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McBride, Henry, 1867-1962



  • Existence: 1867 - 1962


Henry McBride, the dean of American art critics, wrote for The New York Sun (1913-49), The Dial (1920-29), and The Art News (1950-59), and edited Creative Art (1928-32). He was one of the first American critics to recognize and appreciate the modernist movement. In 1922 Marcel Duchamp published a selection of McBride's articles from The Sun in Some French Moderns. McBride also wrote Matisse in 1930, compiled a catalogue for The Museum of Modern Art's exhibition of Florine Stettheimer's paintings in 1946, and from 1919-54 contributed introductions and biographical sketches to numerous exhibition and sale catalogues of such artists as Joseph Stella and Marie Sterner.

McBride painted and taught art before becoming a critic at the age of forty-six. He was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania, on July 25, 1867, to the Quakers, John and Sarah Pugh McBride. After graduating from the local public schools, he worked for the George Achelis Nurseries illustrating seed catalogues. He came to New York in his early twenties, where he studied art at the Artist-Artisan Institute and later took night classes at the Art Students League. Finding he had an aptitude for teaching, McBride started the art department of the Educational Alliance of New York City. Before joining The Sun, he directed the School of Industrial Arts in Trenton, New Jersey, for five years.

Beginning in 1893 he spent many summers abroad, where he met Gertrude Stein. Through her he came to admire the work of Picasso, Matisse, Braque, and Léger. He supported Alfred Stieglitz's early efforts to exhibit these French moderns in New York. Like his early mentor, James Ward Stimson, McBride was not a devotee of academic art. Instead he encouraged American independents like John Marin, Georgia O'Keeffe, Charles Demuth, and Gaston Lachaise. McBride was the first critic to recognize Thomas Eakins, for example, as one of the greatest American artists. Other early favorites included Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent.

McBride lived in New York City and spent most of his summers after 1931 in Marshallton, Pennsylvania, at Callicaste. He sold his summer home in 1956 to reside in the Bronx, where he died on March 31, 1961 at the age of 94.

Found in 5 Collections and/or Records:

Dial/Scofield Thayer papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 34
Abstract: The papers document the life and activities of Scofield Thayer and the history of Dial Magazine under his ownership. They include the surviving Dial office files, with correspondence by Alyse Gregory, Marianne Moore, Gilbert Seldes, Kenneth Burke, and J. Sibley Watson; manuscripts, typescripts and corrected galleys of submissions to the magazine by authors including Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, George Santayana, William Butler Yeats, and Glenway Wescott; and advertising material....
Dates: 1879-1982, bulk 1920-1925

Henry McBride papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 31

The papers contain correspondence, writings, and printed ephemera about art documenting McBride's career as an art critic. Major correspondents include Mildred Aldrich, Malcolm MacAdam, Maximilian Mitzlaff, Gertrude Stein, Alfred Stieglitz, and Carl Van Vechten.

Dates: 1863-1989, bulk 1901-1962

Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 76
Abstract: The Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas Papers contain manuscripts of writings, letters, clippings, photographs, artworks, and personal papers relating to the life and work of Gertrude Stein and her companion, Alice B. Toklas, and to Gertrude's brother, Leo Stein, an artist and writer. As well as holding the bulk of Stein's literary output (often described as "experimental" or "cubist" writing), the materials document Stein and Toklas' involvement with the literary and art...
Dates: 1837-1961

Florine and Ettie Stettheimer papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 20

The papers contain correspondence, diaries, writings, materials related to the production of Four Saints in Three Acts and the paintings of Florine Stettheimer, and miscellaneous papers.

Dates: 1898-1974 (inclusive), bulk 1906-1953

Alfred Stieglitz / Georgia O'Keeffe archive

Call Number: YCAL MSS 85
Abstract: The Alfred Stieglitz/Georgia O'Keeffe Archive contains correspondence files, manuscripts, documentary ephemera, photographs, art and realia related to the lives and careers of Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O'Keeffe, his second wife, and to other members of Stieglitz's family.The first subgroup, Alfred Stieglitz Papers, consists of material documenting Stieglitz's life's work: correspondence with artists, photographers, and writers; manuscripts by Stieglitz and others describing the art...
Dates: 1728-1986, bulk 1880-1986

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  • Subject: Art, Modern -- 20th Century X

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American literature -- 20th century 2
Art criticism 2
Artists -- United States 2
Drawings (visual works) 2
Modernism (Art) 2