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Zorach family papers, 1900-1987

Zorach family papers, 1900-1987

Zorach family

Collection Information

Size: 4.4 linear ft.

Summary: The Zorach Family papers measure 4.4 linear feet and consist of materials relating to the lives and careers of sculptor and painter William Zorach, his wife painter and weaver Marguerite, and their children, painter and multi-media artist Dahlov Ipcar and collector and art dealer Tessim Zorach. The bulk of the papers consists of letters to Tessim regarding his parent's artwork. Additional materials include scattered letters to William Zorach; writings and notes by William, Marguerite, and Tessim; a sketchbook and drawings by William; prints by Marguerite; Marguerite's scrapbook; printed materials; and photographs of the Zorach family and of William Zorach in his studio and at work.

The majority of correspondence is between Tessim Zorach and various museums and galleries concerning exhibitions and donations of his parents' works of art. There are scattered letters to William Zorach among the correspondence. Business records consist of materials relating to the Collection of the Zorach Children, including lists of works of art by the Zorach's, a file relating to an exhibition of Zorach artwork at the Brooklyn Museum, and photographs of works of art considered for donation.

Writings and Notes include a typescript of an article written by Marguerite Zorach, writings by William Zorach, a typescript of "Young Poems," by William and Marguerite, as well as articles written by others about the Zorachs. Artwork by Marguerite Zorach includes two prints and a tracing. Also found is one sketchbook, and additional drawings by William Zorach. There is one unsigned lithograph.

The majority of exhibition announcements, catalogs, and clippings concern William and Marguerite Zorach although there are two announcements for Dahlov Ipcar. There is one scrapbook of clippings about Marguerite.

The papers include photographs of Marguerite and William Zorach, their parents, baby photos of Tessim and Dahlov, family pictures of the Zorachs, and of Marguerite and William in their studios. There are several folders of William Zorach working in his studios and additional photos of him carving a relief sculpture and a sculpture for the Southwest Bank. Most of these photographs contain detailed annotations written by William Zorach about the work. There is one folder of photographs of William in France in 1910-1911, including one of Zorach in Roy Partridge's studio. There is one photograph of Zorach taken by Ansel Adams in Yosemite, and several taken by Imogen Cunnigham.

Other photographs are of works of art, most of which depict William's works.

Artifacts include Marguerite's batik tools and approximately fifty commercially made printing blocks.

Biographical/Historical Note

William Zorach (1887-1966) was a sculptor and painter from New York, N.Y. Marguerite (1887-1968) was a painter and weaver. Their daughter, Dahlov, is a painter and multi-media artist. Their son, Tessim, is a collector and art dealer. William Zorach was born in Eurburg, Lithuania, and immigrated to Ohio during his childhood. His surname at this time was Finkelstein. He worked in a lithographic plant in Cleveland before studying art in Paris, where he met Marguerite Thompson, a native of California. They were married in 1912 and returned to the United States. William continued his studies in New York, and taught at the Art Students League. Following the birth of a son, Tessim, and a daughter, Dahlov, Marguerite began creating embroidered tapestries in addition to her paintings. In 1923, the Zorachs bought property in Robinhood, Maine, and spent winters at a studio in Brooklyn, N.Y.


Tessim Zorach donated the Zorach Family papers to the Archives of American Art in 1982.

Related Materials

The Archives of American Art holds the Dahlov Ipcar papers, 1906-1997. Also found is one oral history interview with William Zorach conducted by by John D. Morse on April 2, 1959 and an oral history interview with Dahlov Ipcar conducted by Robert F. Brown on November 13, 1979.

The bulk of William Zorach's papers are held by the Library of Congress.


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

Location of Originals

  • Reels NY59/1-4 and NY59/19: Originals returned to William Zorach after microfilming; probably now in the Library of Congress, Manuscript Division.

A Finding Aid to the Zorach Family Papers,
, in the Archives of American Art
Biographical Note
William Zorach (1887-1966) was a modernist painter and sculptor working primarily in New York city, along with his wife Marguerite (1887-1968) who worked as a fauvist painter, printmaker, and textile artist. Their children were painter Dahlov Ipcar (1917-) and art collector Tessim Zorach (1915-1995.)
Born in Lithuania, William Zorach immigrated to the United States where his family settled in Cleveland, Ohio. An early interest in art led to a printmaking apprenticeship. He then moved to New York City and enrolled in the National Academy of Design where he studied painting and drawing. In 1910, Zorach traveled to Paris to study and where he met his wife Marguerite Thompson at the La Palette art school. Marguerite grew up in Fresno, California and studied art at Stanford University. Both artists were heavily influenced by the fauvist and cubist art movements.
Returning to America, Marguerite and William married and both continued to create and experiment with varied media. Their paintings were featured in the 1913 New York City Armory Show and they are credited with being among the first artists to introduce European modernist styles to American modernism. The Zorachs were very close both as a couple and as working active artists.
In the 1920s, Marguerite began to experiment with textiles and created large, fine art tapestries and hooked rugs. Also, she used batik dying techniques on fabrics. William also expanded his genre by creating direct sculpture in 1918, which would become his primary medium.
In 1915, William and Marguerite started a family with their son, Tessim. Two years later, their daughter Dahlov was born. The Zorachs divided the year and lived in New York City, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. In 1923, the family bought a farm on Georgetown Island, Maine where they lived, worked, and entertained friends.
Dahlov and Tessim were exposed to art from an early age. Dahlov showed artistic promise as a child and her parents supported her creativity by allowing her to express herself without formal training. Dahlov pursued painting and later became an illustrator for children's books. Additionally, she wrote fantasy novels and short stories. Dahlov married Adolf Ipcar in 1936. Like the rest of his family, Tessim Zorach developed an interest of art and along with his wife Peggy, he amassed a large private collection of ancient to modern art.
William and Marguerite continued to sculpt and paint until their deaths in 1966 and 1968, respectively.
Together, Dahlov and Tessim established the Collection of the Zorach Children which coordinated donations of their parents' art to many museums throughout the United States and the world. The artwork of both artists is found in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, Delaware Art Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Farnsworth Art Museum, Portland Museum of Art, National Gallery of Art, National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Philips Collection, and educational institutions such as Colby College, University of Vermont, Williams College, Bowdoin College, and the University of Virginia. In addition William has works associated with many public buildings, among them: Radio City Music Hall, New York City Municipal Court, the U.S. Post Office in Washington D.C. as well as Farleigh Dickinson University.
The collection is arranged into 9 series:
Series 1: Biographical Information, circa 1907-1969 (Box 1, 6; 3 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1922-1982 (Box 1-2; 1.75 linear feet)
Series 3: Business Records, 1967-1971, circa 1960s-1970s (Box 2-3; 0.3 linear feet)
Series 4: Writings and Notes, circa 1930s-1973, 1987 (Box 3; 8 folders)
Series 5: Artworks, 1900-circa 1920s (Box 3, 6; 12 folders)
Series 6: Scrapbooks, 1922-1953 (Box 3; 1 folder)
Series 7: Printed Material, 1912-1982 (Box 3; 0.25 linear feet)
Series 8: Photographs, 1908-1966 (Box 3-5; 1.0 linear feet)
Series 9: Artifacts, circa 1910s, circa 1950s (Box 4; 0.5 linear feet)
Tessim Zorach donated the Zorach Family papers to the Archives of American Art in 1982.
Location of Originals
  • Reels NY59/1-4 and NY59/19: Originals returned to William Zorach after microfilming; probably now in the Library of Congress, Manuscript Division.
Processing Information
The Zorach Family papers were arranged and microfilmed in 1994. They were reprocessed by Jayna Hanson in October 2008 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Additional Forms Available

The collection is available on microfilm reels 4957-4961 at Archives of American Art offices, and through interlibrary loan. Researchers should note that the order of the collection on microfilm may not match the order of the originals as described in the finding aid.

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

Zorach family papers, 1900-1987. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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