Scope and Content Note
The Ralph Fabri papers measure 26.0 linear feet and are dated circa 1870s-1975, with the bulk of the material dated 1918-1975. Biographical information, correspondence, subject files, writings, art work, financial records, miscellaneous records, scrapbooks, printed material, and photographs document the professional career and personal life of the painter, printmaker, commercial artist, writer, and teacher.
Biographical information includes awards and certificates, educational records, passports and travel documents.
Almost one-half of the collection consists of Fabri's correspondence. There is correspondence with friends and relatives, as well as professional correspondence. Much of the early correspondence with friends and family is written in Hungarian and also include small watercolors by Fabri that he used as postcards to send messages to family members. A number of later letters are illustrated with drawings by Fabri and other artists. Extensive correspondence - often daily missives - records romantic liaisons with Mabel Farrar, Mina Kocherthaler, Elly von Marczell, and Mavis Elizabeth Peat, as well as the travels and careers of Hungarian opera singer Maria Samson and composer and impresario Laszlo Schawrtz. In addition, there are large numbers of Christmas cards, many with original artwork, from artist friends and former students. Professional correspondence concerns teaching, writing and publishing, commercial work, exhibitions and sales.
Subject files relate mainly to organizations and institutions in which Fabri was active, and include his correspondence and some official records (minutes, reports, financial records), and printed material. Among the organizations and institutions are: Allied Artists of America, Inc., Artists for Victory, Inc., Audubon Artists of America, Inc., National Academy of Design, and Society of American Etchers. Other subject files concern the schools where Fabri taught and publications with which he was associated.
Among the writings by Fabri are drafts and completed manuscripts of articles, books (including two unpublished titles), music and lyrics, and a few poems. Diaries (75 vols.) covering the period 1918-1975, contain almost daily entries that record in varying degrees of detail his professional and personal activities, special and mundane events, and opinions. Prior to 1939, the diaries are in Hungarian or partially in Hungarian. Heavily illustrated notes from his studies at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts survive, along with other miscellaneous notes and 7 notebooks containing lists of concerts, operas, and plays attended by Fabri between 1912 and 1974.
Writings by other authors include the manuscript of Pastel Painting published by Stephen Csoka, said to have been written by Fabri.
Art work by Fabri includes student work, early commercial work, drawings and sketches, a few early watercolor paintings, and two sketchbooks. Work by other artists consists of a watercolor by his uncle Miklos Fabri, a pencil drawing by Laszlo Schwartz, a gouache painting by Paul Mommer, and an ink drawing by Marantz.
Financial records mainly concern banking transactions and taxes. In addition there are receipts for personal and business expenses and packages sent to family in Hungary.
Included among the miscellaneous records and artifacts are art sales and donations, six medals awarded to Fabri, and guest books. A videotape (SONY Helical Scan recording) of Fabri in his studio, made by Jerome Bona and Rick Brown that aired on NYC public access television station Channel C in 1973, is also included.
Scrapbooks (10 vols.) contain reproductions of Fabri's early commercial work, clippings, printed material, and a few photographs documenting his career.
Printed material by Fabri includes articles, books, commercial designs, reproductions, and works translated by Fabri for publication in Hungarian. Also included are issues of Today's Art containing signed and unsigned articles and editorials by Fabri, and some pieces he wrote using pseudonyms. Exhibition related items include catalogs, announcements, and invitations for Fabri's group and solo exhibitions and exhibitions of other artists. Also included are posters, and prospectuses.
Photographs are of art work, people, places, and miscellaneous subjects. People pictured are Ralph Fabri, his family (including a few ancestors), friends, and unidentified individuals and groups. Places documented include exterior views of Pension Villa-Fabri in Hungary (the family's restaurant and hotel), as well as photographs of foreign lands visited by Fabri or sent to him by friends. An item of note filed with miscellaneous subjects is a parade float titled "Give a Thought to Music," designed and constructed by Fabri. Included in ten photograph albums are views of paintings and commercial work by Fabri, various friends, his studio, the Dreiser estate in Mt. Kisco, N.Y., and group portraits of City College of New York faculty.