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Nickolas Muray papers, 1910-1978

Nickolas Muray papers, 1910-1978

Muray, Nickolas, 1892-1965


Representative image for Nickolas Muray papers, 1910-1978

This site provides access to the papers of Nickolas Muray in the Archives of American Art that were digitized in 2016, and total 1,031 images.

Collection Information

Size: 0.9 linear feet

Summary: The papers of photographer Nickolas Muray measure 0.9 linear feet and date from 1910 to 1978. Found within the papers are biographical materials; business and personal correspondence, including a handful of letters from Frida Kahlo; writings; teaching files, primarily of photography courses taught at New York University; printed material; artwork; and photographic materials of Muray, his family and friends, and his work.

Biographical/Historical Note

Nickolas Muray (1892-1965) was a portrait photographer. Born in Hungary. Began as professional photographer around 1921. In the 1930s, he established one of the first color labs in the United States and became a master of the carbro process. He also wrote reviews for "Dance" magazine, flew airplanes, and in 1928 and 1932, he represented the United States as a member of the Olympic Fencing Team.


The papers were donated in 1988 by Muray's daughter, Mimi Murray.

A Finding Aid to the Nickolas Muray Papers, 1910-1978, in the Archives of American Art
Biographical/Historical note
Photographer Nickolas Muray (1892-1965) lived and worked in New York, New York and was known for his portrait, fashion, and advertising photography and for his mastery of the carbro color printing process.
Born in Szeged, Hungary, Muray spent time in Budapest as an engraver’s apprentice and moved to Germany at the age of 16 to expand his technical knowledge of photo-engraving and photography. In 1913, Muray immigrated to America where he worked as a photo engraver at Stockinger Engraving Co. and eventually opened his own photography studio in 1920. After successfully completing a commission to photograph Broadway star Florence Reed, Muray continued to build his portfolio with regular commissions for
Harper’s Bazaar
Vanity Fair
to photograph movie stars, artists, musicians, artists, and models. In the 1930s, Muray mastered the carbro printing process and established one of the first color labs in America. His color fashion and advertising work continued to appear regularly in
Ladies’ Home Journal
Woman’s Home Companion
and other periodicals.
In addition to his professional work, Muray wrote reviews for
magazine and represented the United States in 1928 and 1932 as a member of the Olympic fencing team. He maintained a long distance affair with artist Frida Kahlo throughout the 1930s, eventually ending the relationship but remaining friends until her death in 1954. In 1942, Muray married his fourth wife, Margaret (Peggy) Schwab, with whom he had a daughter, Mimi. Muray died of a heart attack in 1965.
Arrangement note
The collection is arranged as 1 series.
Series 1: Nickolas Muray papers, 1910-1978 (0.9 linear feet; Boxes 1-2, OV 3)
The papers were donated in 1988 by Muray's daughter, Mimi Murray.
Processing Information note
Materials received a preliminary level of arrangement after donation and the collection was microfilmed onto reels 4392-4393. The collection was prepared for digitization and described by Judy Ng in 2016, with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Additional Forms Available

The bulk of the collection was digitized in 2016 and is available on the Archives of American Art's website. Materials which have not been scanned include blank pages, blank versos of photographs, and duplicates. In some cases, published books and other publications have had their covers, title pages, and relevant pages 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

Nickolas Muray papers, 1910-1978. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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