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Richard Dempsey papers,1930-1989,

Richard Dempsey papers,1930-1989,

Dempsey, Richard W., 1909-1987

Painter, Educator

Collection Information

Size: 3.1 linear ft. (on 5 microfilm reels)

Summary: Letters, photographs, notebooks, scrapbooks, sketches, and writings documenting the career of Richard Dempsey and the Washington, D.C. art scene. The letters (1938-1985) primarily concern the exhibition of Dempsey's paintings at the Franz Bader Gallery, the Atlanta University Gallery, Howard University, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the U.S. Embassies in Columbia and Jamaica, and with the Art in Embassies Program. Correspondents include Jack Perlmutter, Ethel Waters, and Jacob Lawrence. Photographs depict Dempsey and his work, from early portraits to later abstract work, including the Rosenwald Fellowship photographs of Duke Ellington, Mary McLeod Bethune, Jacob Lawrence and Ethel Waters. Five photograph albums include Dempsey's 1951 trip to Haiti.

Fourteen notebooks and 9 scrapbooks (1930-1987) cover Dempsey's career with the General Services Administration, early paintings and sculpture, exhibitions from the 1960's to the 1980's, paintings inspired by trips to Columbia, Haiti, Africa, and Jamaica, sketches and notes for new paintings, and lecture notes from the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Clippings (1943-1989) review Dempsey's shows and include articles on Franz Bader and Jack Perlmutter. Other materials include exhibition announcements, Dempsey's resume, medical records, and poems.

Biographical/Historical Note

Abstract painter, portrait painter, and educator; Washington, D.C.; d. 1987. Recipient of the Julius Rosenwald Fellowship in 1946 to paint 100 portraits of "Outstanding American Negroes". Invited by the government of Haiti in 1951 to visit and paint "People and Scenes". He was a lecturer and instructor at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. His work was handled by the Franz Bader Gallery in Washington, D.C.


The donor, Vonya Kirkland Dempsey, is Richard Dempsey's wife.

Location of Originals

  • 2 photograph albums returned to the lender, Mrs. Vonja Kirkland Dempsey, after microfilming.

Alternative Forms Available

Microfilm reels 4366-4370 available for use at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.

Restrictions on Access

Collection is being processed and is CLOSED to researchers. Microfilmed materials must be consulted on microfilm. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Richard Dempsey papers,1930-1989, . Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.