Skip to main content

Karl Theodore Francis Bitter papers, 1887-circa 1977

More Information

Jayna M. Josefson
Scope and Contents
The papers of sculptor Karl Bitter date from 1887 to 1977 and measure 2.5 linear feet. The bulk of the collection consists of photographs of works of art and commemorative medals from expositions. Also found are scattered biographical information, family correspondence, two diaries, printed materials, sketches, and sketchbooks.
Biographical material consists of one short biography of Karl Bitter. The bulk of the correspondence is to Bitter's children, Marietta (Mrs. Walter Abel) and Francis Bitter, and relates to the relocation of Bitter's caryatid sculptures on the St. Paul Building in New York City. There are typescripts of letters from Karl Bitter to sculptor Daniel C. French and from Marie Bitter to her children.
Two diaries from 1901 and 1909 kept by Bitter describe his trips abroad. The 1901 diary is similar to a scrapbook and was kept during his honeymoon with Marie Schevill. Their travels through France and Italy are vividly described through prose, sketches, maps, postcards, and a photo of Bitter and Marie. A 1909 diary is from Bitter's first trip back to Austria since he left for the United States. Written in the form of letters to his wife, he describes his reactions to being back in Europe, seeing his family, and sightseeing.
Scattered printed material includes a clipping, an exhibition announcement, a postcard, and reproductions of works of art by Bitter.
Photographs are of Bitter, his family and friends, studios, and sculpture. Also found are two photo albums containing many images of Bitter's sculptures throughout the country.
There are two sketchbooks and a print by Blanche Stollson. Also found are Bitter's commemorative medals from various international expositions.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Portions of the Karl Theodore Francis Bitter papers were lent for microfilming by Bitter's daughter, Marietta Bitter Abel, in 1969. Marietta Bitter Abel, Mr. Michael Abel, and Lt. Col. Jonathon F. Abel donated most of the loaned material excluding the photographs along with additional items in several increments from 1970-2010. The commemorative medals were gifted in 1975 by Walter Hancock, a friend of Bitter's son Francis.
Separated Materials
The Archives of American Art also holds microfilm of material lent for microfilming (reels N70-8 and N70-35) including biographical material, correspondence, and photographs. While most of these materials were later donated, the photographs remain with the lender and are not described in the collection container inventory.
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Processing Information
Portions of the collection were previously microfilmed on reels N70-35, N70-40, and 673. Microfilmed portions were merged, processed, and arranged by Jayna Josefson in 2013 and digitized in 2014 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.