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Among the most fascinating stories tucked away in Carnegie Museum of Art’s archives are those of the early players in the Carnegie International. Their legends are pieced together from a variety of records, including museum directors’ musings of their personal opinions on art, letters from artists, and submission records for each participant from the very first exhibition in 1896 to 1967 (in future shows, artists were invited to participate). A slew of handwritten index cards, now all digitized, document each artist’s submissions, and includes whether the artworks were accepted or rejected. If they did make the cut, we learn the position they earned on the gallery walls.
Records unearthed by Elizabeth Tufts Brown, the museum’s associate registrar for the permanent collection and archives, provide a snapshot of the participation of prominent Impressionist landscape and marine painter Walter Elmer Schofield. All 35 works submitted by the Philadelphia artist from 1899 to 1933 were accepted for what was then an annual exhibition. He also served on the show’s jury for eight of those years, and his painting Across the River won the exhibition’s top prize in 1904 and was purchased for the museum’s permanent collection. For the 1904 exhibition it was hung in “position 1”—at eye level, the most prestigious placement in the salon-style hang of the time.
Stay tuned for more insights from the museum’s early years, as Tufts Brown is currently knee-deep in research for a collection handbook that will accompany an exhibition highlighting the Museum of Art’s collection. Both are part of a year-long celebration planned to mark Carnegie Museums 125th anniversary this fall.
The official record of Walter Elmer Schofield’s participation in the International includes (above) his entry blank, participation card, a letter from Schofield to the museum director, and a jury photo that includes the artist. His painting (at top) Across the River is shown above along with the salon-style hang from the 1904 exhibition.
The Carnegie Museum of Art archives hold the institutional papers of the museum from 1895 to present. Most of the museum’s earliest materials (1895–1940) were donated to the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art and can be searched via its digital collections website. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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