Freer, Charles Lang, 1854-1919

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Epithet: American collector

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000301.0x000033

Manufacturer and art collector.

From the description of Charles Lang Freer letter, 1928. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 79450299

Art collector; Detroit, Michigan.

Collected Asian, American, and European art, including a large collection of works by James McNeill Whistler. Founded the Freer Gallery of Art, which is now part of the Smithsonian Institution.

From the description of Charles Lang Freer selected papers, 1876-1931. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 220204262

  • 1854 February 25: Born in Kingston, New York
  • 1873: Appointed accountant and paymaster of New York, Kingston and Syracuse Railroad by Frank J. Hecker (1846-1927)
  • 1876: Moves to Indiana to work, with Hecker, for the Detroit and Eel River and Illinois Railroad
  • 1880: Moves to Detroit, participates in organization of the Peninsular Car Works with Hecker
  • 1883: Becomes vice president and secretary of Peninsular Car Company when it succeeds Peninsular Car Works
  • 1883: Begins collecting European prints
  • 1884: Peninsular Car Company constructs plant on Ferry Avenue
  • 1887: Meets Howard Mansfield (1849-1938)
  • 1887: Acquires proofs of 26 etchings, Venice, Second Series(1886), by James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903)
  • 1887: Purchases a small Japanese fan attributed to Ogata Karin(1658-1715)
  • 1887: Buys land on Ferry Avenue
  • 1889: Meets Frederick Stuart Church (1826-1900) and Dwight William Tryon (1849-1925) in New York
  • 1890: Commissions Wilson Eyre (1858-1944) to design house on Ferry Avenue, Detroit, Michigan
  • 1890: On first trip to London, meets James McNeill Whistler(1834-1903)
  • 1892: Moves to Ferry Avenue house
  • 1892: Tryon and Thomas Wilmer Dewing (1851-1938) undertake decoration of reception rooms
  • 1893: Lends American paintings to World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago
  • 1893: Purchases first piece of Chinese art, a small painting of white herons by an anonymous Ming dynasty (1368-1644) artist
  • 1894: Begins yearlong trip around the world, which includes visit to the Whistlers in Paris and first trip to Asia, stopping in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), India, China, and Japan
  • 1896: Meets Matsuki Bunkya (1867-1940) in Boston
  • 1899: Takes part in consolidation of railroad-car building companies then retires from active business
  • 1900: Attends Exposition International Universelle in Paris
  • 1900: Buys villa in Capri with Thomas S. Jerome
  • 1901: Meets Siegfried Bing (1838-1905) in Paris and Ernest Fenollosa(1853-1908), who visits Freer in Detroit
  • 1902: Meets Dikran Kelekian (1868-1951)
  • 1902: Spends summer in Britain building Whistler collection
  • 1902: Views Whistler's, Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room
  • 1904: Purchases Whistler's Peacock Room
  • 1904: Offers his art collections and funds to build a museum in which to house them to the Smithsonian Institution
  • 1905: Smithsonian committee visits Freer in Detroit
  • 1906: United States government formally accepts Freer's gift on January 24
  • 1906: Freer signs Deed of Gift to Smithsonian Institution on May 5
  • 1907: On second tour of Asia, meets Hara Tomitaro 1868-1939) in Yokohama, Japan
  • 1908: Takes third trip to Asia, specifically to West Asia to study Rakka ware
  • 1909: Tours Europe to study art museums
  • 1909: On fourth trip to Asia, attends memorial ceremony for Fenollosa (d.1908 September) at Miidera, Japan, and meets Duanfang (1861-1911) in China
  • 1910: On last trip to Asia, visits Longmen Buddhist caves in China
  • 1911: Suffers stroke
  • 1912: Lends selection of objects for exhibition at Smithsonian Institution
  • 1913: Meets Eugene (1875-1957) and Agnes E. (1887-1970)Meyer
  • 1913: Commissions Charles Adams Platt (1861-1933) to design museum building in Washington
  • 1914: Meets Katharine Nash Rhoades (1885-1965) in Detroit
  • 1915: Settles in New York City
  • 1915: Site of future Freer Gallery of Art is determined
  • 1916: Platt's plans for Freer Gallery are approved by Smithsonian Regents and Commission of Fine Arts and ground is broken in September
  • 1918: After falling ill in Detroit, Freer travels to New York for treatment
  • 1918: Work on the museum building is delayed by the war
  • 1919: Freer appends codicil to will permitting acquisitions of Asian, Egyptian, and Near Eastern (West Asian) art
  • 1919: Dies in New York City on 25 September and is buried in Kingston, New York
  • 1919: Construction of Freer Gallery completed
  • 1920: John Ellerton Lodge (1876-1942) is appointed director of the Freer Gallery
  • 1923: Freer Gallery opens to the public on May 9
  • 1930: Memorial ceremony for Freer is held at Koetsuji, Kyoto

Charles Lang Freer was a wealthy industrialist who founded the Freer Gallery of Art. He was a well-known collector of Asian art, and strongly supported the synthesis of Eastern art and Western art. One of his most famous acquisitions was James McNeill Whistler's Peacock Room.

From the guide to the Charles Lang Freer Papers, 1876-1931, (The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives)

Charles Lang Freer: Art collector; Detroit, Michigan. Collected Asian, American, and European art, including a large collection of works by James McNeill Whistler. Founded the Freer Gallery of Art, which is now part of the Smithsonian Institution.

  • 1854, February 25th: Born in Kingston, New York
  • 1906, December 19th: Purchases 4 manuscripts from Ali Arabi in Cairo: I Deuteronomy/Joshua, II Psalms, III Four Gospels, IV Fragments of the Epistles of Paul
  • 1910: Publication of "The Washington Manuscript of Deuteronomy and Joshua" by Henry A. Sanders (University of Michigan Studies, Humanistic Series, Vol. VIII, Part I)
  • 1912: Publication of "The Washington Manuscript of the Four Gospels" by Henry A. Sanders (University of Michigan Studies, Humanistic Series, Vol. IX, Part 1)
  • 1914: Publication of "East Christian Paintings in the Freer Collection" by Charles R. Morey (University of Michigan Studies, Humanistic Series, Vol. XII, Part I)
  • 1915: Publication of "The Washington Manuscript of the Psalms" by Henry A. Sanders (University of Michigan Studies, Humanistic Series, Vol. VIII, Part II)
  • 1916: Purchase of manuscripts of the Minor Prophets and other manuscripts, mostly Coptic, by Dr. David L. Askren for C.L. Freer and J. Pierpont Morgan, from Maurice Nahman in Cairo
  • 1916: Publication of "The Coptic Psalter" by William H. Worrell (University of Michigan Studies, Humanistic Series, Vol. X, Part I - this is Part I of "The Coptic Manuscripts in the Freer Collection")
  • 1918: Publication of "The Washington Manuscript of the Epistles of Paul" by Henry A. Sanders (University of Michigan Studies, Humanistic Series, Vol. IX, Part II)
  • 1918: Publication of "A Gold Treasure of the Late Roman Period" by Walter Dennison (University of Michigan Studies, Humanistic Series, Vol. XII, Part II)
  • 1919, September 25th: Dies in New York City is buried in Kingston, New York
  • 1923: Publication of "Two Homilies and a Magical Text" by William H. Worrell (University of Michigan Studies, Humanistic Series, Vol. X, Part II - this is Part II of "The Coptic Manuscripts in the Freer Collection")
  • 1927: Publication of "Fragments from the Cairo Genizah in the Freer Collection" by Richard Gottheil and William H. Worrell (University of Michigan Studies, Humanistic Series, Vol. XIII
  • 1927: Publication of "The Minor Prophets in the Freer Collection and the Berlin Fragment of Genesis" by Henry A. Sanders and Carl Schmidt (University of Michigan Studies, Humanistic Series, Vol. XXI

From the guide to the Biblical Manuscripts and Gold Treasure Collection, 1907-1920, (The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn White, Nelson C. Nelson and Henry C. White research material, 1898-1978. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Kingsley, Elbridge, 1842-1918. Elbridge Kingsley papers, 1842-1900. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Witter Bynner letters from various correspondents and other material, 1904-1962. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Platt, Charles A. (Charles Adams), 1861-1933. Charles A. Platt architectural records and papers, 1879-1981 (bulk 1882-1933). Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Dwight William Tryon Papers, 1872-1930 Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
creatorOf Churchill, Alfred Vance, 1864-1949. Alfred Vance Churchill papers, 1828-1948. Smith College, Neilson Library
referencedIn Griffith, Armand H., 1860-1930. The Armand H. Griffith records, 1883-1913. Detroit Institute of Arts Research Library & Archives, DIA Research Library & Archives
creatorOf Freer, Charles Lang, 1854-1919. Charles Lang Freer papers [microform], 1876-1931. Defense Special Weapons Agency
creatorOf Biblical Manuscripts and Gold Treasure Collection, 1907-1920 Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
creatorOf Freer, Charles Lang, 1854-1919. Charles Lang Freer letter, 1928. Library of Congress
creatorOf GREEK BIBLE: Photographs of the Washington Manuscript the Psalms, in the Freer Collection. By George R. Swain. 1919. 218 prints of the MS. described under Facs. 154 (II), made and bound at the cost of Mr. Charles L. Freer and presented through the Un... British Library
referencedIn Papers, 1847-1933. Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
creatorOf Charles Lang Freer Papers, 1876-1931 Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
creatorOf Thayer, Abbott Handerson, 1849-1921. Abbott Handerson Thayer and Thayer family papers, 1851-1999, bulk 1881-1950. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Whistler, James McNeill, 1834-1903. Papers of James McNeill Whistler [manuscript], 1888-1898. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Freer, Charles Lang, 1854-1919. Charles Lang Freer selected papers, 1876-1931. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Platt, Charles A. (Charles Adams), 1861-1933. Cottage for C.L. Freer, Esq., Great Barrington, Mass. [graphic] : Project 579 / Charles A. Platt, Architect, 101 Park Ave., New York. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Shurtleff, Roswell Morse, 1838-1915. Roswell Morse Shurtleff papers, 1862-1871 and [undated]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Century Company records, 1870-1924 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf Century illustrated monthly magazine. Century Magazine letters, 1870-1918. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Burroughs, Clyde H., 1882-1973. The Clyde H. Burroughs records, 1906-1946. Detroit Institute of Arts Research Library & Archives, DIA Research Library & Archives
creatorOf Gallatin, A. E. (Albert Eugene), 1881-1952. A.E. (Albert Eugene) Gallatin papers, 1898-1951. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Stratton, Mary Chase Perry, 1867-1961. Mary Chase Stratton papers, 1846-1961. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Pennell, Joseph, 1857-1926. Joseph Pennell papers, 1908-1935. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Metcalf, Willard Leroy, 1858-1925. Willard Leroy Metcalf papers, 1876-1925. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Dennison, Walter, 1869-1917. Walter Dennison papers, 1887-1918. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Alfred Vance Churchill Papers RG 42., 1828-1948 Smith College Archives
creatorOf Cassidy, Gerald, 1879-1934. Scrapbooks of paintings, 1905-1932. The California Digital Library
referencedIn Abbott Handerson Thayer and Thayer Family papers, 1851-1999 (bulk 1881-1950) Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
creatorOf Rosenbach Company. Correspondence, 1903-1953. Rosenbach Museum & Library
creatorOf Freer, Charles Lang, 1854-1919. Charles Lang Freer selected papers, 1876-1931. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Charles A. Platt architectural records and papers, 1879-1981, (bulk 1882-1933) Columbia University. Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library. Dept. of Drawings & Archives,
referencedIn Ernest Francisco Fenollosa papers, 1881-1952 (inclusive), 1881-1909 (bulk). Houghton Library.
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Bacher, Otto H. (Otto Henry), 1856-1909 person
associatedWith Berenson, Bernard, 1865-1959 person
associatedWith Bing, Siegfried, 1838-1905 person
associatedWith Binyon, Laurence, 1869-1943 person
associatedWith Bixby, William K. (William Keeney), 1857-1931 person
associatedWith Bosch Reitz, Sigisbert Chrétien, 1860-1938. person
associatedWith Burroughs, Clyde H., 1882-1973. person
correspondedWith Bynner, Witter, 1881-1968 person
associatedWith Caffin, Charles H. (Charles Henry), 1854-1918. person
associatedWith Campbell, Colin, Lady, 1857-1911 person
associatedWith Campbell, Colin, Lord, 1853-1895 person
associatedWith Canfield, Richard A. (Richard Albert), 1855-1914 person
associatedWith Cassidy, Gerald, 1879-1934. person
correspondedWith Century Company corporateBody
associatedWith Century illustrated monthly magazine. corporateBody
associatedWith Chase, William Merritt, 1849-1916 person
associatedWith Church, Frederick S. (Frederick Stuart), 1842-1924 person
associatedWith Churchill, Alfred Vance, 1864-1949 person
associatedWith Coburn, Alvin Langdon, 1882-1966 person
correspondedWith Dellenbaugh, Frederick Samuel, 1853-1935 person
associatedWith Dennison, Walter, 1869-1917. person
associatedWith Dewing, Thomas Wilmer, 1851-1938 person
associatedWith Dow, Arthur W. (Arthur Wesley), 1857-1922 person
associatedWith Fenollosa, Ernest, 1853-1908. person
associatedWith Freer Gallery of Art. corporateBody
associatedWith Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. corporateBody
associatedWith Gallatin, A. E. (Albert Eugene), 1881-1952. person
associatedWith Gellatly, John, 1853-1931 person
associatedWith Gookin, Frederick William person
associatedWith Griffith, Armand H., 1860-1930. person
associatedWith Hartmann, Sadakichi, 1867-1944 person
associatedWith Hecker, Frank J. (Frank Joseph), 1846-1927 person
associatedWith Kelekian, Dikran, 1868-1951 person
associatedWith Kelsey, Francis W. (Francis Willey), 1858-1927 person
associatedWith Kingsley, Elbridge, 1842-1918. person
associatedWith Laufer, Berthold, 1874-1934 person
associatedWith Matsuki, Bunkio, 1867-1940 person
associatedWith McCormick, Frederick, 1870- person
associatedWith McCormick, Frederick, 1870- person
associatedWith Melchers, Gari, 1860-1932 person
associatedWith Metcalf, Willard Leroy, 1858-1925. person
associatedWith Meyer, Agnes Elizabeth Ernst, 1887-1970. person
associatedWith Meyer, Eugene, 1875-1959 person
associatedWith M. Knoedler & Co. corporateBody
associatedWith Moore, Charles, 1855-1942 person
associatedWith Nomura, Yozo person
associatedWith Nomura, Yozo person
associatedWith Pennell, Joseph, 1857-1926. person
associatedWith Philip, Rosalind Birnie, 1873-1958 person
associatedWith Platt, Charles A. (Charles Adams), 1861-1933. person
associatedWith Reid, Alexander person
associatedWith Reid, Alexander person
associatedWith Rhoades, Katharine, 1885-1965 person
correspondedWith Robinson, Corinne Roosevelt, 1861-1933 person
associatedWith Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919 person
associatedWith Rosenbach Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Saint-Gaudens, Augustus, 1848-1907 person
associatedWith Sanders, Henry A. (Henry Arthur), 1868-1956 person
associatedWith Shurtleff, Roswell Morse, 1838-1915. person
associatedWith Smithsonian Institution corporateBody
associatedWith Steichen, Edward, 1879-1973 person
associatedWith Stieglitz, Alfred, 1864-1946 person
associatedWith Stratton, Mary Chase Perry, 1867-1961. person
associatedWith Thayer, Abbott Handerson, 1849-1921. person
associatedWith Tryon, Dwight William, 1849-1925 person
associatedWith Walcott, Charles D. (Charles Doolittle), 1850-1927 person
associatedWith Warring, Joseph Stephens, 1863?-1944 person
associatedWith Way, Thomas R. (Thomas Robert), 1861-1913 person
associatedWith Whistler, Beatrix Philip Godwin, d. 1896 person
associatedWith Whistler, James McNeill, 1834-1903 person
associatedWith White, Nelson C. person
associatedWith Wong, K. T. person
associatedWith Wong, K. T. person
associatedWith Yamanaka & Company corporateBody
associatedWith Yue, Seaouke person
associatedWith Yue, Seaouke person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Detroit (Mich.)
London (England)
Dimay
Washington (D.C.)
Boston (Mass.)
Subject
Art, Asian--Collectors and collecting
Art, Asian
Art--Collectors and collecting
Art, American--Collectors and collecting
Occupation
Art collectors
Industrialists
Function

Person

Birth 1856-02-02

Death 1919-10-25

Americans

English

Information

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