A Finding Aid to the Jervis McEntee Papers, 1796, 1848-1905, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.mcenjerv
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.mcenjerv
Creators:
McEntee, Jervis, 1828-1891
Dates:
1796, 1848-1905
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
1.2 linear feet
Repository:
Archives of American Art
The papers of Hudson River School painter Jervis McEntee measure 1.2 linear feet and date from 1796 and 1848 to 1905. Letters from close friends and family members to McEntee include many from his mentor Frederic Edwin Church, and fellow artists Samuel Putnam Avery, George Henry Boughton, Sanford Gifford, Richard Henry, Eastman Johnson, Elizabeth B. Stoddard, John Ferguson Weir, Worthington Whittredge, and others. Papers relating to the McEntee family include obituaries, a family genealogy, and letters from and regarding family members. There are also papers relating to the Vaux family (McEntee's brother-in-law's family) and American architect and landscape artist Calvert Vaux, who designed a studio for McEntee. Of special significance are five volumes of diaries dating from 1872 through 1890 which provide a detailed depiction of the American art world in the 1870s and 1880s.

Scope and Content Note
Scope and Content Note
The papers of Hudson River School painter Jervis McEntee measure 1.2 linear feet and date from 1796 and 1850 to 1905. Letters from close friends and family members to McEntee include many from his mentor Frederic Edwin Church, and fellow artists Samuel Putnam Avery, George Henry Boughton, Sanford Gifford, Richard Henry, Eastman Johnson, Elizabeth B. Stoddard, John Ferguson Weir, Worthington Whittredge, and others. Papers relating to the McEntee family include obituaries, a family genealogy, and letters from and regarding family members. There are also papers relating to the Vaux family (McEntee's brother-in-law's family) and American architect and landscape artist Calvert Vaux, who designed a studio for McEntee. Of special significance are five volumes of diaries dating from 1872 through 1890 which provide a detailed depiction of the American art world in the 1870s and 1880s.
The diaries provide a vivid, accurate impression of the life of a typical New York painter during and after the Gilded Age. There is much first-hand information on the inner workings of the National Academy and the Century Club, on the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, on efforts to revive the Art Union idea, on the vigorous growth of art societies and exhibitions throughout the country. The diaries reveal the economy of art during the period - prices, patterns of collecting and patronage, the artists' dependence on personal contacts through clubs, social gatherings, and influential friends. Descriptions of major events include the opening of the Metropolitan Museum and of the Brooklyn Bridge, the first major exhibition of French Impressionism in New York ("simply absurd, foolish and unlovely from any point of view"), and the Beecher-Tilton scandal.
McEntee's diaries offer researchers a valuable view of the everyday existence of a reputable American artist towards the close of the 19th century - how he painted, whom he associated with, how and to whom he sold his work, what he did when he was not working, what he thought of art, artists, and collectors. McEntee provides an account of the ultimately futile battle against the encroachment of European influences among both artists and collectors during this period. He writes in March 1877, "The Munich students work prevails, and the genuinely American productions are put aside to give prominence to the foreign looking art." According to McEntee, a certain painting by Whistler depicts "a woman dead or drunk by what is apparently the seashore, strewn with fragments of stale pound cake." The diaries also offer some clear insights into the character of several major artists who were McEntee's intimate friends: "Whittredge came to my room and sat until midnight and we talked, or rather he did for Whittredge generally does the talking." He is astonished to receive an invitation to join the Frederic E. Churches at the theatre because "I thought they only went to prayer meetings."
The five volumes of diaries are filled with McEntee's detailed thoughts, observations, activities, and encounters. Long passages describe his overwhelming anxieties over money and family difficulties. He is frequently lonely and depressed and always worried about his status as an artist.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The Jervis McEntee papers have been arranged into five series, based on material type.
Series 1: Letters, 1850-1905, undated (Box 1; 0.2 linear feet)
Series 2: Vaux Family Letters and Correspondence, 1850-1890, undated (Box 1; 0.2 linear feet)
Series 3: Third Party Letters, 1861-1873, undated (Box 2; 0.1 linear feet)
Series 4: Miscellany, 1796, 1848-1895, undated (Box 2; 0.1 linear feet)
Series 5: Diaries, 1872-1890 (Box 3-4; 0.6 linear feet)

Biographical Note
Biographical Note
Jervis McEntee was born in Rondout, New York, July 14, 1828. He had early literary and artistic aspirations and studied under Frederic E. Church, who had himself studied under the Hudson River School master, Thomas Cole. McEntee was to maintain a close relationship with Church for the rest of his life. After an unsuccessful stint as a businessman, McEntee settled in New York in 1857 as one of the charter residents of Richard Morris Hunt's Tenth Street Studio Building. Since many of the other occupants were either bachelors or commuters, and since Mrs. McEntee was a lively, sympathetic hostess, the couple became the center of a spontaneous salon frequented by some of the best-known artists, writers, and actors of the time. After his wife died in 1878, McEntee stayed on, an increasingly neglected widower until his death in 1891.
McEntee was identified with the Hudson River School and an accomplished and sensitive painter of autumnal landscapes. He wrote in 1874, "Perhaps what would mark my work among that of my brother artists is a preference for the soberer phases Nature, the gray days of November and its leafless trees." McEntee stood at the center of the interlocking directorate formed by the National Academy of Design, the Century Club, and the Tenth Street Studio Building. In the latter part of the 19th century, these formed a supreme art establishment whose membership was composed of the old guard American artists, such as McEntee's close friends Eastman Johnson, Sanford Gifford, John Ferguson Weir, Worthington Whittredge, and Church, who were fighting an ultimately futile battle against the encroachment of European influences among both artists and collectors.

Administration
Separated Material
A diary was lent for microfilming in 1964 by the Adirondack Museum and is available on Reel D9.
Alternative Forms Available
Letters and family papers of Jervis McEntee in the Archives of American Art were digitized in 2007 and are available on the Archives' website. Five volumes of diaries are currently being digitized from the originals. Transcripts of the entries are available at https://www.aaa.si.edu/collection-features/jervis-mcentee-diaries. The diaries are also available on microfilm reel D180.
Processing Information
The Jervis McEntee papers were reprocessed in 2004 and a finding aid prepared. At that time all earlier accessions were merged. All of the papers, except for the five diares, were digitized in 2007 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art. The five diaries are currently being digitized.
Author
Finding aid prepared by Ellen Loll
Provenance
The collection was acquired from several donors between 1959 and 1997. Letters were donated in 1959 by Charles E. Feinberg. The five volumes of diaries were donated in 1964 by Mrs. Helen S. McEntee. The remaining papers were donated by William Gaffken, director of the insurance company that acquired the McEntee family insurance business.

Using the Collection
Restrictions on Access
This site provides access to the letters and family papers of Jervis McEntee in the Archives of American Art that were digitized in 2007. McEntee's diaries (5 volumes, 1872 to 1890) are currently being digitized. Transcripts of the diary entries are available at https://www.aaa.si.edu/collection-features/jervis-mcentee-diaries. The diaries are also available on microfilm reel D180.
Ownership and Literary Rights
The Jervis McEntee papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
Preferred Citation
Jervis McEntee papers, 1796, 1848-1905. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Anthony, A. V. S., (Andrew Varick Stout), 1835-1906 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Baker, George Augustus, 1821-1880 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Bellows, Henry W. (Henry Whitney), 1814-1882 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Boardman, Andrew Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Booth, Edwin, 1833-1893 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Boughton, George Henry, 1834-1905 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Butler, Benjamin F., 1830-1884 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Casilear, John William, 1811-1893 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Century Association (New York, N.Y.). Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Chapin, E. H. (Edwin Hubbell), 1814-1880 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Church, Frederic Edwin, 1826-1900 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Church, Isabel Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Cropsey, Jasper Francis, 1823-1900 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
DeForest, H. G. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Derrenbacher, John Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Donoho, J. R., Mrs Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Gifford, Sanford Robinson, 1823-1880 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Gray, Henry Peters, 1819-1877 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hart, William McDougal, 1823-1894 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hicks, Thomas, 1823-1890 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hubbard, Richard William, 1816-1888 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Huntington, Daniel, 1816-1906 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Husted, James W. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Inness, George, 1825-1894 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Johnson, Eastman, 1824-1906 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Jourmans, E. L., Mrs Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kensett, John Frederick, 1816-1872 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lang, Louis, 1814-1893 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
McEntee, James S. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Meeks, Louisa B. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
National Academy of Design (U.S.). Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Palmer, Erastus Dow, 1817-1904 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sawyer, C. M. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Shumway, Henry Colton, 1807-1884 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Stoddard, Richard Henry, 1825-1903 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Stone, William O. (William Oliver), 1830-1875 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Stribling, C. K. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sykes, Charles W. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Thompson, Launt, 1833-1894 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Vaux, Calvert, 1824-1895 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Von Glumer, Francisca Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ward, John Quincy Adams, 1830-1910 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Weir, John F. (John Ferguson), b. 1841 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Whittredge, Worthington, 1820-1910 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Wickes, E. T. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Youmans, Kate Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Zarnnhus, E. L. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Adirondack Mountains (N.Y.) Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art, Modern--19th century--New York (State)--New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Artists' studios Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Artists--New York (State)--New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Bull Run (Va.), 1st Battle, 1861 Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Diaries Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hudson River school of landscape painting Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lake Champlain (N.Y.)--Pictorial works Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lake George (N.Y.)--Pictorial works Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Landscape painters--New York (State)--New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painters--New York (State)--New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sketches Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C., 20001
Phone: 202-633-7950
http://www.aaa.si.edu/askus