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Leon Kroll papers, 1905-1974

Leon Kroll papers, 1905-1974

Kroll, Leon, 1884-1974

Painter, Art critic

Representative image for Leon Kroll papers, 1905-1974

The papers of Leon Kroll in the Archives of American Art were digitized in 2009. The bulk of the papers have been scanned and total 11,254 images.

Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Collection Information

Size: 6.0 linear feet

Summary: The papers of realist painter, muralist, and art instructor Leon Kroll date from 1905 to 1974 and measure 6.0 linear feet.

Biographical/Historical Note

Leon Kroll (1884-1974) was a painter from New York, N.Y. Kroll was a leading painter during the 1920's and 1930's.


Material on reels D326-D331 donated 1968 by Leon Kroll; unmicrofilmed material donated 1976 by Mrs. Leon Kroll, widow of Kroll.


Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

A Finding Aid to the Leon Kroll Papers,
, in the Archives of American Art
Finding aid prepared by Erin Corley
Biographical Note
Leon Kroll (1884-1974) of New York, N.Y., was a painter.
Leon Kroll was born in New York City in 1884. As a teenager he attended classes at the Art Students League and studied painting with John Henry Twachtman. In the early 1900s he began taking classes at the National Academy of Design, where he won student prizes, and had his first major exhibition in 1906. In 1908 he won a scholarship to study art in Paris and attended the Académie Julian, studying at the atelier of Jean-Paul Laurens. Through he practiced realism, Kroll was also influenced by French impressionist painters, specifically Paul Cézanne. While in Paris he also met Genevieve (Viette) Domec. They married later in 1923 and had one daughter, Marie-Claude.
Upon his return to New York in 1910, Kroll had a one man show of his Paris work at the National Academy where he received critical acclaim. The next year he began teaching at the National Academy of Design. During his career, he also taught at the Maryland Institute, Art Institute of Chicago, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and was a guest instructor and lecturer at several other schools.
Kroll was part of a circle of New York artists that included several members of "The Eight", and he was especially close with Robert Henri, William Glackens, George Bellows, and Eugene Speicher. During his time in Europe he also became friends with Marc Chagall and Robert and Sonia Delaunay. He exhibited at the Armory Show in 1913 and during the next few decades won numerous major national and international prizes in painting, including first prize at the 1936 Carnegie International Exhibition. He had his first retrospective exhibition at the Worcester Art Museum in 1937. Kroll was especially known for his paintings of female nudes, but also painted New York City street scenes, New England landscapes, and portraits. Beginning in the late 1930s he was commissioned to paint murals at public buildings including, among others, the U. S. Department of Justice Building, the war memorial in Worcester, Massachusetts, and the auditorium at Johns Hopkins University.
Throughout his career Kroll was a very active member of professional arts organizations. He was an Associate and later a Academician at the National Academy of Design, and his memberships included the New Society of Artists; American Society of Painters, Sculptors, and Gravers; Artists Equity Association; Four Arts Aid Association; and the National Institute of Arts and Letters among others. He also served as a board officer for many of these organizations. Kroll was active in the federal arts programs from the 1930s to the 1950s and close friends with Edward Bruce, director of the U.S. Treasury Department's Section for Fine Arts.
Kroll maintained a studio in New York City and spent summers at his home and studio at Folly Cove, Gloucester, Massachusetts. Leon Kroll died in 1974 at the age of 89.
The collection is arranged into 7 series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1906-1969 (Box 1; 0.2 linear feet)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1905-1973 (Box 1-4; 3.6 linear feet)
Series 3: Writings and Notes, 1932-1972 (Box 4-5; 0.5 linear feet)
Series 4: Legal and Financial Records, 1921-1974 (Box 5; 0.6 linear feet)
Series 5: Printed Material, 1924-1972 (Box 5-6; 0.4 linear feet)
Series 6: Photographs, circa 1900s-1960s (Box 6; 0.4 linear feet)
Series 7: Artwork, 1911-circa 1950s (Box 6; 0.3 linear feet)
Scope and Content Note
The papers of realist painter, muralist, and art instructor Leon Kroll date from 1905 to 1974 and measure 6.0 linear feet. The collection documents Kroll's painting career, teaching, and active participation in numerous art organizations. Over one-half of the collection is correspondence with artists, schools, galleries, museums, patrons, arts organizations, and others. Also found are scattered biographical material, writings and notes, legal and financial records, exhibition catalogs, clippings, other printed material, photographs of Kroll and colleagues, loose drawings, and nine sketchbooks.
Biographical material contains chronologies, biographical essays, awards, price lists, interview transcripts, and a file about the Committee on Government and Art. More than one-half of the collection consists of Kroll's personal and professional correspondence with artists such as Gifford Beal, George Biddle, Isabel Bishop, Barry Faulkner, William Glackens, Robert Henri, Paul Manship, Hobart Nichols, Eugene Speicher, Maurice Stern, Esther Williams, and many others. Additional correspondence is with art critics, curators, dealers, students, patrons, schools, museums, and numerous arts organizations. There is also extensive correspondence with arts administrators regarding government art projects, especially his friend and fellow artist Edward Bruce, Director of the U. S. Treasury Department's Section for Fine Arts.
Writings and notes by Leon Kroll including autobiographical essays, drafts of lectures and speeches, lists, and other scattered notes. Also found is a small amount of writings by others, including an essay by Julia Langsam describing her experience as an artist's model for Kroll. Legal and financial records include contracts, loan agreement, art sales receipts, and several ledgers recording consignments and monthly receipts and expenditures. One ledger specifically documents financial transactions for his mural commissions for the Justice Department and the Worcester War Memorial.
Printed material contains numerous news clippings about Kroll and his work and includes several articles written by Kroll. Also found are exhibition announcements and catalogs for Kroll's solo exhibitions, material about the Worcester War memorial, and miscellaneous printed items.
Photographs include one of Kroll with his family, Kroll in his studio and working on murals, and several of him with other artists as jurors for art exhibitions. Artists depicted include Isabel Bishop, Reginal Marsh, John Sloan, Raphael Soyer, Eugene Speicher, and others. Also found are photographs of Edward Bruce, as well as photographs of exhibitions, artwork by Leon Kroll, and artwork by others. All of the original artwork in this collection is by Leon Kroll and includes loose drawings and nine sketchbooks containing drawings of landscapes, figures, portraits, and animals.
Material on reels D326-D331 donated 1968 by Leon Kroll; unmicrofilmed material donated 1976 by Mrs. Leon Kroll, widow of Kroll.
Processing Information
Materials donated by Leon Kroll were microfilmed upon receipt on reels D326-D331. Materials donated by Genevieve Kroll were not microfilmed. Both accessions were merged, arranged, and described by Erin Corley in 2007-2008 and scanned in 2009 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Additional Forms Available

The bulk of this collection has been digitized and is available online via AAA's website. Photographs and printed reproductions of artwork as well as select financial documents have not been scanned.

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 Kroll papers, 1905-1974. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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