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Robert Franklin Gates papers, 1910-1988, bulk 1928-1988

Gates, Robert Franklin, 1906-1982

Muralist, Painter

Collection Information

Size: 2.3 linear ft.

Summary: The papers of Washington, D.C. area painter and art instructor Robert Franklin Gates date from 1910-1988, bulk 1928-1988, and measure 2.3 linear feet. Found are biographical materials; letters from government agencies, museums, galleries, and colleagues; business records primarily concerning transactions with the Jack Rasmussen Gallery; artwork including scattered drawings by Gates and block prints by Joe Goethe and D. Neufeld; two scrapbooks; printed materials; and photographs of Gates, family members, models, artwork, and exhibition installations. There are also photograph albums and miscellaneous photographs documenting a 1936 voyage to the Virgin Islands commissioned by the U.S. Treasury Department.

Biographical/Historical Note

Robert Franklin Gates (1906-1982) was a painter and instructor in Washington, D.C. Gates studied under C. Law Watkins at the Phillips Gallery Art School in Washington, D.C., later becoming an instructor in life drawing and painting there. He held teaching position in many other places, including at the Studio House in Washington, D.C. (1934-1938), as a guest instructor at the University of Florida, at Hood College in Frederick, Md., the Washington County Museum of Art in Hagerstown, Md., and in the art department at American University (1946-1976), serving as chair from 1953-1957. Between 1929-1940, Gates received a commissions from the U.S. Treasury Department Section of Fine Arts to create a series of watercolors of Charles Gardens, S.C., and murals for post offices in Bethesda and Oakland, Md., and Lewisburg, W. Va. During World War II, Gates worked as a civilian technician for the Navy Department doing model making and camouflage design, receiving the Distinguished Civilian Service Award for his work. From 1966 to 1967, Gates was Artist-in-Residence at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, under the Department of State Educational and Cultural Exchange Program.


The Robert Franklin Gates papers were donated in 1995 by Sarita W. Gates, the artist's widow, via legal representative Bradford G. Weekes III.

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