A Finding Aid to the James Britton Papers,
circa 1905-1984,
bulk circa 1905-1935
, in the Archives of American Art
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.britjame
Creators:
Britton, James, 1878-1936
Dates:
circa 1905-1984
bulk 1905-1935
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
2.9 Linear Feet
Repository:
The papers of painter and writer James Britton measure 2.9 linear feet and date from circa 1905-1984, with the bulk of the material dating from circa 1905-1935. The bulk of the papers consist of 49 diaries dating from 1918-1935, plus notebooks of diary excerpts, that chronicle Britton's daily activities and include lists, illustrations, and drafts of correspondence. Additional papers include biographical information compiled by the Britton family; scattered business and financial records; correspondence, including copies of Britton's letters to the editors of the Hartford Courant and the Hartford Times; additional writings and notes that include drafts and manuscripts of an autobiography, drafts of articles for his publication Art Opus, and other writings; sketches and a woodcut print; printed materials, including clippings of his published writings for Art Review International, Book Notes, and Opus; and one photograph of Britton and of works of art.

Scope and Content Note
Scope and Content Note
The papers of painter and writer James Britton measure 2.9 linear feet and date from circa 1905-1984, with the bulk of the material dating from circa 1905-1935. The bulk of the papers consist of 49 diaries dating from 1918-1935, plus notebooks of diary excerpts, that chronicle Britton's daily activities and include lists, illustrations, and drafts of correspondence. Additional papers include biographical information compiled by the Britton family; scattered business and financial records; correspondence, including copies of Britton's letters to the editors of the Hartford Courant and the Hartford Times; additional writings and notes that include drafts and manuscripts of an autobiography, drafts of articles for his publication Art Opus, and other writings; sketches and a woodcut print; printed materials, including clippings of his published writings for Art Review International, Book Notes, and Opus; and one photograph of Britton and of works of art.
Biographical information consists of a file of photocopied materials prepared by the Britton Family. Scattered business and financial records include papers relating to Britton's auto accident, indexes of letters, illustrated indexes and lists of works of art, miscellaneous invoices and receipts, and file relating to Arlington Gallery.
Nine folders of correspondence include letters written to and by Britton along with posthumus materials to his widow, Caroline Britton. Correspondents include artists and friends Gertrude Fiske, Eugene Higgins, Kyonei Inukai, Andrew Kelly, Dewitt McClellan Lockman, Edwin Valentine Mitchell, Maurice Prendergast, Duncan Phillips, Alfred Stieglitz, Robert Vonnoh, and Robert C. Vose.
The bulk of the Britton papers consist of his extensive diaries - 49 volumes, plus notebooks of excerpts and detailed indexes. The diaries date from 1918-1935 and details Britton's daily activities and observations about art figures active in New York and Connecticut, classical music, the Great Depression, Prohibition, the Catholic Church, and politics. In addition, Britton talks of his relationships with his wife and children. The diaries served as a place for Britton to make lists of works of art, portrait subjects, potential clients, etc. Britton also created "Notebooks of Diary Excerpts" and a detailed index of many of the diaries.
Additional writings and notes include a handwritten and incomplete typescript of an autobiography, writings for Britton's publication Opus, and miscellaneous writings about art, music and plays. Writings by others include works by Duncan Scott Kent and Blackfield.
Artwork includes a print and sketches by Britton, and children's drawings.
Printed materials include issues of Britton's Art Review International, Opus, and other publications for which he wrote articles or provided illustration, clippings, exhibition catalogs, and programs.
Photographs include one photo of the artist with a painting and photos of works of art.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as 8 series:
  • Series 1: Biographical Information, 1970-1984 (Box 1; 1 folder)
  • Series 2: Business and Financial records, 1919-1933 (Box 1; 7 folders)
  • Series 3: Correspondence, 1913-1945 (Box 1; 9 folders)
  • Series 4: Diaries, 1918-1935 (Box 1-2; 1.5 linear feet)
  • Series 5: Writings and Notes, circa 1910s-1931 (Box 2-3; 0.4 linear feet)
  • Series 6: Artwork, circa 1920-1929 (Box 3; 5 folders)
  • Series 7: Printed Material, 1910-1982 (Box 4; 0.4 linear feet)
  • Series 8: Photographs, circa 1905-1930s (Box 4, OV 1; 3 folders)

Biographical Note
Biographical Note
James Britton (1878-1936) was a portrait painter and writer active in Connecticut and New York. Britton wrote extensively about American art and artists and was the editor of his own publications Art Review International and Opus. Also, he was a member of the group of New York painters and sculptors known as The Eclectics.
Born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1878, James Britton began his career as an apprentice working under August Jaccaci at Scribner's Magazine in 1895. He studied under George de Forest Brush at the Art Students' League and under Walter Griffin and Charles Noel Flagg in Hartford. He exhibited and worked with many of the American artists associated with the Ash Can school and The Eclectics, a group of New York artists that included Theresa Bernstein, Guy Pene du Bois, Walter Griffin, Philip L. Hale, Eugene Higgins, George Luks, Jane Peterson, Maurice Prendergast, and Mahonri Young. Mainly, Britton worked as a portrait painter but produced many landscapes of Sag Harbor, Long Island, and of his homes in Connecticut. He was a founding member of the New Society of American Artists and the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts. He exhibited at numerous New York City galleries including Ainslie Galleries, Arlington Galleries, Babcock Galleries, Dudensing Galleries, Folsom Galleries, and at the studio of sculptor Marie Apel.
A prolific writer on American art and artists, as well as an illustrator, Britton worked as staff artist for the Hartford Times and as an art critic for American Art News and the Hartford Courant. He also founded and edited Art Review International and Opus. Two of his published books include Copley, Painter of the Revolution and Artists of America. Britton was also interested in classical music and wrote on composers Haydn and Beethoven. Britton's extensive diaries found within his papers chronicle his daily life and commentary.
In 1914, Britton married Caroline Korner and settled mostly in Connecticut. They had three children, Jerome, Teresa, and Ruth. In 1928, a car struck Britton and left him disabled. Although he continued to paint, he suffered from ill-health as a result of the accident. He died in 1936.
James Britton's works are represented at the Wadsworth Atheneum, Mark Twain Memorial, Manchester Public Library and at St. Joseph's College.

Administration
Alternative Forms Available
This site provides access to the papers of James Britton in the Archives of American Art that were digitized in
2010
, and total
6872
images.
Materials that have not been digitized include photographs of works of art, duplicates, and some printed materials.
Processing Information
The James Britton papers were arranged and microfilmed shortly upon receipt on reels 3647-3651. In 2010, Jayna Hanson rearranged the papers and wrote a finding aid prior to digitization in 2010 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Author
Jayna M. Hanson
Sponsor
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art
Provenance
James Britton's granddaughters, Barbara Britton and Ursula Roberts Britton donated the James Britton papers in 1985.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
James Britton papers, circa 1905-1984, bulk circa 1905-1935. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Restrictions on Access
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
Ownership and Literary Rights
The James Britton papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. The collection is subject to all copyright laws. Copyright ownership remains with Barbara Britton and Ursula Britton, who have granted the Archives permission to digitize the collection and post on the Archives website.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Authors -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Illustrations Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Notebooks Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Diaries Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Prints Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art critics Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sketches Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painters -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painters -- New York (State) -- New York -- Diaries Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art, Modern -- 20th century -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art, Modern -- 20th century -- Connecticut Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Drafts Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Prendergast, Maurice Brazil, 1858-1924 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Higgins, Eugene, 1874-1958 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Fiske, Gertrude, 1878-1961 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Phillips, Duncan, 1886-1966 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kelly, Andrew J. Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Inukai, Kyohei, 1913- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Arlington Galleries (New York, N.Y.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Blackfield Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Vonnoh, Robert William, 1858-1933 Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Vose, Robert C. (Robert Churchill), 1911-1998 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mitchell, Edwin Valentine, 1890-1960 Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kent, Duncan Scott Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lockman, DeWitt McClellan, 1870-1957 Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Stieglitz, Alfred, 1864-1946 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001
https://www.aaa.si.edu/services/questions
https://www.aaa.si.edu/