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Royal Cortissoz papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 146
Scope and Contents

The Royal Cortissoz Papers consist of correspondence and a small quantity of personal papers and printed materials which document aspects of the professional life of the art critic and lecturer Royal Cortissoz. The collection has been organized into two series. Series I, Cortissoz Correspondence and Manuscripts, and Series II. Printed Material. The papers span the dates 1864-1959, with the bulk of the material dating from between 1920 and 1955.

Series I, Cortissoz Correspondence and Manuscripts , is housed in boxes 1-12. The material is arranged alphabetically by author, with "Letter General" files for each letter preceding files devoted to individual correspondents. Letters by Cortissoz himself, as well as drafts of articles, research notes, and other personal material, are found listed alphabetically by type of material and then by subject or addressee under the entry for Cortissoz.

Major correspondents include the sculptor Henry Bacon; art critic Bernard Berenson; muralist Edwin Blashfield; art dealer Joseph Duveen; art collector Clarence Mackay; editor and author Edmund Clarence Stedman; drama critic William Winter; Whitelaw Reid; and the author Katharine Prescott Wormeley. Typical subjects include the state of contemporary art; opinions of various painters and their works; discussion of articles and books in progress; professional societies and meetings; personal and family news, and plans for social engagements and travel.

Material concerning the artist John La Farge is located in Box 7, folders 281-291, and includes four folders of letters from LaFarge to Cortissoz, many expressing his appreciation for favorable comments and reviews; four folders of notes and memoranda on La Farge used by Cortissoz in preparing his biography; and a small sketchbook of La Farge's containing pencil sketches of figures and notes for larger works.

Folders 85-110 contain notes for and drafts of various addresses and pieces planned by Cortissoz, including several on American art and artists; folders 110-163 contain letters by Cortissoz. These include some retained carbons, but are mostly originals or photostats added to the papers by Davenport West, Cortissoz's executor, who solicited them from their recipients for inclusion in the collection. It should also be noted that many of the individual files in this series contain correspondence from West, particularly self-addressed reply postcards, requesting participation in this project. These requests were not uniformly successful: Ogden Reid, for example, responded that "The letters that I have from 'Uncle Bob' are of a personal nature and therefore in my opinion not suitable for the Yale University collection" (Box 9, folder 364).

Series II, Printed Material , is arranged in five subseries. The first three contain printed copies of works by Cortissoz: Addresses by Cortissoz; Articles by Cortissoz; and Book Reviews by Cortissoz. Contents include the text of his speech at the dedication of the Henry Bacon Memorial, articles on landscape art, Japanese painting, and Whistler; and reviews of several biographies.

The remaining two subseries, Articles about Cortissoz and Other Printed Material, contain biographical articles, including fiftieth anniversary tributes; memorial tributes to friends of Cortissoz; and programs, including the program for the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial in 1922 and a program for a musical evening signed by Rachmaninoff, Kreisler, Stravinsky, and Damrosch, among others.

Oversize material is housed in Box 14.

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Restricted Fragile in boxes 15-16 may only be consulted with permission of the appropriate curator. Preservation photocopies or photographic prints for reference use have been substituted in the main files.

Conditions Governing Use

The Royal Cortissoz Papers are the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Primarily gift of the Executor and heirs of Royal Cortissoz, 1953. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

1864 - 1955
Majority of material found within 1920 - 1955
7.76 Linear Feet (16 boxes)
Related Names
Cortissoz, Royal, 1869-1948
Language of Materials