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Robert Reid papers, circa 1880-circa 1930

Robert Reid papers, circa 1880-circa 1930

Reid, Robert, 1862-1929

Muralist, Art teacher, Painter

Representative image for Robert Reid papers, circa 1880-circa 1930

This site provides access to the papers of Robert Reid in the Archives of American Art that were digitized in 2015, and total 880 images.

Collection Information

Size: 0.9 linear feet

Summary: The papers of New York painter Robert Reid measure 0.9 linear feet and date from circa 1880-circa 1930. The collection provides scattered documentation of Reid's career and family history through a certificate, letters, an essay of family recollections, scrapbooks containing letters, writings, printed material and family photographs, printed material about Reid, and photographs of Reid, his studio, travels, and works of art.

Letters are primarily from Robert Reid to his sister Sara Bigelow Reid and document a single year in Reid's life (1887) when he moved to Paris and traveled to Italy, serving as a diary of his activities through October of that year. Writings consist of an essay and journal entries entitled "Really Random Recollections of Charles D. Reid for Robert N. Reid" written by Robert Reid's brother Charles between 1918 and 1920. Scrapbooks 1 and 2 were compiled by Charles D. Reid and document Reid family history. Scrapbook 3 consists primarily of correspondence between Charles D. Reid and various schools concerning his interest in vocational education and a 1913 paper he wrote on that subject. Scrapbook 4 has had most entries removed and is inscribed by Charles D. Reid's father "Jared Reid Jr., Hartford Ct., Jan. 1880." Charles D. Reid presumably removed the entries to place in Scrapbooks 1-3.

Photographs of Reid include a group of men (circa 1880s) with Reid in the back row, of Reid working on a mural, and a 1927 portrait of Reid. Additional photographs of Reid are found in the scrapbooks. Also found is a copy print of Reid's studio, photographs of Europe, photographs of works of art by Reid, and a photograph of the stage and crowd at an unidentified event.

Biographical/Historical Note

Robert Reid (1862-1929) was a painter, muralist, craftsman, and teacher who worked primarily in New York City and Colorado.


The collection was donated to the Archives of American Art by Joseph Bowdring in 1973. Bowdring purchased the papers along with Reid's paintings.

A Finding Aid to the Robert Reid papers, circa 1880-circa 1930, in the Archives of American Art
Biographical/Historical note
Robert Reid (1862-1929) was a painter, muralist, craftsman, and teacher who worked primarily in New York City and Colorado.
Robert Reid was born in 1862 in Stockbridge Massachusetts and studied at the School of Painting and Drawing of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, from 1880-1884. He then moved to New York City and studied at the Art Students' League before moving to Paris in 1885, where he continued his studies at the Académie Julian over the next four years.
In 1887 Reid embarked on a tour of Italy that included visits to Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome and Naples. On his visits to Naples he was accompanied by several cousins, including Clara Field, who were on an extended European tour. Throughout the year Reid recorded his experiences and impressions in letters to his sister, Sara Bigelow Reid. In March of 1887 he submitted the first of three paintings to the Paris Salon, all of which were subsequently accepted.
In 1889 Reid returned to the United States and settled in New York City, teaching at the Cooper Union and the Art Students' League and painting portraits before embarking on various mural and decorative art projects. His first mural project was for one of the eight domes in the Liberal Arts Building of the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1892. In 1897 he painted allegories of the five senses for octagonal panels in the Library of Congress, and in 1899 executed a large allegorical mural for the New York Appellate Division Court House. The Boston State House includes three large panels, including "Paul Revere's Ride" and the "Boston Tea Party," painted by Reid between 1901 and 1904. His stained glass work included a 1906 series of ten windows for the Unitarian Memorial Church at Fairhaven, Massachusetts.
During the 1890s Reid's return to outdoor work and his easel paintings demonstrated a balance between decorative and Impressionist techniques, and were often of women in landscape settings holding or carrying flowers. In 1898 he exhibited as one of the Ten American Painters who seceded from the Society of American Artists in favor of a less traditional, more Impressionistic style.
In the 1920s Reid moved to Colorado Springs and taught at the Broadmoor Art Academy. Several years before his death, Reid taught himself to paint with his left hand after suffereing a stroke that resulted in paralysis of his right hand. He died in Clifton Springs, New York, in 1929.
H. Barbara Weinberg's 1975 essay "Robert Reid: Academic 'Impressionist'" (
Archives of American Art Journal
, Vol 15, No. 1, 1975) was used in the writing of this Biographical Note.
Arrangement note
Due to the small size of the collection the papers are arranged as one series.
Series 1: Robert Reid Papers, circa 1880-circa 1930 (Boxes 1-2; 0.9 linear feet)
The collection was donated to the Archives of American Art by Joseph Bowdring in 1973. Bowdring purchased the papers along with Reid's paintings.
Processing Information note
The collection was microfilmed at some point after donation on reel 641. The collection was fully processed and a finding aid prepared by Stephanie Ashley in 2014 and the collection was digitized in 2014 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Additional Forms Available

The bulk of the collection was digitized in 2014 and is available via the Archives of American Art's website. Items which have not been scanned include blank versos of photographs and a pamphlet on the Unitarian Memorial Church in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. Only the cover, title pages and other relevant pages of this pamphlet have been 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

Robert Reid papers, circa 1880-circa 1930. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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