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

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Rihoko Ueno
Scope and Contents
The papers of New York painter James Carroll Beckwith measure 3.2 linear feet and date from 1871 to circa 1991, bulk 1875-1917. The collection includes biographical material, correspondence, numerous diaries, writings, printed material, photograph albums, and photographs.
Biographical material mostly consists of estate papers related to disputes between the Beckwith Estate and the National Academy of Design. There is also one art inventory notebook titled "Record of Pictures."
Correspondence includes letters by Beckwith, his wife, and researchers concerning Beckwith's paintings and career. Notable correspondents include artists such as Carolus-Duran and William Anderson Coffin, the art dealer Roland Knoedler, as well as other colleagues.
The collection includes 38 of James Carroll Beckwith's diaries and one diary that belonged to his wife Bertha Beckwith. The artist's diaries contain sporadic entries describing teaching, traveling, and daily events.
Writings include Beckwith's autobiography Souvenirs and Reminiscences, a notebook that chronicles his time in Paris, notes, essays on art and architecture, lists of artwork, and one essay about Beckwith by an unidentified writer.
Printed materials consist of a sales catalog of Beckwith's work, clippings about Beckwith and John Singer Sargent, and a few exhibition catalogs and announcements.
Photographs include 2 albums and many board-backed prints. One album mostly contains travel photographs, the other is mostly dedicated to paintings by other artists in Europe. There are many photographs of Beckwith's paintings, mostly portraits. A few photographs of exhibition installations are also included.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
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. In 2018, the James Carroll Beckwith papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by the National Academy of Design via Maura Reilly, Executive Director. Papers on reels 1418, 1454 were lent for microfilming in 1978 by J. Carter Courtney, Beckwith's great-neice.
Separated Materials
The Archives of American Art also holds microfilm of material lent for microfilming (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). The sketchbook and photographs were returned to the National Academy of Design after microfilming.
Related Materials
The Archives of American Art also has microfilm (reel 800) of a 1895 James Carroll Beckwith diary. The original is located at the New York Historical Society.
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by The Walton Family Foundation and the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Processing Information
The collection was processed, prepared for digitization, and described in a finding aid by Rihoko Ueno in 2018 with funding provided by the Walton Family Foundation and the Terra Foundation for American Art.