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Romaine Brooks papers, 1910-1973

Brooks, Romaine, 1874-1970


This site provides access to the papers of Romaine Brooks in the Archives of American Art that were digitized in 2012. The papers have been scanned in their entirety, and total 2,144 images.

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

Collection Information

Size: 3 Linear feet

Summary: The papers of painter Romaine Brooks measure 3 linear feet and date from 1910 to 1973. Found are biographical sketches, correspondence, seven journals, writings and notes, printed materials, a scrapbook, and photographs. Most of the materials focus on Brooks' later life while living in Paris and Nice, France and Fiesole, Italy and make little reference to her paintings and portraits.
Biographical information includes biographical sketches and a sound recording of an interview of Brooks.
Personal business records consists of one receipt, in French, for an item purchased by Brooks.
Correspondence is scattered and the bulk of it dates from 1950-1969. About half of the correspondence is in French and includes only a few of Romaine's replies. Notable correspondents include Harold Acten, Laura Barney, Yvon Bizardel, Adelyn Breeskin, Jean-Pierre Castelnau, Louis Gauthier-Villars, Janine Lahovary, Edouard MacAvoy, Nicky Mariano, Donald McClelland, Charles de Noailles, David Scott, Alan Searle, and Uberto Strozzi. Letters make little reference to Brooks's paintings, however some discuss her health and relationship with Natalie Barney. Also found is a small amount of Natalie Barney's personal correspondence dating from 1924-1968.
Writings and notes includes seven handwritten journal notebooks which contain Romaine's thoughts, quotes from poetry and literature, references to museums and works of art throughout Europe, and drafts of letters. Also found is a manuscript of No Pleasant Memories, Brooks's autobiography, and A War Interlude, a book she wrote describing her life in Italy during World War II.
Printed material includes a copy of Natalie Barney's poetry, a poem by Brooks, a large-format copy of Gabriele D'Anunzio's poem Sur Une Image de la France Croisse Piente Par Romaine Brooks; magazines and exhibition catalogs concerning Brooks' art; clippings; and a nameplate for Eyre de Lanux, one of Barney's lovers.
There is one scrapbook which includes newsclippings, the majority of which are in French, concerning Brooks and her artwork from 1910 to 1931.
Photographs are of Brooks, of Brooks in her studio surrounded by her art; prints of photos of Brooks's mother and family; photographs of works of art including a photo of Brooks's portrait on John Cocteau hanging in the Louvre. Notable photographers include Carl Van Vecten and Perou.

Biographical/Historical Note

Romaine Brooks (1874-1970) was a wealthy portrait painter who lived abroad for most of her life in Paris, and Nice, France, and Fiesole, Italy.


The Romaine Brooks papers were donated by Meryle Secrest, Brooks's biographer, in 1999. Secrest received the letters and notebooks directly from Brooks's estate and compiled the remainder. Additional papers were transfered from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American Art via the Smithsonian Institution Archives in 1986.

Language Note

Most of the collection is in English and French; some materials are in Italian. English; French; Italian


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