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Isabella Howland papers, 1899-1979

Isabella Howland papers, 1899-1979

Howland, Isabella, 1895-1974

Painter

Collection Information

Size: 1.1 linear ft.

Summary: The papers of painter, sculptor, caricaturist, and portraitist Isabella Howland measure 1.1 linear feet and date from 1899-1979. Correspondence makes up about a third of the collection, with the remainder comprised of biographical material, writings, printed material, photographs, and artworks.

Biographical/Historical Note

Isabella Howland (1895-1974) was a painter and sculptor who lived and worked in New York City.

Provenance

Donated between 1975-1976 by Mrs. Martha Craig and Barbara Summer. Three photographs of works of art were donated by Eugenie Gershoy in 1979.

A Finding Aid to the Isabella Howland papers, 1899-1979, in the Archives of American Art
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Author
Finding aid prepared by Helen MacDiarmid
Biographical/Historical note
Isabella Howland (1895-1974) lived and worked in New York City. She drew portraits, painted on canvas, sketched on paper, and sculpted caricature busts of people in the art world. She wrote that she could do anything with her hands.
Howland was born in Brookline, Massachusetts. From her youth she knew she wanted to be an artist. She had her earliest artistic training at age 16. Her art education included time at the Boston Museum School and the Art Students League in New York City. She completed her secondary education in France and Germany, moved back to the United States afterwards, and in 1920 travelled again to Europe. In 1922 she settled in Greenwich Village and spent summers in Woodstock to paint landscapes and still-lifes. She actively painted in the 1920s, and had three shows in 1927, 1929, and 1931. During the Depression she worked for the Public Works of Art Project and the Works Progress Administration. In 1934 she married Armando Zegri, and they divorced in 1937. While they were married they owned a club in the West Village named The Café Latino. She began teaching at a private school in the early 1940s while dealing with some personal difficulties. She found religion which comforted her as she dealt with her mother’s declining health and her sister’s waning mental state.
Howland had many friends in the art world and regularly received requests to exhibit at museums. She became known as an accomplished portrait artist, and she was commissioned many times to execute drawings or sculptures. She dabbled in writing and illustrating stories, and produced a set of 33 Christmas cards featuring two monks.
Arrangement note
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1901-1972 (4 folders; Box 1)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1917-1973 (22 folders; Box 1)
Series 3, Writings, 1935-1964 (8 folders; Box 1)
Series 4: Printed Material, 1928-1976 (5 folders; Box 1)
Series 5: Photographs, circa 1900-1979 (4 folders; Box 1, OV 2)
Series 6: Artwork, 1899-circa 1940s (8 folders; Box 1, OV 2)
Scope and Contents note
The papers of painter, sculptor, caricaturist, and portraitist Isabella Howland measure 1.1 linear feet and date from 1899-1979. Correspondence makes up about a third of the collection, with the remainder comprised of biographical material, writings, printed material, photographs, and artworks.
Correspondence is found between Isabella Howland and other artists or dealers. Among these are Eugenie Gershoy, Henry Strater, Edith Halpert, Peggy Bacon, Forbes Watson, Jerry Bywaters, Adolph Dehn and Dorothea Greenbaum. Letters from Juliana Force, the first director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, are present. Many invitations to exhibit are included. The collection includes a small number of letters with Howland’s family. She maintained written communication with several individuals over decades.
The biographical material contains Isabella Howland’s handwritten notes and typed documents about her life. Some legal documents and financial records are present. The writing series includes her story ‘Willy Nilly’ with accompanying illustrations of animals, in addition to some other writings. The artwork series includes sketches and sketchbooks from childhood into adulthood. Photographs include images of Howland as well as her paintings and portraits.
Provenance
Donated between 1975-1976 by Mrs. Martha Craig and Barbara Summer. Three photographs of works of art were donated by Eugenie Gershoy in 1979.
Processing Information note
The collection was processed to a minimal level and a finding aid prepared by Helen MacDiarmid in 2014. All materials have been rehoused in archival folders and a new box for long-term stability.

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

Isabella Howland papers, 1899-1979. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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