[Byrdcliffe Art Colony Archive, c. Late 19th–Early 20th Century].
A substantial archive documenting this unique arts colony
The Arts and Crafts utopian art community Byrdcliffe was founded in 1902 near Woodstock, New York. The principal founders were Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead and his wife Jane Byrd McCall. Whitehead had been a student of influential English Art critic John Ruskin and was a friend of William Morris, a key proponent of the Arts and Crafts movement in England. This archive includes material associated with Radcliffe, McCall, and their families and others as well as original artworks, photographs, and objects associated with Byrdcliffe.
Highlights include Whitehead’s personal bookplate; ink or pencil drawings by artist Zulma Steele; a photograph of Ralph Whitehead and photographs of additional family members; a letter to Whitehead from his son; Jane Byrd McCall Whitehead’s pastel box and pastel crayons; Byrdcliffe printing blocks and related ephemera depicting the Byrdcliffe logotype with its Florentine lily motif; and an assortment of 60 wooden and metal tools used for working with clay and otherwise kept by Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead, a number identified with his initials, and so forth.
SERIES I: DESIGNS AND DRAWINGS
– 4 pencil drawings signed “Z.[ulma] Steele,” one a design element for a bookcase, two dated 1904. Another a design element for a woodbine desk, also dated 1904.
– 1 ink and wash drawing attributed to Zulma Steele showing flowers and insect.
– 3 pencil drawings of flowers, floral motifs, furniture designs and hardware attributed to Zulma Steele.
– 2 pencil drawings showing measured perspective views of an Arts and Crafts-style table and a detail for a carved furniture panel
SERIES II: PHOTOGRAPHS, A LETTER, PRINTED EPHEMERA
– 17 family and other photographs, including: a portrait of “Ralpho,” Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead at “Arcady” [California], a small ferrotype or tintype portrait in a textile frame likely depicting Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead, and two photographs showing various members of the Keating family and Mark Willcox, relatives of Jane Byrd McCall Whitehead. One photo possibly of Peter Whitehead, seated, horn-rimmed glasses.
– Typed Letter Signed, p. to Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead from his son, Ralph Whitehead, on stationery from The National Arts Club, New York, April 17, 1928.
– An 1874 envelope (no contents) addressed to Peter McCall, Mayor of Philadelphia (1844), father of Gertrude McCall and Jane Byrd McCall Whitehead.
– 5 envelopes with the “Byrdcliffe 1909” imprint.
– 2 different styles of Brydcliffe bill heads. The first on tan paper and mentioning “Pottery” (5 leaves) and the second on pale green paper and mentioning “Frames” (a bound pad or tablet of multiple leaves), both with a variant “Byrdcliffe 1903” logotype
– Fragment paper backing for a painting with framer’s printed label and with a manuscript label: “Painted by Byrd Whitehead of the Estrellas in Cannes.”
– Scrapbook leaf and envelope relating to the Keating family, relatives of J.B. McCall Whitehead.
– 1 White Pines Pottery paper label
SERIES III: OBJECTS AND MISCELLANEOUS
– Metal and wood printing block for the bookplate of Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead incorporating his initials “RW” and the Byrdcliffe Florentine lily (fleur-de-lis).
– 2 metal and wood printing blocks for printing Byrdcliffe logotype on stationery.
– 60 wooden and metal tools for clay-working and otherwise owned by Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead, a number identified with his initials.
– Wooden pastel box with pastels belonging to Jane Byrd (McCall) Radcliffe Whitehead, signed in pencil on lid “J. B. Radcliffe Whitehead.”
– Another identically constructed wood pastel box with pastels. Pencil annotations on inside lid referring to “1 Month in Paris,” “Travelling [?] [sic] to Italy,” and “1 Month in odd places.”
– 1 printing block for a letter or bill head and another for envelopes, each with the legend “Byrdcliffe 1909” and incorporating the Florentine lily motif.
– 2 engraved copper plates for printing calling cards for “Mr. Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead” and “Mr. & Mrs. Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead, Byrdcliffe.
– A printed calling card from the former for Mr. Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead. (See above).
– A printed calling card of “Mrs. Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead.” (See above).
– 1909 cloth photographic exposure book and diary (1909), never used, likely owned by R. R. Whitehead.
– Small, pressed clear glass drinking vessel with red overlay with the legend “Old Orchard [Beach, Maine?] 1902 / M. E. Pierce to Gertrude [McCall?],” sister of J. B. McCall Whitehead.
– Two small paintings of flowers reverse painted on glass and with decorative paper edges.
– A small handkerchief embroidered with golden flowers.
– A metal plate, possibly a stencil, with floral design cut-outs.
– Wooden box lid. Addressed to “Mrs. McCall c/o Mr. R. Radcliffe Whitehead Woodstock Ulster Co N.Y.”
– Approx. 15 glass negatives by an amateur or semi-professional photographer, possibly (R. R. Whitehead, Jesse Tarbox Beals, or Eva Watson Schutze?). One image clearly shows the façade of “White Pines,” the Arts and Crafts-style house of the Whiteheads at Byrdcliffe; also seen is an image of what may be the back of the house, its windows with the same eight-pane upper sashes seen on the façade. Another image shows a mantelpiece with an engraved motto from Ajax known to have been in the “Loom Room” at Byrdcliffe. About half of these images are landscape scenes; the other half show buildings, interiors, individuals, possible Whitehead family members.
Description: [Byrdcliffe Art Colony Archive, c. Late 19th–Early 20th Century].
[Byrdcliffe, near Woodstock, New York]. c.late 19th–early 20th century. Overall very good condition. Condition report for individual items available on request.