Smithsonian American Art Museum) in 1949. The card file was microfilmed in 1964; the remainder in 1987. The Smithsonian American Art/ Portait Gallery Library transferred the WPA-FAP photographs from the Perret Collection in 1993 and an additional letter in 2015.

Location of Originals

  • Entire collection except WPA Photographs and one letter: Originals located at the Smithsonian American Art Museum Library, Smithsonian Institution.

How to Use This Collection

Alternative Forms Available

Microfilm reels 3852-3886 available for use only at the Archives' Unrestricted Microfilm Depositories in the Huntington Library, San Marino, California and the M.H. de Young Museum, San Francisco, Calif., and at the Library of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

microfilm reels CAL 1 - CAL 2 available at all Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Microfilmed materials must be consulted on microfilm.

How to Cite This Collection

Ferdinand Perret research material on California art and artists, 1769-1942. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.