Skip to main content

James Carroll Beckwith papers, 1871-circa 1991, bulk 1875-1917

James Carroll Beckwith papers, 1871-circa 1991, bulk 1875-1917

Beckwith, J. Carroll (James Carroll), 1852-1917

Portrait painter


Collection Information

Size: 3.2 linear feet

Summary: The James Carroll Beckwith papers measure 3.2 linear feet and date from 1871-1983. Included are 38 volumes of art-related diaries, 1871-1917; personal diaries of Beckwith and his wife, 1911 and 1917; notebooks, 1875 and 1917; a sketchbook, 1887; writings; photographs; correspondence; and Beckwith estate papers.

Diaries, 1871-1917, contain sporadic entries describing studies and travel in Paris and Europe, teaching at the Art Students League, financial transactions, and other events. Clippings, calling cards, photographs are inserted in some volumes. The 1917 personal diary, entitled "Souvenirs and Reminiscences," includes a typescript version. Mrs. (Bertha) Beckwith's 1911 diary/datebook contains references to her Paris tour, entertainment, and acquaintances. Notebooks include "Notes/Carroll Beckwith/Paris 1875," and "Onteira" 1917, including a transcript of the latter. The bound "Record of Pictures," 1878-1917, lists titles, dimensions, and expenses of Beckwith's works in chronological order. One transcript of entries from Beckwith diaries entitled "Paris 1874" was inadvertently microfilmed with the notebook entitled "Paris 1875".

Writings include transcripts by others of Beckwith's diary entries and notebooks; manuscripts by unknown authors, possibly of Beckwith's writings; notes by Beckwith; a manuscript of an article published in Art World, 1917, by Beckwith; and several biographical writings. Printed materials include a catalog of a 1918 sale of Beckwith's work at the American Art Galleries, clippings and exhibition catalogs, 1914-1956, and clippings about John Singer Sargent.

Photographs include two photograph albums, one mostly containing art work, and a second containing photographs taken during Beckwith's European and Egypt tour, including photographs of artist's models and artists Bonnat, Bougereau, and Mercier in their studios. Additional photographs include an installation photograph of a 1914 Beckwith exhibition at the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy and photographs of paintings by Beckwith.

Correspondence includes a letter to his wife, 1883; photocopies of correspondence with dealer Roland Knoedler, 1914-1920, discussing Beckwith's work; letters, 1894-1988, by Beckwith, his wife, and researchers concerning Beckwith's selection into the National Academy of Design, his paintings, and career; and undated notes to Frederick Dielman and Will Hicok Low.

Estate related material includes a bound book of legal hearing disputes between the Beckwith Estate and the National Academy of Design and financial material regarding Beckwith's estate. This material is not microfilmed.

Biographical/Historical Note

James Carroll Beckwith (1852-1917) was a portrait and landscape painter in New York, N.Y. and a member of the National Academy of Design.


Donated 2018 by the National Academy of Design. The collection, except for the estate related material, was initially lent for microfilming by the National Academy of Design in 1993. The National Academy of Design received Beckwith's papers as a gift in 1926 from the Bertha H. Beckwith estate. Beckwith related National Academy of Design correspondence and photographs were combined with the papers by the Academy. Papers on reels 1418 and 1454 were lent for microfilming in 1978 by J. Carter Courtney, Beckwith's great-neice.

Related Materials

Also in the Archives are Beckwith papers lent for microfilming by J. Carer Courtney, Beckwith's great-neice (reels 1418 and 1454), including letters from John Singer Sargent, Clyde Fitch, Edwin Howland Blashfield, Jacob Schiff, Richard Mansfield, and others, 4 cartoon sketches; a sketchbook which also includes a list of works, 1878-1892, and a few writings; 5 photograph albums and photographs, 1902-1917, of European travels, studios, homes, paintings, family, and friends, among them Samuel Clemens, Worthington Whittredge, and Robert Reid; Bertha Beckwith's diary, 1904; and printed material. Other material available only on microfilm includes a sketchbook, "Amsterdam August 10, 1887" (reel 4802) containing sketches for portraits, notes of Monet's composition at Giverny, a watercolor, and studies of hands; and photographs of portraits of Beckwith, Beckwith in his studio, and Beckwith with his Art Students League classes, 1888-1892 (reel 4803).

Location of Originals

  • Material on reels 1418, 1454: Originals returned to the lender, J.Carter Courtney, after microfilming.
  • Sketchbook, 1887, reel 4802 and some photographs, reel 4803: Originals returned to the National Academy of Design after microfilming.

How to Use This Collection

Alternative Forms Available

All except the estate material are available on microfilm reels 1418 and 1454, and 4798-4803 at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.

Restrictions on Access

This collection is temporarily closed to researchers due to archival processing and digitization. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

James Carroll Beckwith papers, 1871-circa 1991, bulk 1875-1917. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.