Rathbone, Perry Townsend, 1911-2000

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Art museum director.

From the description of Reminiscences of Perry Townsend Rathbone : oral history, 1982. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 309723354

Perry Townsend Rathbone (1911-2000) was a museum director from New York, N.Y.

He was a curator at the Detroit Institute of Art, 1936-1940, director of the City Art Museum of St. Louis, 1940-1955, and director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1954-1972. At the time of the interview, Rathbone was director of the auction house, Christie's USA (1973-1977). He went on to become senior vice-president from 1977-1987, and a consultant beginning in 1987.

From the description of Oral history interview with Perry Townsend Rathbone, 1975 Aug. 8-1976 Sept. 24 [sound recording]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 495596702

Lauded art historian Perry Townsend Rathbone was born in New Rochelle, New York in 1911. In 1929 he began his undergraduate studies at Harvard College, focusing his attention primarily on the study of Fine Art. While at Harvard, Rathbone took the famed "museum course" under the direction of Paul J. Sachs and was also heavily involved with the Harvard Society of Contemporary Art. After graduating in 1933, he stayed on at Harvard working at the Fogg Art Museum. In 1940, at the age of 29, Rathbone was appointed director of the St. Louis Art Museum after a brief stint working at the Detroit Institute of Art. During World War II he served as a lieutenant commander in the Navy and was briefly stationed in the South Pacific. After returning from the War, Rathbone resumed his position at the St. Louis Art Museum and focused his attention on organizing an innovative retrospective show of the German Expressionist Max Beckmann.

Rathbone was appointed the director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 1955. During his tenure, the museum experienced both great expansion and renovation: under his leadership, the staff was doubled and 57 of the museum's 189 galleries were modernized. After leaving the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 1955, Rathbone went on to work at Christie's in New York City, where he continued to serve as a consultant until 1995.

From the description of Papers. 1929-1933. (Harvard University Art Museum). WorldCat record id: 681075011

Rathbone (1911-2000) was executor of the estate of Mathilde Beckmann (ca. 1904-1986), the widow of painter Max Beckmann.

The suit and counter suits over her estate began just after her death in 1986 and related to re-writing in 1982 of Mrs. Beckmann's original will of 1975, in which Hedda von Kaulbach Schoonderbeek--her elder sister and only surviving relative--was primary benefactor, as well as the disposition of several works of art by Max Beckmann to the National Gallery of art and other museums.

The new will made Mrs. Beckmann's caretakers, sisters Betty Sue Robinson and Mary Dent the primary beneficiaries, leaving Schoonderbeek with just $5,000 of the multi-million dollar estate and excluded most of the recipients of works of art altogether. In 1985, almost all of Mrs. Beckmann's property was transferred to the Robinson sisters, and in February 1986 Mrs. Beckmann was moved by the Robinsons to Florida, where she died just a few weeks later. In June, Perry Rathbone and Frederic Houston, as executors of the original will, Schoonderbeek, and a friend, Richard Keoseian, filed suit in Surrogate's Court in Manhattan. Although the suit was successful in challenging Robinson and Dent, it spawned several bitter and protracted counter suits, which finally concluded in 1997. By then most of the initial parties were deceased, and the bulk of the estate spent on attorney's fees.

From the description of Legal records relating to the estate of Mathilde Beckmann, [ca. 1959-1997]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 78407295

Museum director, New York, N.Y.

Director of the City Art Museum of St. Louis, 1940-1955, and director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1954-1972. He was director of the auction house, Christie's USA, between 1973-1977, senior vice-president from 1977-1987, and a consultant beginning in 1987. He died Jan. 22, 2000 at age 88.

From the description of Perry Townsend Rathbone papers, 1936-1985. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122515512

Museum director, New York, N.Y.

Curator at the Detroit Institute of Art, 1936-1940; director of the City Art Museum of St. Louis, 1940-1955, and director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1954-1972. At the time of the interview, Rathbone was director of the auction house, Christie's USA (1973-1977). [He went on to become senior vice-president from 1977-1987, and a consultant beginning in 1987. Rathbone died Jan. 22, 2000 at age 88.].

From the description of Oral history interview with Perry Townsend Rathbone, 1975 Aug. 8-1976 Sept. 24. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 220189436

Lauded art historian Perry Townsend Rathbone was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania in 1911. His early childhood was spent in New York City, and later in New Rochelle, New York. In 1929 he began his undergraduate studies at Harvard College, focusing his attention primarily on the study of Fine Arts. While at Harvard, Rathbone was heavily involved with the arts community, and eventually became co-director of the Harvard Society of Contemporary Art with fellow classmate Otto Wittmann. After graduating in 1933, Rathbone took the famed "museum course" under the direction of Paul J. Sachs. Fellow classmates included: Henry McIlhenny, Thomas Howe, John Newberry, James Plaut, and Charles Cunnigham.

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.

From the guide to the Papers, 1929-1933, (Harvard Art Museums Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Rathbone, Perry Townsend, 1911-2000. Oral history interview with Perry Townsend Rathbone, 1975 Aug. 8-1976 Sept. 24. Archives of American Art
referencedIn St. Louis Art Museum. Director's Office. Records Exhibition correspondence. Saint Louis Art Museum, Richardson Memorial Library
creatorOf Archives of American Art. Symposium on still life painting : sound recording, 1982 May 21-22. Archives of American Art
creatorOf Castano Galleries (Boston, Mass.). Castano Galleries records, 1907-1983. Archives of American Art
creatorOf Rathbone, Perry Townsend, 1911-2000. Reminiscences of Perry Townsend Rathbone : oral history, 1982. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Bushnell, David Ives, Jr. (1875 - 1941) Collection Records, 1845 - 1942 Peabody Museum Archives
creatorOf Rathbone, Perry Townsend, 1911-2000. Perry Townsend Rathbone papers, 1936-1985. Archives of American Art
referencedIn Price, Vincent, 1911-1993. Papers of Vincent Price, 1883-1992 (bulk 1932-1992). Library of Congress
creatorOf Catherine Viviano Gallery. Catherine Viviano Gallery records, 1930-1990, bulk 1949-1978. Archives of American Art
referencedIn Rabb, Irving,. [Oral History with Irving Rabb] [sound recording] 2005 June 20. Harvard University Art Museum
creatorOf Papers, 1929-1933 Harvard Art Museums. Archives
creatorOf Archives of American Art. Symposium on still life painting : sound recording, 1982 May 21-22 [sound recording]. Archives of American Art
creatorOf St. Louis Art Museum. Director's Office. Records 1880- : in-house files. Saint Louis Art Museum, Richardson Memorial Library
creatorOf Rathbone, Perry Townsend, 1911-2000. Itinerant portraiture in New York and New England, 1820-1840. Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library
creatorOf Rathbone, Perry Townsend, 1911-2000. Papers. 1929-1933. Harvard University Art Museum
referencedIn Harvard University Archives Photograph Collection: Portraits, ca. 1852-ca. 2004 Harvard University Archives.
creatorOf Shaw, Horatio W., 1847-1918. Horatio W. Shaw papers, 1880-1975. Archives of American Art
referencedIn St. Louis Art Museum. Director's Office. Records General correspondence. Saint Louis Art Museum, Richardson Memorial Library
referencedIn Poets' Theatre (Cambridge, Mass.) records, 1936-1989 (inclusive), 1950-1960 (bulk). Houghton Library
creatorOf Rathbone, Perry Townsend, 1911-2000. Legal records relating to the estate of Mathilde Beckmann, [ca. 1959-1997]. Archives of American Art
referencedIn Hilles, Susan Morse, 1905-. Transcript of oral history, 1986. Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Letters, 1944-1969, to Lewis Mumford. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Greene, Stephen, 1918-1999. Stephen Greene papers, 1945-1969. Archives of American Art
creatorOf Bushnell, David I. (David Ives), 1875-1941. [Bushnell, David Ives, Jr., 1875-1941 collection records, 1845-1951]. Harvard University, Tozzer Library
referencedIn Adlow, Dorothy, 1901-1964. Papers, 1923-1969 (inclusive) [microform]. Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Sachs, Paul J. (Paul Joseph), 1878-1965. Papers, 1903-2005. Harvard University Art Museum
referencedIn Price, Vincent, 1911-1993. Papers, 1883-1992 (bulk 1932-1992). Library of Congress
referencedIn Speck, Frank Gouldsmith. Frank Gouldsmith Speck Papers. 1903-1950. American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Rathbone, Perry Townsend, 1911-2000,. Oral history interview with Perry Townsend Rathbone, 1975 Aug. 8-1976 Sept. 24 [sound recording]. Archives of American Art
referencedIn Coolidge, John, 1913-1995. Papers of John Coolidge and Agnes Mongan, 1909-2006. Harvard University Art Museum
referencedIn Catherine Viviano Gallery records, 1930-1990, bulk 1949-1978. Archives of American Art
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Adlow, Dorothy, 1901-1964. person
associatedWith aRathbone, Perry Townsend, 1911-2000. person
associatedWith Archives of American Art. corporateBody
associatedWith Beckmann, Mathilde Q. person
associatedWith Beckmann, Max, 1884-1950. person
associatedWith Bingham, George Caleb, 1811-1879. person
associatedWith Brooks Memorial Art Gallery. corporateBody
associatedWith Buchholz Gallery (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Bushnell, David I. (David Ives), 1875-1941. person
associatedWith Calder, Alexander, 1898-1976. person
associatedWith Cambridge Arts Council (Cambridge, Mass.) corporateBody
associatedWith Castano Galleries (Boston, Mass.) corporateBody
associatedWith Catherine Viviano corporateBody
associatedWith Catherine Viviano Gallery. corporateBody
associatedWith Chase Manhattan Bank. corporateBody
associatedWith City Art Museum of St. Louis. corporateBody
associatedWith Coolidge, John, 1913-1995. person
associatedWith Cornell, Katharine, 1893-1974. person
associatedWith Cummings, Paul, person
associatedWith Curt Valentin Gallery (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Daum, Raymond L., person
associatedWith Fogg Art Museum. corporateBody
associatedWith Ford Foundation. corporateBody
associatedWith Gonzalez, Xavier, 1898-1993. person
associatedWith Greene, Stephen, 1918-1999. person
associatedWith Harvard University. Art Museums. corporateBody
associatedWith Hilles, Susan Morse, 1905- person
associatedWith Kokoschka, Oskar, 1886- person
associatedWith Lindbergh, Anne Morrow, 1906- person
associatedWith Marini, Marino, 1901- person
associatedWith Massachusetts Art Commission. corporateBody
associatedWith Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. corporateBody
associatedWith New York World's Fair (1939-1940) corporateBody
associatedWith Poets' Theatre (Cambridge, Mass.). corporateBody
associatedWith Price, Vincent, 1911-1993. person
associatedWith Rabb, Irving, person
associatedWith Rhode Island School of Design. corporateBody
associatedWith Rhode Island School of Design. Museum of Art. corporateBody
associatedWith Rickey, George. person
associatedWith Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962. person
associatedWith Sabersky, Jane, 1911?-1983. person
associatedWith Sachs, Paul J. (Paul Joseph), 1878-1965. person
associatedWith Shaw, Horatio W., 1847-1918. person
associatedWith Speck, Frank Gouldsmith, 1881-1950 person
associatedWith Stern, Louis E., 1886-1962. person
associatedWith St. Louis Art Museum. Director's Office. corporateBody
associatedWith St. Louis Art Museum. Director's Office. corporateBody
associatedWith St. Louis Art Museum. Director's Office. corporateBody
associatedWith Stout, George L. (George Leslie) person
associatedWith Stuart, Gilbert, 1755-1828. person
associatedWith Swarzenski, Hanns, 1903-1985. person
associatedWith Valentin, Curt, 1902-1954. person
associatedWith Valentiner, Wilhelm Reinhold, 1880-1958. person
associatedWith Wilke, Ulfert, 1907-1987. person
associatedWith Willard Gallery. corporateBody
associatedWith Willard, Marian, 1904- person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
New York (State)
New York (State)--New York
United States
New York (State)--New York
Subject
Art historians
Art, American
Art--History
Harvard Society forContemporary Art
Drawing--Study and teaching
Art--Study and teaching--Massachusetts
Artists--Legal status, laws, etc
Art and architecture
Art students
Portraits, American
Drawing class
Art--Study and teaching--United States
Museum Directors
Decedents' estates
Art museums
Harvard University--Alumnae and alumni
Greeting cards
Museum directors--Interviews
Art--History--Study and teaching--United States
Associated HarvardAlumni
Museum curators--Interviews
Harvard College (1780- ). Class of 1933
Art in universities and colleges--Massachusetts--Cambridge
Law and art
Art museum directors
Fogg Art Museum
Painting, American
Harvard Art Museum
Occupation
Activity

Person

Birth 1911-07-03

Death 2000

Americans

English

Information

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