Skip to main content

Werner Drewes papers, 1838-2015, bulk 1890-1990

More Information

Stephanie Ashley
Scope and Contents
The papers of painter, printmaker, designer, and teacher, Werner Drewes, measure 15.76 linear feet and date from 1838-2015, with the bulk of the material dating from the 1890s-1990s. The papers document Drewes' life and career through biographical and family material; correspondence with family members, artists, galleries, and art institutions and organizations; scattered teaching notes and writings including a diary; catalogs and inventories of artwork; three scrapbooks; printed material; 38 sketchbooks, loose sketches, and prints; and photographs of Drewes, his family, friends and colleagues, exhibitions, travels, and works of art. Also found are scattered papers of Drewes' second wife, Maria Drewes.
Biographical material documents Drewes' family history through family trees and biographical notes made by family members, and also includes 3 of Drewes' passports, some student and military records, resumés, and a partial interview transcript.
Correspondence is with family members; artists including Ed Boccia, Thomas Eldred, T. Lux Feininger, Clark Fitzgerald, Wassily Kandinsky, Jean Helion, Gerhard Marcks, Arthur Osver, Karl Schrag, and Albert Urban; and galleries and art organizations and institutions such as Richard York Gallery, the Smithsonian Institution, and others. Correspondence also relates to the Drewes estate, as well as to loans, exhibitions and sales of artwork.
Notes and writings include a diary kept by Drewes between 1918-1920 in Europe, a "love letter" in verse form written by Drewes to his first wife, Margaret, some teaching notes and notes on design, and 2 essays about Drewes written by others.
Catalogs and inventory records provide comprehensive documentation of the artwork Drewes created over the course of his career. Entries include titles, assigned numbers, subjects, dimensions, media used, and sketches or photos of artwork.
Three scrapbooks provide scattered documentation of Drewes' life and career, and include clippings from the 1920s and 1930s, and a scrapbook created by Maria Drewes for her husband's memorial service.
Printed material includes event announcements and exhibition catalogs, as well as news clippings tracing Drewes' career from the 1920s to the 1980s.
Artwork consists of greeting cards made by Drewes, as well as 38 sketchbooks and numerous loose sketches in pencil, ink, watercolor, and crayon.
Photographic material includes vintage family photographs, prints, negatives, slide tranparencies, and 8 glass plate negatives, of Drewes, his family and friends, events including exhibitions and travels, and artwork.
Found in Maria Drewes' papers are correspondence, 17 diaries primarily documenting travels with Werner Drewes, two scrapbooks with designs for jewelry, and photos of family, friends and jewelry.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The Werner Drewes papers were donated in 2005 by Werner Drewes' sons Wolfram U. Drewes, Harald D. Drewes, and Bernard W. Drewes. 4 additional items were donated by Karen Seibert, Drewes granddaughter, in 2015. Some material had been previously loaned for microfilming in 1979, and was subsequently included in the 2005 gift.
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art. Glass plate negatives in this collection were digitized in 2019 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Women's Committee.
Processing Information
The collection, including 0.8 linear feet of material previously loaned for microfilming on reels 1497-1498, was processed to a minimal level and a finding aid prepared by Stephanie Ashley in 2014, with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art. The Archives of American Art has implemented minimal processing tactics when possible in order to increase information about and access to more of our collections.
Minimal processing included arrangement to the series, subseries, and folder levels. Generally, items within folders were simply verified with folder titles, but not arranged further. Folders within boxes may not be numbered. The collection was rehoused in archival containers and folders, but not all staples and paper clips were removed. Glass plate negatives were re-housed in 2015 with a grant provided by the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund.