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Oral history interview with Elizabeth Sparhawk-Jones, 1964 April 26

Sparhawk-Jones, Elizabeth, 1885-1968



Collection Information

Size: 42 Pages, Transcript

Format: Sound has been lost on tape reels; reels discarded.

Summary: Interview of Elizabeth Sparhawk-Jones conducted 1964 April 26, by Ruth Gurin (Bowman), when Gurin was Curator of the Collection at New York University.

Biographical/Historical Note

Elizabeth Sparhawk-Jones (1885-1968) was a painter living in New York, New York, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Paris, France.


This interview was given to the Archives of American Art by Ruth Gurin Bowman, but was not conducted for the Archives of American Art Oral History Program.

Language Note

English .



The following oral history transcript is the result of a tape-recorded interview with Elizabeth Sparhawk-Jones on April 26, 1964. The interview was conducted by Ruth Gurin for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.


[First part of Track A]

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: The writers are the more vocal and the more expressive, their habit being words.

RUTH GURIN: Well, we have a good time trying.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Well, now, what I wanted to ask is what kind of thing do you want in the biography.

RUTH GURIN: I'm very much interested in hearing really the story of your art studies and the people you know at the Pennsylvania Academy, for instance, the people you knew in New York. When did you study at the Academy?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: I studied - now you can't ask me for dates for I never keep them; I don't know the date my mother died; I can't remember but it was after 1900, it was after 1900 one or two years, I don't remember.

RUTH GURIN: Were you there when John Marin was there?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No. I might have been after him.

RUTH GURIN: What about Prendergast? Was he there when you were there?


RUTH GURIN: And Demuth?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes. Maybe he was there at the same time.

RUTH GURIN: Demuth was there in 1903.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Well then, maybe the others were there then too.

RUTH GURIN: No, they were there before. And then they all came to New York.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Demuth was there. Charles Sheeler was there.

RUTH GURIN: Oh! Really! I didn't know that.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Morton Schamberg was there.

RUTH GURIN: Anshutz was still there.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: And I think those are the only ones that stood out. In that little book that I spoke to somebody about over the telephone...

RUTH GURIN: That was I.



ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: We mentioned the "Art in America" that the Museum of Modern Art has just published and there is an article on Morton Schamberg in that book in the body of it, something about ...

RUTH GURIN: Something Lloyd Goodrich wrote?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: I don't know who wrote it.

RUTH GURIN: The big blue book?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No, it was a square book and very flat. And it's just come out.

RUTH GURIN: Oh, I haven't seen it.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: The publications of the Museum of Modern Art and it has a different address from the Museum itself.

RUTH GURIN: Oh, yes, Doubleday probably.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Well, the book was under a different or French name for publisher. Chenault or something like that, I don't say exactly. Well, all today's artists that happened to be exhibiting in New York were taken up one by one and I was in it also, the last one. The article on Morton Schamberg was in the middle of the book, in the body of the book, not at the end and there were three or four reproductions of it. You should have seen it.

RUTH GURIN: Yes. Well, I will see it.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: I couldn't say who wrote it but it was a reviewer or critic that I didn't know who wrote the article.

RUTH GURIN: Oh, he hadn't talked to you?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No. And Morton Schamberg was somebody I knew quite well. He was in love with me - it's ridiculous to be personal this way, but it was true during the years that we were students together at the P.A.F.A. He was also - he and Sheeler were inseparable. I always thought Sheeler the more gifted. I know when I went once to his studio, which was higher in the same building, I made the fancy remark "the higher the altitude the finer the flowers." Very fancy; but he didn't take it up at all. Now, and indeed then, I came to the conclusion that although I thought Sheeler was more sensitive and remarkably delicate in his painting and very raffine that Schamberg was more important to him than he was to Schamberg.

RUTH GURIN: Well, he certainly had great new ideas - Schamberg.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes, he had new ideas, he used to spill them in my lap evening after evening in front of the fire. He was very annoying because he was very argumentative. He was a very golden boy, his hair was gold with a real marcel wave in it, natural, and he had a little blond mustache that he liked to screw up when he was looking at a lady that for the moment he rather appealed to, it was just as gold as his hair.

RUTH GURIN: Did you have classes at the Academy with Anshutz? Or with Chase?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No, never with Chase. I went to the Fort Washington School for a couple of springs or one month in the summer. And that was Thomas Anshutz' place.

RUTH GURIN: Yes, I wrote about Anshutz. I read all his letters.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes. Well then, you know a good deal about him.

RUTH GURIN: Yes, but I don't know about your experiences there or how you learned about modern art, I mean after all you're a modern painter.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: I didn't learn there.

RUTH GURIN: Where did you learn?



ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: He was trying to make me really radical. He spent a lot of time trying to do it. But I was never that.

RUTH GURIN: But you were an Impressionist painter? I mean you picked up lighter colors than they were teaching in the Academy.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: I'm not sure. I'm not sure. There's a great deal lost if one loses too much of the darks. I think the things in the show are a little bit too light. Of course, in Paris I've been working in very high daylight and sunshine in a very large window. I put the canvas over the faucets of the bathtub and paint across the bathtub and they put in a narrow bathtub so I could bend over easily for me because in France they'll do all things to make their guests comfortable.

RUTH GURIN: Where do you live in Paris?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: I live in a little hotel, Saint Roman on the Rue Saint Roc. Chinq et sept Rue Saint Roc and it runs between the Rue de Rivoli and the Rue Saint Honore; indeed it goes one block further up at the side of the Eglise Saint Roc to the Opera.

RUTH GURIN: Oh, it's right in the middle of town.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes, right in the middle, if there is a middle. But I'm very near to the Tuileries Gardens and I suppose it is considered the center. The Louvre is right there.


ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Just catty corner across.

RUTH GURIN: And do you paint a great deal now still?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: I paint there because I prefer it. I don't like painting here and I haven't got the stuff with me. I can't carry all that across. I send the pictures over or I bring them with me but I don't paint here, no.

RUTH GURIN: When did you move to Paris?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: I never moved to Paris. It was something that grew up. I've been there I suppose about ten years.

RUTH GURIN: And before that you lived in New York or in Philadelphia?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: In Philadelphia, outside of Philadelphia in the country.

RUTH GURIN: Where outside?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Not far from Chadds Ford at a place called Westtown. Yes, Westtown School. Do we need all that light? You don't have to give us so much light.

Man's voice: I'm just checking the ...

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Oh, does that have to have more electricity?

RUTH GURIN: It doesn't matter.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: That's it; that's more comfortable. I don't like a glare.

RUTH GURIN: No, I don't blame you.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: I've been overusing my eyes over that newspaper up there and there isn't enough light in the room. Well ...

RUTH GURIN: So you lived outside of Philadelphia in Westtown.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Outside of Philadelphia and worked there a little bit, you know, did all the watercolors at that time. Was there during the war.

RUTH GURIN: In the days when Schamberg was still alive did you meet other artists who had not studied at the Academy?


RUTH GURIN: Were you fairly isolated?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: I wasn't interested in them particularly and I was always a lonely person. I don't like to be with a mass of artists. When I went to the MacDowell Colony and to Yaddo both they were much more heavily weighted with writers and musicians and I prefer it. I don't want to be with a lot of rubber brushes. No.

RUTH GURIN: Well, I think it's probably more stimulating to be with people who work ...

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: It's more stimulating and then it's very much more interesting to hear them talk. The musicians particularly, are so well versed in the literature of their art and in the methods of playing and they want to talk of themselves all the time. Painters don't, as a matter of fact, are not very vocal.

RUTH GURIN: Well, a man like Anshutz, for instance, was quite articulate.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes, quite articulate but very slow.

RUTH GURIN: Oh, really!

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Very slow. He painted chiefly from the palm of his hand.


ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes. That hand, and he'd have a toothpick in this one and he'd go over the lines in his hand very delicately, he painted really from the palm of his hand.

RUTH GURIN: Did he put the color right into his hand?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Oh, mercy, no! Just a gesture.

RUTH GURIN: I'm not quite sure what you mean by painting from the palm of his hand.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: That's just an expression.

RUTH GURIN: Yes, I know.


RUTH GURIN: Yes, I understand.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: A great deal isn't literal. It says more, It says more.

RUTH GURIN: Yes. He had quite a felling for pastel which was rather unusual.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes, he did. Thomas Anshutz worked in pastel when I knew him, large pastel portraits but they're not too terribly good.

RUTH GURIN: One of them I saw was quite elegant of the same woman he had done earlier in oil.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes, I think I know who she was, a rather large model.

RUTH GURIN: Yes, blonde.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes, blonde. That's the one. Yes, I remember when he did it and he had it in the Pennsylvania Academy Annual.

RUTH GURIN: It's still there. His students gave it to the Academy; they bought it and gave it to the Academy.




RUTH GURIN: It was in the big show that Bob Graham had here last year, that Mrs. Kennedy bought from - do you know about that show.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes, I saw that show. I love those little things.

RUTH GURIN: The sketches that he did.


RUTH GURIN: He went up the Delaware somewhere with a friend and painted those little watercolor sketches.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Were they watercolor?

RUTH GURIN: Yes. Well, there were some oils too.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes, I remember some in oil.

RUTH GURIN: Did you study technique with him? I mean is this what he taught? How did he teach up at Fort Washington?


RUTH GURIN: You just stood around and painted too.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No. I was a student. You see the students were more ... I was a student of Chase's.

RUTH GURIN: Oh, really!

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes. They were contemporaneous there.

RUTH GURIN: Yes, and Chase went up to New York and became the head of the Academy ...

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No, he came down from New York and gave weekly criticisms there. I can see him now coming into the classroom where the women worked from life. There's a circular room so we could be all around the model and he always came in with a very clipped speech, "Good morning, Ladies." It was just like an electric arrow had shot into the room when he said those words, "Good morning, Ladies." We were all a little afraid of him because he was very much - well, you know the portrait that Sargent painted of him that used to be for quite a long time in the Metropolitan?


ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: A very black picture. Well, that was the image of him. There was never a better personification of a painter than that portrait is: whiskers going up and palette on his thumb and gold stick, all the paraphernalia. And also his personality -Chase's personality.

RUTH GURIN: He was a strong teacher? I mean, did he affect his students strongly, do you think?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: I dont' know that he was so strong but he was very decided in his likes and dislikes. He didn't like anything - the more advanced at that moment liked to imitate Whistler and get a little smokey and that he loathed, that he loathed because he said they were working under a high north light and they couldn't be seeing anything that they were painting like that, you see. He was a realist, but so was Thomas Anshutz.


ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: A student of Thomas Eakins and coming from a very fine tradition, of course, but he was less...Now Arthur Carles and some of the other students that were good were absolute Anshutz men, they didn't affect Chase at all.

RUTH GURIN: But Carles' style changed radically later.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes. He was always a little radical, but perhaps Anshutz was more akin to the radical, quite possibly. Chase was very realistic. I don't know.

RUTH GURIN: What do you think changed your work from the kind of? - I mean your work is different from the kind of work that was done in the Academy certainly?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Well, gradually the erosion of the years.

RUTH GURIN: Oh, I wouldn't call it that.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Well, I think so. I think so. I did a great many things of Rittenhouse Square and children when I was first painting and a great many of department stores. I made my strongest reputation about the time I was 18 to 21 in painting those kinds of pictures. And I have a friend down in Baltimore who has kept enormous sketchbooks of that period with reproductions and writeups. I saw them the other - I saw them about 4 weeks ago.

RUTH GURIN: Who is that that's keeping them?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Miss Grace Turnbull. She's an artist herself; she's a sculptor and she's also a painter.

RUTH GURIN: Yes, I think I've see her work.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: And she was a friend. She also studied with Thomas Anshutz.

RUTH GURIN: Oh, really!

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes, I'm sure she did. She came on about that time.

RUTH GURIN: And she's keeping your sketchbooks?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No, not my sketchbooks.

RUTH GURIN: Her sketchbooks?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Her - what would you call them? - she pasted pictures in them.

RUTH GURIN: Oh, I see. Scrapbook?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Scrapbook! That's it. Scrapbooks. And she kept them quite faithfully through a number of years. And I suppose that everybody is there. She was showing me the pages about myself when I was there about a month ago.

RUTH GURIN: And you don't have that material, but she does?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Oh, no, no, she did that.

RUTH GURIN: You didn't do such a thing with your work?


RUTH GURIN: You're not sentimental?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No, not sentimental and I never kept any reproductions. I never did.

RUTH GURIN: Well, but Bob Graham keeps ...

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Well, no, there was one of some ladies on a porch that was reproduced, with a pillar with a porch, quite a little, but they've been lost, my dear, because I've lived in very many places and I didn't keep them together.

RUTH GURIN: Did you ever work completely abstractly?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Never. Except when I was down at The Research Studio I did some which they liked very much.

RUTH GURIN: Where is that - The Research Studio?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: The Research Studio was a very particular place in Florida and Mrs. Efrem Zimbalist was its fairy godmother. She like Andre Smith very well who had lost his leg in the World War and who walked on a wooden leg and who was very much impaired by that nervously, had to be operated on three times before they had cut it short enough to escape the blood poisoning that had gotten into it because he fell into barbed wire after he'd been wounded and got scratched and so this thing appeared in the leg and they had to operate three times I believe. So he was rather a wreck from that. But he had started this school or this group which he called The Research Studio and you were supposed to research while you were there but he didn't make any point of it.

RUTH GURIN: So that's where you did abstract painting?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No, I never did abstract painting. I did perhaps one or two to please him. One or two that they kept and that he admired very much.

RUTH GURIN: What happened to the work that was there? Is it still there?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No, I think not. It's all broken up and Duke Banker who was Andre's right-hand man, he may still be there at the head of the gallery - there's a gallery there ...

RUTH GURIN: Where is the gallery? Which city?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Maitland, Florida. And it was a very beautiful place, beautifully planted and the buildings in it were charming, there was only about an acre and a half but it seemed like three times that because it was so placed.

RUTH GURIN: When was this?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: This was some years ago.

RUTH GURIN: Was it right after the first World war?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No, later than that; later than that I think.

RUTH GURIN: But before World War II?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes. Well, I suppose it was. I suppose it was. I don't remember. I don't remember but I was there for two or three years.

RUTH GURIN: Oh, really? Nice.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes. It was very free and a beautiful place like a garden and part of the orange grove was included within the wall.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: And everybody had a studio and a bedroom and a bath and therefore there was only room for about four, at most five when it was going on. And it was taken care of by Mrs. Zimbalist who was Mary Bok, the daughter of the publisher Bok in Philadelphia, the well known publisher of the Ladies Home Journal and all that. And she used to pay the bills when they were excessive, extra. And they fed us too, delicious food, crab croquettes ...

RUTH GURIN: Oh, my heavens.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: ... alligator pears all under the blooming orange trees in the courts, in the courts were ...

Voice of third person: May I use the piano?

RUTH GURIN: No, we're taping. He wanted to come in and play the piano.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: He wanted to come in and play the piano? That's what we must do there at that instrument.

RUTH GURIN: Yes. When you were - I have to get back to Philadelphia. it fascinates me because I'm always talking about the Academy as I know it now and as I read about it in the early 90s. But I really don't know anything about it after the turn of the century at all. And I wondered, were they still doing anatomy?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No, but there were the photographs of the anatomy classes of the past there. That was in Thomas Eakins' time.

RUTH GURIN: And they stopped that after he left?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: They stopped that because it was cumbersome, they never used the human corpse in any way but they did have horses that they dissected.

RUTH GURIN: When you were there?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No. It was before I was there. But there were photographs of it.

RUTH GURIN: Yes, Anshutz did a small painting of an anatomy dissection but you couldn't see what they were dissecting. It was done for an illustration in an article in the 1880's in Harper's Weekly about the methods of teaching art in the United States and, of course, Philadelphia was considered very avant garde. Nobody ever worked from direct life in the beginning. In New York Anshutz wrote in one letter that he left the Academy here in New York because it was so old-fashioned and they worked from plaster into the second year and he couldn't stand it and that's why he went to Philadelphia.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Well, we certainly had two years of plaster cast work and he taught it.

RUTH GURIN: Anshutz?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes. Because Chase swallowed up the life class and the portrait classes. Anshutz had a sketch class Saturday mornings which was extremely popular. That sketch class was of clothed models, people carrying a satchel or an umbrella or in the rain or all kinds of things. And that was very popular and he had that Saturday mornings. And also I think he had -- well, he taught cast drawing and he made that immensely exciting.

RUTH GURIN: Oh, really.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: He did everything - everything he did he made exciting. And people dared all sorts of techniques with the charcoal. He was a good teacher.

RUTH GURIN: And he gave his students freedom.


RUTH GURIN: Well, that's unusual.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: But, let me say that the freedom I didn't run into until I went to Paris, - I was over there one summer while I was at the Pennsylvania Academy in the winter and it was a great difference between the two. Great difference. The French way is complete freedom. I would see a young man student carrying the model, nude, piggyback down the hall. Oh, yes. At the Academy when the woman or the man was through posing, or certainly the woman when she was through posing, had a wrapper dropped beside her and got into it while she walked to the room where she'd left her clothes, which was a little room with a door separate from the amphitheatre, you could have called it that, in which she had posed. But no such thing was supplied in Paris. Not at all. The models undressed behind a screen and they threw their petticoats over the screen onto the floor beneath. No, no, no, no, no, there's where there was complete freedom. And laughter. And they had little young children posing, eleven, fourteen like that ...

RUTH GURIN: Oh, not here though?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Not here. But there. It was forbidden in America.

RUTH GURIN: It's funny nobody ever writes about this, you know, what kinds of models they used and the social life of the atelier.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Well, we used just two or three; there weren't many in Philadelphia at that time. And we had them over and over again. There weren't many. They were rather middle-aged women and we didn't have any young or beautiful ones that I can remember.

RUTH GURIN: Sort of hard on your inspiration.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: But in Paris, yes. And the little girls, and the monitor stood in the room at the back and called out "Changez! Changez!" regularly and the little girls only eleven, twelve, thirteen would go through all the movements changing, changing and ...

RUTH GURIN: Three minute schedule?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Sometimes they held half-hour poses and sometimes they held three-minute poses in Paris. That was at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere. Which was very American, filled with Americans.

RUTH GURIN: I think that in one of Anshutz' letters he complained that he wasn't learning French in the atelier because there were so many Americans.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: I'm sure. There were very many Americans. And the teachers were American too. I forget their names.

RUTH GURIN: Oh, they had American instructors? How strange!

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes, there were one or two working in Paris that were very good artists. I don't remember their names though. There was a woman named Este - what was her first name? - Italian back of her. I'm not sure whether she taught there but I think she did. I think she did.

RUTH GURIN: So you commuted from Europe to the United States regularly? You went many times.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No. No. I always came back for half the year.

RUTH GURIN: I call that commuting.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: I wasn't so long there at any time. I wasn't so tremendously long there at any time. I've always liked it. But my sister wasn't with me nor my mother or father. My sister was at Bryn Mawr College. So I used to go home.

RUTH GURIN: What was your sister doing at Bryn Mawr College?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: She was studying for a B.A., A.B. or whatever it is. And then she went on after that to take an M.A. in history.

RUTH GURIN: Oh, really? At Bryn Mawr?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: At the University of Pennsylvania.

RUTH GURIN: Oh. I went to Bryn Mawr.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Did you go to Bryn Mawr?


ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes, she was there. Of course, she's older than you. I remember Carolyn McCook and Merle Smith were the New York girls that she used to ask to the house.

RUTH GURIN: Are there any other artists in your family?




RUTH GURIN: Oh, I see.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Her son, Andrew. And he's a good one, let me say.

RUTH GURIN: This is your sister's son?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes. He's a good one. He's the real thing. He has already achieved a style.

RUTH GURIN: Where is he living?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: In Cambridge on Brattle Street.

RUTH GURIN: Oh. Does he teach there at Harvard?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: He began by teaching but he's given up all teaching for writing. It isn't very easy for him but he's done it.

RUTH GURIN: I should say not.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: And his wife has a job at the Fogg Museum. So they make out.

RUTH GURIN: What is her job at the Fogg?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Her job is public relations I think, has something to do with the pictures.

RUTH GURIN: Well, in an indirect way I guess.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: In an indirect way. It's public relations I think.

RUTH GURIN: It's a fine museum.


RUTH GURIN: The best university museum in the country.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes. Well, she got that very easily. And she's had her salary increased. She's very efficient.

RUTH GURIN: When Schamberg was at the Pennsylvania Academy what possessed him to go into abstraction.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Because it had already begun.

RUTH GURIN: There were other artists also working in this sort of synthetic Cubist bright color, weren't there? And he worked more in monochrome. I don't know much of his work because there's not much of it around.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Well, if you look at that article in that Art In America you will see some of the reproductions and you will immediately recognize the extraordinary value of that work. It is classical.

RUTH GURIN: Well, we are taught that he is one of the founders of the modern art movement in the country.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Well, I know. I know he was had. I tell you Morton Schamberg was a natural born worshipper. It isn't everybody that is. He was a worshipper in love and he was a worshipper in his work of whatever he turned his mind to. This thing had begun and it was all through. And he was very avant-garde; he was always for the last thing.

RUTH GURIN: Do you think he was inventive as well? I mean do you think he had new ideas? His ideas were new and different from anybody else's, some of them?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Well, I hadn't thought so. I hadn't thought so.

RUTH GURIN: Did he go to Europe at all.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes, he got scholarships from the Pennsylvania Academy and went on scholarships. He may have had two. And Sheeler and he worked together very closely in the same building and got the inclination at the same moment. I had a friend who had a great deal of fun and she used to always call them the "shami shees" because you couldn't say where one began and the other ended and they were always, always together.


ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: But Sheeler was more spooky, more spooky, you see him rising from the reeds at sunset with poetry clasped to his heart. But Schamberg was always a little more earthy.

RUTH GURIN: His work is very strong; the work I've seen, Schamberg's work.


RUTH GURIN: A lot of form and a lot of ...

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: A lot of form and in the last analysis a good deal of machinery. He'd taken on, he'd sort of taken that tack that was already started in Europe among some of the painters there.

RUTH GURIN: Picabia.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes. Already. He never invented - I always thought he followed something. I never thought that he was so inventive nor invented in what he selected to study and move along the road of. I thought it had already been done there.

RUTH GURIN: Did you know Stanton Macdonald-Wright?


RUTH GURIN: Did you know the people here in New York like Stieglitz?


RUTH GURIN: Where did you first show professionally your painting?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: I never showed much.

RUTH GURIN: You didn't?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No, never. At the Carnegie in Pittsburgh and at the Biennial in Washington.

RUTH GURIN: Oh, yes, at the Corcoran.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes. I was invited in both cases for a certain number of years. And then I had a nervous breakdown, I didn't do anything for 12 years.

RUTH GURIN: Oh. When was that?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: That was about that time. About that time. I was invited many places out of the country. They'd take anything I sent. But I broke down because I was overtired, I had done too much in too short a time. I think I was 15 when I entered the Academy. I left school to do it.

RUTH GURIN: How did you know that you should leave school and go paint and nothing else?


RUTH GURIN: But didn't your family get angry?


RUTH GURIN: Were they glad?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: My mother was very glad to have it happen.

RUTH GURIN: She was proud of you?


RUTH GURIN: Isn't that nice. That's very rare.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: That's what she wanted. She put nothing between me and that.

RUTH GURIN: That's very good.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: And Morton Schamberg also. His father was the same way. But I think he went to the university and got his degree ...


ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: But he said to me, "my father has faith in me."

RUTH GURIN: It makes a difference I think.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: And that poor old father died a week after Shamberg died. Shamberg died of spinal meningitis.

RUTH GURIN: Good heavens.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: A very, very suffering death.

RUTH GURIN: How dreadful.


RUTH GURIN: Where was he at the time?


RUTH GURIN: So he never worked in New york at all?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No, not that I know of.

RUTH GURIN: For heavens sake. I didn't know that.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: He went to some -- no, I never heard that he did. He went abroad on scholarships. He went to Spain with Chase. I think maybe two summers, maybe only one.

RUTH GURIN: Oh, really?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes, William Chase took classes from the Academy to Spain where painting is at its zenith, you know, with Goya and Velasquez and El Greco.

RUTH GURIN: Yes. I think it's interesting how many painters were fascinated by the colors in Spain, painting colors.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes. But I don't know as they did so much outdoor work. Maybe they did. I didn't see much. We have a copy by Morton Schamberg that Charles Sheeler gave me after his death, which is one of the Este princesses with her head shaved, not good-looking, with pearls around her neck, terribly, terribly delicate painting; a copy, and a remarkable copy.

RUTH GURIN: He did that while he was a student in Spain?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes, he must have. He must have. But I don't know how much he copied but he did copy that.

RUTH GURIN: Yes, of course, all the artists did.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: And Sheeler came around to my studio and gave it to me because he didn't want it, he didn't want to keep it because it wasn't an original.

RUTH GURIN: Well, these are very valuable things.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Well, I don't know. Do you think so?

RUTH GURIN: Well, I think when a good artist copies from a famous artist something is gained of something new. You see this in the paintings that Degas did after the Italian Florentine.




RUTH GURIN: Went to Florence and did this kind of thing. And Cezanne copied after Rubens.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes. But they'd copy a little freely.

RUTH GURIN: Yes. Is your painting by Schamberg freely copied or ...?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: I would say it was carefully copied. It was a very - it was early Italian, it's on a wooden panel about this large.

RUTH GURIN: Was it done to scale, do you think?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: I think so. I don't know. But it's well under life. It's well under life and she has a long nose and pale eyes, and a profile against the delicate, delicate blues, they are perfectly done. And also the costume and the pearls around her neck and the pearls on her bodice. It's a lovely piece of work.

RUTH GURIN: It's a long distance from what he was doing later.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Probably, but at the time it made it evident that he was capable of copying and copying very beautifully. Immediately, as soon as they got over there he could do it.

RUTH GURIN: It's true of all the early abstract painters that they could also do beautiful ...


RUTH GURIN: ... copies. Kandinsky in his early years did lovely things.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: He did lonely things. And Schamberg was our representative of this country. And he brought an exhibition to Philadelphia and McClees gave him the gallery there. They were the only people there that had a gallery that could be rented and he sat there for a whole month on a sofa in the middle of that room and discussed and explained with the populace as it came in the pictures to make them understand them better.

RUTH GURIN: You were in that show?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No, it was a show of abstract - of the new movement.

RUTH GURIN: American painters or European painters?


RUTH GURIN: Oh. Was that the first time there was an abstract show in Philadelphia?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: That was the first time. They were mixed up. I don't know where he got them from - Stieglitz? I don't know where he got them. But he did it all himself, Schamberg did. And then he sat in the middle of it and explained it to people whether they were shocked or disapproving or uninterested or, you know, how people are.

RUTH GURIN: Did you know Dr. Barnes?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No, I never knew Dr. Barnes. And I never went to his Collection. But I know it's very fine.

RUTH GURIN: Did any of your friends know him or were they friendly with him at all?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: I don't know. He was something of a bear, you know.


ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: He had a very fine collection and he must have been good to all of them. I know somebody whom he was good to.

RUTH GURIN: Who was that?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Horace Pippin, the Negro.

RUTH GURIN: Oh, you do know him. Is he still around?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No, he died some years ago. I knew him. I knew him. He was a big cornfield darky, filled with the religion that Negroes get and he used to quote Isaiah there in his studio, or any other of the great prophets, little or big; he was filled with it.

RUTH GURIN: Isn't that interesting.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: And Barnes gave him every advantage. He had him come over and he gave him his living and exposed him to the great paintings that he hadn't seen before. I don't think that any of it made much impression on him. I think he remained pretty much the same.

RUTH GURIN: I've seen a lot of work by Pippin and it seems quite purely Pippin.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Completely, purely Pippin. And that - oh - that big one John Brown - or was he going to be hanged? - I don't know, but anyway somebody was, the wagon full, he did a picture of that.

RUTH GURIN: I haven't seen that one.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes, there were sometimes dark people in these pictures. He had talent.

RUTH GURIN: He had a beautiful sense of composition.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Beautiful sense of composition. And taken up first by Christian Britton the critic in the county where I was, Chester County - Christian Britton and also by old N. C. Wyeth. I think old Mr. Wyeth gave him his colors.

RUTH GURIN: Oh! So they got to him first before Barnes?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Oh, yes, they were back of him before Barnes. They were just beside.

RUTH GURIN: Oh, I didn't know that.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: They were just beside him at Chadds Ford I mean.


ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: And they were looking for talent everywhere.

RUTH GURIN: Whom else did they turn up?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: I don't know of anybody else.

RUTH GURIN: I don't think so either.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No. No, I don't know of anybody else. Except that one. And they were all for that one.

RUTH GURIN: Very interesting.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: They thought he was highly talented and he was much more modern in a way than Mr. Wyeth or the others.

RUTH GURIN: Yes. Well, Graham had a lot of Wyeths this year.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes, I saw one of two farm horses cantering toward the barn and a man on the back of the white one.


ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: And he said - he told me it was the older Wyeth. But the one that they're all so excited about is the grandson now.


ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Because Andrew Wyeth has a son of 20 who they all say is something spectacular. They'd all like to get hold of him but naturally he's with Knoedler because his father Andrew is with Knoedler. So he would have passed right directly into their keeping. He's very talented, but I haven't seen any of it.

RUTH GURIN: I've seen photographs of portraits that he's done and they're quite photographic in quality.


RUTH GURIN: Yes. They don't have the mysticism his father's work has. I mean the middle Wyeth.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: The middle Wyeth, yes.

RUTH GURIN: The younger one is much more photographic, I think.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: He is? I'm interested to hear you say that.

RUTH GURIN: I don't know that he has such great talent, I mean I ...

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: You don't know? Well, the father has been talking him up in a very powerful way.

RUTH GURIN: But the father has great talent, I think.



ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes, I think so too. He went to all my watercolor shows...

RUTH GURIN: Oh, he did?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: ... at the beginning. And I think he didn't get the mystical turn until about that time, because I already had it.

RUTH GURIN: I think it's important in our time to show what you feel through your painting.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes, I think so, too, very much so. And I like Andy Wyeth's work greatly and think ... A delicate fellow, terrible illness he had when he had to hang by his heels from the ceiling while his lungs drained; terrible. But he came through.

RUTH GURIN: He certainly has.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: And remained an artist. And was very sweet. I spent an afternoon with him, lovely, lovely human being. Now they could go on forever, you know, really as a sort of a dynasty because they all go into painting. Henrietta, the sister, did. And they marry painters. And now this young one. Well, of course, they talk up the last one; they all get together back of the last one.

RUTH GURIN: Pretty wise of them.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Oh, they're sensible. And I don't know, is this one named Jimmy - James?

RUTH GURIN: I think James or Jonathan. I want to talk a little more about your work and your travels because you have lived in so many places and worked with so many different kinds of people. Are you tired? Or would you like ... ?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No, no, no, no, no. No, no, no, not at all. Oh, it's very easy.

RUTH GURIN: Let me play - let me wind the tape back and we'll use the other track.

[Machine turned off]

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: ... antiques really kept the place going.

RUTH GURIN: I don't think modern art keeps anything going, does it? It's one of the problems in marketing art. There are very few artists who sell.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Well-l, I don't know; I don't know - what was I going to say?

RUTH GURIN: You know we were talking before about your portrait. What was the name of the artist who did your portrait?


RUTH GURIN: Stoddard? Is Stoddard her married name?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No. She never married. Neither did I. And she was a portrait painter.

RUTH GURIN: And she did your portrait and the Academy bought it and exhibited it?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes. It was a very early work. I was in the studio and she said let me paint you and this happened in three hours. A very lovely thing.

RUTH GURIN: Oh, I'd like to see it. I'll write ...

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Well, I told them about it and I told them if they wanted to, if they were interested enough they could write and ask the Academy to send them a reproduction of it.

RUTH GURIN: Oh, I'm sure they will.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: And then if they like the reproduction they could get the picture at any time if they wanted it.

RUTH GURIN: To borrow it?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes, borrow it or if -- yes, because they bought it for $100. I was always cross that they didn't offer more but that's what they offered and that's what she got, and because we were running neck to neck there as students and I couldn't stand in her way because that was an honor - to have it purchased by the Academy, you see. And I know it was in that Collection because they had an exhibition there of portraits by artists of themselves or like this, portraits that somebody made of them. And it was among that group, it was in that group.

RUTH GURIN: Oh, and that was catalogued, I think.



ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Probably some long time ago now.

RUTH GURIN: Yes, well when I was there doing research they have all that material in the library. You know what they even have? They have the roll books where they kept track of who was registered which year at the Academy. Down in the basement wrapped in brown paper they have all those attendance books.



ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: They kept all that up quite well.

RUTH GURIN: Well, they kept it but nobody has made any record of it. It's just there. And someone should really spend five years in there and do an archive.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: I suppose it was the oldest of the painting academies, I think?

RUTH GURIN: Oldest and best.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Oldest and best. The first and the best.

RUTH GURIN: Was Glackens teaching there when you were there?


RUTH GURIN: Do you know Glackens? I mean ...


RUTH GURIN: He must have left.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: I like his work. Robert Henri was teaching in New York at that time and I think he was also a student at the Pennsylvania Academy.

RUTH GURIN: Oh, yes, for years.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes, because they were from Philadelphia, he and his sister. I knew his sister a little bit, too; John Sloan's sister, I forget what her name was, somebody Sloan; a maiden lady, she is a painter too.

RUTH GURIN: Really? I didn't know Sloan's sister was a painter.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: He had a sister and she was a painter. That's in the long ago.

RUTH GURIN: Yes. Well, it's important because if these things turn up you like to know about them.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Well, I think she was a painter.

RUTH GURIN: There were five of you ...

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Because we all heard of her.

RUTH GURIN: Yes. But they all went to New York.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: They all came here. Who was teaching here that charmed them so?

RUTH GURIN: I guess it was Chase. Or Henri. They went to the Academy here.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: They hadn't much use for Chase.

RUTH GURIN: I think that they had a fight with Chase, you know, and it was written about in the papers. There was an argument and people criticized Chase because he was too formal.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Because he was too formal?

RUTH GURIN: Yes. And too academic.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Why couldn't they leave him formal?

RUTH GURIN: No. They liked the new use of realism which they thought that they introduced; I mean Henri ...

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Chase did a magnificent portrait of my father.

RUTH GURIN: Oh, really?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Oh, yes. Of course, at the time we might have had Eakins do it and it might have been a greater work but I had never even heard of Eakins and Chase was teaching there and I knew him. So it was natural to ask him. And he made about 50 portraits that year in Philadelphia.

RUTH GURIN: What happened to the portrait of your father?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: My sister has it. She has it hanging in her house. You can see it any time you want to.

RUTH GURIN: In Baltimore?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: In Baltimore. 204 St. Martin Lane, Guilford. It's a little severe, a little aloof, but it's got his brushwork; the eyes are beautifully done; the eyes are beautifully done.

RUTH GURIN: What did your father do?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: He was a clergyman, and a very great preacher.

RUTH GURIN: In which church?


RUTH GURIN: In Baltimore?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: In Baltimore and Philadelphia both.

RUTH GURIN: Your family was living in Philadelphia when you went to the Academy?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes. My father's father was mayor of Philadelphia at one time and was also in the Supreme Court there.

RUTH GURIN: Oh, really?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes, he was a judge - Judge Joel Jones, my father's father. And they came down to Philadelphia from Connecticut. And his mother was a Miss Sparhawk, that's where I get that name; and also her last name was Huntington.

RUTH GURIN: Oh! So you took the name Sparhawk and Jones and hyphenated it? Did you do that?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes, my father used it.

RUTH GURIN: He used it as well?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes, of course, Jones is not much of a name.

RUTH GURIN: Oh, I see.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: It has no designation. Too many of them.

RUTH GURIN: That was your father's idea?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No, not at all. Just a natural idea.

RUTH GURIN: It just happened?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes, it just happened. If you need a name it makes you ...

RUTH GURIN: I think it's marvelous because then it keeps both lines of the family together.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: John Paul Jones, that always goes together. But however, what's the way it happened.

RUTH GURIN: I see. But your grandfather was just ...


RUTH GURIN: Joel Jones?


RUTH GURIN: Yes, I see.



ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: But my father was named John Sparhawk Jones and that wasn't enough.

RUTH GURIN: Yes. So it was hyphenated?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No. He never hyphenated it.

RUTH GURIN: So then you were the first one to hyphenate it?


RUTH GURIN: I think it's very nice. And that was from paternal great-grandmother?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: It was from my paternal - my father's grandmother.

RUTH GURIN: Yes. And she came from Connecticut?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: She came down from Connecticut to Philadelphia.

RUTH GURIN: And were there painters anywhere in the family there?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Not in that family. In my mother's family there were plenty.


ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Plenty of talent in my mother's family.

RUTH GURIN: What was their name?


RUTH GURIN: Carroll? Are you related to any of the Carrolls who were painting in the West?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No, I don't think so. I don't know. They were all Maryland Carrolls. They were all - my grandmother on my mother's side was a Carroll and she lived at a place called Clima Leera which means music of the dells in translation from the Irish. They were all Irish back, you see.

RUTH GURIN: Yes, they were Catholics, weren't they?


RUTH GURIN: Yes, because the Carrolls of Maryland ...

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: And the other big house that belonged to them was called Donaregan Manor and that had a chapel connected with it. They were very Catholic.

RUTH GURIN: So they'd been in Maryland since the beginning of ...

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Since the beginning, with the early settlers that came there. I think they were all Catholics seeking freedom to worship as they wanted to, you see. All of them.

RUTH GURIN: Yes. I think there was an early Governor Carroll, too, wasn't there?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: I'm not sure about there being a governor. I couldn't say, my dear; I don't know.

RUTH GURIN: Well, I used to live in Washington. We used to study the history of Maryland and I know the name Carroll is very familiar.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes. There would be quite a good deal - a good many. There was an Archbishop Carroll.

RUTH GURIN: Oh, yes, that's right.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: And we have an engraving of him; there was an Archbishop Carroll; that I know. And I guess the high, high stuff they got in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church is the archbishop.

RUTH GURIN: And then your grandmother married a ... ?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: My grandmother married a Protestant, an Episcopalian and his name was Winchester.

RUTH GURIN: Winchester. And then the Winchesters married the Turnbulls?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No. No. That's on the other side.

RUTH GURIN: That's your sister's husband? Right?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: That's my sister's husband. That's that family. That's different.

RUTH GURIN: And how much of your work does your sister have? Does she have much of it?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No. I don't think she ever wanted it.

RUTH GURIN: Oh, really?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No. She has very different things. She has some old portraits and things that don't look well with the palette of today.

RUTH GURIN: Yes. Well, you mean historical work?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No. Yes, historical; I mean a Sully, the lady with black, parted hair. And an old portrait of a Carroll. His nickname was "Trimbush" because he was a great hunter. And she has that, that's the oldest portrait she'd got and that's a very impressive sort of thing; I forget who did it - Wollaston or some name like that who made that portrait.

RUTH GURIN: A marvelous name, Trimbush.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: But father's portrait is something quite different and they don't hang in the same room.

RUTH GURIN: I'm looking forward to seeing that. That ought to be marvelous. Did you look like him?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: I don't think so, but perhaps more than like my mother. Dreadful, we never had a portrait painted of her but she wouldn't allow it. She wouldn't allow it. She was against it. But I think my sister has lovely photographs of her. She was very lovely to look at.

RUTH GURIN: Well, I think it's marvelous that she let you be yourself because so many mothers don't.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Oh, my gracious, she wanted me to be that.

RUTH GURIN: Well, they must have been very proud of you when you started ...

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No, she was always for every person following their bent and not for impeding anything in any way that happened. I was drawing when I was 7 and 8 while she read aloud to us novels like Scott, Thackeray, Dickens and all of those. And Edgar Allan Poe's poetry we loved. That's where you get the romanticism, that's where the seed falls into the loam - it's romantic or not. And she was the romantic.

RUTH GURIN: You must have had a very interesting time bringing artists home to an ecclesiastical atmosphere.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No. They used to go sometimes to hear Father preach. Arthur Carles did. Oberteuffer did. They've got some of their work up at the Graham Gallery.

RUTH GURIN: Whose works?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: A man named Oberteuffer. They've got one of his.

RUTH GURIN: Oh, really?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes. He and Arthur Carles were very intimate friends.

RUTH GURIN: Do you know Carles' daughter?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: I met that child up at Squa ..... up at - oh, what was it called? It was the Linnea place, the Linnea camp - I forget. She was pretty.

RUTH GURIN: And she's still pretty.


RUTH GURIN: She's a good-looking woman. She goes under the name of Mercedes Matter.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes. Yes, because her father was a Mr. Matten and there was Spanish blood in her mother, I think.

RUTH GURIN: First she painted under the name of Jeanne Carles. And then she used the name Mercedes.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes, I think that was her mother's name. Arthur Carles married her mother, I believe. I met them in Paris long, long ago.

RUTH GURIN: Arthur Carles painted in very bright colors.


RUTH GURIN: He didn't learn that in Philadelphia.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Well, he was in Europe a good deal.

RUTH GURIN: Almost like Matisse.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Really? Oh, yes, there's one I saw, a still-life of flowers and it may have been at the Graham Gallery, they had it on an easel. I remember his painting nudes, he painted nudes and heads, he was always talented, one of the talented ones.

RUTH GURIN: Did he do well in his painting? I mean financially - Carles; do you remember?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: I doubt it. I never heard that any of them did financially very well.

RUTH GURIN: Because I wonder how they survived. That was before the WPA. I don't know how they survived.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Well, they all had a studio, they all got along somehow.


ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: ... I don't know how they did. I really don't. Morton Schamberg's family, his father, must have had something to help out and would have given him anything that he could because he was devoted to him, he was the only thing he had; there was only the one child and his mother was dead. But I don't know how Charles Sheeler ... I think Sheeler - Pennsylvania Dutch back of him, I think he probably had to have some money there.

RUTH GURIN: And Demuth had plenty.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Oh, yes, they came from father well-off people - was it tobacco? And the name was well known up there. We called it always when he was at the Academy "De'muth".

RUTH GURIN: Oh, "De'muth?'

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Oh, always. He was never known as anybody but "De'muth". Now it's Demuth. And I don't know whether he brought that about or not. He was a diabetic.

RUTH GURIN: Oh, is that what was wrong with him? We knew he was ill.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: He was cursed with that, poor boy, poor fellow, I remember meeting him in the Square here and he looked so yellow and sick; he had a very heavy overcoat, very wide overcoat. He was just keeping alive for years. And one I knew quite well more than any of them and admired the most was Marsden Hartley.


ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Oh, yes, he was something.

RUTH GURIN: Tell me about him.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Don't you know about him?

RUTH GURIN: Well, I know about his paintings, I've seen a number of them but I don't know what kind of person he was.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: The person that went with the paintings. He was naturally awkward, and they are; and very independent, the youngest of 13 children. They were weavers who left England and came to Maine. And I don't know much more. He was a very interesting talker. He used to say to me, "We should be together often," he said, "Because we say such nice things when we're together." He was very creative in his talk and made anybody creative who was with him. He used to not mince his words, not tiresome, flat words, but he used a good vocabulary and he wrote beautifully. There's an excerpt from an article that he wrote on me in the catalogue that was made up and you'll see Marsden Hartley's name under it.

RUTH GURIN: He did a number of different kinds of painting, I mean ...

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Maybe he changed quite a good deal; I don't know.

RUTH GURIN: His work from the '20s is very abstract and then later he went back to the figure.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes. He went back to the figurative more. But very powerful.


ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: He loved the Maine coast and the sea, but he's quite different from Winslow Homer.

RUTH GURIN: Oh, my goodness, yes. He's more abstract.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: I don't know. There's no -- everything is abstract. Velasquez is abstract.

RUTH GURIN: Painting is an abstraction, I suppose?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Always. More or less exaggerated; more or less. And now it's more exaggerated.

RUTH GURIN: Well, the form is sacrificed for other things.


RUTH GURIN: I'm completely fascinated by the things you have to tell me about the people but I'd like to talk some more about your work.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Oh, my dear, there isn't much to say about that. We all go through phases. Everybody does.

RUTH GURIN: How did you achieve the freedom of line that you have? And color?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Well, because I'm naturally very free of mind, I'm not prescribed, I have no place that says thus far and no further in me. And my sister is the same. I don't know how we got like that. We were just like that.

RUTH GURIN: It's funny because you come from a religious background where there are ...

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes, but there was nothing that impeded it in that religious thing at all. My father was quite - very liberal. And my mother also, in their thinking. And we never went to Sunday school. Never had to do what we didn't want to do.

RUTH GURIN: Really!!

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No, not even as clergyman's children.

RUTH GURIN: For heavens sakes!


RUTH GURIN: What brought them to think that way?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Well, they were just like that. They didn't want to ... no, they were just like that. That's true.

RUTH GURIN: And they let you do what you felt like doing?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes, they let us follow our own ends. Well, sometimes my sister was not too happy at Bryn Mawr. I had the better choice.

RUTH GURIN: But you had a talent and probably she didn't.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Well, she had too, she had just as strong a one as I did but she didn't have the passion to do it. She barked up the idea of writing, she took that on, but it is her son who has fulfilled her wishes...

RUTH GURIN: That's quite rare.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: ... in a very nice way.


ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: In a very nice way. So she has everything.

RUTH GURIN: That's very good.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: In the interest of ... he's doing a book on Wolfe now. I don't think that's a very good choice.

RUTH GURIN: My daughter wrote on Wolfe.


RUTH GURIN: A fascinating man.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Well, I don't know. Anyway, he was one of the people suggested by Andrew to Scribner's and he was the one they wanted. But I think probably a great deal has been written about him.

RUTH GURIN: But not enough.


RUTH GURIN: That's right.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Well, I guess Andrew felt the same way.

RUTH GURIN: Oh, you mean Andrew Turnbull?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes. Felt the same way that there was a lot more to be said.

RUTH GURIN: When my daughter was doing research on Wolfe we found that not enough had been said. You know he taught here in New York at New York University ...


RUTH GURIN: ... where I work now. I'm the Curator of the Collection at New York University.


RUTH GURIN: We would hope to have one of your works in our collection one of these days.


RUTH GURIN: I'll have to speak to Mr. Graham.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Of all those people that I speak of, the one that was the most interesting was Marsden Hartley as a person.

RUTH GURIN: What made him more interesting?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Just because he was; because everything he touched was - his conversation and his use of language. For instance, when - who was he with? - what dealer?

RUTH GURIN: Edith Halpert?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No, a completely American ...


ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No, a completely American house, not very important, but completely American; and he even came to the Frank Rehn Gallery because Rehn was altogether for American painting and nothing else. But that didn't clinch, they didn't come together on it because Frank Rehn had Hopper and Burchfield and two or three others and he hadn't the place to give to Hartley because he required selling. He had to make money to live. So he was afraid to increase the people who had to make money to live. So he let him slip. What was I going to say from that?

RUTH GURIN: You were talking about his dealer.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Oh, yes. And then Paul Rosenberg asked him to come over to him from this American firm, a well known one, but it slips my mind; just across the street on 57th Street. Hartley wrote me a little bit later, "I'm still crossing 57th Street." He said, "I don't know enough about this French thing." "This French thing," he said, "I'm a little bit leery of and I'm still crossing 57th Street, I haven't made up my mind to go to him." But he did later. He did later. He went over completely to Paul Rosenberg.

RUTH GURIN: His work is still there, yes. They always have one of his pictures somewhere. Even when the Braque show is on they have a painting of his out.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Have the Graham people got any of his pictures?

RUTH GURIN: I don't think so. I see it only at Rosenberg's.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: I guess he got all of them that were left because he believed in him and he was going to put on a show in Paris the year he died.

RUTH GURIN: Well, you know in the Barnes Collection there are some very abstract paintings by Hartley done in the '20s, pink ones.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes. Yes, he did a very abstract thing at one time.

RUTH GURIN: And then he went back into the figure and very strongly, and distortion. Do you know The Fisherman's Family?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Oh, certainly. He wanted to do a life-size one of that.

RUTH GURIN: Oh, it's quite small.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: It is a kind of a last supper because the two young men whom he - see he was a natural but anyway he put something on their heads, a light or -- they died, they were drowned at sea. And that is why he was moved to do this last supper because he had lived with them, he had boarded with them and they were lost at sea; they were fisherman.

RUTH GURIN: Where was this? in Maine?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: That was in Maine. Off the coast of Maine. And he loved men, you know; he didn't care much about women. Hartley. That was a very poignant and lingering story with him, those two fishermen.

RUTH GURIN: Is that what changed his style so radically? Or was it other things as well?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Oh, I wouldn't know. I didn't know sufficiently the history of his interior changes.

RUTH GURIN: It's pretty hard, isn't it?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes. I do know this little thing about him: Once he met me on the street and he went out with me to catch a taxi or a trolley car; it may have been a trolley car it was so long ago. And when we were there on the street and the trolley hadn't come, he was telling me how beautiful some blue cloth was that he had seen, and that he longed to have a suit of it. And I said, "Hartley, don't hesitate. You want it. You've done very little for yourself ever. Just satisfy yourself and buy it." Because he was making a little money then. I think he died worth forty thousand. And he'd been starving all his life. I even paid his carfare, ten cents going up in the trolley car on Madison or one of the avenues going up to Stieglitz one day. Stieglitz gave all his people a free meal, I don't know if it was once a week or every day; he fed them all, all his painters.


ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Gave them a free meal.

RUTH GURIN: Did you know Marin?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No. I met Marin, I know what Marin looks like. But Hartley occupied me mostly and enough. I thought he was the biggest of them. Stieglitz was very taken with Georgia O'Keeffe and pushed her to the exclusion of Hartley. That's why Hartley changed from Stieglitz and went to Paul Rosenberg; but went first to an American, I forget ...

RUTH GURIN: Oh, that's easy to find out.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes. And then Rosenberg wanted him, prayed for him to come across because he was quite ready to accept him completely. He was from Paris and knew what was what instinctively. And so he went there. And I expect he was quite happy with him for the short time that he was there because he died a year after I guess.

RUTH GURIN: Oh, really that soon?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: A very short time. His heart was wrong; his heart, he had so long a struggle with poverty and neglect.

RUTH GURIN: I guess this was true of a number of the artists.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes. Yes, but he was the giant among them. He was the giant among them.

RUTH GURIN: Did you live in New York? Or were you just visiting?


RUTH GURIN: You've done a lot of traveling.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No, no, I've only lived in a small area of the U.S.A. between the three big cities, New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore.

RUTH GURIN: Did you know any of the collectors in Baltimore?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: I met some of them, the Cone - Clarabelle and what was the name of her sister? - Miss Etta Cone. They collected Matisse and they were great friends of Gertrude Stein's. And they were therefore initiated through Gertrude Stein into that group and bought from that group. At the beginning they had particular accent on Matisse - these cousins of theirs - the Cones.

RUTH GURIN: They were cousins of Leo and ... ?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: They were cousins, yes of Gertrude Stein and Leo Stein. Connected in California, I think, I don't remember where, but they came to Baltimore to live and they had the whole play of that moment in collecting. I mean they had pictures behind doors and all through their apartment and they bought well and were well-advised by Miss Stein.

RUTH GURIN: Did you think about selling your work? I mean did that interest you?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: I never bothered about it. I just painted. That was all my business. Beyond that I had no interest.

RUTH GURIN: When did you start having a dealer?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: I had a dealer a great many years ago. I went to the Rehn Gallery. I was with them I suppose 30 years. Never sold anything. Must have been 25 to 30 years I was with them. Frank Rehn was a delightful human being; mercurial, very mercurial, very - he drank, that was the trouble.

RUTH GURIN: And when did you change to Graham?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: I changed to Graham about a year ago, a year and a half ago when I decided to leave the Rehn Gallery and when two young men who were at the time working for Mr. Graham, for one of the Mr. Graham's - I don't know which one - maybe Bob - were there helping them or guiding them. I mayn't be telling the truth now, I don't know, it's a closed door - but I thought that Leslie Katz in particular was advising about purchases because I know that he's very good at that and that Elizabeth Ames uses him that way, who's the head of Yaddo. And these are all people that the Graham brothers know. And they were there. Hilton Kramer and Leslie Katz. I think they were working for them somehow.

RUTH GURIN: I met Hilton Kramer yesterday for the first time.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Leslie is the more sensitive critic.

RUTH GURIN: He and I had a long conversation last year when we were both working on Anshutz but I've never met him.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: He doesn't do much writing.

RUTH GURIN: He wrote that article on Anshutz in Arts Magazine last year.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes. And he wrote one on - oh, gracious - I've forgotten the name ...

RUTH GURIN: What surprised me is how young they are, these two men. I thought they were much older. But they're in their early 30s.


RUTH GURIN: And they talked to you about coming to Graham?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: No, they talked to Graham about me. That's how it came about. I think that was the initial way it came about because I was restless and they knew the Rehn Gallery and the setup there and they thought that I ought to try something a little different. And I think that they inaugurated that change. I think that the Graham brothers have a great respect for them both as far as I know, certainly Leslie.

RUTH GURIN: Yes. Yes, I know that's so.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Certainly Leslie. He's such a quiet and not pushing person.

RUTH GURIN: How do you know Leslie Katz? Did he come visit you?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: I don't know where I met Leslie Katz. I haven't the faintest idea. Either at that gallery or ... I think I knew him before. Oh, I know how I met him. He used to go to Yaddo and he's a great friend of Elizabeth Ames.

RUTH GURIN: Where is Yaddo?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yaddo is the other big art colony in the country on this side of the Atlantic, on this side of the continent. There is one in California, that's Huntington Hartfords. And he has, of course, the Museum here that's just opened. But Yaddo was created by Mr. and Mrs. Spencer Trask. He was a well know banker. They had no children and they had the money to give it a - what do you call that? You know what I mean - a start, the capital, which they did because they had plenty of millions. I don't know how much they gave, maybe only two million, but it was enough. And then it was absolutely free. There was nothing charged. But the MacDowell Colony was the more adult; the MacDowell Colony was the older one and that was started by Mrs. Edward MacDowell and she worked herself personally by playing her husband's music in all the MacDowell clubs through the country, and there is an innumerable number of them. In that was she made the money to keep it going. So it is peculiarly her own affair; or was; all deriving from her, from her energy, from her vision. And it was a dream of her husband's because he had a little cabin in the wood and he used to say, oh, if all the people we know could have just what I have had here. So that's how that began. And they bought a farm on the crest of a hill and the old barn was turned into the room for food and there was the building that was the old farmhouse which was for the women; and the men were moored off at some distance with the woods between. And that's where that began. And then there was an inn down the road where you could stay. And that was one of the most ideal places you could ever imagine. Edwin Arlington Robinson, who is a very great friend of mine, was there all the years that I was there.

RUTH GURIN: How many years were you there?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Well, about ten I should say. Maybe not consecutively, maybe dropped and picked up again. There were so many intelligent people there Eleanor Wylie was one. The two Benets were others, Stephen and William. And there were people of the theatre, of the dance, because they weren't prescribed. It was a very free organization and we were part of the kitchen and the kitchen was part of us. Mary Tournary, the cook, and Emil Tournary, the man, were just our friends. It was all a community. Mrs. MacDowell never came up to look in on us. She left us free. She used to come once in a long while if she had received money and was planning how to use it and she would come up and talk over with us the ways of using it that would be the most useful to us and to the place. At Yaddo it's just the opposite. They don't have to fuss, they didn't have to worry about money or to work for it, it was there. Mrs. Ames is the head, on a salary and eats with us every meal, including breakfast - which is a fault - because it makes conversation stiffer, a little bit more, you know, precise and stiffer, with Mrs. MacDowell, it was come and go. She used to drive around sometimes and visit the studios. She was lame because she had been made lame through the illness of her husband, Edward MacDowell, the composer, because she was a little thing and he was paralyzed and he used to put his arms around her neck and she used to pull him up by her back, the strength of her back to pull him up higher on the pillows. They couldn't afford a nurse and yet she was starting this thing for artists because it had been his dream. And the MacDowell Colony is still going on but it's not the same thing as when she was alive. Ah, no. She was a remarkable woman, Elizabethan, enormous, magnificent.

RUTH GURIN: Were you at Yaddo after MacDowell?


RUTH GURIN: How long were you there?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: I don't remember. Here and there. She asks me still to come. but I don't go any more.

RUTH GURIN: Where is Yaddo?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Saratoga Springs. A completely different setting. The other is in Peterborough, New Hampshire; and that is New England.


ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Peterborough town was just at the foot of the hill. Yaddo and Saratoga, so different, with the races going on you can hear the cheers from the track coming up over the woods on summer days.

RUTH GURIN: Yes, that is different. Also it's not very hilly there, it's more flat.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes, it's flatter. From the main house, which is called "the mansion" an enormous stone castle that the Spencer Trasks built for themselves, from the top window which is on the third floor, which is looking toward New Hampshire, you can see the New Hampshire and the Vermont mountains, and it's very flat for a long time until it begins to rise towards the hilly country there. It's very beautiful. From that window when you lie on a couch you can see the middle of the heavens with all the stars from that big room. And it's often given to an invalid like Lulu Ridge the poet. A friend of mine got it once, but she spent all her life in bed.

RUTH GURIN: So you know a lot of the people who have lived in these places?

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Well, a certain number. A certain number. I don't remember their names. I don't. Some of them - they're scattered - those two Benets, I mean all the people that made headlines, of course, we knew. Padraic Colum - Mary Colum. Mary Colum was one to the most interesting women I ever met in my life. Molly we called her. They came from Ireland. And Padraic is still alive.

RUTH GURIN: I saw him this winter at the Poetry Society dinner.


RUTH GURIN: He recited poetry for us in the lobby of the Hotel Astor.


RUTH GURIN: He was marvelous. He told a poem that he hadn't - he said he hadn't even thought about for 50 years. He came to my childrens' school and told stories.



ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Oh, he's a wonderful storyteller.

RUTH GURIN: Yes. He's really great.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: And then that accent, you know, and everything. And Molly - he never would read his poetry before Molly. She was the critic. Never! Never! She wouldn't leave him strength to toddle after her.

RUTH GURIN: Oh, heavens.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: My gracious, imagine. And when they had their honeymoon they spent it in England with Wilfred Scorwin Blunt a poet of the most romantic variety who always entertained newlyweds and they jumped over fences and had to follow him over the bushes and everything. Blunt. I can't think of anything that I could recite to you but I used to know Wilfred Scorwin Blunt.

RUTH GURIN: Do you know that we've reached the end of our tape already. I have made you talk for an hour and a half ...

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Oh, my! Mercy! Well, it's all been very agreeable.

RUTH GURIN: Well, it's been lovely for me and I'm sure that Robert Graham will be thrilled when he knows that we have gotten together because he was very eager for us to talk.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: I talked about Anshutz to them one day but you've got just as much and more than what I would have to say about Anshutz.

RUTH GURIN: I think what I'll have to do is follow you to Paris and do some more recording there. No, I really am most grateful to you for sitting there like this, you know, on a Sunday when you probably had lots of other things to do.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Those Grahams are interesting men. Those two Graham brothers. Quite different, aren't they?

RUTH GURIN: Yes, they even look different. Their social attitudes are different.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Their social attitudes are different.

RUTH GURIN: Their father was a dealer too, I think.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes, I guess more than their father; their grandfather. They've been in the world of the gallery there for certainly 75 years.

RUTH GURIN: They're so much more enlightened than most dealers, enlightened in a broad sense.

ELIZABETH SPARHAWK-JONES: Yes. And they're both graduates of Yale. Both those Graham men, so somebody told me. They're both Yale graduates.


Last updated... December 16, 2002

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Transcript available on the Archives of American Art website.

Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Elizabeth Sparhawk-Jones, 1964 April 26. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.