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William Henry Holmes artists' files, 1879-1955

William Henry Holmes artists' files, 1879-1955

Holmes, William Henry, 1846-1933

Museum director

Collection Information

Size: 0.2 linear feet

Summary: Artists' files, 1879-1932, accumulated by Holmes while director of the National Collection of Fine Art (later the National Museum of American Art), Washington D.C., most containing correspondence with Holmes; a few photographs, sketches, and some printed material also also found. Artists include R.N. Brooke, William B.P. Closson, James Earle Fraser, Vinnie Ream Hoxie, Reuben Le Grand Johnston, John LaFarge, Gari Melchers, Thomas Moran, Henry Moser, Hobart Nichols, Violet Oakley, Joseph Pennell, Joseph Henry Sharp, Max Weyl, Mary Vaux Walcott, Carl F. Weller, Irving R. Wiles and George Julian Zolnay. Also found is one file relating to Holmes' affiliation with the Washington Water Color Club.

Items of note include 3 photographs of Brooke: one a portrait annotated by Holmes, another of Brooke with his Corcoran School of Art class, ca. 1906 (accompanied by a key identifying a few students), and one, ca. 1900, of Brooke, E.H. Miller, Max Weyl, and E.C. Messer, autographed by each. Glued to the back of the latter is a typescript of an exchange of letters between Holmes and the donor of the photo, Emma North Messer.The Moser file contains a letter from Moser to Holmes, undated, encouraging him in painting and exhibiting, two photographs of Moser, ca. 1900 and 1910; and correspondence with Moser's widow concerning the purchase of Moser's painting, "Evening in the Berkshires" by the Cosmos Club. The Nichols file consists of 4 letters from Nichols to Holmes, undated and 1932, regarding information on his work and other artists and paintings. The Pennell file includes a sketch of Pennell. Carl Weller's file contains a watercolor painting of the French countryside, and a brief bio on Weller. The Weyl file includes a photo of Weyl, and a photo of a painting of Weyl by Holmes.

Biographical/Historical Note

Painter and museum director; Washington, D.C. Holmes served as Curator of the National Gallery of Art from 1907 to 1920 (now known as the National Museum of American Art) and its director from 1920-1932.


Transferred 1981, 1992 and 2015 by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, National Portrait Gallery Library.

Additional Forms Available

Portions are available on microfilm reels 2227 and 5438 and are available at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.

Restrictions on Access


How to Cite This Collection

William Henry Holmes artists' files, 1879-1955. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.