A Finding Aid to the Chester Dale Papers, circa 1883-2003, bulk 1920-1970, in the Archives of American Art
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.daleches
Creators:
Dale, Chester, b. 1883
Dates:
circa 1883-2003
bulk 1920-1970
Languages:
English
The collection is in English.
Physical Description:
8.4 Linear feet
Repository:
The papers of New York art collector Chester Dale measure 8.4 linear feet and date from circa 1883-2003. Dale amassed one of the world's most complete collections of nineteenth and twentieth century French art, was a collector of eighteenth century American portraitists, and a patron and collector of twentieth American artists including George Bellows and Mary Cassatt. The bulk of the collection dates from 1920 to 1970 and documents Dale's activities through biographical material, correspondence, memoirs and other writings, purchase, sales and estate records, printed material, scrapbooks, and photographs.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of New York art collector Chester Dale measure 8.4 linear feet and date from circa 1883-2003. Dale amassed one of the world's most complete collections of nineteenth and twentieth century French art, was a collector of eighteenth century American portraitists, and a patron and collector of twentieth American artists including George Bellows and Mary Cassatt. The bulk of the collection dates from 1920 to 1970 and documents Dale's activities through biographical material, correspondence, memoirs and other writings, purchase, sales and estate records, printed material, scrapbooks, and photographs.
Biographical material comprises brief genealogical and biographical notes on Dale's father's side of the family; four pieces of miscellaneous artwork; several certificates, membership cards, and programs; circa six unidentified dictaphone recordings; and a home movie of an unidentified social event.
Correspondence provides scattered documentation of Dale's activities as a collector and benefactor, including correspondence relating to gifts to various museums such as the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as posthumous gifts to the Allentown Art Museum and Amherst College. Also documented is Dale's election as president of the National Gallery of Art in 1955. There are several letters to and from Salvador and Gala Dali, copies of two letters from Diego Rivera, and letters from other friends and business associates, including historian Georges Salles. Over one third of the correspondence consists of condolence telegrams and letters sent to Mary Dale following Dale's death. Other correspondence documents Mary Dale's work as exhibition chairman for the Parrish Museum of Art, and includes letters from Andrew, Jamie, and Nicholas Wyeth.
Writings include typed drafts of Dale's memoirs which recall the beginning of his career in banking, and include stories of his early experiences in buying art. Dale credits the highly discerning and influential eye of his first wife, Maud Dale, for guiding him in his early selections, and his memoirs recall his unconventionally direct way of doing business with the Paris art dealers. Two travel diaries record a 1904 trip to Europe, and five trips to Europe and the Caribbean between 1949 and 1953. Writings by others include several essays on Dale by various authors, several essays on art by Maud Dale, and a typed draft of a manuscript on Dale's life by Neil MacNeil.
Extensive inventories, estate appraisals, and will disbursement records document the contents of the Chester Dale collection in Series 4. Also found here are receipts for specific purchases of works by Cezanne, Cassatt, Dali, Dufy, Picasso, and others.
Printed material includes catalogs for auction sales annotated with sales prices and other purchase information; catalogs of Dale's collection; and exhibition catalogs and announcements for the Parrish Museum of Art during Mary Dale's tenure as exhibition chairman. Some of the catalogs include essays by Maud Dale. News clippings and magazine articles document press coverage of Dale's activities at home and abroad.
Scrapbooks contain additional printed material, primarily news clippings, documenting press coverage of Chester Dale's life from the 1920s until his death. One of the scrapbooks includes multiple photographs of Dale and others, including a photo of Frida Kahlo and Jose Orozco. An additional scrapbook of photographs and clippings documents Mary Dale's life before and after her marriage to Dale.
Photographs are of Dale, Mary Dale, Maud Dale, family, friends, and colleagues. There are photographs of Dale and Mary Dale with artists including George Braques, Salvador and Gala Dali, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, and Jamie and Nicholas Wyeth; and friends and associates Renee and Claire Batigne, Veronica "Rocky" Cooper and Maria Cooper, Robert Sturgis Ingersoll, Edith Hamilton with Robert Frost, Neil MacNeil, Herbert Mayes, and Paul and Timothy Mellon. There are individual photos and three photograph albums of Dale's various residences and his collection, including photographs taken shortly before his death at his Plaza Hotel apartment showing some of his favorite pictures. Photographers include Rudolph Burkhardt, Irving Cantor, Ivan Dmitri, and Dmitri Kessel. There are also many photographs of exhibition openings and museum events, especially events at the National Gallery of Art, including the presentation of Dale's gift of Dali's The Sacrament of the Last Supper to the museum in 1956, and the occasion of Queen Elizabeth II of England's visit to the museum in 1957. Photographs also include photographs of artwork in Dale's collection.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as seven series.
  • Series 1: Biographical Material, circa 1897-circa 1960, 2003 (Boxes 1, 7-8; FC 20; 0.45 linear feet)
  • Series 2: Correspondence, 1911-1984 (Box 1; 0.9 linear feet)
  • Series 3: Writings, 1904-1963 (Boxes 2, 8; 0.55 linear feet)
  • Series 4: Chester Dale Collection, circa 1930-1968 (Boxes 2-3; 1 linear foot)
  • Series 5: Printed Material, 1925-circa 1972 (Boxes 3-4, 8, OV 9; 1.2 linear feet)
  • Series 6: Scrapbooks, circa 1920s-1963 (Box 4, BVs 10-14; 1.2 linear feet)
  • Series 7: Photographs, circa 1883-1972 (Boxes 4-6, 19, BVs 15-17, OV 18; 3.3 linear feet)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
New York art patron and collector of French and American art Chester Dale (1883-1962), made his fortune as a banker who pioneered the sale of public utility securities. He began purchasing French paintings in the mid-1920s and retired from the investment security business in 1935 in order to focus full time on the acquisition of art.
Dale was encouraged to begin collecting art by his first wife, Maud Dale, who was an artist, a writer, and a former chairman of the Exhibition Committee of the Museum of French Art. With the benefit of his wife's knowledge, passion, and perception, Dale began to lay the foundation of his collection in 1926, and amassed circa seven hundred pictures within ten years. His collection is considered to be one of the most complete collections of nineteenth and twentieth century French art in the world, and includes some of the finest examples of works by Braque, Corot, Delacroix, Degas, Derain, Dufy, Leger, Matisse, and Renoir, as well as by artists representative of the French tradition in art including Modigliani, Picasso, Rivera, and Van Gogh.
Although primarily interested in French art, Dale also collected and encouraged American artists. He was a patron of George Bellows and Salvador Dali, and had his portrait painted by both artists. Dale presented the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Gallery of Art with their first Dali paintings, the latter being The Sacrament of the Last Supper. Dale also purchased works by Mary Cassatt, representative works by "the Eight," and examples of eighteenth century American portraitists John Smibert, Gilbert Stuart and Thomas Sully. In the early 1940s he visited Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Mexico, and Rivera subsequently completed a portrait of Dale in 1945.
Dale served as a trustee to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Chicago Art Institute, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He made the first of a series of gifts to the National Gallery of Art when it opened in 1941. In 1955 he was elected president of the museum, by which time his collection occupied ten of its galleries. Dale bequeathed the bulk of his remaining collection to the National Gallery in his will. This final gift included eighty of his favorite pictures, which had been located in his Manhattan apartment at the Plaza Hotel up until his death.
A year after the death of Maud Dale in 1953, Dale married Mary Towar Bullard, whom he had employed as his secretary for twenty-five years. Mary Dale oversaw the disbursement of her husband's estate, following Dale's death from a heart attack in 1962.

Administration
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, negatives and transparencies for which prints exist, stereo slides, the dictaphone recordings, the home movie, and duplicates. In some cases, exhibition catalogs and other publications have had only their covers, title pages, and relevant pages digitized.
Processing Information
The collection received a preliminary level of arrangement after donation and was partially microfilmed on reels 927 and 3968-3974. The collection was processed, prepared for digitization, and described in a finding aid by Stephanie Ashley in 2017 with funding provided by The Walton Family Foundation.
Author
Stephanie Ashley
Sponsor
Funding for the processing and digitization of the Chester Dale papers is provided by The Walton Family Foundation. Funding for the reformatting of the 16mm film reel was provided by the Smithsonian Institution Women's Committee.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection was donated in 1972 by Mary Dale, Chester Dale's second wife, and in 1985 by Mary Dale's estate.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D. C., Research Center. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate copy requires advance notice.
Conditions Governing Use
The Chester Dale 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
Chester Dale papers, circa 1883-2003, bulk 1920-1970. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Related Materials
Holdings at the Archives of American Art also include the Chester Dale papers concerning George Bellows, 1919-1956, comprising correspondence, a photograph, and invoices relating to Chester Dale's relationship with George Bellows and Dale's interest in artwork by Bellows; and the Chester Dale eulogy, consisting of one 35 minute, 9 second sound tape reel of a eulogy delivered by an unidentified speaker.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Art -- Collectors and collecting Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art dealers -- France -- Paris Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art, French--19th century Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art, French--20th century Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art, Modern -- 20th century -- Collectors and collecting Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art, Modern--19th century--Collectors and collecting Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Europe -- description and travel Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Motion pictures (visual works) Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Scrapbooks Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Travel diaries Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Batigne, Claire Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Batigne, Renee Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Braque, Georges, 1882-1963 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Burkhardt, Rudy Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Cantor, Irving Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Cassatt, Mary, 1844-1926 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Cézanne, Paul, 1839-1906 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Cooper, Maria Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Cooper, Veronica Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dale, Maud, 1875-1953 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dale, Mary Towar Bullard, 1892-1984 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dalí, Salvador, 1904- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dalí, Gala Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dmitri, Ivan, 1900-1968 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dufy, Raoul, 1877-1953 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Elizabeth II, Queen of Great Britain, 1926- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Frost, Robert, 1874-1963 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hamilton, Edith, 1867-1963 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ingersoll, R. Sturgis (Robert Sturgis), b. 1891 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kahlo, Frida Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kessel, Dmitri Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
MacNeil, Neil Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mayes, Herbert R., 1900-1987 (Herbert Raymond) Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mellon, Paul Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mellon, Timothy Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Orozco, José Clemente, 1883-1949 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Picasso, Pablo, 1881-1973 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Rivera, Diego, 1886-1957 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Salles, Georges Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Wyeth, Jamie, 1946- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Wyeth, Andrew, 1917-2009 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Wyeth, Nicholas Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Allentown Art Museum Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Amherst College Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dallas Museum of Art Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
National Gallery of Art (U.S.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Parrish Art Museum Corporate 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/