by Megan Fort, Ph.D. Research Assistant
Another exciting research discovery was an Armory Show painting by Katherine Dreier. Better known today as an influential collector and promoter of Modernist art in the United States, Dreier was also a painter, and she lent two of her own works to the show, Blue Bowl (Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven) and The Avenue, Holland.
Because Dreier was a key figure in the history of Modernism, we wanted to find The Avenue, Holland for the upcoming exhibition. It was not reproduced as an Armory Show postcard, illustrated in any of the 1913 reviews, or purchased from the exhibition, making the task more challenging. One of the first sources I checked was John David Angeline’s 1999 Ph.D. dissertation on Dreier. It included a reproduction of a canvas titled The Path, Holland, dated circa 1911-1912, from the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum in Springfield, Massachusetts. Because the titles and dates were so close, I contacted the curator there to inquire about the painting’s history. But the museum had no evidence to suggest that it had been in the Armory Show—the painting had been part of a 1953 gift from the Dreier estate and the curator knew nothing more of its history.
Since the work was in her collection when she died, I thought Dreier’s papers at the Archives of American Art might include some record of it. Pouring over the microfilm, I found the cover of a 1913 exhibition of Dreier’s paintings at the Macbeth Gallery in New York, along with several reviews of the show. One, from the weekly magazine Brooklyn Life, described the works and mentioned that “two of Miss Dreier’s strongly painted canvases, ‘Blue Bowl’ and ‘The Avenue, Holland,’ were hung last winter at the International Exhibition of Modern Art in Manhattan.” Could it be the painting in the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum? The next day I located a complete copy of the 1913 Macbeth Gallery exhibition catalogue at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Watson Library. Sure enough, it included a reproduction of the same painting.
Megan Fort, Ph.D.
Research Assistant, Museum Department
New-York Historical Society
The Armory Show at 100: Modern Art and Revolution is on view October 11, 2013 through February 23, 2013 at the New-York Historical Society.