Category Archives: Macbeth Gallery Exhibition Catalogs

Macbeth Gallery Exhibition Materials

40 years of American art

40 years of American art

A collaborative project to digitize the exhibition checklists and pamphlets of the Macbeth Gallery, held by the Thomas J. Watson Library at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Frick Art Reference Library, was completed in 2008.  The combined collection numbers over 450 unique items published between 1895 and 1953.

The Macbeth Gallery was the first New York gallery to specialize in American art and is historically important for exhibiting work by many American artists well-known to us today, including Charles H. Davis, Childe Hassam, Winslow Homer, and Andrew Wyeth.  In addition to solo exhibitions, many group shows were held at the Macbeth Gallery in the early 20th century – several would have a profound impact on the development and appreciation of American art.

Andrew Wyeth

Andrew Wyeth

One particularly well-known exhibition is one held in February 1908, Exhibition of paintings by Arthur B. Davies, William J. Glackens, Robert Henri, Ernest Lawson, George Luks, Maurice B. Prendergast, Everett Shinn, John Sloan—these artists became known as “The Eight.” The exhibition’s intent was to challenge the dominance of the National Academy; it “received an immense amount of publicity and instantly entered into art history as a successful assault on tradition.” (1)

Exhibition of paintings

Exhibition of paintings

Due to their art historical importance, the Macbeth Gallery materials have been frequently used at Watson Library and the Frick, but they are also rapidly deteriorating. Much of the material was printed on highly acidic paper that is now very brittle, so it made sense from both service and preservation perspectives to move forward with the project before the checklists became damaged beyond repair. This Chauncey F. Ryder exhibition checklist from 1910 is one example of the damage sustained by some of the original items.

In the valley at Assissi

Chauncey Ryder

This project provides a more complete picture of Macbeth Gallery exhibition activity and complements the Archives of American Art’s effort to catalog their collection of Macbeth Gallery records and papers.

We are grateful to the Frick Art Reference Library and to our funding source, the Lifchez-Stronach Preservation Fund for the Thomas J. Watson Library, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, for their contributions in making this project a reality.

(1) Stephanie Ashley, Erin Corley and Jetta Samulski. Finding aid to the Macbeth Gallery scrapbooks, 1892-1952, in the Archives of American Art. Retrieved from on March 26, 2014.

Frederick Stuart Church’s Animals

Last week we wrote about the 19th-century American landscape painter Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900). This week our focus is on another American artist who appears throughout the Digital Collections, Frederick Stuart Church (1842-1924). The latter Church was a well-known illustrator, particularly famous for his depictions of animals. In this thank you note written in 1910, one gets a sense of the playful charm of Church’s work.

FSChurchHighlightsA bespectacled yellow polar bear is handing an angry flamingo a note.  Any help deciphering what the message that accompanies this illustration says would be much appreciated – leave a comment or send an email if you have any success teasing out what this says.

The polar bear makes a few other appearances in letters from Church.  For instance, in two letters from Church to “Mr. Chambers,” both from the Manuscripts collection, the polar bear makes comical cameos.  In this letter, two polar bears peer curiously over a canvas as an artist sitting atop a “red hot” stove anxiously paints their portrait.

FSChurchHighlights1Beneath the stove Church has written, “I shall be glad when we can have some nice cool weather,” suggesting this might be a tongue-in-cheek self-portrait.

In another letter to Mr. Chambers, the polar bear appears yet again, this time with a top hat and cane.

FSChurchHighlights2Beneath the dancing bear Church has written, “Hurrah for Davey,” perhaps referring to Mr. Chambers, who, according to the letter, has just purchased a print from Church for $10.  Church writes, “Proceeds of the sale go to making womans vacation [indecipherable] – NY.” Unfortunately, we cannot make out that one crucial word, so again, if anyone out there would like to take a shot at deciphering this it would be much appreciated.

Finally, from the Macbeth Gallery Exhibition Catalogs, we have An exhibition of decorative panels of flowers, birds and animals by F. S. Church (1916).

FSChurchHighlights4Like the sketch of the artist painting the polar bears, here we have an artist/angel painting a bird. Birds, like polar bears, appear to have been a popular subject for Church, appearing as they do in 15 of the 20 works in this catalog.

Browse all this material here.


Knoedler and Company Exhibition Catalogs

We recently completed scanning 898 catalogs and checklists published by Knoedler & Company between 1869 and 1946, comprising almost 14,000 pages of content. Below is the cover from a 1926 exhibition catalog on wax portraits by Ethel Frances Mundy:


Knoedler & Company, established in the United States in 1857, was among the most important art dealers in New York City. Representing artists with an international scope, Knoedler’s strength was in exhibiting and selling contemporary art. For instance, five months after the death of legendary Swedish artist Anders Zorn, an exhibition of the artist’s work was held at Knoedler & Company (in January, 1921).  Featured below is a photograph from this catalog, with the caption “Anders Zorn, last photograph of the artist, died August 22nd, 1920”:


Following our successful collaboration with the Frick Art Reference Library on the Macbeth Gallery Exhibition Catalogs project, we worked with the Arcade libraries (Frick Art Reference Library, Brooklyn Museum Libraries and Archives, and the Museum of Modern Art Library) and Knoedler & Company to identify exhibition catalogs, pamphlets, and checklists in our collections to create a series that is as complete as possible. Here’s the cover of a 1936 Alexandre Iacovleff exhibition catalog from the Frick Art Reference Library:


More information on Knoedler & Company can be found through the Getty Research Institute, which has the Knoedler Gallery Archive. There’s also this article on The Getty Iris titled, “Treasures from the Vault: Knoedler, Mellon, and an Unlikely Sale,” that will be of interest to people curious to learn more about this important art dealer.

To browse all 898 items in the Digital Collections, click here.

Funding for this project was provided by the Lifchez-Stronach Preservation Fund for the Thomas J. Watson Library, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Written by William Blueher and Dan Lipcan