Watson, Forbes, 1880-1960

Alternative names

Hide Profile

Forbes Watson (1879-1960) worked primarily in New York City and Washington, D.C. as an art critic, writer, lecturer, and consultant to the U. S. Treasury Department's Public Works of Art Project and Section of Painting and Sculpture (Section of Fine Arts).

Forbes Watson was born on November 27, 1879 in Boston, the son of stockbroker John Watson and his wife Mary. Watson grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, attending the Phillips Academy in Andover, and graduating from Harvard University in 1902. After a brief period of freelance writing, he was hired by The New York Evening Post as an art critic in 1911 and worked there until 1917. In 1910, he married Agnes, professionally known as painter Nan Watson.

During World War I, Watson served with an American volunteer ambulance unit with the French army, later working with the American Red Cross in Paris. After the war, he moved back to New York City and worked as art critic for The World, from the early 1920s until 1931 and as editor of The Arts magazine from 1923-1933. Watson also lectured at the Art Students League, and at various universities and arts organizations.

In 1933, Watson moved to Washington, D.C. to serve as technical director of the U. S. Treasury Department's short-lived Public Works of Art Project. In October 1934, Watson was employed as Chief Adviser to the Treasury Department's Section of Painting and Sculpture (later renamed the Section of Fine Arts) and later as Consultant to the Secretary's Office of the Treasury. During World War II, he organized various traveling exhibitions including "Art for Bonds" that promoted the sale of war bonds. Watson retired in 1946 and lived in Gaylordsville, Connecticut.

Watson was the author of numerous essays and reviews, and several books including American Painting Today and Winslow Homer, a biography of the noted American artist. With Edward Bruce, he produced a pictorial volume Art in Federal Buildings, Vol. I: Mural Designs . At his death he was working on his autobiography.

Forbes Watson died on May 31, 1960 in New Milford, Connecticut.

From the guide to the Forbes Watson papers, 1840-1967, bulk 1900-1960, (Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution)

Forbes Watson (1879-1960) was an art critic, lecturer, and administrator from New York, N.Y.

Watson served as art critic of the New York Evening Post, 1911-1917, the New York World, 1918-1931, editor of The Arts, 1923-1933, and lecturer at the Art Students League. In 1933, he was appointed Technical Director of the first, but short-lived New Deal art program, the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP),created to provide work for artists in the decoration of non-federal buildings, and served under Edward Rowan until it dissolved in 1934. He then moved, with Rowan, to the Treasury Dept. of Painting and Sculpture (later the Section of Fine Arts), which administered funding for the competitive commissions to decorate federal buildings, where he served as Special Advisor, and as editor of the Section's Bulletin. Watson later served in the Treasury Dept's War Finance Division organizing exhibitions and posters by combat artists to promote the sale of war bonds. He authored several books and articles on American art.

From the description of Forbes Watson papers, 1840-1967, bulk 1900-1960. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 744426604

Art critic, lecturer, and administrator; New York, N.Y.

Watson served as art critic of the New York Evening Post, 1911-1917, the New York World, 1918-1931, editor of The Arts, 1923-1933, and lecturer at the Art Students League. In 1933 he was appointed Technical Director of the first, but short-lived New Deal art program, the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP), created to provide work for artists in the decoration of non-federal buildings, and served under Edward Rowan until it dissolved in 1934. He then moved, with Rowan, to the Treasury Dept. of Painting and Sculpture (later the Section of Fine Arts), which administered funding for the competitive commissions to decorate federal buildings, where he served as Special Advisor, and as editor of the Section's Bulletin. Watson later served in the Treasury Dept's War Finance Division organizing exhibitions and posters by combat artists to promote the sale of war bonds. He authored several books and articles on American art.

From the description of Forbes Watson papers, 1900-1950. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 220173987

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Forbes Watson [graphic]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Hopper, Inslee. Oral history interview with Inslee Hopper, 1981 July 28. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Glassgold, Adolph, 1899-. Adolph Glassgold interview, 1964 Dec. 9. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Watson, Forbes, 1880-1960. Forbes Watson papers, 1840-1967, bulk 1900-1960. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Schnakenberg, H. E. (Henry Ernest), 1892-1970. Henry Ernest Schnakenberg papers, 1905-1969. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Albinson, Dewey, 1898-1971. Oral history interview with Dewey Albinson, 1965 Oct. 27. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Beal, Gifford, 1879-1956. Gifford Beal sketches, sketchbooks and papers, 1889-2001. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Baker, Mildred, 1905-. Oral history interview with Mildred Baker, 1963 Sept. 21. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia Museum of Art selected records, 1874-1954. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Whitney, Gertrude Vanderbilt, 1875-1942. Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney papers, 1851-1975, bulk, 1888-1942. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn French Institute in the United States. Loan exhibition of works : March 16 to April 3, 1921. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn United States. Public Buildings Administration. Section of Fine Arts. Section of Fine Arts selected administrative records and correspondence, 1934-1943. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Hopper, Inslee. Inslee Hopper interview, 1981 July 28. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Records., undated and 1933-1935. Minnesota Historical Society
referencedIn Naumann, Francis M. Marius de Zayas Research Collection for How, When and Why Modern Art Came to New York, ca. 1910-1936. Whitney Museum of American Art, Library
creatorOf Weber, Max, 1881-1961. Max Weber papers, 1904-1962. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Watson, Forbes, 1880-1960. Forbes Watson papers, 1900-1950. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Goodrich, Lloyd, 1897-1987. Lloyd Goodrich interviews, 1962-1963. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Dows, Olin, 1904-1981. Olin Dows letters, 1938-1949 and [undated]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Howland, Isabella, 1895-1974. Isabella Howland papers, 1895-1973. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Glassgold, Adolph, 1899-. Oral history interview with Adolph Glassgold, 1964 Dec. 9 [sound recording]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Treasury Relief Art Project. Treasury Department Art Projects : painting and sculpture for federal buildings, November seventeen to December thirteen, nineteen hundred thirty-six, Corcoran Gallery of Art / introduction by Forbes Watson, 1936. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Jones, Wendell, 1899-1956. Wendell Jones papers, 1933-1969. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Whitney, Gertrude Vanderbilt, 1875-1942. Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney papers, 1855-1975 (bulk 1888-1942). Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Contreras, Belisario R., 1916-. Papers on New Deal art, 1860-1976; (bulk 1933-1942). University of New Mexico-Main Campus
referencedIn Dows, Olin, 1904-. Oral history interview with Olin Dows, 1963 Oct. 31 [sound recording]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Yaddo records, 1870-1980 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Treasury Relief Art Project. Treasury Relief Art Project selected administrative and business records, 1935-1939. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Public Works of Art Project. Public Works of Art Project articles and exhibition catalog, 1933-1934. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Olin Dows letters, 1938-1949 Archives of American Art
referencedIn Glassgold, Adolph, 1899-. Adolph Glassgold interview, 1964 Dec. 9 [sound recording]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney papers, 1851-1975 (bulk 1888-1942) Archives of American Art
creatorOf Rowan, Edward Beatty, 1898-1946. Edward Beatty Rowan papers, 1929-1946. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Belisario R. Contreras Papers on New Deal Art, 1860-1976 (bulk 1933-1942) University of New Mexico. Center for Southwest Research
creatorOf Forbes Watson papers, 1840-1967, bulk 1900-1960 Archives of American Art
creatorOf Simon, Sidney, 1917-1997. Sidney Simon papers, 1917-2000. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Pène du Bois, Guy, 1884-1958. Guy Pène Du Bois papers, 1903-1963. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Gifford Beal sketches, sketchbooks, and papers, 1889-1954 Archives of American Art
referencedIn Dows, Olin, 1904-1981. Olin Dows interview, 1963 Oct. 31. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Papers of Paul J. Sachs, 1903-2005 Harvard Art Museums. Archives
creatorOf Dows, Olin, 1904-1981. Olin Dows letters, 1938-1949. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Jones, Wendell, 1899-1956. Wendell Jones papers, 1933-1969. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Hurd, Peter, 1904-. Peter Hurd papers relating to the Section of Fine Arts, 1936-1951. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Beal, Gifford, 1879-1956. Gifford Beal sketches, sketchbooks and papers, 1902-1953. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Watson, Forbes, 1880-1960. Correspondence to Van Wyck Brooks, 1953. University of Pennsylvania Library
creatorOf Korff, Alice Graeme, 1904-1975. Alice Graeme Korff papers, [ca. 1938]-1941. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Adams, Ansel, 1902-1984 person
associatedWith Adams, Ansel, 1902-1984. person
associatedWith Albinson, Dewey, 1898-1971 person
associatedWith Art Students League (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Art Students League (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Bacon, Peggy, 1895-1987 person
associatedWith Bacon, Peggy, 1895-1987 person
associatedWith Baker, Mildred, 1905- person
associatedWith Barr, Alfred Hamilton, 1902- person
associatedWith Barr, Alfred Hamilton, 1902- person
associatedWith Beal, Gifford, 1879-1956 person
associatedWith Beal, Gifford, 1879-1956. person
associatedWith Brancusi, Constantin, 1876-1957 person
associatedWith Brancusi, Constantin, 1876-1957. person
associatedWith Bruce, Edward, 1879-1943 person
associatedWith Bruce, Edward, 1879-1943. person
associatedWith Burchfield, Charles Ephraim, 1893-1967. person
associatedWith Citron, Minna Wright, 1896-1991 person
associatedWith Citron, Minna Wright, 1896-1991. person
associatedWith Coleman, Glenn O., 1887-1932 person
associatedWith Coleman, Glenn O., 1887-1932. person
associatedWith Contreras, Belisario R., 1916- person
associatedWith Dows, Olin, 1904- person
associatedWith Dows, Olin, 1904- person
associatedWith Du Bois, Guy Pène, 1884-1958. person
associatedWith Du Bois, Guy Pène, 1884-1958 person
associatedWith French Institute in the United States. corporateBody
associatedWith Gallatin, A. E. (Albert Eugene), 1881-1952 person
associatedWith Gallatin, A. E. (Albert Eugene), 1881-1952 person
associatedWith Genthe, Arnold, 1869-1942 person
associatedWith Genthe, Arnold, 1869-1942. person
associatedWith Glackens, Ira, 1907-1990 person
associatedWith Glackens, Ira, 1907-1990. person
associatedWith Glassgold, Adolph, 1899- person
associatedWith Goodrich, Lloyd, 1897-1987. person
associatedWith Hopper, Inslee. person
associatedWith Howland, Isabella, 1895-1974. person
associatedWith Hurd, Peter, 1904- person
associatedWith Jones, Wendell, 1899-1956. person
associatedWith Klonis, Stewart, 1901-1989 person
associatedWith Klonis, Stewart, 1901-1989. person
associatedWith Korff, Alice Graeme, 1904-1975. person
associatedWith Kroll, Leon, 1884-1974 person
associatedWith Kroll, Leon, 1884-1974 person
associatedWith Kuniyoshi, Yasuo, 1889-1953 person
associatedWith Kuniyoshi, Yasuo, 1889-1953 person
associatedWith Mangravite, Peppino, 1896- person
associatedWith Mangravite, Peppino, 1896- person
associatedWith Manship, Paul, 1885-1966 person
associatedWith Manship, Paul, 1885-1966. person
associatedWith Marsh, Reginald, 1898-1954 person
associatedWith Marsh, Reginald, 1898-1954 person
associatedWith Matisse, Henri, 1869-1954 person
associatedWith Matisse, Henri, 1869-1954. person
associatedWith Morgenthau, Henry, 1891-1967 person
associatedWith Morgenthau, Henry, 1891-1967. person
associatedWith Naumann, Francis M. person
associatedWith Pène du Bois, Guy, 1884-1958. person
associatedWith Pepsi-Cola Company corporateBody
associatedWith Pepsi-Cola Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Philadelphia Museum of Art. corporateBody
associatedWith Public Works of Art Project corporateBody
associatedWith Public Works of Art Project. corporateBody
associatedWith Public Works of Art Project. corporateBody
associatedWith Public Works of Art Project. corporateBody
associatedWith Public Works of Art Project (Minnesota). corporateBody
associatedWith Ray, Man, 1890-1976 person
associatedWith Ray, Man, 1890-1976. person
associatedWith Red Cross corporateBody
associatedWith Red Cross. corporateBody
associatedWith Rowan, Edward Beatty, 1898-1946 person
associatedWith Rowan, Edward Beatty, 1898-1946. person
associatedWith Sachs, Paul J., 1878-1965 person
associatedWith Saint-Gaudens, Homer, b. 1880 person
associatedWith Saint-Gaudens, Homer, b. 1880 person
associatedWith Schnakenberg, H. E. (Henry Ernest), 1892-1970. person
associatedWith Sheeler, Charles, 1883-1965 person
associatedWith Sheeler, Charles, 1883-1965 person
associatedWith Shimin, Symeon, 1902- person
associatedWith Shimin, Symeon, 1902- person
associatedWith Simon, Sidney, 1917-1997. person
associatedWith Sterne, Maurice, 1878-1957 person
associatedWith Sterne, Maurice, 1878-1957. person
associatedWith Treasury Relief Art Project. corporateBody
associatedWith Treasury Relief Art Project. corporateBody
associatedWith Tucker, Allen, 1866-1939 person
associatedWith Tucker, Allen, 1866-1939. person
associatedWith United States corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Dept. of the Treasury. Section of Fine Arts. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Dept. of the Treasury. Section of Fine Arts. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Dept. of the Treasury. Section of Painting and Sculpture. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Dept. of the Treasury. Section of Painting and Sculpture. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Public Buildings Administration. Section of Fine Arts. corporateBody
associatedWith Watson, Nan, 1876-1966 person
associatedWith Watson, Nan, 1876-1966. person
associatedWith Weber, Max, 1881-1961 person
associatedWith Weber, Max, 1881-1961. person
associatedWith Whitney, Gertrude Vanderbilt, 1875-1942. person
associatedWith Yaddo (Artist's colony) corporateBody
associatedWith Zorach, William, 1887-1966 person
associatedWith Zorach, William, 1887-1966. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
New York N.Y
New York (State)--New York
United States
New York N.Y.
New York State--New York
United States
New York N.Y
United States
Subject
Federal aid to the arts
Architecture--New York, N.Y.--Photographs
Art publishing
Mural painting and decoration, American
Authors
Art critics
Architecture--Photographs
Art, American
Arts administrators
Art and state
World War, 1939-1945--Art and the war
New Deal, 1933-1939
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1880

Death 1960

Information

Permalink: http://n2t.net/ark:/99166/w6cd1pqf

Ark ID: w6cd1pqf

SNAC ID: 83607169