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George Leslie Stout papers, 1855, 1897-1978

George Leslie Stout papers, 1855, 1897-1978

Stout, George L. (George Leslie), 1897-1978

Museum director, Arts administrator

Collection Information

Size: 5.8 linear feet

Summary: The papers of conservator and museum director George Leslie Stout measure 5.8 linear feet and date from 1855, 1897-1978. Stout was head of the conservation department at Harvard University's Fogg Art Museum, director of the Worcester Art Museum and Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Massachusetts, and a member of the Monuments, Fine Art and Archives (MFAA) Section of the U.S. Army during World War II. The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence with family, friends, colleagues, and professional associations. There are letters from fellow Monuments Men who served in the MFAA section such as Thomas Carr Howe, Ardelia Hall, Lamont Moore, Theodore Sizer, Langdon Warner, and several other prominent arts administrators. The papers also contain biographical materials, writings, sketches and one sketchbook, military records, printed materials, and photographs.

Biographical materials include college and graduate school transcripts, various certificates, four small appointment books, and passports.

Correspondence is between George Leslie Stout and family, friends, colleagues, professional associations and fellow Monuments Men. Family correspondence is with Stout's immediate and extended family, the bulk of which is from Stout to his wife Margaret and his son Thomas. Correspondents in the Monuments Men correspondence include Thomas Carr Howe, Ardelia Hall, Lamont Moore, Theodore Sizer, Langdon Warner, and many others. There is also substantial correspondence with friends and professional colleagues in the museum and art world, such as Walter Beck, Richard D. Buck, William George Constable, Earl of Crawford, George Peabody Gardner, Jr., William Ivins, Jr., Henri Marceau, and Paul Sachs, among many others.

Writings by Stout consist of typescript drafts and published articles, speeches, and miscellaneous notes. Most of the writings concern art conservation and the speeches are memorials for two of Stout's colleagues. Notes consists of drafts for the texts of holiday cards Stout designed, biographical notes, and images and captions for "The Care of Pictures." There are also three conference papers on art conservation written by other people.

Subject files document Stout's conservation projects as a consultant for museums, universities, galleries and other organizations. Also found in this series are documents relating to Stout's work after retiring from the Isabella Gardner Museum and his membership or participation in various arts programs and organizations.

A separate series contains files relating to Stout's World War II service in the Monuments, Fine Arts & Archives (MFAA) Section. Found here are official military records, publications by Monuments Men, and a few scattered photographs. Military records include directives, reports, certificates and a bronze star medal. There are articles and books written by various Monuments Men such as Langdon Warner, Lincoln Kirstein, and Theodore Sizer. There are also scattered photographs, only two of which depict tout (including one group photograph with Lamont Moore, Walker Hancock and other Monuments Men.) There are also 12 negatives with 4 prints depicting La Gleize Church and the town of Ambleve, Belgium, in 1945.

Personal business records include assorted legal and estate papers as well as financial papers such as receipts, travel expenses and donations.

Printed materials consists of news clippings, bulletins, brochures, press releases, conference papers, and magazine and journal articles, most of it related to art conservation.

Artwork includes pencil and ink drawings and sketches, mostly of travel scenes, people, and animals. There is one sketchbook of the human figure. Many sketches were loosely grouped together by Stout with titles such as "Pool Doodles" or "Park and Zoo." The is also one caricature of Eric Brown by Murray Pease.

The papers include photographs and negatives, mostly personal photographs of friends, family, relatives and colleagues. There are also photographs of art conservation conferences and travel photographs. Additional scattered photographs are located in the series containing the Monuments Men files.

Biographical/Historical Note

George Leslie Stout (1897-1978) was a conservator and museum director in Massachusettes and California.

Provenance

George Leslie Stout donated his papers to the Archives of American Art in 1978.

Related Materials

Also found in the Archives of American Art is an oral history interview with George Stout conducted by Paul Karlstrom in 1978.

Funding

Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.

Location of Originals

  • Reel 1378: Originals returned to Robert Stout after microfilming.

A Finding Aid to the George Leslie Stout papers, 1855, 1897-1978, in the Archives of American Art
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Biographical/Historical note
George Leslie Stout (1897-1978) was a museum director and prominent art conservator in Massachusetts. Stout was head of the conservation department at Harvard University's Fogg Art Museum, and director of the Worcester Art Museum and Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Massachusetts. During World War II, Stout served in the U.S. Army Monuments, Fine Art and Archives (MFAA) and played a leading role in the protection, location, and recovery of art work stolen by the Nazis.
Born in Winterset, Iowa in 1897, George Leslie Stout was the oldest of six children and attended Winterset High School and served in the U.S. army during World War I. Following the war, Stout studied at the State University of Iowa, received his B.A. in 1921, worked for a few years, and married Margaret Hayes in 1924 with whom he had two sons, Robert and Thomas. He attended Harvard graduate school in 1926 and graduated with a Master of Art in 1929. Stout began working as a lecturer and conservator at Harvard's Fogg Art Museum, later becoming the head of the conservation department in 1933, a position he held until 1947.
During World War II, Stout re-enlisted in the U.S. Navy, having served in the reserves since World War I. Stout was one of the first members of the Monuments, Fine Arts & Archives (MFAA) Section of the U.S. army. He was appointed to the MFAA Section for the Twelfth Army Group in 1944 and was one of the first Monuments Men to arrive at Normandy, France. He was later appointed Lieutenant Commander of the MFAA Section. Many of the Monuments Men's stolen art recovery achievements were directed by George Leslie Stout. Stout supervised the inventory and removal of looted art hidden by the Nazis in the salt mines of Merkers and Ransbach in Thuringia, Germany. Stout oversaw the organization, packing, and shipping of several thousand objects including paintings by Rubens and Goya, along with precious antiquities. At the Altaussee salt mines in Austria, he was in charge of the unit that recovered a large cache of stolen artwork that included Michelangelo's
Madonna and Child
and the Ghent Altarpiece or
The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb
by Hubert and Jan van Eyck. There, he also worked very closely with fellow Monuments Men Thomas Carr Howe. Stout went on to locate and recover looted artwork in other repositories in Germany, France, and the Netherlands. He maintained a relationship with many of his fellow Monuments Men after the war.
Stout left Europe in the latter half of 1945, then went to Japan where he served as the Chief of the Arts and Monuments Division at Headquarters of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, Tokyo until the middle of 1946. After the war Stout received the Bronze Star and the Army Commendation Medal for his army service and work as a Monuments Man in Europe.
Stout resumed his position as the head of the conservation department at the Fogg Art Museum when he returned to America. In 1947 he became the director of the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts where he stayed until 1955, when he became the director of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston where he worked until his retirement in 1970. Stout wrote numerous articles about art conservation and wrote two books:
Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopaedia
(1942), co-authored with Harvard colleage R. J. Gettens, and
Care of Pictures
(1948). Stout died in Menlo Park, California in 1978 and was widely recognized as a distinguished art conservator.
Arrangement note
This collection is arranged as 9 series.
Series 1: Biographical Materials, circa 1919-1977 (0.1 linear feet; Box 1)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1922-1978 (2.5 linear feet; Box 1-3, OV 8)
Series 3: Writings, 1927-1978 (0.5 linear feet; Box 3-4)
Series 4: Subject Files, 1918, 1943-1978 (1 linear feet; Box 4, OV 8-9)
Series 5: Monuments, Fine Arts & Archives Section Files, 1918, 1942-1955, 1972-1975 (0.5 linear feet; Box 5)
Series 6: Personal Business Records, 1938-1978 (0.1 linear feet; Box 5)
Series 7: Printed Materials, 1926-1977 (0.8 linear feet; Box 5-6, OV 9)
Series 8: Sketchbooks, circa 1924-circa 1938, 1970-1977 (0.1 linear feet; Box 6)
Series 9: Photographic Materials, circa 1855, 1897-1978 (0.2 linear feet; Box 6-7)
Provenance
George Leslie Stout donated his papers to the Archives of American Art in 1978.
Location of Originals
  • Reel 1378: Originals returned to Robert Stout after microfilming.
Processing Information note
The papers were microfilmed shortly after receipt. The collection was later processed and a finding aid prepared by Rihoko Ueno in August 2012 with funding provided by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.

Additional Forms Available

Portions of this collection are available on 35 mm microfilm reels 1378, 1420-1425, and 1427 at Archives of American Art offices, and through interlibrary loan. Researchers should note that the microfilmed order does not reflect the current arrangement of the papers.

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

George Leslie Stout papers, 1855, 1897-1978. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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