A Finding Aid to the James Carroll Beckwith Papers, 1871-circa 1991, bulk 1875-1917, in the Archives of American Art
Digitized Content

Collection ID:
Beckwith, J. Carroll (James Carroll), 1852-1917
1871-circa 1991
bulk 1875-1917
1871-circa 1991
bulk 1875-1917
The collection is in English.
Physical Description:
3.2 Linear feet
3.2 Linear feet
The papers of New York painter James Carroll Beckwith measure 3.2 linear feet and date from 1871 to circa 1991, bulk 1875-1917. The collection includes biographical material, correspondence, numerous diaries, writings, printed material, photograph albums, and photographs.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of New York painter James Carroll Beckwith measure 3.2 linear feet and date from 1871 to circa 1991, bulk 1875-1917. The collection includes biographical material, correspondence, numerous diaries, writings, printed material, photograph albums, and photographs.
Biographical material mostly consists of estate papers related to disputes between the Beckwith Estate and the National Academy of Design. There is also one art inventory notebook titled "Record of Pictures."
Correspondence includes letters by Beckwith, his wife, and researchers concerning Beckwith's paintings and career. Notable correspondents include artists such as Carolus-Duran and William Anderson Coffin, the art dealer Roland Knoedler, as well as other colleagues.
The collection includes 38 of James Carroll Beckwith's diaries and one diary that belonged to his wife Bertha Beckwith. The artist's diaries contain sporadic entries describing teaching, traveling, and daily events.
Writings include Beckwith's autobiography Souvenirs and Reminiscences, a notebook that chronicles his time in Paris, notes, essays on art and architecture, lists of artwork, and one essay about Beckwith by an unidentified writer.
Printed materials consist of a sales catalog of Beckwith's work, clippings about Beckwith and John Singer Sargent, and a few exhibition catalogs and announcements.
Photographs include 2 albums and many board-backed prints. One album mostly contains travel photographs, the other is mostly dedicated to paintings by other artists in Europe. There are many photographs of Beckwith's paintings, mostly portraits. A few photographs of exhibition installations are also included.

The collection is arranged as 6 series.
  • Series 1: Biographical Material, 1878-circa 1991 (Box 1; 0.3 linear feet)
  • Series 2: Correspondence, 1883-1940 (Box 1; 10 folders)
  • Series 3: Diaries, 1871-1917 (Boxes 1-2; 1.3 linear feet)
  • Series 4: Writings, 1875-circa 1920 (Box 2; 0.2 linear feet)
  • Series 5: Printed Material, circa 1900-1956, bulk 1910-1918 (Box 2; 4 folders)
  • Series 6: Photographs, 1875-1915 (Boxes 2-6; 1.4 linear feet)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
James Carroll Beckwith (1852-1917) was a portrait and landscape painter in New York, New York and a member of the National Academy of Design.
James Carroll Beckwith, often referred to as Carroll Beckwith, was born in 1852 in Hannibal, Missouri. He was raised in Chicago, Illinois. After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, Beckwith moved to New York City and studied art at the National Academy of Design until 1873, when he moved to France. In Paris, he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts and under Carolus-Duran. Painter John Singer Sargent was also one of Carolus-Duran's students and Beckwith shared a Paris studio with him until 1878.
When Beckwith returned to New York in 1878, he started teaching as a professor in the Art Students League departments of painting and drawing. He continued to teach there until 1882 and then for a second span of time from 1886 to 1887. He married Bertha Hall in 1887. Beckwith gained widespread recognition for his portraits and among his subjects are the artist William Merritt Chase and President Theodore Roosevelt. Beckwith is also known for created skillful copies of Old Masters paintings which he saw in galleries across Europe during his time abroad.
In 1894, Beckwith was elected as a member of the National Academy of Design. From 1910 to roughly 1912, he lived in Italy and France. He then returned to New York City and had a studio at 57 West 45th Street until his death in 1917.

Existence and Location of Copies
The bulk of the collection was digitized in 2018 and is available on the Archives of American Art website. Materials which have not been digitized include blank pages, blank versos of photographs, and duplicates. In some cases, exhibition catalogs and other publications have had their covers, title pages, and relevant pages digitized. Some of the legal records regarding the Beckwith estate have not been digitized.
Material lent for microfilming is available on 35mm microfilm reels 1418, 1454, 4802 and 4803 at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.
Processing Information
The collection was processed, prepared for digitization, and described in a finding aid by Rihoko Ueno in 2018 with funding provided by the Walton Family Foundation and the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Separated Materials
The Archives of American Art also holds microfilm of material lent for microfilming (reels 1418 and 1454) including letters from John Singer Sargent, Clyde Fitch, Edwin Howland Blashfield, Jacob Schiff, Richard Mansfield, and others, 4 cartoon sketches; a sketchbook which also includes a list of works, 1878-1892, and a few writings; 5 photograph albums and photographs, 1902-1917, of European travels, studios, homes, paintings, family, and friends, among them Samuel Clemens, Worthington Whittredge, and Robert Reid; Bertha Beckwith's diary, 1904; and printed material. Other material available only on microfilm includes a sketchbook, "Amsterdam August 10, 1887" (reel 4802) containing sketches for portraits, notes of Monet's composition at Giverny, a watercolor, and studies of hands; and photographs of portraits of Beckwith, Beckwith in his studio, and Beckwith with his Art Students League classes, 1888-1892 (reel 4803). The sketchbook and photographs were returned to the National Academy of Design after microfilming.
Rihoko Ueno
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by The Walton Family Foundation and the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection, except for the estate related material, was initially lent for microfilming by the National Academy of Design in 1993. The National Academy of Design received Beckwith's papers as a gift in 1926 from the Bertha H. Beckwith estate. Beckwith related National Academy of Design correspondence and photographs were combined with the papers by the Academy. In 2018, the James Carroll Beckwith papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by the National Academy of Design via Maura Reilly, Executive Director. Papers on reels 1418, 1454 were lent for microfilming in 1978 by J. Carter Courtney, Beckwith's great-neice.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center.
Preferred Citation
James Carroll Beckwith papers, 1871-circa 1991, bulk 1875-1917. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Related Materials
The Archives of American Art also has microfilm (reel 800) of a 1895 James Carroll Beckwith diary. The original is located at the New York Historical Society.

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001