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Mary K. McGuigan and John F. McGuigan Jr. artists' letters collection, 1794-1938

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Dominique Luster, Erin Kinhart, and Stephanie Ashley
Scope and Contents
The collection of artists' letters compiled by Mary and John McGuigan Jr. measure 0.6 linear feet and date from 1794-1938. The collection is comprised of a group of letters, writings, and signed documents to and from a variety of artists, art administrators, art critics, historians, and art-related organizations assembled from multiple sources. It also includes associated printed material with some documents and a few photographs, including carte de visites and cabinet cards.
Item descriptions included in the container listing were provided by Mary and John McGuigan and illuminate the wide range of artists and types of material represented in the collection. While some of the letters document routine transactions such as responses to requests for information, and transmittals of autographs, others document specific artist commissions and projects, exhibition and financial arrangements, business relationships, family events, and travels. The collection includes documentation of portrait painters, including Chester Harding and Rembrandt Peale; nineteenth century landscape artists and artists of the Hudson River School including Albert Bierstadt, George Henry Boughton, Samuel Colman, Jasper Francis Cropsey, and George Inness; sculptors including Daniel Chester French whose letters include sixty-three letters to Charles Dupuy, the caretaker of French's summer home in Massachusetts; publishers such as Mathew Carey, in letters from John Neagle; and the activities of arts institutions such as the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
In addition to those mentioned above, letters and signed documents are from Washington Allston, William Holbrook Beard, Eugene Benson, William Tilden Blodgett, Jr., James Renwick Brevoort, Frederic Edwin Church, James Claghorn, John Singleton Copley, Kenyon Cox, F.O.C. Darley, Joseph DeCamp, Frank Duveneck, John Mackie Falconer, Horatio Greenough, Childe Hassam, Ignaz Michael Marcel Gaugengigl, George Healy, George Hollingsworth, William Morris Hunt, Daniel Huntington, Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington, Henry Inman, Hugh Bolton Jones, Thomas Dow Jones, Louis Ashton Knight, Charles Robert Leslie, Will Low, Frederick William MacMonnies, Frank Blackwell Mayer, Samuel F. B. Morse, Erastus Dow Palmer, Rubens Peale, Elizabeth Robins Pennell, Tobias (Toby) Edward Rosenthal, John Singer Sargent, George Henry Smillie, Marie Spartali Stillman, William James Stillman, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Abbott Handerson Thayer, Charles Yardley Turner, Stephen Arnold Douglas Volk, William Walcutt, Henry Antonio Wenzler, Benjamin West, Stanford White, Worthington Whittredge, and others.
The collection also includes a friendship album belonging to William Tilden Blodgett, Jr., with poems, sketches, and botanical watercolors, eight photographs including carte de visites and cabinet cards with images of George Hollingsworth, Thomas Dow Jones, Louis Ashton Knight, Henry Antonio Wenzler, and William Walcutt, and two photographs of a model used by Francis Blackwell Mayer when painting The Burning of the Peggy Stewart.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
John F. McGuigan Jr. and Mary K. McGuigan purchased these letters and generously donated them to the Archives of American Art between 2000 and 2019. The McGuigans have purchased and donated additional archival materials to the Archives, including a portion of the Douglas Volk and Leonard Wells Volk papers. In 2017 the McGuigans donated an addition to the Sylvester Rosa Koehler papers, including sixty-nine letters from A. Barry, Truman Howe Bartlett, William Merritt Chase, Timothy Cole, Edward Henry Clement, Cyrus Edwin Dallin, Robert Swain Gifford, George Inness, Anna Lea Merritt, Stephen Parrish, John Sartain, Francis Hopkinson Smith, and Frederic Porter Vinton.
Processing Information
The collection was processed by intern Dominique Luster in 2014. Letter descriptions were provided by Mary and John McGuigan,Jr. An addition of 37 letters was merged into the existing collection and the finding aid updated by Erin Kinhart in 2017. An addition of 26 letters, 1 album, 3 sketches, and 8 photographs was merged into the existing collection and the finding aid updated by Stephanie Ashley in 2019.
Ten letters from and related to Robert W. Weir and the Weir family were removed from the collection and transferred to the Weir family papers in 2019.