Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Use
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.
1.25 linear feet ((3 file boxes) plus 1 folio folder, 1 folio+ folder, 9 photograph folders, 1 folio photograph folders, 2 folio+ photograph folders, 23 lantern slides)
Schuyler Chapin, Cornelia Chapin's nephew, gave these papers to the Schlesinger Library in 1982. At that time, he also donated material belonging to Eleanor Cotton Burden and Lillian Cotton Impey, his maternal aunts. Though also artists, these women have no direct connection to Cornelia Chapin; therefore, when the Chapin collection was processed in 2014, Cotton family material was separated and now forms MC 790, Lillian Cotton Papers.
Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1904-1959 (#1.1-3.4, FD.1, F+D.1), includes Cornelia Chapin's diaries, sketches, clippings, notes, correspondence, and other assorted papers. This series contains several of Chapin's diaries documenting her travels in Europe, as well as early sketchbooks and engravings. Also included are clippings regarding Chapin's work, her many exhibitions and awards, and public lectures she gave on the art of sculpture. Additionally, clippings regarding Chapin's friend, fellow sculptor and roommate Marion Sanford, are included. This series is arranged alphabetically, and chronologically thereunder.
Series II, CHAPIN AND ANDREWS FAMILY, 1822-1959 (#3.5-3.18), includes correspondence, clippings, diary pages, bills, and other assorted papers. This series contains papers from Chapin's godmother Charlotte Osgood (Van der Veer) Mason's family (the Van der Veers), as well as correspondence of Chapin's grandmother Catherine Andrews, her mother Cornelia Garrison Chapin, and her father Lindley Hoffman Chapin. Also included are clippings regarding Chapin's sister Katherine Biddle, a poet, and her brother in-law Francis Biddle, the 58th attorney General of the United States. Of note is correspondence and biographical material related to the memorial for Chapin's grandfather, Judge George Andrews, who presided in trials of former slave traders. This series is arranged by family member and chronologically thereunder.
Series III, PHOTOGRAPHS, 1895-1947, n.d. (#PD.1-PD.13), includes photographs, cabinet cards, postcards, and lantern slides. This series contains professional portraits of Chapin as a child and a young woman, photographs of Chapin at work with her mentor Mateo Hernandez, and photographs of Chapin's sculptures. Also included are portraits of Chapin's grandmother Catherine Andrews, as well as various unidentified portraits. This series is arranged roughly chronologically.
Chapin spent her childhood in New York City where she attended private schools, and also traveled extensively in Europe, often keeping diaries and notes about her travels. Her interests included book collecting, dramatics, and aeronautics; she became one of the first women to receive a pilot's license. Though she had previously dabbled in pencil sketches and watercolors, in the early 1920's, Cornelia Chapin decided that sculpture was her main interest, and she studied with Gail Sherman Corbett. In 1930 she began to exhibit her work, and in 1934 she studied in Paris as the only pupil of Mateo Hernandez. From Hernandez Chapin learned the art of direct carving, and from that time on, all of her exhibited works were carved directly from life in stone and wood, without making preliminary models or sketches.
Cornelia Chapin is noted for her stone models of birds and animals, although in later years she added human figures to her repertoire. She quickly gained wide renown and exhibited in New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, California, Washington, DC, New Jersey, Maine, and Paris; lectured informally at museums and schools on "Carving Direct From Life, Some Tales and Tools"; and was accepted as a member of the National Academy of Design in 1945. Chapin was also active in numerous artistic organizations, maintaining memberships in the National Sculpture Society, the "Philadelphia Ten" (a group of female artists who exhibited work in Philadelphia), and Artists for Victory, Inc. She was as well the only foreign and only woman sculptor elected to the Societaire Salon d'Automne, Paris (in 1936). Chapin won numerous awards and prizes for her sculptures during the 1930's and 1940's.
After returning to the United States in 1939, Chapin worked in a New York City studio which had formerly belonged to sculptor Gutzon Borglum, sharing the space with friend and fellow sculptor Marion Sanford. In their later years, Chapin and Sanford lived and worked together in Lakeville, Connecticut, where Chapin remained until her death in 1972.
- Series I. Biographical and personal, 1904-1959 (#1.1-3.4, FD.1, F+D.1)
- Series II. Chapin and Andrews family, 1822-1959 (#3.5-3.18)
- Series III. Photographs, 1825-1945 (#PD.1-PD.13)
Immediate Source of Acquisition
These papers were given to the Schlesinger Library in February 1982 by Schuyler Chapin, Cornelia Chapin's nephew.
By: Gene Thompson
Processed: March 2014
By: Leah Edelman, with assistance of Emily Underwood.
- Animal sculpture
- Artist's studios
- Europe--Description and travel
- Lantern slides
- New York (N.Y.)--Social life and customs
- Sculpture, American--20th century
- Socialites--United States
- Voyages and travels
- Women artists
- Women sculptors--United States
- Women sculptors--United States--Exhibitions
- Chapin, Cornelia, 1893-1972. Papers of Cornelia Chapin, 1822-1959: A Finding Aid
- Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
- EAD ID
Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository
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