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Francis Steegmuller collection of Jacques Villon

Call Number: GEN MSS 388

Scope and Contents

The Francis Steegmuller Collection of Jacques Villon consists of correspondence, photographs and other materials collected by Francis Steegmuller, which document the life and work of Jacques Villon. The collection has been arranged into three series: Correspondence, Photographs, and Additional Materials.

Series I, Correspondence , contains twenty-seven folders of letters to Francis Steegmuller and his wife, Beatrice Stein Steegmuller, from Jacques and Gaby Villon. Both the Villons often wrote long notes to the Steegmullers on each other's letters. These letters have been filed under the principal author of the letter. Also included are letters from Louis Carré, Marcel Duchamp, Walter Pach and others. The correspondence with Louis Carré includes a typescript article about Villon by Lionello Venturi. The letters discuss Villon's life and work, exhibitions of art by Villon and others, the Villons' experiences in France during World War II, and the lives of friends of the Villons and the Steegmullers, including Jean and Jeanne Bailhache, Louis Carré, Cleve Gray, Charlotte Mare, Mary Reynolds, and Villon's siblings. This series also contains several letters written by Villon to members of the Stein family, and one letter to Roger Vieillard.

Series II, Photographs , contains photographs of Jacques and Gaby Villon, Beatrice Stein Steegmuller and others, as well as photographs of works by Villon. Several photographs can also be found in Series I.

Series III, Additional Materials , contains sketches and paintings done by Beatrice Stein Steegmuller while she was a student of Jacques Villon. Also included are notes about Villon, probably in the hand of Francis Steegmuller, and two pocket chess sets, used by Villon during his service in World War I.


  • 1927-1968


Language of Materials

Materials in French and English.

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Box 3 and porfolio folders 78-87: Restricted fragile material. Reference surrogates have been substituted in the main files. For further information consult the appropriate curator.

Conditions Governing Use

The Francis Steegmuller Collection of Jacques Villon is 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

Gift of Francis Steegmuller, 1969 and 1973.


0.9 Linear Feet ((3 boxes) + 2 broadside folders, 1 portfolio)

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


Collection contains letters by Louis Carré, Marcel Duchamp,Walter Pach, Gaby Villon, Jacques Villon, and others to Francis Steegmuller and his wife, Beatrice Stein Steegmuller, generally concerning Jacques Villon. Also included is a typescript about Villon by Lionello Venturi, several photographs of Jacques and Gaby Villon and others, and drawings done by Beatrice Stein when she was a student of Villon.


Jacques Villon was born Gaston Duchamp in Eure, France, on July 31, 1875. The oldest of seven children, his siblings included the artists Marcel Duchamp and Raymond Duchamp-Villon. Early in his career, he learned the art of engraving from his grandfather, Emile-Frédéric Nicolle, a noted amateur artist. In 1894 Villon was sent to Paris to study law, but soon devoted most of his time to art, contributing engravings and drawings to various newspapers, while also working on more serious paintings and prints. It was at this time that he took the name Jacques Villon, soon copied by his brother Raymond, who added the name Villon to his birth name of Duchamp. Villon exhibited his work in the early Cubist shows in Paris, and was one of the early members of the Salon d'Automne, which sponsored exhibitions of modern art each Fall. He was also one of the organizers of the Section d'Or, a group of Cubist artists including Marcel Duchamp, Raymond Duchamp-Villon, Juan Gris, and Fernand Léger.

In 1906 he moved to Puteaux, a suburb of Paris which had begun to attract like-minded artists, where he would live the rest of his life. In 1913, he married Gabrielle (Gaby) Charlotte Marie Boeuf. After serving in the infantry and in a camouflage unit during World War I, he continued to live outside of Paris, concentrating on his work, while remaining active in modern art circles. In the early 1930's, Villon took a student named Beatrice Stein, beginning a friendship with her and her husband, the writer and critic Francis Steegmuller, which would last until Villon's death.

After 1945, Villon began to achieve the widespread recognition that had previously eluded him. During this period, he was awarded first prize at the Carnegie International in 1950, Grand Prize for painting at the Venice Biennale in 1956, and the Grand Prize for painting at the Exposition Internationale in Brussels in 1958. In 1963 he was elected Grand Officer of the Légion d'Honneur in France. He died that year in Puteaux.

Guide to the Francis Steegmuller Collection of Jacques Villon
Under Revision
by Kathryn Rawdon
August 1998
Description rules
Beinecke Manuscript Unit Archival Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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Opening Hours

Access Information

The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.