Skip to main content

Harry Siddons Mowbray and Mowbray family papers, 1872-1976

Harry Siddons Mowbray and Mowbray family papers, 1872-1976

Mowbray, Harry Siddons, 1858-1928

Muralist, Painter, Portrait painter

Collection Information

Size: 7.5 linear feet

Summary: The papers of painter and muralist Harry Siddons Mowbray (1858-1928) and the Mowbray family measure 7.4 linear feet and date from 1872 to 1976. The papers document Mowbray's career as a painter and decorative muralist as well as his activities with the Commission of the Fine Arts, the American Academy in Rome, and the Sculpture Commission of Connecticut. The papers include biographical materials, scattered correspondence, nineteen diaries, personal business records, commission files, organization files, writings and notes, printed materials, three scrapbooks, photographs, and artworks. There are scattered family papers of Helen Mowbray, Florence Mowbray, George Mowbray, and George Siddons Mowbray.

Biographical/Historical Note

Harry Siddons Mowbray (1858-1928) was a painter, muralist, and public servant who was active in New York, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C.

Provenance

The Harry Siddons Mowbray and Mowbray family papers were donated in multiple accretions by Mrs. Henry S. Mowbray, Hugh McK. Jones, Jr., and Mrs. Helen M. Rogers from 1979-1983.

Related Materials

Funding

Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Location of Originals

  • Material on microfilm reel 2895 was returned to Helen M. Rogers after filming. These materials include Mowbray's letters to his son George, travel diaries of Helen Mowbray, writings, artworks, and a photograph.

A Finding Aid to the Harry Siddons Mowbray and Mowbray Family Papers, 1872-1976, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.mowbharr
Author
Finding aid prepared by Jayna M. Josefson
Biographical/Historical note
Harry Siddons Mowbray (1858-1928) was a painter, muralist, and public servant who was active in New York, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C..
Born in Alexandria, Egypt in 1858, Harry Siddons was orphaned at an early age. He was sent to live with his mother's sister Annie and uncle, George Mowbray, whose name he adopted. Harry Siddons Mowbray attended West Point Military Academy but left to pursue a career as a painter. Upon moving to Paris, Mowbray enrolled at the Atelier Bonnant where he studied under Léon Bonnat. Mowbray received attention for his decorative murals thoughout the East Coast of the United States. His commissions included the J.P. Morgan Library, F. W. Vanderbilt house, Larz Anderson house, Appellate Courthouse of New York City, St. John's Church in Washignton Connecticut, and the Federal Building in Cleveland, Ohio. Later in his career, Mowbray returned to painting and completed the
Life of Christ
series of works.
In addition to painting, Mowbray served on public commissions and committees. He was a member of the federal Commission of Fine Arts from 1921 until his death in 1928. During this time, he was involved in the planning of many Washington, D.C. memorials and public works including the standardization of the flag of the United States of America. He served as director of the American Academy in Rome from 1903-1904.
Harry Siddons Mowbray married Helen Amelia Millard in 1888. They had one child, George Siddons Mowbray. After his wife's death, Mowbray married her sister, Florence in 1915. Together, Florence and Mowbray had two children. He died in 1928. After her husband's death, Florence Mowbray was active in publishing her husband's autobiography.
Arrangement note
This collection is arranged as 11 series. Glass plate negatives are housed separately and closed to researchers.
Series 1: Biographical Information, 1872-1965 (0.4 linear feet; Box 1, 13, 15)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1873-1957 (0.4 linear feet; Box 1)
Series 3: Diaries, 1876-1929 (1.2 linear feet; Box 1-2)
Series 4: Writings and Notes, circa 1870-circa 1930 (0.2 linear feet; Box 3)
Series 5: Personal Business and Financial Records, 1877-1966 (3 folders; Box 3)
Series 6: Commission Files, 1896-1979 (0.4 linear feet; Box 3)
Series 7: Organization Files, 1904-1928 (0.7 linear feet; Box 3-4, 13, 15-16)
Series 8: Printed Material, 1876-1976 (0.2 linear feet; Box 4, 16)
Series 9: Photographs, circa 1874-circa 1928 (4.7 linear feet; Box 4-14, 17-18)
Series 10: Scrapbooks, circa 1890-1920 (0.3 linear feet; Box 5, 13-14)
Series 11: Artwork, 1870-1910 (3 folders; Box 5, 13)
Scope and Contents note
The papers of painter and muralist Harry Siddons Mowbray (1858-1928) and the Mowbray family measure 7.5 linear feet and date from 1872 to 1976. The papers document Mowbray's career as a painter and decorative muralist as well as his activities with the Commission of Fine Arts, the American Academy in Rome, and the Sculpture Commission of Connecticut. The papers include biographical materials, scattered correspondence, nineteen diaries, personal business records, commission files, organization files, writings and notes, printed materials, three scrapbooks, photographs, and artworks. There are scattered family papers of Helen Mowbray, Florence Mowbray, George Mowbray, and George Siddons Mowbray.
Biographical material includes biographical sketches, certificates, obituaries and estate records, and school material. Also found are printed materials from memorial dedications, ceremonies, and dinners held in Washington, D.C., such as menus, invitations, and admission tickets.
Correspondence is scattered and consists of letters from family, professional colleagues, artists, and architects including Charles McKim and William R. Mead. Florence Mowbray's correspondence includes thank you notes and condolences.
Diaries include seventeen written by Harry Siddons Mowbray, one by Helen Mowbray, and one by Florence Mowbray. Harry Siddons Mowbray's diaries date from 1876 to 1927 and reference a trip to the Azores, current events, his career and works of art, and his service with the Commission of Fine Arts.
Writings and notes consist of Mowbray's handwritten autobiography, school writings, lists, and a biography of Mowbray by Herbert Sherwood.
Personal business records consist of a French military sponsorship, gift acknowledgements and receipts.
Commission files include correspondence, printed materials, and writings relating to Mowbray's works of art at: Larz Anderson House, Appellate Court in New York City; Federal Building in Cleveland, Ohio; Gunn Memorial Library in Washington, CT; the
Life of Christ
Series; Madison Square Church in New York City; Morgan Library in New York City; St. John's Church in Washington, CT; University Club in New York City; and F. W. Vanderbilt House in Hyde Park, New York.
Organization files document Mowbray's participation with the American Academy in Rome, the Commission of Fine Arts, and the Sculpture Commission of Connecticut. Files generall include organizational history, correspondence, printed material, writings, reports, meeting minutes, and printed material. Of note are materials relating to the standardization of the flag of the United States.
Printed material includes blank stationery and postcards, clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, and an issue of
Collector's News
.
Photographs include two photo albums complied by the Mowbray family, portraits of Mowbray, snapshots with colleagues and friends, and photos of works of art.
One scrapbook compiled by Harry Siddons Mowbray relates to his travels in Rome in 1903-1904. Annother documents his artwork and career, and the third contains clippings concerning his chemical inventions.
Artworks include sketches, prints, and etchings by Harry Siddons Mowbray and others.
Provenance
The Harry Siddons Mowbray and Mowbray family papers were donated in multiple accretions by Mrs. Henry S. Mowbray, Hugh McK. Jones, Jr., and Mrs. Helen M. Rogers from 1979-1983.
Separated Materials note
Material on microfilm reel 2895 was returned to Helen M. Rogers after filming. These materials include Mowbray's letters to his son George, travel diaries of Helen Mowbray, writings, artworks, and a photograph.
Location of Originals
  • Material on microfilm reel 2895 was returned to Helen M. Rogers after filming. These materials include Mowbray's letters to his son George, travel diaries of Helen Mowbray, writings, artworks, and a photograph.
Processing Information note
The Harry Siddons Mowbray and Mowbray family papers were arranged upon receipt and microfilmed onto reels 1898-1902, 2029, 2895 and 3768. In 2013, the collection was fully merged, processed, and described by Jayna Josefson with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art. Glass plate negatives were re-housed in 2014 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund.

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. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Harry Siddons Mowbray and Mowbray family papers, 1872-1976. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

  • No downloads available