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Papers of William J. Collins

Papers of William J. Collins

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Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute:

A Guide to the Papers of William J. Collins, 1902-1958

Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Library
225 South Street
Williamstown, MA, 01267

March 31, 2009

Profile Description

Creation: This finding aid was prepared by Lacy Schutz
Language: Finding aid written in English.

Repository: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Library
Creator:Collins, William J.
Title: Papers of William J. Collins
Dates: 1902-1958
General Physical Description:.8 linear ft. (2 boxes)
Abstract:This collection of papers, notebooks, and ephemera belonged to William J. Collins, the Clark Art Institute's first curator of prints and drawings.
Identification: CAI.ARC.2007.19
Language: English

Arrangement of the Papers

This collection is arranged in the order in which it was found.

Scope and Contents of the Papers

William J. Collins was brought on as the first curator of prints and drawings in 1958. He had been the head, since 1939, of the Department of Prints at Knoedler & Co. in New York City, where the Clarks purchased many of their artworks. Collins passed away unexpectedly in 1960.

This collection consists of a number of different types of items. A three-ring binder documents sales of prints, drawings, and etchings to such major early-20th century collectors as Henry Clay Frick, Andrew W. Mellon, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Joseph Widener, and Blanche Adler. Sales date back as early as 1902, so the binder probably belonged to Collins's predecessor at Knoedler's, Norman F. Wells, or perhaps even Wells's predecessor. Collins kept a number of loose letters and ephemera stored inside its covers. There is also a small bound leather book divided into alphabetically tabbed sections. Most of the pages are blank, but some contain more lists in the same handwriting as the binder. They may also be prints and drawings bought or sold by Knoedler, but the annotations use abbreviations and numbers that are indecipherable. An A-Z accordion file contained items relating to both the life and work of Collins, including a letter to his father composed after his brother was killed in battle during World War I; a letter from RSC, along with Collins's responses, regarding some prints RSC was hoping to buy; photographs of works Collins was buying or selling; ephemera relating to art shows; and other correspondence. A black spring binder contains notebook pages with writing in pencil. There are passages that relate to the Bible and to art history. There is some translation from German. There is nothing conclusively identifying this object with Collins and its purpose remains unclear. The remaining items were found in Collins's room at the Williams Inn after he died. These include catalogs and other publications; several small oil paintings perhaps done by Collins; ephemera such as his credit card and Catholic holy cards; and additional correspondence and documents. One folder of materials is labeled James F. Drake, Inc. and contains correspondence between Collins and the rare book dealer regarding obtaining a number of art books for the Clark.

History of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute

In 1950 Sterling and Francine Clark chartered the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute as a home for their extensive art collection. Opened to public in 1955, the Institute has built upon this extraordinary group of works to become one of the most beloved and respected art museums in the world, known for its intimate galleries and stunning natural environment. One of the few institutions in the United States that combines a public art museum with a complement of research and academic programs, including a major art history library, the Clark is now a leading international center for research and discussion on the nature of art and art history. Building upon the founders' legacy, the Institute has recently unveiled its master plan for the twenty-first century, which fosters the Clark's commitment to providing space for its expanding research and museum programs while maintaining the unique character of its beautiful rural setting.

Index Terms

Adams, George M.
Adler, Blanche, 1877-1941
Art dealers
Art museums
Black-and-white photographs
Brown, C. H.
Buckingham, Kate S., d. 1937
Cadman, S. Parkes (Samuel Parkes), 1864-1936
Carnegie Institute
Caspary, Alfred H., 1877-1955
Chapman, W. P. (William Porter), Jr. d. 1947
Chappell, F. Valentine
City Art Museum of St. Louis
Clark, Robert Sterling, 1877-1956
Clopton, Malvern B., d. 1947
Collins, William J., d. 1960
Couderc, Miss G.
Daniell, Frederick C.
De Witt, Theodore, d. 1924
Dean, W. B.
Dickerman, W. B. (Watson Barclay), d. 1923
Dixon, F. E.
Drake, James H.
Eddy, Charles B. (Charles Brown), 1872-1951
Field, Marshall, 1893-1956
French, Herbert Greer, 1872-1942
Frick, Henry Clay, 1849-1919
Gallatin, R. Horace
Garvan, Francis P. (Francis Patrick), 1875-1937
Gay, George A., d. 1940
Hall, John H., Jr.
Halle, Salmon P., d. 1949
Hanna, L. C. (Leonard Colton), Jr., 1889-1957
Harkness, Mary Warden
Henderson, Hunt
Henschel, Charles R., b. 1885
Hine, Francis L. (Francis Lyman), d. 1927
Hochschild, Harold K., 1892-1981
Hofer, Mrs. C. F.
Howell, Douglass Morse
Hughes, A. R.
James F. Drake, Inc.
King, Ralph
Knoedler Contemporary Art (New York, N.Y.)
Labey, James P., d. 1946
Lehman, May (Mrs. A. C.)
Lewis, W. R.
Loose-leaf binders
Marvin, J. Benson, Jr.
McCulloch, Rea
McVitty, Albert E. (Albert Elliott), 1876-1948
Mellon, Andrew W. (Andrew William), 1855-1937
Merchandise inventories
Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.)
Miller, Mrs. D. H. (Fantine Vanderbilt?)
Morgan, J. P. (John Pierpont), 1867-1943
Nash, Warren B.
Oil paintings
Perkins, Herbert F. (Herbert Farrington), 1864-1936
Petiet, Henri M. (Henri Marie), 1894-1980
Phelan, John J.
Pierpont Morgan Library
Piping Rock Club
Poole, Allyn C.
Prentiss, Francis F.
Preston, J. B.
Price, Clarence
Print dealers
Redmond, Geraldyn
Redmond, Johnston L. (Johnston Livingston)
Redmond, Roland Livingston, 1892-1982
Reid, John
Reynolds, Katherine Smith
Rockefeller, John D. (John Davison), 1874-1960
Sales records
Scholle, Albert W., d. 1917
Severance, John L. (John Long), 1863-1936
Smith, Howard
Talmage, John F. (John Freylinghuysen), d. 1931
Van Riper, Kenneth
Vanderbilt, George Washington, 1862-1914
Warner, Jonathan d. 1934
Weil, Mrs. Leon
Wells, Norman F.
Widener, Joseph E. (Joseph Early), 1872-1943
Williams, Hugh, Dr.
Williamstown (Mass.)
Wright, Harold J. L.


Restrictions on Access

This material is currently restricted.

Restrictions on Use

This material is currently restricted.

Administrative Information

Custodial History

The binder and the book were mistakenly included among items that were believed to belong to Robert Sterling Clark. The binder was stored in the art vault until 2006 when it was identified and removed from that collection by the Archivist. The bound book was with the papers of RSC. The A to Z accordion file and the spring binder full of notebook pages had been stored along with the current papers of the Curator of Prints and Drawings. Items found in Collins's room after his death were assembled in a box that was then stored in the Print Vault.

Preferred Citation

[Cite the item (as appropriate)], Papers of William J. Collins, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute Records, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts.

Acquisition Information

The binder and the book were acquisitioned in early 2007 after being removed from a collection of items that eventually made up the Realia and the Personal series of the Sterling and Francine Clark Papers. The A to Z file and personal items were accessioned in October 2007, along with records pertaining to the Prints and Drawings Collection.

Processing Information

Lacy Schutz, Archivist, examined the binder and book and rehoused them in an acid-free box in June of 2007. The remaining materials were processed and rehoused by her in October 2007.

Related Material

Related or similar material can be found in the following series in the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute Records, Williamstown, Massachusetts: Curatorial Office Records of Prints and Drawings Department; and Knoedler Photographs and Negatives from William Collins.

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