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National Arts Club records, 1898-1960

National Arts Club

Collection Information

Size: 32.1 Linear feet

Summary: Records of the National Arts Club, spanning the period 1898 to 1960, document the founding of the organization, and its governance, administration, finances, exhibitions, and social activities. There are large gaps in the records and many of those surviving are incomplete, which can be explained by a 1932 resolution of the Board of Governors that "old files and letters and bills in the storeroom prior to 1922 may be destroyed at the discretion of the Secretary and Treasurer."
Minutes and reports of the Board of Governors and Executive Committee are fairly complete through 1949, but sparse thereafter. Records do not exist for all standing and special committees, and those remaining tend to be concentrated in the early twentieth century.
Correspondence of the officers, for the most part, is routine and relates to administrative matters. Financial records cover the period 1917 to 1950, with a large number of gaps.
A small number of records of the Arts Realty Co. (later known as 15 Gramercy Park, Inc.) are extant. These include lists of stockholders, correspondence concerning mortgage bonds, and minutes.
Membership records, arranged alphabetically, are available for the years 1931 to 1959, and there are rosters arranged by membership category, 1940-1952; in addition, printed membership lists were issued circa 1900-1951.
More than four hundred exhibitions are known to have been held in the galleries of the National Arts Club between 1899 and 1960. Catalogs for 124 National Arts Club exhibitions are available at the Archives of American Art; 69 titles are to be found among the Club's records and an additional 55 were microfilmed previously as parts of other collections. Other exhibition documentation includes printed matter such as invitations, entry blanks, publicity, and photographs (see Appendix A). For some exhibitions, supporting documentation such as correspondence with exhibitors and collectors, sales and consignment records, and shipping receipts have survived. These files are mainly confined to Books of the Year exhibitions, Arts and Crafts/Decorative Arts exhibitions, and a smaller number of exhibitions of Living American Etchers, 1928-1957.
General social events, activities sponsored by Arts Club committees, and special commemorative occasions are documented by invitations, programs, publicity, calendars of events, and photographs. The majority of this material is contained in seventeen scrapbooks, 1898-1940. Programs of the Men's Open Table, 1915-1950, are particularly well documented by the Chairman's correspondence and three volumes containing meeting notices with signatures of members in attendance.
In addition to printed matter relating to exhibitions and events, scrapbooks, 1898-1940, contain general publicity, clippings concerning members, and samples of National Arts Club printed matter such as form letters to the general membership, brochures, ballots, house rules, published membership lists, year books, and the like. Loose printed matter augments that preserved in the scrapbooks. These sources combined provide a fairly complete set of the Bulletin, but the number of year books is small, and there are catalogs of only slightly more than a third of the exhibitions identified.
Photographs, in addition to those recording exhibitions and events, include portraits of governors, officers, distinguished visitors, speakers, and performers; views of Gramercy Park and the interior and exterior of the clubhouse; and works of art in the permanent collection.
Miscellaneous material includes information on the National Arts Club's first home on West 34th Street, and the Tilden Mansion, its current clubhouse on Gramercy Park; histories of the organization; unpublished speeches presented at Club occasions; and copies of legal documents, including the Club's charter and act of incorporation.

Biographical/Historical Note

The National Arts Club was founded by Charles de Kay, literary and art critic for the New York Times who believed there was a need for a club uniting all of the arts. In March of 1898, de Kay called together a number of civic leaders and men prominent in the art world who supported the idea, elected the first officers and incorporated the Club in 1899.

Provenance

The National Arts Club donated its records to the Archives of American Art in 1987. Although a limited amount of printed matter was available at various libraries and on microfilm through the Archives of American Art, scholars have not had access to unpublished records of the Club until this time. In November 2017 an addition to the Officers' Correspondence was donated by Elizabeth G. Knudsen, granddaughter of Edmund Greacen, former Arts Committee Chair.

Related Materials

  • 1898
  • National Art Club. Harpers Weekly 42:329, April 2.
  • 1899
  • Club to advance art industries. Critic 34:349-51, April.
  • National Arts Club organized. New York Times (7-2), 29-288-2, April 26.
  • 1909
  • Position as a factor in the encouragement of the fine arts. G. Teall. Craftsman 15:604-13, February.
  • Club officials rule a member may take a process server into club as a guest to serve papers on fellow member, case of R.S. Perrin vs. D. Whipple. New York Times 7:3, June 29.
  • 1913
  • Lecture of Prof. Eucken on Art and Morality. New York Times 9:3, March 1.
  • Offers prize to member who writes best manuscript on "A Critical Estimate of the Altman Collection." New York Times 12:7, November 8.
  • Annual exhibition of Books of the Year; organization of American Institute of Graphic Arts planned. New York Times 9:3, November 13.
  • 1914
  • Alexander de Yourevitch has visited Russian political exiles as agent from the Czar; arranges for Russian trade exhibit in New York; National Arts Club has agreed to cooperate. New York Times 20:2, March 27.
  • Dinner in honor of Shakespeare celebration, address by Henry Clews. New York Times 13:2, April 24.
  • Farewell dinner to Karl Vollmoeller and George Sylvester Viereck at National Arts Club by Alfred Rau. New York Times III, 7:3, May 7.
  • Exhibition of Books of the Year (editorial). New York Times VI, 514:2, November 22.
  • 1915
  • Awards announced. New York Times 10:1, January 7.
  • Paintings exhibition. New York Times V, 11:13, January 10.
  • Poster exhibition. New York Times III, 2:5, March 28.
  • Thanksgiving dinner to east side waifs. New York Times 11:1, November 26.
  • 1917
  • Annual exhibition; Gold Medal and $1000 prize awarded to Ben Foster. New York Times 10:6, January 4.
  • Memorial services for W.B. Howland. New York Times 7:3, March 3.
  • Offers prizes for best patriotic medal, poem, and song. New York Times 9:14, April 6.
  • Offers prizes to promote expression of American patriotism in art. New York Times IV, 13:2, April 15.
  • H.A.W. Wood speaks at distribution of prizes. New York Times 11:3, May 31.
  • "Road to France," $500 prize offered for appropriate music. New York Times 13:2, June 9.
  • American Artists' War Emergency Fund Committee announces that art stamp will be sold to aid artists reduced in circumstances through the war. New York Times 13:6, July 10.
  • Offers prize of $500 for best musical setting for D.M. Henderson's "The Road to France." New York Times VIII, 9:3, August 12.
  • Prize for music for war song by D.M. Henderson is awarded to Signe Lund. New York Times 13:3, November 1.
  • 1919
  • Annual books exhibition. New York Times VIII, 686:1, November 23.
  • 1921
  • Comment on suggestion by G. Bellows that proposed members should possess some work by living American artist. New York Times III, 20:3, February 6.
  • Elects governors. New York Times 9:2, April 13.
  • 1922
  • Awards Agar prize to Christine Herter. New York Times 16:7, April 7.
  • Address by Ann Martin. New York Times 4:3, August 3.
  • 1923
  • Annual exhibition of books; I. Zangwill speaks; protest by member. New York Times 6:1, November 8.
  • 1924
  • Prize winners of annual exhibition. New York Times 4:15, January 10.
  • Honors J.G. Agar at dinner. New York Times 6:2, February 26.
  • 1925
  • Mural panels of Old NY used for New Year's fete to be put on exhibition. New York Times 29:1, January 4.
  • Announces prize winners at Members' Annual Exhibition. New York Times VIII, 11:2, January 18.
  • Murals depicting history of NYC, painted for New Years' ball, to be given to Museum of the City of New York. New York Times 25:4, February 3.
  • Exhibition of lithographs, woodcuts, and linoleum prints. New York Times VIII, 11:13, April 12.
  • 1926
  • Exhibition. New York Times 4:5, January 14.
  • Exhibition. New York Times 17:3, April 8.
  • Exhibition of photographs of recent buildings. New York Times VIII, 12:6, April 18.
  • 15th century books brought from Germany by Dr. Otto H.F. Vollbehr on exhibition at the National Arts Club. New York Times 6:6, August 24.
  • 15th century Book of Hours, worth $15,000, stolen from exhibition at National Arts Club. New York Times 1:2, August 26.
  • Feature article on exhibition. New York Times IV, 15:1, August 29.
  • Book of Hours mysteriously returned to Vollbehr by E.M. Garlock, attorney, acting for unnamed client who claims to have bought book from stranger. New York Times 19:1, September 12.
  • Editorial on return of book. New York Times 20:4, September 13.
  • 21st annual book exhibit; addresses. New York Times 28:3, November 4.
  • History in connection with 20th anniversary celebration. New York Times VIII,18:6, November 7.
  • 1927
  • New Year's Eve costume ball. New York Times 15:3, January 1.
  • Exhibition of American paintings. New York Times 25:5, March 3.
  • Exhibition of etchings. New York Times IX, 10:4, December 11.
  • 1928
  • Exhibits. New York Times 30:2, January 12; New York Times IX, 13:2, January 29.
  • Awards in small painting exhibition. New York Times 27:2, February 10.
  • Exhibit. New York Times VIII, 15:3, February 12.
  • First exhibition of decorative arts. New York Times 28:4, March 15; New York Times IX, 15:4, March 18.
  • Exhibition. New York Times IX, 15:2, April 15.
  • 1929
  • J. Lie, P. Manship, and C. Beach win prizes. New York Times 25:3, January 11.
  • Annual members' exhibition. New York Times X, 18:4, January 27.
  • Exhibition of crafts. New York Times X, 15:6, December 8.
  • Prize awarded to D.C. Nisbet. New York Times 23:5, December 29.
  • 1930
  • Arts Club prizes announced. Art News 28:21, January 4.
  • Annual exhibition of painting and sculpture. New York Times VIII, 13:3, January 19.
  • Seventh annual exhibition. New York Times VIII, 13:1, February 16.
  • Annual junior art show. New York Times 3:5, March 15; New York Times X, 19:3, March 16.
  • Exhibition of prints by living American etchers. New York Times X, 18:1, December 14.
  • 1931
  • New York season; Living American Etchers. Art Digest 5:14, January 1.
  • M. Gregg Memorial Prize awarded to I.G. Olinsky; medal to H.W. Watrous. New York Times 34:6, January 10.
  • Exhibitions. New York Times VIII, 12:7, February 22.
  • Exhibition of Junior Artist Members. New York Times IX, 13:4, March 15.
  • Hold exhibition of portraits and other objects relating to history of Gramercy Park. New York Times II, 1:7 and 18:4, May 3.
  • Annual exhibition of paintings by members. New York Times 30:6, June 4.
  • Awards to R.D. Bowden $3000 prize, offered by J.G. Agar for best book on "The Soul of America." New York Times 20:6, June 8.
  • 1932
  • Annual exhibition of work by painter and sculptor members; prizes announced. New York Times 27:7, January 7.
  • Art Club prizes. Art Digest 6:10, January 15.
  • Forum on development of art talent in young artists. New York Times 13:8, January 18.
  • Arts Club prizes. Art News 30:20, January 23.
  • Opening. New York Times 16:7, February 4.
  • Prizes awarded to junior artists. New York Times 19:2, March 8.
  • Art auction totals $600. New York Times 19:5, April 14.
  • Members' exhibition of small paintings. New York Times 16:6, May 5.
  • National Arts Club book exhibition. E. Yost. Publishers Weekly 122:2382-3, December 31.
  • 1933
  • R. Nickerson, new member, wins medal at annual painting and sculpture show; other awards. New York Times 18:2, January 5.
  • Annual members' exhibition. New York Times 13:2, January 13; New York Times IX, 12:6, January 15.
  • National Arts club prizes. Art Digest 7:15, January 15; Art News 31:7, January 28 Celebrates 119th birthday of S.J. Tilden. New York Times 17:6, February 8.
  • Exhibition by junior artist members. New York Times 15:2, March 2.
  • 1934
  • Prizes for annual members' show announced. New York Times IX, 12:3, January 14.
  • Annual dinner. New York Times 17:4, January 18.
  • Prizes. Art Digest February 1, 8:19; Art Digest 8:13, May 15.
  • Memorial exhibition of eight of its deceased painter and sculptor members. New York Times IX, 12:6, February 4.
  • Junior members exhibit. New York Times 17:1, March 8; New York Times IX, 9:7, March 18; Prizes awarded. New York Times 22:8, March 22.
  • Annual members' show. New York Times 17:2, May 3; Awards, New York Times 21:1, May 8; New York Times IX, 7:7, May 13.
  • Awards given by Arts Club. Art News 32:4, June 2.
  • Rare book exhibition planned. New York Times 19:4, September 18; Exhibition. New York Times 17:1, September 19.
  • 1935
  • Annual exhibition of members' work opened. New York Times 17:5, January 10; New York Times 9:3, January 14.
  • Annual dinner; awards. New York Times 20:7, January 17.
  • Stag dinner; portrait of Victoria replaces painting of nude. New York Times 23:4, February 1.
  • Prizes, annual exhibition of painting and sculpture. Art Digest 9:21, February 1.
  • Members' annual exhibition. New York Times 18:2, February 8; New York Times VIII, 9:6, February 17.
  • Annual exhibition by junior artists. New York Times 18:5, March 9.
  • Arts Club plans a large bazaar. Art News 33:10, August 17.
  • Series of articles on traditions of club being written. New York Times II, 7:1, October 6.
  • Plans for annual book week. New York Times II and III, 8:5, October 13; exhibitors to be entertained by J.R. Gregg, president. New York Times 19:2, October 30.
  • To award two trips to Europe for mural decoration. New York Times 26:7, November 1; New York Times 19:5, November 14.
  • To hold "At Home" tea. New York Times II, 8:2, December 8.
  • Dinner. New York Times 14:8, December 11.
  • 1936
  • Annual members' exhibition. New York Times 19:6, January 9; New York Times 13:8, January 11; New York Times IX, 10:1, January 19.
  • Exhibition of modern textbooks. New York Times 17:7, February 6.
  • Announces winners of trips to Europe. New York Times 21:2, February 11.
  • Exhibition by neighboring organizations. New York Times IX, 8:1, April 12.
  • Summer exhibit from permanent collection. New York Times IX, 7:4, June 21.
  • Exhibition of contemporary books; authors' night. New York Times VI, 9:2, November 8.
  • Plans for children's matinee at annual book exhibition. New York Times VI, 7:2, November 8.
  • Women's open table plans dinner. New York Times 16:4, November 23.
  • Exhibition of Society of American Etchers. New York Times XII, 9:2, November 29.
  • 1937
  • Awards at members' exhibit. New York Times 24:3, January 27.
  • Exhibitions sponsored by Society of American Etchers. New York Times 21:3, February 3; New York Times X, 9:7, February 7.
  • Women's committee holds drama dinner. New York Times 13:1, February 15.
  • R.D. Kohn speaks, New York Times 25:7, March 11.
  • Jr. artists group exhibit. New York Times IX, 10:1, March 14; Awards. New York Times 23:6, March 25.
  • Photographic exhibition. New York Times X, 10:2, May 16.
  • Officers elected. New York Times 19:1, May 20.
  • H. Hamilton exhibit. New York Times IX, 6:7, September 26.
  • Book of the year exhibit. New York Times 23:6, November 4; New York Times VI, 4:3, November 28.
  • Mr. H.P. Crine elected life member. New York Times 9:1, November 28.
  • Members' exhibit. New York Times 28:3, December 9.
  • 1938
  • Women's Open Table plans. New York Times 11:2, January 17.
  • Members' annual exhibit. New York Times, January 18 26:2; New York Times IX,9:3, January 23; Awards. New York Times 22:2, January 27.
  • Members studio receptions planned. New York Times VI, 2:7, January 30.
  • Dinner honoring Dr. W. Damrosch. New York Times 12:5, March 7.
  • Exhibit by art groups near NYC. New York Times 20:8, March 28.
  • Group show. New York Times X, 8:2, April 17.
  • Viennese ball. New York Times 22:6, April 21.
  • J.F. Talcott elected president; D.E. Waid executive committee chairman. New York Times 21:6, November 19.
  • Victorian ball. New York Times 18:1, December 17.
  • 1939
  • Members' memorial exhibit. New York Times 15:1, January 13; New York Times IX, 9:2, January 22.
  • Members' painting and sculpture exhibit. New York Times IX, 9:2, February 5.
  • Jr. Members' lecture. New York Times 10:2, February 6.
  • Painting exhibit. New York Times 18:1, March 1; New York Times X, 10:2, March 5.
  • Jr. Members party planned. New York Times 50:3, March 5.
  • Exhibit of neighboring art organizations. New York Times 13:2, April 17.
  • Wild West party planned to benefit Jr. Members Scholarship Fund; to close 40th anniversary celebration. New York Times II, 2:8, April 23; New York Times II, 3:1, April 30.
  • Jr. Members plan New Year's Eve Olympian Ball. New York Times 30:2, December 19; New York Times II, 1:2, December 31.
  • 1940
  • Art by deceased life members to be sold. New York Times 17:2, January 5.
  • Group show; awards. New York Times 21:2, January 11.
  • Group show. New York Times 24:2, January 24; New York Times IX, 9:2, January 28.
  • Non-members exhibition. Art News 38:15, February 3.
  • Exhibits: ceramics. New York Times 17:4, February 16; Ceramics and flowers. New York Times 15:5, February 19; Ceramics. New York Times II, 5:2, February 25; Exhibits: Jr. members. New York Times IX, 10:2, April 14; Group show awards. New York Times 21: 5, April 25.
  • Pan-American Ball held. New York Times 21:5, April 20.
  • Fund campaign for refugee artists started. New York Times 8:2, July 31.
  • Establishes artist refugee fund. New York Times 19:1, August 1.
  • Benefit exhibit plans. New York Times 20:8, October 2; Exhibit. New York Times IX, 5:4, October 6.
  • County fair planned. New York Times II, 3:3, October 6.
  • Refugee artists show their work. Art News 39:10, October 12.
  • Annual book exhibit opens. New York Times 3:5, November 3.
  • Testimonial luncheon for foreign authors in U.S. New York Times 45:2, November 10.
  • National Arts Club dramatizes books at the 35th annual new books of the year exhibition. Publishers Weekly 138:2046, November 30.
  • 1941
  • Annual members' exhibit. New York Times 24:8, January 10; Comment. New York Times IX, 9:2, January 12; Awards. New York Times 24:6, January 23.
  • Annual prizes. Art Digest 15:13, February 1.
  • Benefits concerts planned. New York Times 39:1, February 23; New York Times 20:7, March 28.
  • Annual exhibit awards. New York Times 28:3, March 11; Comment. New York Times I, 10:3, March 16.
  • Group shows. New York Times IX, 10:1, March 30; New York Times IX, 8:2, May 25; New York Times X, 13:5, May 25; New York Times IX, 7:5, June 15.
  • Book exhibit. New York Times 1:6,November 9.
  • 1942
  • Group show. New York Times X, 10:1, January 18.
  • Group show. New York Times 14:4, February 4; Private preview. New York Times 15:4, February 5; Comment. New York Times IX, 9:6, February 8.
  • Jr. members to honor servicemen at Hallowe'en party. New York Times 16:3, October 30.
  • 37th annual show of new books. Publishers Weekly 142:2044, November 14.
  • To sponsor Chinese and Indian art exhibit in NYC. New York Times VIII, 9:1, December 13; Exhibit. New York Times 42:5, December 17.
  • 1945
  • Holds Xmas fair. New York Times 13:3, November 16.
  • 1946
  • Contemporary American painting exhibit planned. New York Times 23:6, February 20.
  • Jr. members and young non-members exhibition. Art News 45:67, May.
  • Annual book show plans. New York Times 21:2, November 1; Show, W.L. Laurence speaks. New York Times 13:1, November 12.
  • Annual book show. Publishers Weekly 150:2731, 2718, November 9.
  • Packaging the book. P. Boswell. Art Digest 21:3, November 15.
  • Choosing best book jackets, 41st annual book show. Art News 45:8, December.
  • 1947
  • Preview exhibit. New York Times 21:5, January 9.
  • Forming symphony orchestra. New York Times 27:1, September 19.
  • 1948
  • Ninth annual exhibition of American Veterans Society of Artists. Art Digest 22:19, January 1.
  • Conservatives score at the 50th annual exhibition of painting and sculpture. Art Digest 22:17, February 1.
  • Fiftieth annual exhibition. Art News 47:49, March.
  • Book fair opens in NYC. New York Times 30:7, December 9.
  • 1949
  • Summer annual. Art Digest 23:14, August.
  • Dinner honors Mrs. F.D. Roosevelt. New York Times 39:5, October 11.
  • 1950
  • Fifty-second annual exhibition of oils and sculptures. Art Digest 24:12, January 15.
  • Members' summer exhibition. Art Digest 24:18, August.
  • Fair plans. New York Times 44:8, November 1.
  • 1951
  • Members-guests annual. New York Times II, 19:1, January 14.
  • 53rd Annual Exhibition. Art Digest 25:18, January 15; Art News 49:47, February.
  • Non-members annual. New York Times 21:5, March 30.
  • Open competition for non-members. Art Digest 25:18, April 15.
  • Summer painting exhibition series opens. New York Times 42:8, June 7.
  • Members work. New York Times II, 6:4, June 17.
  • Summer exhibition. Art Digest 25:19, July.
  • 1952
  • Fifty-fourth annual exhibition. Art Digest 26:19, January 15; Art News 49:47, February.
  • Members and guests annual. New York Times 59:2, January 6; Awards. New York Times 16:2, January 17.
  • Watercolor annual; awards. New York Times 14:4, February 8; Art News 51:56, March.
  • Non-members painting annual; awards. New York Times 16:5, March 10; New York Times 27:3, March 13.
  • Small pictures by members; awards. New York Times 25:5, April 9.
  • Exhibition of small oils. Art Digest 26:18-19, April 15; Art News 49:47, February.
  • 1953
  • Theatre in an art gallery. A. Scheff. Theatre Arts 37:92, January.
  • Members-guests annual; awards. New York Times II, 11:2, January 11.
  • Non-members painting annual; awards. New York Times 21:5., February 19.
  • Members work; awards. New York Times II, 13:2, May 10; New York Times II, 8:5, June 21.
  • 1954
  • Painting and sculpture annual by members and guests. New York Times 25:5, January 26.
  • Fifty-sixth annual exhibition. Arts Digest 28:17, February 1.
  • Members and non-members annual; contemporary watercolors; awards. New York Times 27:5, February 11; Review. New York Times II, 14:2, February 14.
  • Grand national annual members' competition. Art News 53:63, May.
  • 1955
  • Painting and sculpture annual; awards. New York Times 23:1, January 12.
  • Fifty-sixth annual exhibition. Arts Digest 28:17, February 1.
  • Paintings annual; awards. New York Times 18:4, March 1.
  • Annual exhibition of American oil paintings. Art Digest 29:26, March 15.
  • Poet P. MacKaye honored on 80th birthday. New York Times 28:2, March 16.
  • 1957
  • Arts Club honors Neuman; WNYC. C. Durgin. Musical America 77:12, April.
  • Art Clubs of America. Artist 53:67, June.
  • 1958
  • At founding [sixtieth anniversary]. New York Times 49:2, November 27.
  • First annual metropolitan young artists show; awards. New York Times 49:2, November 27
  • 1959
  • Stadium Concerts founder Mrs. C.S. Guggenheimer gets scroll from Mayor Wagner and National Arts Club medal. New York Times 9:2, March 12.
  • 1960
  • Tenor competition awards. New York Times 47:8, November 15.