George Chaffee collection of dance prints and original drawings
- circa 1613-1921, undated
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Access
16.25 linear feet (4 boxes, 89 oversize folders, and 4 frames)
Series I contains engraved, lithographic, and photographic portraits of ballet dancers, mostly individually, by name, which were created as souvenirs for audience members and ballet devotees. The portraits include depictions of dancers in specific ballets or costumes, while others are more general situations or even seated portraits. Dancers include: Amalia Brugnoli (active 1820-1840), Fanny Cerrito, Pauline Yolande Marie Louise Duvernay (1813-1894), Fanny Elssler (1810-1884), Flora Fabri, Carlotta Grisi (1819-1899), Jules Perrot (1810-1892), Louise Pierson, Marie Taglioni, (1804-1884), among many others.
Series II contains engravings and lithographs of costume designs from ballet and dance productions, ballet-related caricatures, and depictions of ballet scenes and groups of ballet dancers. Costume designs are attributed to Jean Berain (possibly also known as Joan Berin) and his son, as well as the atelier of the Bonnart family, Hautecoeur-Martinette, and others. Ballet-related caricatures, mainly from the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, were created by S.W. Fores (1761-1838), J.J. Grandville, also known as Jean-Ignace Gerard (1803-1847), Hannah Humphrey (active 1774-1817). Additionally included is a series of caricatures of Marie Taglioni (1804-1884) and Jules Perrot (1810-1892) in Flore and Zephyr created by William Makepeace Thackery (1811-1863), under the pseudonym Theophile Wagstaff, with Edward Morton. The scenes depict groups of dancers, such as groups of contemporary popular women dancers, or specific scenes from ballets, such as Carnival Scenes by Engelbrecht and scenes of circus dancers from Der Berggeist by Friedrich Horschelt.
Series III consists of original drawings relating to ballet, including portraits, costume designs, and depictions of groups and scenes, spanning the eighteenth century to drawings relating to the Ballet Russe in the early twentieth century. Included are two drawings by Nataliia Sergeevna Goncharova (1881-1962), six pastel drawings by Valentine Hugo (1887-1968), and one pastel drawing by Konstantin Alekseevich Korovin (1861-1939), as well as earlier pen and ink drawings attributed to Pierre-Jean Boquet (also known as Bocquet) and Daniel Rabel (approximately 1578-1637).
Series IV includes prints showing scene designs, mainly from Italian and French ballet productions, including designs by Alessandro Sanquirico (1777-1849) and Ferdinando Tacca (1619-1686), among others.
Biographical / Historical
Chaffee was a historian and collector of ballet materials, collecting dance prints, including lithographs and engravings, as well as dance-related drawings, paintings, sculpture, and books. These resources date from ballet history beginning in the sixteenth century to the first decades of the twentieth century. He specialized in the French Romantic Ballet, presenting numerous lectures on the topic. He wrote a regular column, “Balletophile,” in Dance Magazine in the late 1940’s, as well as further articles on the history of dance in that same publication as well as Dance News, Lincoln Kirstein’s Dance Index, and the Dance Encyclopedia. In 1948, Chaffee organized “A Retrospective Exhibit of the French Court and Opera Ballet (1851 to 1948),” shown at the French Embassy in New York at the time of the Paris Opera Ballet’s first visit to the United States. He was decorated with the Palmes Academique by the French government in 1949 for his efforts.
Chaffee died 1984 October 19 in New York City, following a stroke.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
- Chaffee, George. George Chaffee collection of dance prints and original drawings, circa 1613-1921, undated (MS Thr 861): Guide.
- 2018 March 06
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)
- EAD ID
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