Skip to main content

Peggy Bacon papers, 1893-1973, bulk 1900-1936

Peggy Bacon papers, 1893-1973, bulk 1900-1936

Bacon, Peggy, 1895-1987

Painter, Poet, Printmaker, Author, Illustrator

Representative image for Peggy Bacon papers, 1893-1973, bulk 1900-1936

The papers of Peggy Bacon were digitized in 2006 by the Archives of American Art. The papers have been scanned in their entirety, and total 6,623 images.

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

Collection Information

Size: 4.0 linear feet

Summary: The papers of printmaker, illustrator, caricaturist, and writer Peggy Bacon measure 3.6 linear feet and date from 1893 to 1973, with the bulk of materials dating from 1900 to 1936. Much of the collection consists of family correspondence, although writings, photographs, artwork, and personal business records from Bacon's late career are also found.

Correspondence is found between Peggy Bacon and her parents, Elizabeth and Charles Roswell Bacon. Letters to her mother describe in detail her life as an art student and artist at the Art Students League; summer schools in Port Jefferson, Long Island and Provincetown, Massachusetts; the Woodstock artists' colony; and her early years in New York City. Letters from her husband, Alexander Brook, to her mother are also present. Letters to Bacon include letters from her early teacher Jonas Lie, and from friends and fellow artists Catherine Wiley, Dorothy Varian, Katherine Schmidt, Anne Rector Duffy, and others. Her parents' extensive correspondence includes letters to her father from the artists Jules Adler, Rudolph Bunner, Ira Remsen, and Charles Downing Lay.

The collection also contains Peggy Bacon's school reports and writing assignments, a marriage certificate, scattered poetry manuscripts and notes by Peggy Bacon, and fiction manuscripts by Charles Roswell Bacon. Personal business records date from the 1960s and 1970s and include publisher's royalty statements, gallery sales statements, and scattered business correspondence with Antoinette Kraushaar and other staff at the Kraushaar Galleries. Photographs depict Bacon and her family, friends, homes, and works of art. Artwork includes several original drawings and sketches by Bacon, as well as artwork by Alexander Brook, Charles Roswell Bacon, and others.

14 pencil and charcoal on paper include caricature drawings by Bacon, some presumably studies for the publication Off With Their Heads, including likenesses of: Childe Hassam, John Carroll, Louise Hellstrom, Stuart David, Reginald Marsh, Katehrine Schmidt, Peter Platt, Conrad Kramer, Edith Halpert, Forbes Watson, Arnold Blanch, Bernard Karfiol, Valentine Dudensing and Sam Halpert.

Biographical/Historical Note

Peggy Bacon (1895-1987) was a printmaker, painter, caricaturist, illustrator, poet, and writer (of childrens' books) from Cape Porpoise, Maine. Peggy Bacon was born Margaret Frances Bacon on May 2, 1895. She grew up in Ridgefield, Connecticut and studied at the Art Students' League. Bacon was married to painter Alexander Brook. She died January 3, 1987.

Provenance

Donated 1973 by Peggy Bacon and in 2008 via Kraushaar Galleries, estate executors.

Related Materials

Peggy Bacon papers also at Syracuse University.

Funding

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

A Finding Aid to the Peggy Bacon Papers,
1893-1973
(bulk 1900-1936)
, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.bacopegg
Biographical Note
Peggy Bacon was born in 1895 in Ridgefield, Connecticut, and grew up an only child after the death of two younger brothers in infancy. Her parents, Charles Roswell Bacon and Elizabeth Chase Bacon, had met at the Art Students League, where her father had studied with Robert Henri. Her father pursued a career in painting and writing until his suicide in 1913, and her mother painted miniatures.
A child of artists, Bacon began to draw at a very early age, and by age ten she was already earning money for her illustrations, drawings of literary characters made for dinner place cards. She did not attend school until 1909, when her parents sent her to a boarding school in Summit, New Jersey. She began her formal art training shortly after her father's death, enrolling in the School of Applied Arts for Women at the end of 1913. In the summer of 1914, she attended Jonas Lie's landscape class in Port Jefferson, Long Island, and continued private studies with him in New York City. Lie gave Bacon her first solo exhibition in 1915. From 1915 until 1920, she studied at the Art Students League under John Sloan, Kenneth Hayes Miller, George Bellows, Mahroni Young, and others. In the summers, she took classes first in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and then in Woodstock, New York, where she studied with Andrew Dasburg.
Bacon's circle was formed at the Art Students League, and the League's summer school in Woodstock. She met her husband, Alexander Brook, in Woodstock, and they were married in 1920. Both were active in the Woodstock Artists Association. Other artists in their close-knit group included Dorothea Schwarz (Greenbaum), Anne Rector (Duffy), Betty Burroughs (Woodhouse), Katherine Schmidt (Kuniyoshi Shubert), Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Molly Luce, Dorothy Varian, Edmund Duffy, Dick Dyer, David Morrison, and Andrew Dasburg. Many from this group were involved in the short-lived satirical magazine at the League called
Bad News
, published in 1918 with several of Bacon's earliest satirical drawings. Her first book,
The True Philosopher and Other Cat Tales
, was published in 1919. Brook and Bacon traveled to England in 1920, where their daughter Belinda was born. A son, Sandy, was born in Woodstock in 1922. In the early 1920s, Brook worked with Juliana Force at the Whitney Studio Club, and they were involved in the cultural life that sprang up around the gallery, which featured up-and-coming artists. For many years, Bacon and her family split their time between New York and Woodstock, and later summered in Cross River, NY. After divorcing Brook in 1940, Bacon spent summers in Ogunquit, Maine.
Though she initially thought of herself as a painter, she built her reputation on her drawings and prints, which often satirized the people around her in their natural habitats - artists in life classes, at dances, and in social situations, or a throng of people in a museum, on a city sidewalk, or a ship's deck. She became sought after for her illustrations and witty, topical verse in magazines such as
Dial
,
Delineator
,
The New Yorker
,
New Republic
,
Fortune
, and
Vanity Fair
. She helped to establish the American Print Makers, an artists' organization based in the Downtown Gallery which sought greater exhibition opportunities for printmakers. Bacon illustrated over sixty books, nineteen of which she also wrote, between 1919 and 1966, including many children's books and a successful mystery novel called
The Inward Eye
(1952). In 1933 she received a Guggenheim Fellowship and used it to complete a collection of caricatures of art world figures called
Off With Their Heads
(1934), the success of which prompted a spate of commissions for caricatures. Bacon stopped making caricatures in 1935, but they include some of her best-known work.
Bacon exhibited frequently, in New York and in major museum exhibitions nationally, showing her prints, drawings, pastels, and watercolors. She had over thirty solo exhibitions at such venues as Montross Gallery, Alfred Stieglitz's Intimate Gallery, and the Downtown Gallery, and was represented by Rehn Galleries and later Kraushaar Galleries. Bacon also taught extensively in the 1930s and 1940s, at the Fieldston School, Art Students League, Hunter College, Temple University, the Corcoran Gallery, and other places. In the 1950s, she returned to painting. She made her last prints in 1955. In the early 1970s, Bacon's eyesight failed, and she eventually went to live with her son in Cape Porpoise, Maine. She died in 1987.
Arrangement
The collection is arranged into 7 series:
Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1893-1913 (Box 1; 2 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1893-1939, 1969-1972 (Boxes 1-3; 3 linear feet)
Series 3: Personal Business Records, 1897-1934, 1963-1972 (Box 4; 0.2 linear feet)
Series 4: Writings, 1905-1920 (Boxes 4-5; 0.3 linear feet)
Series 5: Printed Material, 1905-1935, 1973 (Box 5; 3 folders)
Series 6: Photographs, circa 1900-1963 (Box 5, OV 6; 4 folders)
Series 7: Artwork, undated (Box 5, OV 6; 6 folders)
Provenance
Donated 1973 by Peggy Bacon and in 2008 via Kraushaar Galleries, estate executors.
Processing Information
The collection was originally processed for microfilming upon accession on reels 892-899. The entire collection was fully processed, arranged and described by Megan McShea in 2006, and scanned, with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art. Researchers should note that the final arrangement of the collection as described in this finding aid may not reflect the order of the collection on microfilm.

Additional Forms Available

The bulk of this collection has been digitized and is available online via AAA's website. Printed materials, photographs of works of art, and papers primarily relating to Bacon's relatives have not been digitized and are available on 35 mm microfilm reels 892-899 at Archives of American Art offices, and through interlibrary loan.

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

Peggy Bacon papers, 1893-1973, bulk 1900-1936. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

  • No downloads available