Skip to main content

Robert McChesney papers, 1913-2006

Robert McChesney papers, 1913-2006

McChesney, Robert, 1913-2008

Painter

Collection Information

Size: 6.0 linear feet

Summary: The papers of artist Robert Pearson McChesney measure 6 linear feet and date from 1913 to 2006. McChesney was an abstract expressionist painter and muralist based in Petaluma, California. The papers include biographical materials, correspondence, exhibition files, printed materials, scrapbooks, and photographic materials.

Biographical/Historical Note

Robert Pearson McChesney (1913-2008) was a California Abstract Expressionist painter and muralist.

Provenance

The Robert McChesney papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by Mary Fuller McChesney in 2015.

Related Materials

The Archives of American Art has an oral history interview with Robert McChesney conducted in 1964 by Lewis FerbrachÔe.

A Finding Aid to the Robert McChesney Papers, 1913-2006, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.mcchrobe
Author
Finding aid prepared by Rihoko Ueno
Biographical/Historical note
Robert Pearson McChesney (1913-2008) was a California Abstract Expressionist painter and muralist.
Robert McChesney was born on January 16, 1913 in Marshall, Missouri. His parents were Ruby Eversmann Pearson and Jack Wiley McChesney who ran a photography studio. McChesney attended Washington University School of Fine Arts in St. Louis, Missouri from 1933-1934 and Otis Arts Institute in Los Angeles, California from 1936-1937. In 1937, he married Frances, an artist figure model, and they later divorced.
McChesney worked in the mural division of the depression-era Federal Works Project Administration on the Golden Gate International Exposition (GGIE) in San Francisco from 1938 to 1940. At the GGIE, McChesney and other artists worked on a mural series designed by Herman Volz. During World War II, he served in the U. S. Merchant Marine in the South Pacific. He painted a great deal while he was in the South Pacific and when he returned to San Francisco those paintings became the basis for his first solo exhibition in 1944 at the Richmond and Richmond Gallery.
After the war, McChesney lived in a house in Point Richmond, California with several artists, including the sculptor Mary Fuller whom he married in 1949. Beginning in 1950, he taught at the California School of Fine Arts, California State University at Hayward, and the California Labor School. In 1952, he moved to Sonoma Mountain in Petaluma, California where he built in a house and studio.
Over the course of his artistic career, McChesney had over 40 solo exhibitions and his artwork is included in the collections of many museums such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, Art Institute of Chicago, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Robert McChesney died on May 10, 2008 in Sonoma County, California.
Arrangement note
This collection is arranged as 6 series.
Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1931-1995 (0.5 linear feet; Box 1, OV 9)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1936-2006 (1 linear feet; Boxes 1-2)
Series 3: Exhibition Files, 1970-2006 (0.9 linear feet; Boxes 2-3)
Series 4: Printed Materials, 1945-2006 (0.9 linear feet; Boxes 3-4, OV 9)
Series 5: Scrapbooks, 1940-2002 (0.9 linear feet; Boxes 6-8)
Series 6: Photographic Materials, 1913-2002 (1.8 linear feet; Boxes 4-5, 7, OV 9)
Scope and Contents note
The papers of artist Robert Pearson McChesney measure 6 linear feet and date from 1913 to 2006. McChesney was an abstract expressionist painter and muralist based in Petaluma, California. The papers include biographical materials, correspondence, exhibition files, printed materials, scrapbooks, and photographic materials.
Biographical materials consist of legal documents, estate papers, awards, genealogical information, a few notebooks and writings, and other assorted personal papers.
The bulk of the correspondence is with galleries and museums about shows and art sales. There is very limited personal correspondence with friends and family. There are a few holiday cards designed by Mary Fuller and Robert McChesney.
Exhibition files include announcements, catalogs, publicity, reviews, correspondence, exhibition lists, price lists, and other material.
Printed materials consist of clippings, reviews, announcements, catalogs, books, and periodicals.
There are 4 scrapbooks of printed material and photographs of Robert McChesney’s shows and artwork.
Photographic materials include photographs, slides, and negatives of Robert McChesney and his artwork along with photographs of travels, friends, and family.
Provenance
The Robert McChesney papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by Mary Fuller McChesney in 2015.
Separated Materials note
Robert McChesney loaned 3 scrapbooks to the Archives of American Art for microfilming in 1975, and these were subsequently returned to him. Two of those scrapbooks were included in the 2015 donation to the Archives and integrated with the other papers. The scrapbook that was not included in the later donation is only available on reel 878 and is not further described in this finding aid.
Related Archival Materials note
The Archives of American Art has an oral history interview with Robert McChesney conducted in 1964 by Lewis Ferbraché.
Processing Information note
This collection was processed by Rihoko Ueno in September 2015.

Additional Forms Available

Two of the scrapbooks gifted to the Archives and one scrapbook loaned to the Archives are available on legacy microfilm reel 878 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

Robert McChesney papers, 1913-2006. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

  • No downloads available