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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 2719

Larry Rivers papers


Letters of the American painter and musician Larry Rivers to Margaret Harmsworth McCulloch with other correspondence and a photograph.


  • Creation: 1950-1959

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.


.04 linear feet (1 folder)

Includes letters to Margaret Harmsworth McCulloch (one with a sketch of Nell Blaine) and to her father, Desmond Harmsworth, a postcard with clipping from Nell Blaine to Rivers, a photograph of one of Rivers's paintings, and miscellaneous other papers.

Letters are autograph manuscript unless otherwise noted.

Biographical / Historical

Larry Rivers was born Yitzhok Loiza Grossberg to Russian-Jewish parents in 1923 (sometimes claimed to be 1925) in the Bronx, New York, changing his name to Larry Rivers in 1940 after being introduced as "Larry Rivers and the Mudcats" performing at a local pub. From 1940-1945 he worked as a jazz saxophonist in New York City; he studied at the Juilliard School of Music in 1945-1946. Rivers took up painting in 1945 and studied at the Hans Hofmann School from 1947–1948 at the encouragement of Nell Blaine. Rivers embarked on a trip to Paris in 1950 to write poetry and study paintings in the Louvre; Blaine joined him after a few weeks, renting a studio in order to paint. He went on to become a filmmaker and occasional actor and became associated with Pop Art and the New York School. Rivers died in 2002.

Margaret Harmsworth McCulloch was a fellow painter and sculptor living in Paris and the daughter of Desmond Harmsworth, an artist and publisher.


Arranged alphabetically by author, then chronologically.

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

2010M-85. Purchased with funds from the Amy Lowell Trust; received: 2011 April 11.

Related Materials

Additional material concerning Rivers's trip to Paris in 1950 and his friendship with Nell Blaine may be found in her diaries and correspondence held by the Houghton Library (see finding aid). Related material by Rivers is held in the Jane Freilicher papers also held by the Houghton Library (see finding aid).

Processing Information

Processed by: Melanie Wisner

Rivers, Larry, 1925-2002. Larry Rivers papers, 1950-1959: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, archives, and more. Houghton Library's collections represent the scope of human experience from ancient Egypt to twenty-first century Cambridge. With strengths primarily in North American and European history, literature, and culture, collections range in media from printed books and handwritten manuscripts to maps, drawings and paintings, prints, posters, photographs, film and audio recordings, and digital media, as well as costumes, theater props, and a wide range of other objects. Houghton Library has historically focused on collecting the written record of European and Eurocentric North American culture, yet it holds a large and diverse number of primary sources valuable for research on the languages, culture and history of indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Houghton Library’s Reading Room is free and open to all who wish to use the library’s collections.

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