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Francis Davis Millet and Millet family papers, 1858-1984, bulk 1858-1955

Francis Davis Millet and Millet family papers, 1858-1984, bulk 1858-1955

Millet, Francis Davis, 1846-1912

Muralist, Painter, Author

The papers of Francis Davis Millet in the Archives of American Art were digitized in 2006 from 8 reels of microfilm. The papers have been scanned in their entirety, and total 7,748 images.

Collection Information

Size: 3.3 linear feet

Summary: The Francis Davis Millet and Millet family papers measure 3.25 linear feet and are dated 1858-1984, with a few scattered early eighteenth-century items, such as legal documents and printed matter. The bulk of the material dates from 1858 to 1955. Found are biographical materials, diaries/journals, family letters, notes and writings, art work, printed matter, miscellaneous records, and photographs documenting Millet's wide-ranging artistic and writing career and personal life, including his death aboard the Titanic. Also of interest are approximately twenty ink caricatures attributed to John Singer Sargent.

Biographical/Historical Note

Francis Davis Millet (1846-1912) was a painter and muralist from Washington, D.C., New York, N.Y., and England. Millet established an artists' colony with close friends John Singer Sargent, Henry James, and Edwin Abbey in the village of Broadway, Worcestershire. He played a major role in the founding of the American Federation of the Arts, was extensively involved in the World Columbian Exposition, worked on the Fine Arts Commission in Washington, D.C., during the terms of presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. Millet went down with the Titanic, April 15, 1912.

Provenance

Material lent for microfilming by Charles S. Millet, grandnephew of Francis D. Millet on reels 849 & 1080 in 1974-1976. Material filmed on reels 5903-5907 donated 1974 by Charles S. Millet, 1975 by John A. P. Millet, son of Francis D. Millet, 1977 by Francis (Frank) D. Millet II, grandson of Francis. D. Millet, 1987 by Joyce A Sharpey-Schafer, granddaughter of Francis Davis Millet, and 1996 by David M. Emerson, Millet's grand-nephew. Four letters and three envelopes donated 2003 by Frank D. Millet II and Millet's granddaughter, Mrs. Josephine Millet Flynn and her husband Harry L. Flynn, and two additional letters and two diplomas donated by Frank D. Millet II in 2006 and 2013 (one letter, Oct. 20, 1887 was lent for filming on reel 5460, frames 422-437, along with a transcript of the letter, by Peter Engstrom in 1998.)

Related Materials

Found within the holdings of the Archives of American Art are several collections related to Francis Davis Millet, including five letters from Millet to Miss Ward and "Ticknor" and a collection of Francis Millet Rogers research material regarding Francis Davis Millet. The Philip Martiny papers contains two group photographs that include F. D. Millet. A letter describing a visit to Millet's studio is among the William Cushing Loring Papers. The American Academy in Rome records include documents created by F. D. Millet in his capacity as Secretary from 1904-1907 and as Chief Administrator in Rome, 1911-1912.

Location of Originals

  • Reels 849 & 1080: Originals returned to Charles S. Millet after microfilming.

A Finding Aid to the Francis Davis Millet and Millet Family Papers,
1858-1984
(bulk 1858-1955)
, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.millfran
Finding aid prepared by Catherine S. Gaines
Scope and Content Note
The Francis Davis Millet and Millet family papers measure 3.25 linear feet and are dated 1858-1984, with a few scattered early eighteenth-century items, such as legal documents and printed matter. The bulk of the material dates from 1858 to 1955. Found are biographical materials, diaries/journals, family letters, notes and writings, art work, printed matter, miscellaneous records, and photographs documenting Millet's wide-ranging artistic and writing career and personal life, including his death aboard the
Titanic
. Also of interest are approximately twenty ink caricatures attributed to John Singer Sargent.
Biographical material consists of biographical and genealogical notes; also, memorial resolutions, invitations, and programs with several related items tipped in. Diaries/journals for the period 1858-1911 (16 vols., plus excerpts and transcripts) record Civil War experiences, the Russo-Turkish War, travels throughout Europe, to the northwest United States and Alaska, the Orient, and Panama.
Letters from F. D. Millet to his family date from his years at Harvard, art training in Antwerp, residence in Italy, and service as a correspondent during the Russo-Turkish War. Millet's letters include a few received from friends and associates, original letters sent by Millet to others, along with typescript copies of incoming letters. Also included is a file of letters addressed to Millet and others concerning the purchase and restoration of the Grange, his Broadway studio. There are four letters from Millet to his girlfriend Velma Marie Morse and scattered letters to Velma's father, A.P. Morse, and Fred Chapman. Photocopies of letters from sister Kathleen Millet to her friend Margherita describe her brother's adventures during the Russo-Turkish War, and include an account of his wedding. His sister Lucia Millet's letters to her family were written while she was in England living as a member of her brother's household, and are rich with details of Frank's daily life, work, travels, friends, and the American colony in Broadway. The letters of Lily Millet consist mainly of condolence messages sent upon the death of her husband, but also include letters from Samuel L. Clemens, Henry James, Ellen Terry [Carew], Charles Dudly Warner, her children, and others.
Included in the collection are Millet's extensive research notes about costumes and artifacts of various historical periods and locations that served as reference for details in his murals. Also included are his notebooks about Italian art, Bulgarian history and costume, and the Philippines. Writings by Millet consist of articles, short stories, lectures and speeches. Writings about him include texts by various relatives (all but one are unpublished). The most extensive written piece is by niece Hilda Millet Booth and son John [Albert] Parsons Millet, and is accompanied by early drafts, notes, and related correspondence.
Art work by Millet includes twelve volumes of sketchbooks dating from his student days in Antwerp through 1896, along with loose sketches, drawings, and two watercolors. Most were executed while traveling, and include landscapes, building, and local peoples. Works by other artists include 20 caricatures drawn in ink, attributed to John Singer Sargent.
Among the printed matter are newspaper articles by F. D. Millet, along with clippings about or mentioning him, reproductions, exhibition catalogs and announcements. Of interest are Vienna Exposition memorabilia, and a full length biography,
Soldier of Fortune: F. D. Millet, 1846-1912
by granddaughter Joyce A. Sharpey-Schafer. Miscellaneous records include drawings sketches, notes, printed matter, and photographs relating to the Abbot's Grange in Broadway that served as Millet's studio.
Photographs of people include F. D. Millet, his father Asa Millet with granddaughter Kate, and Mary Anderson. Photographs of works of art are by Millet and other artists.
Biographical Note
During his lifetime, Francis Davis Millet (1846-1912), always known as Frank, was a prominent artist who was well known for murals that contained exactingly accurate historical details. His broad-ranging career included work with worlds' fairs in Vienna, Chicago, Paris, and Tokyo as a juror, administrator, mural painter/decorator, or advisor. In addition, Frank Millet was a newspaper writer who published short stories and enjoyed adventures as a war correspondent during the Russo-Turkish War and in the Philippines during the Spanish American War.
Millet was among the founders of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and was influential in the early days of the American Federation of Arts. Millet was involved with the American Academy in Rome from its inception and served as Secretary from 1904-1911. In 1911, Millet went to Rome as Chief Administrator of the newly combined Schools of Fine Arts and Classical Studies. He died aboard the Titanic while traveling to New York City on Academy business.
1846
born in Mattapoisett, Mass.
1864
enlisted as a private in the 60th Massachusetts Militia during Civil War, serving as a drummer; also acted as a surgical assistant to his physician father in the army of the Potomac
1869
graduated from Harvard University, where he studied modern languages and literature
1869-1870
learned lithography while working on the Boston Advertiser
1871-1872
studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp, where he won the silver medal (1871) and was awarded the gold medal (1872); traveled through Germany with 3 other American Students
1873
Secretary to Charles Francis Adams, Jr., Massachusetts' commissioner to the Vienna Exposition member of the Vienna Exposition; jury correspondent for the
New York Herald
and the
New York Tribune
; traveled through southern Europe and Turkey
1873-1874
traveled in Greece, Italy, Switzerland, and Germany
1875
toured Italy; returned to Boston and set up a studio on Tremont Street
1876
exhibited
The Bay of Naples
at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, where he represented the
Boston Advertiser
and was a correspondent for the
American Architect and Building News
; assisted John La Farge in decorating Trinity Church, Boston; founded the School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts with La Farge and W. M. Hunt
1877
exhibited portraits of Charles Francis Adams, Jr. and Samuel L. Clements at the National Academy of Design
1877-1878
special war correspondent to the
New York Herald
and
Times of London
, and special artist to the
London Graphic
, reporting on the Russo-Turkish War; Russia awarded him the Cross of St. Stanislaus and the Cross of St. Anne for military advice and exceptional service (informing Russian officers of a ford that would allow them to cross into Turkey more easily) and the Iron Cross of Romania
1878
returned to Paris to paint; served on fine arts jury at the Exposition Universelle in Paris; exhibited in the Paris Salon and at the British Royal Academy
1879
married Elizabeth (Lily) Greeley Merrill in Paris; returned to the United States, settling in East Bridgewater, Mass., where he set up a studio that included an accurate reconstruction of a colonial era kitchen
1880
lectured on costumes at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; birth of daughter, Katharine Field; became a member of the Society of American Artists; worked with Louis Comfort Tiffany on the decoration of the Seventh Regiment Armory, New York City
1881
shared studio in New York with Edwin Austin Abbey; birth of son, Edwin Abbey; commissioned by the Class of 1861 to design two windows for Harvard University Memorial Hall
1882
traveled in northern German and Scandinavia with Edwin Austin Abbey and R. Swain Gifford; elected an Associate member of the National Academy of Design
1883
traveled to England
1884
birth of Laurance, in London; settled with family in Broadway, Worcestershire (spending the winters of the next decade in New York); along with Edwin Austen Abbey, John Singer Sargent, and Alfred Parsons, he established a colony that at various times included Edwin Howland Blashfield, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, and Henry James, along with various other writers, actors, musicians
1885
traveled with Charles Francis Adams, Jr. throughout the U.S. and its territories, and to Mexico; elected a National Academician, National Academy of Design
1886
purchased "Russell House," that became his permanent home in Broadway, Worcestershire; and moved studio to "Abbot's Grange"
1887
translated "Sebastopol" by Tolstoy from French to English for publication
1888
birth of John Alfred Parsons
1889
awarded silver medal, Salon des Artistes, Paris
1890
published a collection of short stories,
A Capillary Crime and Other Tales
; purchased the "Abbot's Grange" that had been serving as his studio for the previous four years
1891
elected vice-president of National Academy of Design; for
Harper's Magazine
traveled with Alfred Parsons and Poultney Bigelow on a trip down the Danube in one-man canoes, from the Black Forest to the Black Sea (their illustrated narrative was published in the magazine, Feb.-May 1892; the following year, it appeared in book form as
From the Black Forest to the Black Sea
)
1892-1893
director of decorations for the White City of the World's Columbian Exposition, acting as a close advisor to the fair's architect Daniel Burnham; served on New York jury of the Columbian Exposition; once the Exposition opened, he served as Director of Functions and Ceremonies and also provided public relations and advertising services
1897
completed restoring "Abbot's Grange" to its 16th century appearance; completed lunette,
Agriculture
, commissioned for the Bank of Pittsburgh
1898
went to the Philippines to cover the Spanish American War as a special correspondent to
Harper's Weekly
, the
London Times
, and the
New York Sun
1899
published
Expedition to the Philippines
, P. Bigelow, co-author
1900
appointed U. S. representative to the Paris Universal International Exposition where he was in charge of decoration of the Government Pavilion, and was a member of the Jury of Selection and the Fine Arts Jury; awarded Chevalier de la Legion of Hounneur by the French government in appreciation for his services to the Paris Exposition
1905
traveled to northwest United States, Alaska, and British Columbia; completed mural, The Treaty of the Traverse des Sioux, July 23, 1851, commissioned for the Minnesota State Capitol; became a charter member of the American Academy in Rome
1906
traveled to North Africa, Italy, and France
1907
completed mural,
The Fourth Minnesota Regiment Entering Vicksburg, July 4, 1863
, commissioned for the Minnesota State Capitol; completed mural,
Foreman of the Grand Jury Rebuking the Chief Justice of New Jersey, 1774
, commissioned for the Essex County Courthouse, Newark, New Jersey; traveled to Cuba
1908
completed
The History of Shipping from the Earliest Recorded Use of Boats until the Present Time
commissioned to decorate the ceiling of the Custom House, Baltimore; traveled to Japan as Special Commissioner to the proposed World's Fair in Tokyo [the fair was never held]; awarded "First Class Order of the Sacred Treasure" by the Japanese government; additional travel to Germany, Italy, Russia, Turkey, and China; elected Secretary of the American Academy in Rome; elected a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters
1909
completed frieze of 13 panels,
The History of the Settlement of Ohio
, and several portraits commissioned by the Cleveland Trust Company; also responsible for the general color scheme of the building; completed frieze of 35 panels,
The History of Mail Delivery
, commissioned for the Post Office in the Federal Building, Cleveland; also responsible for determining the general color
1910
influential in the founding of the American Federation of Arts; served as its Secretary until his death; appointed to Federal Commission of Fine Arts; elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters
1911
completed lunettes,
The Repulse of the Dutch, September 3, 1609
, and
The Purchase of the Land, 1658
, and 12 small historical panels, commissioned for the Hudson County Courthouse, Jersey City, New Jersey; also responsible for the general color scheme of the building; traveled to Panama with Lily and Mr. and Mrs. C. F. Adams, Jr.; elected Vice Chairman of the Fine Arts Committee, American Academy in Rome; moved to Rome to serve as Chief Administrator of the consolidated schools of the American Academy in Rome and the American School of Classical Studies in Rome following the death of Charles F. McKim (Millet was a charter member and had served as Secretary since its inception)
1912
died aboard the S. S. Titanic, while heading to New York City on American Academy in Rome business
Arrangement
The collection is arranged into eight series:
Series 1: Biographical material, circa 1864-1934 (Box 1; 6 folders; Reel 5903)
Series 2: Diaries/Journals of Francis Davis Millet, 1858-1911 (Box 1; 0.5 linear ft.; Reels 5903-5904)
Series 3: Letters, 1867-1915, undated (Boxes 1-2; 0.5 linear ft.; Reel 5904)
Series 4: Notes and Writings, 1891-1970, undated (Box 3; 1.0 linear ft.; Reels 5904-5906)
Series 5: Art Work, 1872-1908, undated (Box 4; 0.5 linear ft.; Reels 5906-5907)
Series 6: Printed Matter, 1764-1984, undated (Box 4; 0.25 linear ft.; Reel 5907 and unfilmed)
Series 7: Miscellaneous Records, 1724-1897, undated(Box 4; 7 folders; Reel 5907)
Series 8: Photographs, circa 1883-circa 1910, undated (Box 4; 7 folders; Reel 5907)
Provenance
Material lent for microfilming by Charles S. Millet, grandnephew of Francis D. Millet on reels 849 & 1080 in 1974-1976. Material filmed on reels 5903-5907 donated 1974 by Charles S. Millet, 1975 by John A. P. Millet, son of Francis D. Millet, 1977 by Francis (Frank) D. Millet II, grandson of Francis. D. Millet, 1987 by Joyce A Sharpey-Schafer, granddaughter of Francis Davis Millet, and 1996 by David M. Emerson, Millet's grand-nephew. Four letters and three envelopes donated 2003 by Frank D. Millet II and Millet's granddaughter, Mrs. Josephine Millet Flynn and her husband Harry L. Flynn, and two additional letters and two diplomas donated by Frank D. Millet II in 2006 and 2013 (one letter, Oct. 20, 1887 was lent for filming on reel 5460, frames 422-437, along with a transcript of the letter, by Peter Engstrom in 1998.)
Location of Originals
  • Reels 849 & 1080: Originals returned to Charles S. Millet after microfilming.
Processing Information
The collection was processed by Catherine S. Gaines in 2003, merging all earlier accessions, many of which had been filmed in increments on reels 440, 848, 1052, 1117, and 3161; these reels are no longer in circulation. Upon processing, the bulk of the collection was microfilmed on reels 5903-5907. The microfilm was digitized in 2007 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Additional Forms Available

The microfilm of this collection was digitized in 2007 and is available via the Archives of American Art's website.

Restrictions on Access

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

How to Cite This Collection

Francis Davis Millet and Millet family papers, 1858-1984, bulk 1858-1955. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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