A Finding Aid to the Isabella Howland papers, 1899-1979, in the Archives of American Art

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.howlisab
Creators:
Howland, Isabella, 1895-1974
Dates:
1899-1979
Languages:
English
Collection is in English.
Physical Description:
1.2 Linear feet
Repository:
The papers of artist Isabella Howland measure 1.2 linear feet and date from 1899-1979. The collection documents her career through biographical material, correspondence, personal business records, writings, printed material, artwork, and photographs.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of painter, sculptor, caricaturist, and portraitist Isabella Howland measure 1.2 linear feet and date from 1899-1979. Correspondence makes up about a third of the collection, with the remainder comprised of biographical material, writings, printed material, photographs, and artworks.
Correspondence is found between Isabella Howland and other artists or dealers. Among these are Eugenie Gershoy, Henry Strater, Edith Halpert, Peggy Bacon, Forbes Watson, Jerry Bywaters, Adolph Dehn and Dorothea Greenbaum. Letters from Juliana Force, the first director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, are present. Many invitations to exhibit are included. The collection includes a small number of letters with Howland's family. She maintained written communication with several individuals over decades.
The biographical material contains Isabella Howland's handwritten notes and typed documents about her life. Some legal documents and financial records are present. The writing series includes her story 'Willy Nilly' with accompanying illustrations of animals, in addition to some other writings. The artwork series includes sketches and sketchbooks from childhood into adulthood. Photographs include images of Howland as well as her paintings and portraits.

Arrangement
Arrangement
  • Series 1: Biographical Material, 1901-1972 (4 folders; Box 1)
  • Series 2: Correspondence, 1917-1973 (22 folders; Box 1)
  • Series 3, Writings, 1935-1964 (8 folders; Box 1)
  • Series 4: Printed Material, 1928-1976 (5 folders; Box 1)
  • Series 5: Photographs, circa 1900-1979 (4 folders; Box 1, OV 2)
  • Series 6: Artwork, 1899-circa 1940s (8 folders; Box 1, OV 2)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Isabella Howland (1895-1974) lived and worked in New York City. She drew portraits, painted on canvas, sketched on paper, and sculpted caricature busts of people in the art world. She wrote that she could do anything with her hands.
Howland was born in Brookline, Massachusetts. From her youth she knew she wanted to be an artist. She had her earliest artistic training at age 16. Her art education included time at the Boston Museum School and the Art Students League in New York City. She completed her secondary education in France and Germany, moved back to the United States afterwards, and in 1920 travelled again to Europe. In 1922 she settled in Greenwich Village and spent summers in Woodstock to paint landscapes and still-lifes. She actively painted in the 1920s, and had three shows in 1927, 1929, and 1931. During the Depression she worked for the Public Works of Art Project and the Works Progress Administration. In 1934 she married Armando Zegri, and they divorced in 1937. While they were married they owned a club in the West Village named The Café Latino. She began teaching at a private school in the early 1940s while dealing with some personal difficulties. She found religion which comforted her as she dealt with her mother's declining health and her sister's waning mental state.
Howland had many friends in the art world and regularly received requests to exhibit at museums. She became known as an accomplished portrait artist, and she was commissioned many times to execute drawings or sculptures. She dabbled in writing and illustrating stories, and produced a set of 33 Christmas cards featuring two monks.

Administration
Processing Information
The collection was processed to a minimal level and a finding aid prepared by Helen MacDiarmid in 2014. All materials have been rehoused in archival folders and a new box for long-term stability.
Author
Helen MacDiarmid
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated between 1975-1976 by Mrs. Martha Craig and Barbara Summer. Three photographs of works of art were donated by Eugenie Gershoy in 1979.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
Preferred Citation
Isabella Howland papers, 1899-1979. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Conditions Governing Use
The Isabella Howland papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donors have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Portrait painters -- New York (State) -- New York 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
Caricaturists -- New York (State) -- New York Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Women artists Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sculptors -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sketchbooks Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Bacon, Peggy, 1895-1987 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Strater, Henry, 1896- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Watson, Forbes, 1880-1960 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Greenbaum, Dorothea S. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Halpert, Edith Gregor, 1900-1970 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Gershoy, Eugenie, 1901?-1983 or 6 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Force, Juliana, 1876-1948 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Bywaters, Jerry Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dehn, Adolf, 1895-1968 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/