A Finding Aid to the Douglas Volk and Leonard Wells Volk Papers, circa 1858-1965, 2008, bulk circa 1870-1935, in the Archives of American Art
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.volkleon
Creators:
Volk, Leonard Wells, 1828-1895
Volk, Douglas , 1856-1935
Dates:
circa 1858-1965
2008
bulk 1870-1935
Languages:
English
Collection is in English.
Physical Description:
11.9 Linear feet
Repository:
The papers of painter and teacher Douglas Volk (1856-1935) and his father, sculptor Leonard Wells Volk (1828-1895), measure 11.9 linear feet and date from circa 1858-1965, 2008, with the bulk of the material dating from circa 1870-1935. Douglas Volk's papers document his life and career through biographical material, family and professional correspondence, writings and notes, diaries and journals, financial records, printed material, scrapbooks, artwork and sketchbooks, and photographs of the artist, his family, friends, and artwork. The papers also provide documentation of the formation and operations of the Sabatos Handicraft Society established with Marion Volk from the Volk's summer home, Hewnoaks, in Center Lovell, Maine. Scattered documentation of the life and work of Leonard Wells Volk, is found in biographical material, land records, letters, memoirs, and photographs.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of painter and teacher Douglas Volk (1856-1935) and his father, sculptor Leonard Wells Volk (1828-1895), measure 11.9 linear feet and date from circa 1858-1965, 2008, with the bulk of the material dating from circa 1870-1935. Douglas Volk's papers document his life and career through biographical material, family and professional correspondence, writings and notes, diaries and journals, financial records, printed material, scrapbooks, artwork and sketchbooks, and photographs of the artist, his family, friends, and artwork. The papers also provide documentation of the formation and operations of the Sabatos Handicraft Society established with Marion Volk from the Volk's summer home, Hewnoaks, in Center Lovell, Maine. Scattered documentation of the life and work of Leonard Wells Volk, is found in biographical material, land records, letters, memoirs, and photographs.
Douglas Volk's papers form the bulk of the collection and document all stages of his life from his first visits to Europe during his teenage years, until his death. Biographical material includes address books, biographical notes, genealogical records of Volk's family, and a warranty deed for land purchased by Marion Volk in Center Lovell, Maine, in 1904.
Family correspondence is primarily between Douglas and Marion throughout their courtship and marriage, but also includes letters from other family members including daughter Marion Volk Bridge and sons Wendell and Gerome Volk. General correspondence is with colleagues, art galleries, societies, institutions and museums, schools and colleges, government agencies, and others. Also found are letters from artists including George de Forest Brush, Elliott Daingerfield, Cass Gilbert, Philip Leslie Hale, Swedish woodcarver Karl von Rydingsvard, and J. Alden Weir; and friends Felix Adler and Percival Chubb.
Douglas Volk's writings and notes are on art, art instruction for children, and the significance and influence of his father's work, particularly Leonard Volk's Lincoln life mask, and include drafts of his monograph "Art Instruction in Public Schools."
Diaries and journals record details of Volk's early art education in Europe, including his friendships with Eugene Benson and George de Forest Brush and others, his time spent studying under Jean-Léon Gérôme at the École des Beaux Arts, his appointment by the National Art Committee to paint portraits of World War I era politicians and military figures, and his Lincoln portrait painted just prior to Volk's death.
Financial records document day-to-day routine expense, as well as sales of artwork and other art-related transactions.
Printed material and a scrapbook of clippings and letters include press coverage of Douglas Volk's career from the early 1900s to 1918. An additional scrapbook provides documentation of the Sabatos Handicraft Society, including a copy of one of only three known editions of the society's publication The Fire Fly. Artwork includes sketches, two small oil paintings, and fifteen sketchbooks of Douglas Volk.
Photographs include portraits taken at various stages of Volk's career, family photographs, photographs of the main house at Hewnoaks and additional buildings, photographs of several artists including William Merritt Chase and Karl von Rydinsgsvard, photographs of world leaders including David Lloyd George, King Albert of Belgium, and General John J. Pershing, and photographs of artwork.
The papers of Leonard Wells Volk include seven volumes of his hand-written memoirs which document his relationship with Stephen A. Douglas, his first meeting with Lincoln, and his involvement with the Chicago Academy of Design. Also found are three letters including one written to Douglas Volk in 1887, and a memorandum related to the value of Leonard Wells Volk's Lincoln and Douglas statues at the Illinois State House. Photographs include three of Leonard Wells Volk, photographs of other family members including his wife Emily, photos of houses and woodland scenes, and photos of artwork.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as 2 series.
  • Series 1: Douglas Volk Papers, circa 1870-1965, 2008 (11.45 linear feet; Boxes 1-12, OVs 13-14)
  • Series 2: Leonard Wells Volk Papers, circa 1858-circa 1930 (0.45 linear feet; Boxes 11-12)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Chicago sculptor Leonard Wells Volk (1828-1895) created one of only two life masks of Abraham Lincoln. His son, painter and teacher Douglas Volk (1856-1935), was known for his figure and portrait paintings. Douglas Volk and his wife Marion Larrabee Volk established the Sabatos Handicraft Society, producing homespun woolen rugs and textiles from their summer home in Center Lovell, Maine.
Leonard Wells Volk was raised in New York State and Massachusetts, before moving to St. Louis to learn modeling and drawing. Around 1852 he married Emily Clarissa King Barlow, a cousin of Senator Stephen A. Douglas. Douglas took an interest in Volk's career and helped finance his trip to Rome and Florence between 1855 and 1857, where Volk studied art. On returning from Europe Volk settled in Chicago, opening a studio there and establishing himself as a leader in art circles and a founder of the Chicago Academy of Design. He served as president of the Academy (later the School of the Art Institute of Chicago) for eight years. Volk recorded his first meeting with Lincoln during the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates, and the subsequent 1860 sittings with Lincoln for the life mask, hands, and bust, in his memoirs. The mask served as a model for many sculptors who made later portraits of Lincoln. Volk's other important works include the Rock Island County Soldier's Monument in Rochester, New York (1869), statues of Lincoln and Douglas for the Illinois Statehouse (1876), a bust of Douglas, and the Douglas Tomb monument (1881) in Chicago.
Douglas Volk was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts in 1856. His artistic education began in his teens when he traveled to Europe with his family. In the early 1870s he lived in Rome and Venice, spending time with his friends George de Forest Brush and J. Alden Weir. He moved to Paris in 1873 where he studied at the École des Beaux Arts with Jean-Léon Gérôme, and exhibited his first picture, In Brittany, at the 1875 Paris Salon.
In 1879 Volk returned to the United States and accepted a teaching position at Cooper Union. He was elected to the Society of American Artists in 1880 and married Marion Larrabee in 1881. In 1883 Volk became a founder of the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts and was appointed the first president of the subsequent Minneapolis School of Fine Arts in 1886, a position he held until 1893. During his time in Minneapolis, Volk purchased a summer studio and retreat in Osceola, Wisconsin, and he and Marion had four children: Leonard (1882-1891), Wendell (1884-1953), Marion (1888-1973) and Gerome (1890-1959). In 1893 Volk returned to New York and accepted a position at the Art Students League, where he taught from 1893-1898, and also resumed his post at Cooper Union. He became interested in innovative ways to teach art and art history to children, and in 1895 the National Academy of Design printed his essay "A Plea for Art in the Public Schools," in its annual exhibition catalog. He was elected an associate of the Academy in 1898, becoming a full academician in 1899.
In 1898, looking to provide the family with a summer retreat, Marion Volk purchased property with a friend in Center Lovell, Maine, an area already enjoyed by the couple's friends, George de Forest Brush and Percival Chubb. The property was divided in 1901 and Marion added to her half creating a lot of approximately twenty-five acres. The Volks renovated the house, which they named Hewnoaks, and eventually built four more cottages and a studio for Douglas Volk on the property. During this period Marion Volk was working with handwoven wool on traditional area looms using fruit and vegetable hand-dyes and designs based on motifs from Native American art. In 1902 the Volks held the founding meeting of the Sabatos Handicraft Society at Hewnoaks, and the property became the hub of a Center Lovell community effort to produce rugs, textiles, and other handicrafts using traditional methods. Daughter Marion worked with her mother, and son Wendell, a printmaker and woodcaver, operated the Hewn Beam Press, printing pamphlets and a newsletter entitled the Fire Fly: A Periodical of Fearless Endeavour. Swedish-born wood carver Karl von Rydingsvard offered classes on wood carving at Hewnoaks, assisted by Wendell Volk.
Douglas Volk worked to make the Hewnoaks handicraft movement a success, but focused primarily on his own painting. The Maine woods provided endless inspiration and the setting for many of his paintings and murals, which primarily depicted romanticized historical subjects in Colonial America and reflected his traditional academic training. One of his best known works, The Boy with the Arrow (1903), a portrait of his son Leonard "Leo" Volk who died at the age of eight, is now in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Volk taught at the National Academy of Design from 1910-1917. He served as recording secretary and then on the council for the organization from 1910-1919. His acclaimed intimate portraits of friends and acquaintances, including Felix Adler (1914) and William Macbeth (1917), were painted during this period. In 1919 Volk was one of a group of artists commissioned by the National Art Committee to paint major figures from World War I. He subsequently painted portraits of King Albert of Belgium, British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, and General John J. Pershing, and recorded his meetings and sittings with the three men in his journals.
For the last fifteen years of his life Volk, using his father's life mask, painted a series of portraits of Abraham Lincoln, one of which hangs in the Lincoln Bedroom at The White House.
At least fifteen years prior to her death in 1925, Marion Volk's involvement in handicrafts at Hewnoaks declined, while Douglas Volk continued to focus on his own work. Wendell Volk's career in civil engineering took precedence over his interest in weaving and woodcarving and both he and his brother Gerome moved West in 1909. Following Douglas Volk's death in Fryeburg, Maine in 1935, Wendell Volk and his wife Jessie, also an artist, ultimately took possession of Hewnoaks. Wendell died in 1953, but the property was eventually bequeathed by Jessie Volk to the University of Maine and now operates as an artist colony.

Administration
Existence and Location of Copies
The collection was digitized in 2016 and is available on the Archives of American Art's website.
Material lent for microfilming is available on 35mm microfilm reel 4280 at the Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.
Separated Materials
Volumes 1, 3, 6-7, 9, and 10 of Leonard Volk's memoirs form part of the Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana in the Library of Congress.
The Archives of American Art also holds material lent for microfilming (reel 4280) including correspondence of Leonard Volk and photographs of his artwork. Lent materials were returned to the lender and are not described in the collection container inventory.
Processing Information
Portions of the collection received some preliminary processing at some point after donation. All accessions were merged and the collection was fully processed and a finding aid prepared by Stephanie Ashley in 2016 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art. The collection was digitized in 2016 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Author
Stephanie Ashley
Sponsor
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The George Arents Research Library, Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York first lent material for microfilming in 1989. Most of the material was then donated in 2004–2005 by Jessie J. Volk, the daughter-in-law of Douglas Volk, who also bequeathed the Volk estate including additional Volk papers to the University of Maine. In 2006, University officials arranged for an auction of much of the property of the estate including the remaining family papers. The Volk Family estate auction was conducted by Cyr Auction Co., in Gray, Maine, on July 19, 2006. Several individuals purchased parts of the papers at that auction and subsequently donated them to the Archives. Those donors are: David Wright, who acquired the 1875 journal and Brush letters and donated them to the Archives in 2006; Dr. Christine Isabelle Oaklander, who purchased the account book, 1873–1875, and donated it to the Archives in honor of Judith Ellen Throm in 2007, and also donated additional letters and a photograph in 2008; and Mary K. and John F. McGuigan Jr., who purchased correspondence (1120 letters), speeches, lectures, articles, checks, check stubs and miscellaneous items and donated them to the Archives in 2015. In 2007, the University of Maine Foundation via Amos Orcutt donated the 1934 journal and 60 photographs.
John F. McGuigan Jr. and Mary K. McGuigan have purchased and donated additional archival materials to the Archives, including the Mary K. McGuigan and John F. McGuigan Jr. artists' letters collection, and 69 letters now among the Sylvester Rosa Koehler papers.
In 2007, the University of Maine Foundation via Amos Orcutt donated the 1934 journal and 60 photographs that were part of the Volk Family estate, but not included in the June 19, 2006 auction.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Douglas Volk and Leonard Wells Volk papers, circa 1858-1965, 2008, bulk circa 1870-1935. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Conditions Governing Use
The Douglas Volk and Leonard Wells Volk 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.
Conditions Governing Access
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Painters -- Maine Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painters -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sculptors -- Maine Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art teachers -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sculptors -- Illinois -- Chicago Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art -- Study and teaching Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Scrapbooks Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
World War, 1914-1918 Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Diaries Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sketchbooks Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Paintings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sketches Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Volk, Marion Larrabee, 1859-1925 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Volk, Gerome Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Pershing, John J. (John Joseph), 1860-1948 -- Photographs Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
von Rydingsvaard, Karl Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sabatos Industries Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lloyd George, David, 1863-1945 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Weir, Julian Alden, 1852-1919 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Benson, Eugene, 1837-1908 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Brush, George de Forest, 1855-1941 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Adler, Felix, 1851-1933 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Bridge, Marion Volk Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Albert, King of the Belgians, I, 1875-1934 -- Photographs Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Chase, William Merritt, 1849-1916 -- Photographs Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Volk, Wendell Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Douglas, Stephen Arnold, 1813-1861 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Gérôme, Jean Léon, 1824-1904 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ecole nationale supérieure des beaux-arts (France) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Chicago Academy of Design Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Daingerfield, Elliott, 1859-1932 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Gilbert, Cass, 1859-1934 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Chubb, Percival, 1860-1960 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hale, Philip Leslie, 1865-1931 -- Photographs Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
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