Skip to main content

James Lawrence Claghorn papers, 1849-1882

Claghorn, James Lawrence, 1817-1884

Collector, Art patron


Collection Information

Size: 0.8 Linear feet

Summary: Letters (1849-1856), business records (1849-1856), a visitors' register (1873-1885), and a scrapbook (ca. 1866-1885) concern the acquisition of paintings and prints for Claghorn's collection.
REEL 3580: 37 letters (1849-1882) to Claghorn regard his art collection and dealing activities and include letters from Goupil & Cie., J. Crumby, who served as a purchasing agent, Frederic Edwin Church, John Frederick Kensett, Hiram Powers, Thomas Buchanan Read, Peter F. Rothermel, and Thomas Worthington Whittredge.
REEL 4131: Visitors Register, March 18, 1873-Jan. 1885, containing names and addresses of those who viewed the Claghorn Collection; many artists, local art students and instructors, and foreign visitors are listed. Scrapbook, most likely compiled by Claghorn with posthumous entries added by family, contains mainly newspaper clippings concerning Claghorn, his collections, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, art activities in Philadelphia, and artists (particularly printmakers); also includes photograph of Seymour Haden, catalogs of the Claghorn Collection, admission tickets, reprints of lengthy articles about Claghorn and his collections, and a few letters to J. Raymond Claghorn [son of James L.] regarding the disposition of the collection and its sale to Thomas Harrison Garrett.
REEL 4152: 88 letters (1848-1864) from various agents in New York and Europe regard purchases of paintings, prints and sculpture by artists, including Asher B. Durand and Worthington Whittredge. Four letters regard paintings to be exhibited at the Great Sanitary Fair. Nine letters (1855-1864) from Thomas Buchanan Read regard his activities in England. Read's letters from Cincinnati discuss his poetry and commissions for his paintings.

Biographical/Historical Note

Collector and art patron; Philadelphia, Pa. Claghorn was an officer of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Philadelphia School of Design for Women. Best known for his print collection, he began by collecting paintings by American artists, ca. 1840. In 1877, he sold his painting collection in order to devote his efforts to his print collection. His private gallery in Philadelphia was open to visitors, and selections from the Claghorn Collection were exhibited in other cities. After his death, his print collection was purchased by Thomas Harrison Garrett, and thereafter was known as the Garrett Collection. After being on long-term loan to the Library of Congress between 1904 and 1930, the collection is now owned by the Baltimore Museum of Art.


Materials on reel 3581 were borrowed for filming from Philadelphia Maritime Museum. Materials on reel 3580 were borrowed for filming from John W. Claghorn on July 16, 1985, and were later donated to the Archives of American Art by his descendant Frederic S. Claghorn along with additional letters appearing on reel 4152. Material on reel 4131 was donated by Mabel Claghorn Bulkeley, granddaughter of James L. Claghorn.

Related Materials

Also in the Archives on microfilm only are papers lent for microfilming by the Philadelphia Maritime Museum (reel 3581), including: letters and receipts addressed to Claghorn document the purchase and sale of American and European paintings and prints (1849-1856). There are also inventories of shipments. Letters frequently include titles and prices.

Language Note

English .

Location of Originals

  • Reel 3581: Originals in Philadelphia Maritime Museum.

How to Use This Collection

Alternative Forms Available

35mm microfilm reels 3580, 3581, 4131, and 4152 available for use at Archives of American Art offices, through interlibrary loan, and at the Free Library of Philadelphia. Reel 3581 is also available at the Philadelphia Maritime Museum.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Microfilmed materials must be consulted on microfilm. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

James Lawrence Claghorn papers, 1849-1882. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.