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Jervis McEntee papers, 1796

McEntee, Jervis, 1828-1891

Landscape painter

Letters, family papers, and five volumes of diaries of Jervis McEntee in the Archives of American Art were digitized in 2007, 2017, and 2018, and are available on the Archives' website. Transcripts of the diary entries are available at https://www.aaa.si.edu/collection-features/jervis-mcentee-diaries.

Collection Information

Size: 1.6 Linear feet

Summary: The papers of Hudson River School painter Jervis McEntee measure 1.6 linear feet and date from 1796 and 1850 to 1905. Letters from close friends and family members to McEntee include many from his mentor Frederic Edwin Church, and fellow artists Samuel Putnam Avery, George Henry Boughton, Sanford Gifford, Richard Henry, Eastman Johnson, Elizabeth B. Stoddard, John Ferguson Weir, Worthington Whittredge, and others. Papers relating to the McEntee family include obituaries, a family genealogy, and letters from and regarding family members. There are also papers relating to the Vaux family (McEntee's brother-in-law's family) and American architect and landscape artist Calvert Vaux, who designed a studio for McEntee. Of special significance are five volumes of diaries dating from 1872 through 1890 which provide a detailed depiction of the American art world in the 1870s and 1880s.

Biographical/Historical Note

Jervis McEntee was born in Rondout, New York, July 14, 1828. He had early literary and artistic aspirations and studied under Frederic E. Church, who had himself studied under the Hudson River School master, Thomas Cole. McEntee was to maintain a close relationship with Church for the rest of his life. After an unsuccessful stint as a businessman, McEntee settled in New York in 1857 as one of the charter residents of Richard Morris Hunt's Tenth Street Studio Building. Since many of the other occupants were either bachelors or commuters, and since Mrs. McEntee was a lively, sympathetic hostess, the couple became the center of a spontaneous salon frequented by some of the best-known artists, writers, and actors of the time. After his wife died in 1878, McEntee stayed on, an increasingly neglected widower until his death in 1891.

Provenance

The Adirondack Museum lent one diary for microfilming in 1964. The rest of the collection was acquired from several donors between 1959 and 1997. The noted collector Charles E. Feinberg donated letters in 1959 and, Mrs. Helen S. McEntee, who married the nephew of Jervis McEntee, donated the five volumes of diaries in 1964. William Gaffken, director of the insurance company that acquired the McEntee family insurance business, donated the remaining papers in 1997.

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