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Frederick William MacMonnies papers, 1874-1997

Frederick William MacMonnies papers, 1874-1997

MacMonnies, Frederick William, 1863-1937

Sculptor

Collection Information

Size: 7.0 linear ft.

Summary: The papers of sculptor Frederick William MacMonnies date from 1874 to 1997 and measure 7.0 linear feet. Found within the papers are biographical material, a diary, correspondence, personal business records, project files, two sketchbooks and sketches, writings, Mary Smart's research files for her biography of MacMonnies, "A Flight With Fame," printed material, and photographs.

Biographical/Historical Note

Frederick William MacMonnies (1863-1937) was a sculptor from New York, N.Y.

Provenance

The bulk of Frederick William MacMonnies papers were donated by the artist's granddaughters Louise Wysong Rice and Marjorie Vander Velde in 1988 and 1998. Some, but not all, of the papers were originally loaned for microfilming and were later included in the donations. A small addition to the papers was transferred from the Smithsonian's Museum of American Art Library in 1981.

Related Materials

Also found in the Archives of American Art are four letters from MacMonnies to Allan Marquand cataloged separately, and a typescript "The Form of the Princeton Monument" lent by Elric Endersby in 1976 and microfilmed on reel 1094.

Location of Originals

  • Letters on reel 3042 and entire reel D245: Originals returned to the lenders after microfilming.

A Finding Aid to the Frederick William MacMonnies Papers,
1874-1997
, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.macmfred
Finding aid prepared by Jean Fitzgerald
Scope and Content Note
The papers of sculptor Frederick William MacMonnies date from 1874 to 1997 and measure 7.0 linear feet. Found within the papers are biographical material, a diary, correspondence, personal business records, project files, two sketchbooks and sketches, writings, printed material, and photographs. Well over one-half of the collection consists of Mary Smart's research files for her biography of MacMonnies,
A Flight with Fame
, as well as clippings regarding her research and a copy of the book.
Biographical material consists of a student card to the École des Beaux-Arts, a certificate of registration as an American Citizen, the wills of MacMonnies and his second wife, Alice, and a biographical note by Alice MacMonnies.
The most significant item in the collection is MacMonnies' diary that documents his first voyage to Europe where he was anxious to pursue his studies in sculpture. His well-described activities during his first year of study in Paris, Munich, and in Italy illustrate the excitement and challenges faced by serious art students in the mid-1880s.
Correspondence includes letters exchanged between MacMonnies and colleagues including George Grey Barnard, Paul Bion, and John Flanagan. There are also letters from MacMonnies to his second wife Alice and to his daughters, Berthe Helene (Betty) and Marjorie MacMonnies.
Personal business records include deeds for land in Long Island, New York, certificates of copyright for MacMonnies' art work, and a rental agreement for and inventory of MacMonnies' studio in Giverny, France.
Project files are found for the Fountain
Barge of State
at World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago and other sculpture pieces. There is also a sheet of preliminary sketches for the statue
General George B. McClellan
.
Art work consists of two sketchbooks, drawings, and plaster casts of sketches for planned sculpture projects for the New York Public Library, a memorial statue for Edwin Booth, and a drinking fountain.
Writings include a manuscript by MacMonnies concerning the adverse effects modernity was having on beauty in art, a typescript concerning George Grey Barnard's statue of Lincoln, and memoirs by Mary Fairchild MacMonnies Low in which she describes her early life, her first encounter with MacMonnies, and their life together in Paris and Giverny, including a visit from Stanford White and his wife.
Well over one-half of the collection consists of Mary Smart's research files for her biography of MacMonnies,
A Flight with Fame
. Printed material includes clippings and a copy of Mary Smart's book.
Photographs are of Frederick MacMonnies, family members, his studio, a horse used as a model for
The Horse Tamers
, and art work.
Biographical Note
Frederick William MacMonnies (1863-1937) of New York City, was a well known sculptor of the Beaux-Arts School, equally successful in France as in the United States. He was also a highly accomplished painter and portraitist.
Frederick William MacMonnies was born on September 28, 1863 in Brooklyn Heights, New York, the son of Juliana Eudora West and William MacMonnies. From an early age, MacMonnies showed skill in fashioning figures from wax. Because the Civil War put an end to his father's prosperous importing business, MacMonnies had to leave school at a young age in order to earn money to support the family.
With the help of a stone carver friend of his father, MacMonnies became a studio assistant to Augustus Stint-Gaudens in 1880. MacMonnies also studied at night at Cooper Union. In 1882 Saint-Gaudens promoted MacMonnies to apprentice and encouraged his development as an artist. MacMonnies began studying drawing at the National Academy of Design and occasionally attended classes at the Art Students League. It was during this time that he became better acquainted with Saint-Gaudens' important patrons and colleagues including John LaFarge, Charles F. McKim, Stanford White.
In 1884 MacMonnies left for Paris to study first at the Académie Colarossi and later at the École des Beaux-Arts under Jean Alexandre Falguière. In 1888 he opened a studio in Paris where he mentored artists including Janet Scudder and Mary Foote. He married a fellow artist, Mary Louise Fairchild in 1888. They had two daughters, Berthe Hélène and Marjorie. They were divorced in 1909, and Mary married painter Will Hicok Low later that year. MacMonnies married his former student Alice Jones in 1910.
MacMonnies executed commissions for Stanford White and John La Farge. In 1889, he won a competition to complete a statue of Nathan Hale for City Hall Park. He won a medal in the Paris Salon for his statue of Hale and a second medal for his statue of James T. Stranahan, earning status as a master artist. In 1891, he was commissioned to produce the central fountain for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
Even though MacMonnies travelled annually to the United States, he maintained his primary residences and studios in Paris and Giverny, France. He was also an occasional painter and had a solo exhibition at the Durand-Ruel Galleries in the United States in 1903. In 1905 his
Bacchante and Infant Faun
statue became the center of controversy when it was rejected by conservative groups in Boston. It was later acquired by the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. In 1915 he returned permanently to the United States.
MacMonnies was an Academician of the National Academy of Design, Chevalier of the Legion of Honor of France and
hors concours
at the Paris Salon allowing him to submit works directly to the Salon without initial scrutiny by judges.
Frederick William MacMonnies died of pneumonia on March 22, 1937 in New York City.
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as 10 series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1884-1921 (Box 1; 5 folders)
Series 2: Diary, 1884-1885 (Box 9; 1 folder)
Series 3: Correspondence, 1880-1971 (Box 1; 0.6 linear feet)
Series 4: Personal Business Records, 1874-1931 (Box 1; 6 folders)
Series 5: Project Files, 1891-1935 (Box 1, 9-10; 27 folders)
Series 6: Art Work, 1910-1914 (Box 1, 8-9; 1.1 linear feet)
Series 7: Writings, 1912-1917 (Box 2; 12 folders)
Series 8: Mary Smart's Research Files, 1908-1997 (Box 2-6, 9; 4.2 linear feet)
Series 9: Printed Material, 1896-1996 (Box 6-7; 13 folders)
Series 10: Photographs, 1889-1911 (Box 7, 9; 8 folders)
Provenance
The bulk of Frederick William MacMonnies papers were donated by the artist's granddaughters Louise Wysong Rice and Marjorie Vander Velde in 1988 and 1998. Some, but not all, of the papers were originally loaned for microfilming and were later included in the donations. A small addition to the papers was transferred from the Smithsonian's Museum of American Art Library in 1981.
Location of Originals
  • Letters on reel 3042 and entire reel D245: Originals returned to the lenders after microfilming.
Processing Information
Papers were originally loaned for microfilming on reels D245 and 3042. Some, but not all, of the loaned materials on reel 3042 were included in later donations. A later transfer of papers from the Smithsonian's American Art Museum Library cataloged separately and microfilmed on reel 3134; this reel is no longer in circulation. All accretions were merged, processed, and described by Jean Fitzgerald in February 2011.

Additional Forms Available

Portions of the collection are also available on microfilm reels D245 and 3042 at Archives of American Art offices, and through interlibrary loan. Researchers should note that the arrangement of the collection as described in the finding aid may not reflect the exact order of the collection on microfilm.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center.

How to Cite This Collection

Frederick William MacMonnies papers, 1874-1997. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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