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Leon Dabo papers, circa 1888-1969

Leon Dabo papers, circa 1888-1969

Dabo, Leon, 1868-1960

Muralist, Painter, Landscape painter

Collection Information

Size: 1.2 linear feet

Summary: The papers of painter Leon Dabo date from circa 1888 to 1969 and measure 1.2 linear feet. The collection consists of biographical materials, scattered correspondence, research files relating to the paintings of James Abbott McNeill Whistler, printed mateirals, photographs, and works of art. Also found is a paint palette and brushes reportedly owned by Whistler and a walking stick.

Biographical/Historical Note

French-born Leon Dabo (1868-1960) was a tonalist painter active in New York. He is known for his landscapes of the Hudson River Valley, influenced by James Abbott McNeill Whistler.

Provenance

The Leon Dabo papers were donated in several installments by his widow, Stephanie Ofenthal Dabo from 1969 to 1972. A photograph of Dabo taken by Peter Juley was a gift from an unknown donor in 1963.

A Finding Aid to the Leon Dabo Papers, circa 1888-1969, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.daboleon
Author
Finding aid prepared by Jayna M. Josefson
Biographical/Historical note
French-born Leon Dabo (1868-1960) was a tonalist painter active in New York. He is known for his landscapes of the Hudson River Valley, influenced by James Abbott McNeill Whistler.
The eldest child of artist Ignace Scott Dabo and Madeleine Dabo, Leon Dabo was born in France around 1868. To avoid the Franco-Prussian War, the family left France and settled in Detroit, Michigan where Ignace worked as a decorative artist. Leon Dabo moved to New York City to work to support his family after the death of his father, with the goal of sending his brother Theodore Scott Dabo to study art. Ultimately, Dabo focused on his own painting and studied in Paris, Munich and London. In London, he became acquainted with James Abbott McNeill Whistler who became a strong influence on Dabo. After returning to New York City in 1890, he kept a studio in Brooklyn and exhibited throughout the city. During World War I, Dabo served in the British and French military detecting German accents. Later, he served as an interpreter for the United States. Dabo married Jennie Ford in 1889 and had two children, Madeleine and Leon. After Jennie's death, he married Stephanie Ofenthal. Leon Dabo died in 1960 in New York City.
Arrangement note
The collection is arranged as 6 series.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1905-circa 1967 (0.1 linear feet; Box 1-2, OV4)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1905-1935, 1969 (1 folder; Box 1)
Series 3: Research Files, circa 1940-circa 1950 (0.1 linear feet; Box 1, OV5)
Series 4: Printed Material, 1903-1965 (0.3 linear feet; Box 1-2, OV4)
Series 5: Photographs, 1910-1947 (0.2 linear feet; Box 1-2, OV4)
Series 6: Artwork and Artifacts, circa 1888-circa 1920 (0.4 linear feet; Box 1-2)
Scope and Contents note
The papers of painter Leon Dabo date from circa 1888 to 1969 and measure 1.2 linear feet. The collection consists of biographical materials, scattered correspondence, research files relating to the paintings of James Abbott McNeill Whistler, printed mateirals, photographs, and works of art. Also found is a paint palette and brushes reportedly owned by Whistler and a walking stick.
Biographical materials include biographical sketches and resumes, certificates, membership and military records. Also found is a poem written for Dabo by Helen Hays Whitney and material relating to Dabo's brother, Theodore Scott Dabo. Correspondence is scattered and includes letters written between Leon and T. Scott Dabo with the Detroit Museum of Art concering their art. Research files contain printed material, a letter, and annotated photographs of works of art relating to Dabo's verification of forgeries of Whistler. Printed materials include clippings, a speech, exhibition announcements and catalogs, and English and German art publications including articles about Dabo and Whistler. Photographs include portraits and snapshots of Dabo and others, including one taken of Dabo by Peter Juley, and of works of art. Group photographs depict Dabo's wife, his military service during World War I, and an alumni dinner of the Académie Julian. The papers include fourteen oil studies, a sketch by Dabo, and an unsigned caricature of Dabo.
Provenance
The Leon Dabo papers were donated in several installments by his widow, Stephanie Ofenthal Dabo from 1969 to 1972. A photograph of Dabo taken by Peter Juley was a gift from an unknown donor in 1963.
Processing Information note
The Leon Dabo papers were partially microfilmed in several increments onto reels 677, 692, D388, and N69-137. In 2013, the papers were merged and described by Jayna Josefson with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Leon Dabo papers, circa 1888-1969. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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