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Honoré Sharrer papers, circa 1920-2007

Honoré Sharrer papers, circa 1920-2007

Sharrer, Honoré Desmond, 1920-2009

Muralist, Painter, Illustrator

Collection Information

Size: 9.8 linear feet

Summary: The papers of realist painter, Honoré Sharrer, measure 9.8 linear feet and date from circa 1920-2007. The collection documents Sharrer's career through biographical material, personal and professional correspondence, writings and notes, research and source files, printed material, artwork, sketchbooks, and photographs of Sharrer, her family, friends, colleagues, and artwork.

Biographical material includes biograhical notes and resumés, awards, paintbrushes used by Sharrer, and sales records, as well as comprehensive documentation, compiled 2004-2007 by her husband, Perez Zagorin, and her son, Adam Zagorin, of Sharrer's artwork in their possession.

Correspondence is with family members including Sharrer's mother, Madeleine Sharrer, and her second husband, Reginald Poland; husband Perez Zagorin; son Adam Zagorin; and daughter-in-law, Mary Carpenter. Also found is correspondence with artists including Peter Blume, Lester Burbank Bridaham, Gitta Caiserman-Roth, Kathy Calderwood, Mary Crutchfield, Betty Goodwin, Lincoln Kirstein, Mayumi Oda, and George Tooker. Other professional correspondents include galleries, museums, and other art institutions such as American Academy of Arts and Letters, Terry Dintenfass, Forum Gallery, Handmacher-Vogel, Inc., M. Knoedler & Co., Dorothy Miller relating to the 1946 "Fourteen Americans" exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, and the Women's Caucus for Art.

Writings and notes comprise drafts of several essays on art by Sharrer, preliminary notes for "Tribute to the American Working People," and a mock-up for an unpublished book, "One White Christmas," written by Sharrer's grandmother, Honoré Sachs, and illustrated by Sharrer.

Research and source files consist of source material used throughout the course of Sharrer's career, including printed and photographic material used in the creation of "Tribute to the American Working People," and later work dating up to, and including, the last decade of her life.

Printed material comprises announcements and catalogs for exhibitions and events featuring Sharrer, including a catalog for "Fourteen Americans," as well as clippings about her and others, such as the Life Magazine cover story "Nineteen Young Americans."

Artwork and sketchbooks include studies for paintings and illustrations, and other preliminary sketches, as well as 14 sketchbooks of pencil and ink sketches dating from circa 1960s to 2003.

Photographic material consists of photos of Sharrer, her family, friends, colleagues, exhibition installations, and houses. Also found are photos, negatives, and transparencies of Sharrer's artwork, as well as photos of artwork by Madeleine Sharrer and Lester Burbank Bridaham.

Biographical/Historical Note

Realist painter Honoré Sharrer (1920-2009) lived and worked in New York, Massachusetts, London, Montreal and Charlottesville, Virginia.


The Honoré Sharrer papers were donated in 2006 and 2007 by Perez Zagorin, Sharrer's husband.

Related Materials

A Finding Aid to the Honoré Sharrer Papers, circa 1920-2007, in the Archives of American Art
Biographical/Historical note
Realist painter Honoré Sharrer (1920-2009) lived and worked in New York, Massachusetts, London, Montreal and Charlottesville, Virginia. She was best known for her five-panel painting,
Tribute to the American Working People
, completed in 1951 and first shown at M. Knoedler & Co. in New York to wide critical acclaim.
Sharrer was born in 1920 in West Point, New York, where her father was an Army officer, and grew up in the United States, the Philippines, Paris, and La Jolla, California. She studied at the Yale University School of Art and the San Francisco Art Institute, and worked as a welder in shipyards in California and New Jersey during World War II. She moved to New York in the 1940s and lived subsequently in Amherst, Massachusetts, London, and Montreal.
Workers and Paintings
(1943) was included in the landmark Museum of Modern Art exhibition,
Fourteen Americans
, in 1946, and her painting,
Man at Fountain
, was featured in the 1950
Life Magazine
cover story, "Nineteen Young American Artists."
Tribute to the American Working People
, which depicted a factory worker surrounded by smaller scenes of ordinary life, was considered her masterwork, but in the years that followed it's unveiling at M. Knoedler & Co., Sharrer was noticeably absent from the art scene; between 1951 and 1969 she did not have a single solo exhibition. While many of her contemporaries immersed themselves in Abstract Expressionism, Sharrer continued to paint, in meticulous detail, the daily experiences of ordinary working people, and her later work often dealt with female perspectives and was imbued with humor and elements of magical realism.
In 2007 the Smithsonian American Art Museum held an exhibition titled
Anatomy of a Painting: Honoré Sharrer's 'Tribute to the American Working People,'
which was devoted exclusively to her most famous work, now in the Smithsonian's permanent collection, and the source material she used when painting it. Sharrer's works can also be found in the Metroplitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
Sharrer settled in Charlottesville, Virginia, in the early 1990s. She was married to her second husband, historian Perez Zagorin, for 61 years, before her death in 2009. Her mother, Madeleine Sharrer, was also a painter who married Reginald Poland, Director of the Fine Arts Gallery, San Diego, following the death of Sharrer's father, Robert Allen Sharrer.
Arrangement note
The collection is arranged as 8 series.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1941-2007 (0.44 linear feet; Boxes 1, 10)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1938-2006 (1.84 linear feet; Boxes 1-3, 10)
Series 3: Writings and Notes, circa 1940s-circa 1990s (5 folders; Boxes 3, 10)
Series 4: Research and Source Files, circa 1920s-2005 (3.43 linear feet; Boxes 3-6, 10-11)
Series 5: Printed Material, circa 1930s-2005 (0.75 linear feet; Boxes 6-7, 11, OV 13)
Series 6: Artwork, 1941-circa 1990s (0.8 linear feet; Boxes 7, 11-12, OV 13
Series 7: Sketchbooks, 1960s-2003 (0.55 linear feet; Boxes 7, 12)
Series 8: Photographic Material, circa 1930s-circa 2000 (1.83 linear feet; Boxes 8-9, 12, OVs 13-16)
The Honoré Sharrer papers were donated in 2006 and 2007 by Perez Zagorin, Sharrer's husband.
Processing Information note
The collection was processed by Stephanie Ashley in 2015.

Additional Forms Available

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

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

Honoré Sharrer papers, circa 1920-2007. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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