Charles Lang Freer Papers

Summary
Collection ID:
FSA.A.01
Creators:
Freer, Charles Lang, 1856-1919
Dates:
1876-1931
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
131 Linear Feet
29 architectural drawings
Repository:
The personal papers of Charles Lang Freer, the industrialist and art collector who founded the Freer Gallery of Art. The papers include correspondence, diaries, art inventories, scrapbooks of clippings on James McNeil Whistler and other press clippings, and photographs.

Scope Content
Scope Content
The personal papers of Charles Lang Freer, the industrialist and art collector who founded the Freer Gallery of Art. The papers include correspondence, diaries, art inventories, scrapbooks of clippings on James McNeil Whistler and other press clippings, financial material, architectural drawings, and photographs.
Correspondence, circa 1860-1921, includes Freer's correspondence, 1876-1920, with artists, dealers, collectors, museums, and public figures; letterpress books contain copies of Freer's outgoing letters, 1892-1910; correspondence collected by Freer of James McNeill Whistler, and his wife Beatrix, 186?-1909, with Lady Colin Campbell, Thomas R. Way, Alexander Reid, Whistler's mother, Mrs. George W. Whistler, and others; correspondence of Whistler collector Richard A. Canfield, 1904-1913, regarding works in Canfield's collection; and correspondence of Freer's assistant, Katharine Nash Rhoades, 1920-1921, soliciting Freer's letters from his associates, and regarding the settlement of his estate.
Also included are twenty-nine pocket diaries, 1889-1890, 1892-1898, 1900-1919, recording daily activities, people and places visited, observations, and comments; a diary kept by Freer's caretaker, Joseph Stephens Warring, recording daily activities at Freer's Detroit home, 1907-1910. Inventories, n.d. and 1901-1921, of American, European, and Asian art in Freer's collection, often including provenance information; vouchers, 1884-1919, documenting his purchases; five volumes of scrapbooks of clippings on James McNeill Whistler, 1888-1931, labeled "Various," "Peacock Room," "Death, etc.," "Paris, etc.," and "Boston...London" ; three volumes of newsclippings, 1900-1930, concerning Freer and the opening of the Freer Gallery of Art.
Correspondence regarding Freer's gift and bequest to the Smithsonian Institution, 1902-1916; and photographs, ca. 1880-1930, of Freer, including portraits by Alvin Langdon Coburn and Edward Steichen, Freer with others, Freer in Cairo, China and Japan, Freer's death mask, and his memorial service, Kyoto, 1930; photographs of artists and others, including Thomas Dewing, Ernest Fenollosa, Katharine Rhoades taken by Alfred Stieglitz, Rosalind B. Philip, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Abbott H. Thayer, Dwight Tryon, and Whistler; and photographs relating to Whistler, including art works depicting him, grave and memorial monuments, works of art, the Peacock Room, and Whistler's memorial exhibition at the Copley Society.

Organization of the Papers
Organization of the Papers
This collection is organized into twelve series.
Series 1: Genealogical and Biographical Data
Series 2: Correspondence
Series 3: Diaries
Series 4: Freer Colleague Materials
Series 5: Art Inventories
Series 6: Financial Materials
Series 7: Exhibition Loan Files
Series 8: Biblical Manuscripts and Gold Treasure Files
Series 9: American School of Archaeology in China
Series 10: Printed Material
Series 11: Outsize Material
Series 12: Photographs

Biographical Note
Biographical Note
1854 February 25
Born in Kingston, New York
1873
Appointed accountant and paymaster of New York, Kingston and Syracuse Railroad by Frank J. Hecker (1846-1927)
1876
Moves to Indiana to work, with Hecker, for the Detroit and Eel River and Illinois Railroad
1880
Moves to Detroit, participates in organization of the Peninsular Car Works with Hecker
1883
Becomes vice president and secretary of Peninsular Car Company when it succeeds Peninsular Car Works
1883
Begins collecting European prints
1884
Peninsular Car Company constructs plant on Ferry Avenue
1887
Meets Howard Mansfield (1849-1938)
1887
Acquires proofs of 26 etchings, Venice, Second Series(1886), by James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903)
1887
Purchases a small Japanese fan attributed to Ogata Karin(1658-1715)
1887
Buys land on Ferry Avenue
1889
Meets Frederick Stuart Church (1826-1900) and Dwight William Tryon (1849-1925) in New York
1890
Commissions Wilson Eyre (1858-1944) to design house on Ferry Avenue, Detroit, Michigan
1890
On first trip to London, meets James McNeill Whistler(1834-1903)
1892
Moves to Ferry Avenue house
1892
Tryon and Thomas Wilmer Dewing (1851-1938) undertake decoration of reception rooms
1893
Lends American paintings to World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago
1893
Purchases first piece of Chinese art, a small painting of white herons by an anonymous Ming dynasty (1368-1644) artist
1894
Begins yearlong trip around the world, which includes visit to the Whistlers in Paris and first trip to Asia, stopping in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), India, China, and Japan
1896
Meets Matsuki Bunkyo (1867-1940) in Boston
1899
Takes part in consolidation of railroad-car building companies then retires from active business
1900
Attends Exposition International Universelle in Paris
1900
Buys villa in Capri with Thomas S. Jerome
1901
Meets Siegfried Bing (1838-1905) in Paris and Ernest Fenollosa(1853-1908), who visits Freer in Detroit
1902
Meets Dikran Kelekian (1868-1951)
1902
Spends summer in Britain building Whistler collection
1902
Views Whistler's, Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room
1904
Purchases Whistler's Peacock Room
1904
Offers his art collections and funds to build a museum in which to house them to the Smithsonian Institution
1905
Smithsonian committee visits Freer in Detroit
1906
United States government formally accepts Freer's gift on January 24
1906
Freer signs Deed of Gift to Smithsonian Institution on May 5
1907
On second tour of Asia, meets Hara Tomitaro 1868-1939) in Yokohama, Japan
1908
Takes third trip to Asia, specifically to West Asia to study Rakka ware
1909
Tours Europe to study art museums
1909
On fourth trip to Asia, attends memorial ceremony for Fenollosa (d.1908 September) at Miidera, Japan, and meets Duanfang (1861-1911) in China
1910
On last trip to Asia, visits Longmen Buddhist caves in China
1911
Suffers stroke
1912
Lends selection of objects for exhibition at Smithsonian Institution
1913
Meets Eugene (1875-1957) and Agnes E. (1887-1970) Meyer
1913
Commissions Charles Adams Platt (1861-1933) to design museum building in Washington
1914
Meets Katharine Nash Rhoades (1885-1965) in Detroit
1915
Settles in New York City
1915
Site of future Freer Gallery of Art is determined
1916
Platt's plans for Freer Gallery are approved by Smithsonian Regents and Commission of Fine Arts and ground is broken in September
1918
After falling ill in Detroit, Freer travels to New York for treatment
1918
Work on the museum building is delayed by the war
1919
Freer appends codicil to will permitting acquisitions of Asian, Egyptian, and Near Eastern (West Asian) art
1919
Dies in New York City on 25 September and is buried in Kingston, New York
1919
Construction of Freer Gallery completed
1920
John Ellerton Lodge (1876-1942) is appointed director of the Freer Gallery
1923
Freer Gallery opens to the public on May 9
1930
Memorial ceremony for Freer is held at Koetsuji, Kyoto
Charles Lang Freer was an American industrialist who founded the Freer Gallery of Art. He was a well-known collector of Asian art, and strongly supported the synthesis of Eastern art and Western art. One of his most famous acquisitions was James McNeill Whistler's Peacock Room.

Administration
Existence and Location of Copies note
Portions of the papers microfilmed by the Archives of American Art. Microfilm available at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Library, the Archives of American Art, and through interlibrary loan.
Processing Information
Processed by archivist Colleen Hennessey and Linda Machado.
Author
Colleen Hennessey and Lara Amrod
Immediate Source of Acquisition note
Gift of the estate of Charles Lang Freer.

Index
Index
Index to cross-referenced correspondents in the series Charles Lang Freer correspondence
  • Beal, Junius E. See: Warring, Joseph Stephens
  • Black, George M. See: Saint-Gaudens, Augustus
  • Board of Education (Kingston, New York) See: Michael, M. J.
  • Bonner, Campbell See: University of Michigan
  • Boughton, George H. See: Yardley, F. C.
  • British Museum See: Binyon, Laurence; Hobson, R. L.
  • Brown, Harold H. See: Art Association of Indianapolis
  • Buchner, Evelyn B. See: Knoedler, M., and Company
  • Buckholder, C. H. See: Art Institute of Chicago
  • Butler, S. B. See: Unidentified correspondents
  • Carnegie Institute See: Balken, Edward Duff; Harshe, Robert B.
  • Carpenter, Newton H. See: Art Institute of Chicago
  • Caulkins, Horace James See: Pewabic Pottery
  • Chao, Shih-chin See: Gunn, Chu Su
  • Chicago & North Western Railway Co. See: Hughett, Marvin
  • Clark, Charles Upson See: Clark, Arthur B.
  • Cleveland Museum of Art See: Whiting, Frederic Allen
  • Columbia University See: Braun, W. A.; Gottheil, Richard; Hirth, Friederich
  • Commission of Fine Arts See: Moore, Charles
  • Corcoran Gallery of Art See: Minnigerode, C. Powell
  • Crocker, Anna B. See: Portland Art Association
  • Dannenberg, D. E. See: Karlbeck, Orvar
  • De Menoncal, Beatrice See: Lien, Hui Ch'ing Collection
  • De Ricci, Seymour See: Ricci, Seymour de
  • Defnet, William A., Mrs., See: Franke, Ida M.
  • DeMotte See: Vigouroux, J.
  • Detroit Institute of Arts See: Detroit Museum of Art
  • Detroit Publishing Company See: Livingstone, W. A.
  • Detroit School of Design See: George Hamilton; Stevens, Henry
  • DeVinne Press See: Peters, Samuel T.; Witherspoon, A. S.
  • Dyrenforth, P. C. See: Philip, Rosalind Birnie
  • Eddy, Arthur J. See: Philip, Rosalind Birnie
  • Eggers, George Williams See: Art Institute of Chicago
  • Farr, Daniel H. See: Robinson and Farr
  • Farrand School (Detroit) See: Yendall, Edith
  • Field Museum of Natural History (Chicago) See: Laufer, Berthold
  • Flagg, Frederick J. See: Allen, Horace N.
  • Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University See: Forbes, Edward; Pope, Arthur Upham; Sachs, Paul J.
  • French, M. R. See: Art Institute of Chicago
  • Fu, Lan-ya See: Pang, Lai-ch'en
  • Fujii, Yoshio See: Yoshio, Fujii
  • Gerrity, Thomas See: Knoedler, M., and Company
  • Goupil Gallery See: Marchant, William
  • Gray, William J. See: Barr, Eva
  • Great Lakes Engineering Works See: Hoyt, H. W.
  • Grolier Club See: Philip, Rosalind Birnie
  • Heinemann, W. See: Philip, Rosalind Birnie
  • Holden, Edward S. See: West Point, U. S. Military Academy
  • Hudson, J. L. See: Weber, William C.
  • Hutchins, Harry B. See: University of Michigan
  • Hutchins, Charles L. See: Art Institute of Chicago
  • Kelekian, H. G. See: Kelekian, Dikran G.
  • Kent, H. W. See: Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Lee, Kee Son See: Li, Chi-ch'un
  • Levy, John See: Schneider, A. K.
  • Library of Congress See: Rice, Richard A.; Wright, Helen
  • Louvre (Paris, France) See: Midgeon, Gaston
  • Matsuki, Z. See: Matsuki, Kihachiro
  • McKim, Mead and White See: White, Stanford
  • Mills, A. L., Colonel See: Saint-Gaudens, Augustus
  • Miner, Luella See: Lien, Hui Ch'ing Collection
  • Minneapolis Institute of Arts See: Breck, Joseph; Van Derlip, John R.
  • Monif, R. Khan See: Rathbun, Richard
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston See: Lodge, John Ellerton
  • Naser, Katen & Nahass See: Katen, K.
  • Nordlinger, Marie, Miss See: Meyer-Riefstahl, Marie
  • Panama Pacific International Exposition See: Moore, Charles C.; Trask, John E. D.
  • Peabody Museum See: Morse, Edward Sylvester
  • Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts See: Trask, John E. D.
  • Perry, Mary Chase, Miss., See: Pewabic Pottery
  • Philip, Ronald M. See: Philip, Rosalind Birnie
  • Pope, G. D. See: Barr, Eva
  • Reinhart, A. G. See: Gottschalk, E.
  • Reitz, Sigisbert Chrétien Bosch See: Bosch-Reitz, Sigisbert Chrétien
  • Rutgers College See: Van Dyke, John C.
  • Saint-Gaudens, Augusta H. See: Saint-Gaudens, Augustus
  • Saint-Gaudens, Homer See: Saint-Gaudens, Augustus
  • Samurai Shokai See: Nomura, Yozo
  • San Francisco Art Association See: Laurvik, J. Nilsen
  • Scribner's, Charles, Sons See: Van Dyke, John C.
  • Shaw, Wilfred B. See: University of Michigan
  • Shirae, S. Z. See: Yamanaka and Company
  • Smith College See: Clark, Arthur B.
  • Smithsonian Institution See: Holmes, William Henry; Rathbun, Richard; Ravenel, Walcott, Charles D.
  • Society of Arts and Crafts (Detroit) See: Plumb, Helen
  • Societe des Beaux-Arts See: Reid, Alexander
  • Stevens, George W. See: Toledo Museum of Art
  • Stratton, Mary Chase Perry See: Pewabic Pottery
  • Tanaka, Kichijiro See: Yamanaka and Company
  • Tuttle, William F. See: Art Institute of Chicago
  • Union Trust Company (Detroit) See: Philip, Rosalind Birnie
  • United States Military Academy See: West Point, U. S. Military Academy
  • University of Chicago See: Zug, George Breed
  • University of Pennsylvania, Univ. Mus. See: Gordon, George Bryon
  • Ushikubo, D. J. R. See: Yamanaka and Company
  • Wallis & Son See: Barr, Eva; Thompson, C. Croal Ward, Clarence See: Oberlin College
  • Warren, Edward K. See: Philip, Rosalind Birnie
  • Warring, Stephen See: Warring, Joseph Stephens
  • Watkin, Williams R. T. See: Philip, Rosalind Birnie
  • Watson, Margaret, Miss See: Parker, Margaret Watson
  • Whistler, Anna See: Stanton, Anna Whistler
  • Whiting, Almon C. See: Toledo Museum of Art
  • Williams College See: Rice, Richard A
  • Wright, F. G. See: Orbach and Company
  • Yatsuhashi, H. See: Yamanaka and Company
Index
Index to cross-referenced correspondence in the series Whistler correspondence
  • Bell, William See: Unidentified correspondents
  • Brown, Ernest See: Painter Etchers' Society, Committee
  • Cowen, John T. See subseries: Charles Lang Freer Correspondence
  • Ford, Sheridan See: Reid, Alexander
  • Haden, Francis Seymour See: Painter Etchers' Society, Committee
  • Haden, Francis Seymour, Lady See: Haden, Deborah Whistler
  • Leighton, Frederick, Baron See: Campbell, Lady Colin
  • Moore, Albert See: Reid, Alexander
  • Morley, Charles See: Pall Mall Gazette
  • Morris, Harrison S. See: Reid, Alexander
  • Pennell, Joseph See: Miscellaneous typescripts
  • Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts See: Reid, Alexander
  • Prange, F. G. See: Reid, Alexander
  • Societe des Beaux-Arts See: Reid, Alexander
  • Society of Portrait Painters See: Reid, Alexander
  • Stevens Fine Art See: Reid, Alexander
  • Studd, Arthur See: Miscellaneous typescripts
  • [Vanderbilt?], George, Mrs. See: George, Mrs.
  • Whistler, William McNeill, Mrs. See: Whistler, Nellie
  • Whistler Memorial Committee See: Miscellaneous typescripts

Bibliography
Bibliography
The following publications reference and shed light on items in the Freer papers.
Brunk, T.W.
(1997).
Annotated Charles L. Freer ceramic records inventory
. Thesis (Ph. D.). Cincinnati, Ohio:
Union Institute, the Graduate School
.
Lawton, T. & Merrill, L.
(1993).
Freer: A legacy of art
. Washington, D.C.:
Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution
with New York:
H.N. Abrams.
Merrill, L.
(ed.). (1995).
With kindest regards: The correspondence of Charles Lang Freer and James McNeill Whistler 1890-1903
. Washington, D.C.:
Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution
in association with Washington, D.C.:
Smithsonian Institution Press.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation note
Charles Lang Freer Papers. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Gift of the estate of Charles Lang Freer.
Use
Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository.
Conditions Governing Access
Access is by appointment only, Monday through Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please contact the Archives to make an appointment: AVRreference@si.edu.

Index: Richard Albert Canfield correspondence
Index: Richard Albert Canfield correspondence
Index to cross-referenced correspondence in the series Richard Albert Canfield correspondence
Linde, Max
See: Grier, J.
Oppenheimer, Joseph
See: Grier, J.

Index: Katharine Nash Rhoades correspondence
Index: Katharine Nash Rhoades correspondence
Index to cross-referenced correspondence in the series Katharine Nash Rhoades correspondence
Watson, Margaret, Miss
See: Parker, Margaret Watson

Related Material
The Archives of American Art microfilmed portions of the Freer papers in 1992. The microfilm is available at the Archives of American Art's Washington D.C. office, the Freer Gallery of Art Library, and through interlibrary loan.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
China Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Syria Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Egypt Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Diaries Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
India Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
London (England) Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Japan Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Boston (Mass.) Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Financial records Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Correspondence Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art, Asian Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art, American -- Collectors and collecting Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art, Asian -- Collectors and collecting Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Detroit (Mich.) Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art -- Collectors and collecting Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Washington (D.C.) Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
Washington, D.C. 20013
AVRreference@si.edu
https://www.freersackler.si.edu/research/archives/