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Walter Tandy Murch papers, 1880-1970

Walter Tandy Murch papers, 1880-1970

Murch, Walter Tandy, 1907-1967


Collection Information

Size: 8.2 linear feet

Summary: The papers of New York City still life painter and art instructor Walter Tandy Murch date from 1880-1970 and measure 8.2 linear feet. Found within the papers are biographical materials, four diaries, correspondence with colleagues and family members, personal business records, exhibition files, notes and writings, two sketchbooks and additional art work, printed material, and photographs of Murch, family members, and art work.

Biographical material includes registration documents for births, marriages, naturalization of Murch family members, biographical accounts, resumes, school and award certificates, passports, Selective Service records, and address books.

One diary by Walter Murch and three diaries by Katharine Murch contain sporadic entries briefly describing daily activities.

Correspondence primarily consists of letters exchanged between Murch, art schools and universities, arts organizations, galleries, including the Betty Parsons Gallery, miscellaneous companies and publishers that commissioned commercial art work, and students. There are scattered letters from Isabel Bishop, Leonard Bocour, Xavier Gonzales, and Gyorgy Kepes. There is also correspondence with miscellaneous family members and letters to Katharine Scott.

Personal business records include organizational membership records, family legal documents, insurance records, leases, loan and consignment records, contracts and invoices for art work sold by the Betty Parsons Gallery, expense notebooks, and other routine financial documents.

Exhibition files include documentation of miscellaneous exhibitions of Murch's art work and of exhibitions juried and organized by Murch, including the Jean Dubuffet exhibition organized by Murch and retrospectives of Murch's art work at the Rhode island School of Design and at the Brooklyn Museum.

Notes and writings include the funeral register for Murch, miscellaneous address lists, travel notebooks of Murchs' 1934 trip to Mexico, miscellaneous notebooks concerning various art-related topics, classroom lectures and notes, and miscellaneous writings by others.

Art work includes two sketchbooks, drawings and sketches, woodcuts, sketches for "Novel in Woodcut," an oil portrait of a woman, a mock-up for book, "Notes on the Hound of Heaven," and art work by others including a sketchbook by Murch's son, Walter Scott Murch.

Printed material includes clippings, a copy of a handmade Collegiate School magazine, "The New Thinker," and exhibition announcements and catalogs for Murch and others, press releases, prospectuses, reproductions of art work and book jackets designed by Murch, programs, brochures, a book about Pierre Bonnard, and miscellaneous printed material.

Photographs are of Murch, family members, travel, buildings, Murch's studio, Murch with colleagues, And art work by Murch and others. There are also photographs of various resource subjects.

Biographical/Historical Note

Walter Tandy Murch (1907-1967) was a painter from New York, N.Y.


The Walter Tandy Murch papers were donated by the artist's widow, Katharine Scott Murch, in 1969.

Related Materials

A Finding Aid to the Walter Tandy Murch Papers,
, in the Archives of American Art
Biographical Note
Walter Tandy Murch (1907-1967) of Toronto, Canada, was a painter and art teacher. His painting were primarily of still life subjects including machine parts, tools, broken dolls, and scientific equipment mingled with fruit, bread and fragments of rock as if seen through frosted glass.
Walter Tandy Murch was born on August 17, 1907, in Toronto, Canada, the son of Clara Louise Tandy and jeweller Walter Murch. Following his studies of architectural drafting and woodworking at the Technical High School in Toronto, he studied at the Ontario College of Art in Toronto with Arthur Lismer from 1924 to 1927. During the following year, Murch studied at the Grand Central School of Art in New York City with Arshile Gorky. From 1927 to 1929, he studied with Von Schlegel and K. H. Miller at the Art Students League. In 1930, Murch married Katharine Louise Scott.
From 1930 to 1933, Murch designed stained glass windows for Montague Castle, Inc., in New York City. Following a lengthy painting trip to Mexico in 1934, Murch returned to New York City and earned a living painting murals, designing department store windows, and creating illustrations for various magazines including Fortune and Scientific American.
Murch had his first solo exhibition at Betty Parsons' Wakefield Gallery in New York in 1941, and for many years Parsons was his principal dealer. Murch became a United States citizen in 1947.
Beginning in the 1950s, Murch taught at Pratt Institute, Columbia University, New York University, and at Boston University, and attended summer sessions at Yaddo and Skowhegan. In 1966, the Rhode Island School of Design organized Murch's first major retrospective.
Murch's work is in the collections of the Barnes Foundation, Brooklyn Museum, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Walter Tandy Murch died on December 11, 1967 in New York City.
The collection is arranged as 9 series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1924-1968 (Box 1, 10; 24 folders)
Series 2: Diaries, 1941-1965 (Box 1; 3 folders)
Series 3: Correspondence, 1880-1969 (Box 1-3, 10; 1.8 linear feet)
Series 4: Personal Business Records, 1928-1970 (Box 3-5; 2.9 linear feet)
Series 5: Exhibition Files, 1953-1968 (Box 6; 17 folders)
Series 6: Notes and Writings, 1907-1968 (Box 6-7, 10, OV 11; 1.5 linear feet)
Series 7: Art Work, 1891-1967 (Box 7, 10, OV 11; 33 folders)
Series 8: Printed Material, 1926-1968 (Box 7-8, 10, OV 11; 50 folders)
Series 9: Photographs, 1908-1967 (Box 9-10; 41 folders)
The Walter Tandy Murch papers were donated by the artist's widow, Katharine Scott Murch, in 1969.
Processing Information
Multiple accessions were microfilmed shortly after receipt on reels N70/17-N70/20, and 647; this film is no longer in circulation. All accessions were merged, arranged, and described by Jean Fitzgerald in June 2010.

Additional Forms Available

Microfilm reels N707-N708, N713, and N68/5 are available 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

Walter Tandy Murch papers, 1880-1970. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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