Phillips Flashback: Neither Rain Nor Sleet…

As I worked on an ongoing project to organize Duncan Phillips’s correspondence, I was surprised to see many letters that were sent and received on subsequent days as well as on the same day. Phillips was a prolific letter writer who probably wrote at least ten letters a day, primarily to artists and art galleries.

Phillips’s correspondence with photographer, gallery dealer, and advocate for modern art Alfred Stieglitz began in 1926 and continued until 1946, the year of Stieglitz’s death.

On March 4, 1926, Stieglitz wrote a letter to Phillips in which he spoke about his wife Georgia O’Keeffe’s recent visit to The Phillips Collection. He stated, “She returned from Washington full of rare enthusiasm. She thoroughly enjoyed every moment with you and Mrs. Phillips and the pictures. She tells every one worthwhile what splendid work you are doing. Your Courbets and Daumier, the Renoir, El Greco she tells me about…She is painting and doing incredible work.”

Stieglitz to DP letter_side 1

Letter from Alfred Stieglitz to Duncan Phillips, March 4, 1926 (page 1)

Stieglitz to DP letter_side 2

Letter from Alfred Stieglitz to Duncan Phillips, March 4, 1926 (page 2)

Phillips replied on the same day: “It was a great pleasure to show our treasures to Georgia O’Keefe and to know her better. She is certainly a rare person and my wife and I were delighted to discover in her so sensitive and generous a responce to many different kinds of artistic expression. We were only sorry you were not with her but hope you can see the Collection very soon.”

DP to Stieglitz letter_03.04.1926

Letter from Duncan Phillips to Alfred Stieglitz, March 4, 926

According to the 1922 Annual Report of the Postmaster General, smaller cities averaged three to four mail deliveries per day, and larger cities received deliveries three to seven times a day. We can only dream of such an efficient mail service today.

Phillips Flashback: A New York State of Mind

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Letter from Duncan Phillips to Frank Rehn, 1922. From The Phillips Collection Library & Archives

In 1922, one year after The Phillips Collection opened to the public, Duncan Phillips explored the idea of opening a branch of the museum in New York. He reached out to Frank Rehn, a gallery owner, and A.C. Downing, Jr., of the New York Trust Company, for advice. Phillips’s treasurer, Dwight Clark, inquired about the location of the future art center of New York and specifically asked for information on the value of properties on 57th Street between Lexington Avenue and Sutton Place as well as within the bounds of Lexington Avenue, Sixth Avenue, 50th Street, and 70th Street. The New York branch never came to be because Phillips decided to make acquisitions of works of art a priority. Phillips paid $125,000 for The Luncheon of the Boating Party in 1923, which exhausted the funds needed for purchases as well as real estate.

Happy Birthday Duncan Phillips, from Korea

In the spring and summer of 1910, Duncan Phillips traveled with his family to Korea as part of a long journey to Asia and the northwestern United States. Phillips’s father, Major Duncan Clinch Phillips, said in his journal that the family stayed at the Sontag Hotel, a hotel catering to Western visitors.

Sontag Hotel in Seoul, Korea, in 1910, the year the Phillipses stayed there.

On this 128th anniversary of Phillips’s birth, some of the most impressive examples of his art collecting are going on display at the Daejeon Museum of Art in central Korea. A team of curators (Sue Frank and Renée Maurer), registrars (Joe Holbach and Trish Waters), and one of our preparators (Bill Koberg) flew around the globe last week to oversee the effort of installing this large traveling show.

Banners featuring our Degas and Ingres, among others and the exterior of the Daejon Museum of Art. Photos: Renee Maurer

Banners featuring our Daumier, Degas and Ingres line the museum grounds and the exterior of the Daejon Museum of Art features a mural of familiar faces. Photos: Renée Maurer

Renée , Bill, and Joe went to Seoul in the days before installation started. They visited the summer palace with its ornately carved and painted structures and throne (left) and watched the changing of the guard (far right). Their interpreter took them for an eel dinner (center right). Photos: Bill Koberg, Renée Maurer

During their down time, assistant curator Renée Maurer, chief registrar and director of special initiatives Joe Holbach, and installations manager Bill Koberg have done some sightseeing around Daejeon and north in the capital Seoul.