Papers of Perry T. Rathbone, 1929-1933
- Rathbone, Perry Townsend, 1911-2000 (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use
Copying: Papers may be copied in accordance with the Harvard Art Museums Archives' usual procedures.
Extent2 linear feet (1 half file box, oversize materials)
The collection consists of two series: Student Artwork and Research Notes. Series I, Student Artwork, contains works completed for several Fine Arts classes at Harvard College. The works include drawings of ancient monuments, figure studies, as well as value exercises executed in both watercolor and graphite. The small demonstration panel bears a high-relief carving of a crown-like shape, and is painted in red bole and covered in gilt . The four-pronged, geometric form was likely carved into the gesso by Rathbone.
Series II, Research Notes, consists largely of handwritten notes on loose leaf paper, a leather notebook cover, and an extraneous scrap of paper. The notes, taken from a selection of books on Ancient art, cover a wide range of topics, including history, painting, sculpture, and architecture, as well as ancient Egypt, Greece, Mesopotamia, Minoa, Sumeria, and Rome. These notes were originally held in the leather notebook; they were removed for preservation purposes. There is also a fragment of paper containing notes on contemporary American art.
The processor retained as folder titles the labels assigned by Rathbone (e.g. Fa 2a) , but added information to clarify the contents of the folders. This information appears in the following folder list in square brackets,.
Rathbone's first job as a newly minted graduate was at the Detroit Institute of Arts in 1934. After two years, he left the Institute to direct the Alger House, a branch museum in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. In 1940, at the age of 29, Rathbone was appointed director of the City Art Museum, St. Louis, now the St. Louis Art Museum. However, his tenure at the museum was interrupted; during World War II, Rathbone spent eighteen months in the South Pacific as a U.S. Naval officer. After returning from the War, Rathbone resumed his position at the City Art Museum and focused his attention on expanding the museum's collections, programs, and membership. The museum director became known for his publicity skills, as well as for championing contemporary art. Rathbone organized the first retrospective show of the German Expressionist Max Beckmann, and even secured the artist a teaching position at Washington University.
In 1955,Rathbone was appointed director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. During his tenure, the museum experienced both great expansion and renovation: under his leadership, the staff was doubled, the budget quadrupled, membership dramatically increased, departmental collections expanded, and 57 of the museum's 189 galleries were modernized. After leaving the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 1972, Rathbone went on to head Christie's in New York City. In 1977, when Christie's became a full-fledged auction house, he was appointed "museum liaison", a position he held until his retirement in 1985. Although officially retired, Rathbone continued to serve as a consultant at the auction house until 1995.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
- Art museum directors
- Art Historians
- Art and Architecture
- Art in universities and colleges--Massachusetts--Cambridge
- Art on Paper
- Art students
- Art--History--Study and teaching--United States
- Art--Study and Teaching--Massachusetts
- Art--Study and teaching--United States
- Drawing class
- Drawing–Study and teaching
- Fogg Art Museum
- Harvard Art Museum
- Harvard Society for Contemporary Art
- Harvard University–Alumnae and alumni
- Research notes
- Papers of Perry T. Rathbone (SC 7), 1929-1933: A Guide
- Harvard Art Museums Archives
- EAD ID
Part of the Harvard Art Museums Archives Repository
The Harvard Art Museums Archives is the official repository for institutional records and historical documents in all formats relating to the Fogg Museum, the Busch-Reisinger Museum, and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, 1895 to the present. Its collections include signiﬁcant papers of individuals and groups associated with the museums' history, as well as correspondence with collectors, gallery owners, museum professionals, and notables throughout the twentieth century. Its holdings also document the formation of the museums' collections and its mission as a teaching institution.
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