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Marion Sanford and Cornelia Chapin papers, 1929-1988

Sanford, Marion, 1904-1987

Sculptor, Illustrator

This site provides access to the papers of Marion Sanford and Cornelia Chapin in the Archives of American Art that were digitized in 2015, and total 3,415 images.

Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art. Funding for the preservation of the Cornelia Chapin Home Movies was provided by the National Film Preservation Foundation.

Collection Information

Size: 2.5 Linear feet

Summary: The papers of sculptors Marion Sanford and Cornelia Chapin measure 2.5 linear feet and date from 1929-1988. Sanford and Chapin were close companions and shared a studio in New York City. The papers include scattered materials created by and about both women, including biographical materials, one folder of correspondence for each woman, a few writings and essays, newsclippings, exhibition catalogs, other printed materials, and four scrapbooks (three about Chapin and one about Sanford). Photographs are of Chapin only and of artwork of both women. There is also one sound recording of a radio interview with Chapin and several motion picture films of Chapin's home movies shot in upstate New York and Paris.
Biographical material consists of scattered items documenting the careers of Marion Sanford and Cornelia Chapin. Included are a small amount of correspondence of both women, membership certificates, an index card file of Sanford's artwork, Chapin's written description of her sculpting process, and writings by others about Chapin. The sound recording is a radio interview of Chapin after she sculpted a bear for the National Zoo. Films include several home movies of Chapin from 1932-1936, showing Chapin at a summer home in Harpursville, NY, working in her studio, and working in Paris with teacher Mateo Hernandez.
Printed material includes exhibition announcements and catalogs for many group and solo shows of both women, news clippings about Chapin and Sanford, and a few reproductions of their artwork. Source files consist of postcards and clippings of various images that were most probably used as references or inspiration for their artwork.
The collection includes four scrapbooks compiled by Sanford and Chapin documenting their careers through news clippings, a few exhibition materials, and photographs of their artwork. There are three scrapbooks about Chapin, and one about Sanford. Also found are two additional scrapbooks on the subject of bas-relief and sculpture. Photographs include several of Cornelia Chapin in her studio and with her teacher Mateo Hernandez. There are numerous photographs of artwork by Chapin and Sanford. Artwork includes drawings of animals, architectural elements, coins, and people, by either Sanford or Chapin.

Biographical/Historical Note

Marion Sanford was born in 1904 in Ontario, Canada and was raised in Warren, Pennsylvania. She studied painting at the Pratt Institute in New York, and worked for a period of time as a stage and costume designer. She developed an interest in sculpture, and studied the direct-carving method briefly at the Art Students League, but was largely self-taught. In 1937 she had her first exhibition of sculptures depicting women performing household chores and everyday tasks. She later created a series called "Women at Work" and her imagery of women would be the subject for which she would become best known, although she also completed bronze portraits and bas-reliefs. In 1941 and 1943 she worked as a Guggenheim Fellow, and became a member of the National Academy of Design, National Sculpture Society, and the National Association of Women Artists. Sanford won many awards and medals for her works and also created sculptures on commission, including a carved altar panel for the First Methodist Church in Warren, Pennsylvania. Marion Sanford died in 1987.

Provenance

A portion of the Marion Sanford and Cornelia Chapin papers were donated by Marion Sanford in 1974. Additional materials were donated by Sanford's caretaker, Brenda Brenwell-Lejeune, in 1999.

Related Materials

Funding

Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art. Funding for the preservation of the Cornelia Chapin Home Movies was provided by the National Film Preservation Foundation.