Blondell Malone Papers, 1800-1956:

(Scope and Content Note)

See other finding aids to collections available from SCL Manuscripts Division

Papers, 1800-1956 (bulk, 1898-1951)
Extent: ca. 10 linear ft.
Location: PU-4


Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of approximately ten linear feet of materials that document the life of Blondelle Octavia Edwards Malone. In date, the collection ranges from approximately 1800 to 1956, with the bulk of the papers ranging from 1898 to 1951. The collection is comprised of correspondence, invitations, diaries, pamphlets, newspaper clippings, photographs, and original works of art documenting the work of this artist and historic preservationist. The collection is divided into three series: personal papers, artwork, and photographs.

Series I, Personal Papers

Series I, personal papers, is organized by subject and comprises the bulk of the materials contained in the collection. Blondelle Malone's personal papers span her entire life and also touch upon the lives of her parents and several relatives. In date the personal papers series contains materials from 1800 to 1956. The series is broken down into the following subseries: career as an artist, correspondence, family history and genealogy, general materials, historic preservation activities, journals, legal documents, newspaper articles and clippings, research materials, travels, and writings.

Materials pertaining to Blondelle's career as an artist include exhibition catalogs, programs, criticism and exhibition reviews, and exhibition admittance cards. Also included in this group of materials is a visitor's book from one of Blondelle's first major showings at the Lyceum Club in Paris, France, in 1913. For preservation and conservation purposes, original works of art (as well as their accompanying sketches and photographs) are housed separately and are found in Series III, Artwork.

Of interest and significance is Blondelle Malone's correspondence. The value of these materials lies in the many references that Blondelle made to other artists painting from the turn of the century until around 1920. In date, the correspondence in the collection ranges from 1800 to 1951. Letters written to her parents give accounts of Blondelle's experiences in New York, California, Japan, and Europe. Forms of correspondence include traditional letters, telegrams, and postcards; many letters were written in French. The collection also includes correspondence in German, Italian, and Japanese. The correspondence offers the researcher a view onto Blondelle's life - particularly her time spent overseas. It appears that her parents kept most of her letters written to them; Blondelle, on the other hand kept few of the letters written to her by her family members. In the correspondence, one can see the relationship that existed between Blondelle and her parents. They funded her many journeys throughout Europe, and she wrote faithfully telling them of her adventures. The letters are also of interest because they show the changing relationship between a daughter and her parents. Correspondence commences when Blondelle leaves home for the first time to attend Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and starts to decrease after the death of Mrs. Malone. Topics in her early letters include discussions of fashion and social events, accounts of time spent with friends and love interests, worries about academic pursuits, and answers to questions asked her by her parents. Later letters include descriptions of the progress of her career as an artist, tales of living in exotic locales, accounts of people she socialized with.

While Blondelle may not have kept a great deal of correspondence from family members, she did hold onto letters written to her by friends and peers. The collection contains many letters from Walter Richard Sickert and Henry Simpson (both had studied with Whistler). Their letters were professional and personal in tone - in later years more personal than not. Both men were also interested in her romantically. Simpson frequently referred to her with pet names and made insinuations about marriage.

Other potential suitors who corresponded with Blondelle include the following individuals:

Dr. Richard Bohun Baker (A retired physician. He and Blondelle met during the summer of 1896. He was 73 years old at the time; Blondelle was only 19. They maintained their correspondence for around five years.)

Luigi Cappelli (Blondelle met him in Europe) Emanuel Gateschi (An Italian studying at Cambridge University)

Professor David S. L. Johnson (a devoted friend and correspondent despite the fifty-year age difference that existed between Blondelle and the choir director for the Church of the Good Shepherd in Columbia.)

Baron Paul de Launay (the organist and choirmaster at Trinity Cathedral in Columbia.)

Ted/Laurie Swinburne (son of Blondelle's friend, Mrs. Swinburne)

Blondelle also corresponded with many artists and friends and relatives of artists:

Miss Lucy Bacon (Blondelle met her in California. At one time, Miss Bacon had also hoped to become an artist. She was familiar with the New York School and had studied in France with Pissarro and Mary Cassat; in fact, Miss Bacon, provided Blondelle with a letter of introduction for Pissarro shortly before his death - a letter that Blondelle was not able to use. Miss Bacon moved to California and gave up painting to become a Christian Science practitioner.)

Jacques Blanche (The French portraitist.)

Mathilde de Cardoba (A close friend and an aspiring artist. The two met in New York and exchanged letters for some time.)

William Merritt Chase (Mentor and teacher - provided her with letters of introduction.) Lula Merrick (A critic for the New York Post.)

Madame J. Francois Millet (Geraldine, the daughter-in-law of the French artist Millet.)

Claude Monet (The collection includes the letter in which he invited Blondelle to his studio.)

Madame Camille Pissarro (The widow of Pissarro; Blondelle stayed with her on more than one occasion.)

Mrs. A.S. Swinburne (A close friend and an aspiring artist. The two met in New York and often traveled together.)

Mary Taft (A critic for the New York Times.)

Mrs. Twachtman (Blondelle became good friends with the wife of her former teacher.)

Helen Whistler (Daughter-in-law of James McNeill Whistler.)

Other correspondents included:

W. C. Brownell (Executive at Harper & Brothers Publishers.)

Ambrose E. Gonzales (Owner/editor of The State newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina.)

Mrs. Herbert Hoover (Daughter-in-law of President Herbert Hoover.)

William Nash (New York businessman, founder of the Corn Exchange Bank, financial sponsor for Blondelle's trip to Ireland.)

Eleanor Roosevelt (Wrote to thank her for a floral arrangement sent to the President and her.)

Dr. John Hunter Selby (Old family friend from Columbia; corresponded with Blondelle in the later years of her life; arranged for her to donate her papers to the Caroliniana Library and her art to the Columbia Museum of Art.)

The correspondence subseries also includes a plethora of postcards. Included are postcards Blondelle sent home to her parents as well as postcards sent to Blondelle from friends living and travelling within the United States and Europe.

Included within the first series are materials pertaining to the Malone, Edwards, and Jones families' genealogies and histories. The subseries, family history and genealogy, includes genealogical charts, written histories, the Malone family coat of arms, and several miscellaneous materials.

The sub-series, general materials, contains documents and materials that did not necessarily fit into any other series or subseries scheme, but that are germane to the collection. These materials are organized alphabetically and include a listing of Blondelle's involvement in various associations, membership cards, calling cards, hospital bills, materials pertaining to Converse College, a few publications collected by Blondelle (several are signed by the authors), and various miscellaneous and unidentified materials.

During the 1930s, Blondelle lived in Alexandria, Virginia, where she became active in the historic preservation movement. The sub-series, historic preservation activities, reflects her participation in the preservation of several Alexandria properties.

Blondelle's journals are by no means comprehensive. The materials contained within the volumes are scattered, and many pages were removed before the Caroliniana acquired the collection. It does not appear that she maintained a regular diary; rather, she used the notebooks found in this collection to record meetings with individuals, addresses, thoughts, and drafts of letters.

The legal documents sub-series includes materials pertaining to the last will and testament of Miles A. Malone. Blondelle and her father grew apart in the last years of his life, and his will reflects this. He left her with a modest income and deeded the majority of his assets to the city of Columbia. For years, Blondelle contested the will and tried to draw more from her yearly stipend than was stipulated by the will. Other legal documents include real estate agreements for properties owned and rented by Blondelle and other members of the family.

Both Blondelle and her parents clipped newspaper and magazine articles pertaining to her career as an artist (newspaper articles and clippings). The collection contains the contents of three scrapbooks plus many loose clippings. The articles follow Blondelle's career from Columbia to California to Europe to New York to Washington, D.C. The newspaper articles also contain references to some Malone/Jones/Edwards family events. The collection contains several files on Stone Mountain, Georgia, which was owned in part by Blondelle's cousins.

In 1963 Louise Jones DuBose, the former director of the University of South Carolina Press, wrote and published a biography of Blondelle. Entitled Enigma: the Career of Blondelle Malone in Art and Society, 1879-1951, the book relies heavily on materials found within Blondelle's papers. Louise DuBose'sresearch materials are included as part of the collection. By and large, the materials in this series consist of annotated transcriptions of letters written to or by Blondelle.

The subseries travels includes official documentation pertaining to Blondelle's passages to and from various European cities as well as passports. It also includes souvenirs, booklets, and brochures she picked up over the course of her journeys.

Lastly, included within the collection are writings penned by Blondelle. Found in this subseries are an autobiographical essay written by Blondelle when she was fifteen years old, accounts of painting in France, and article on the educational system in Japan, and several miscellaneous and unidentified pieces.

Series II, Artwork

Blondelle left little information about what happened to many of her paintings. The Columbia Museum of Art owns quite a few; beyond that, though, she often gave paintings away without recording any information.

Contained within this collection are sketches, photographs of paintings, some original (small) pieces of art, a few bookplates, and a few pieces probably attributable to artists other than Blondelle. The collection contains one framed watercolor entitled “Washington Monument with Fireworks.”

Series III, Photographs

Blondelle Malone's photograph collection contains around two hundred images of friends, family, and associates. The collection contains photographs of Blondelle from childhood through her last years of life. It also contains numerous images of her parents and her ancestors. The series contains an interesting collection of professional photographs (Blanchard Photo, Columbia, SC) taken of Blondelle in her parents' home and garden on Gervais Street around 1909. The series also contains photographs of the interiors of Blondelle's Alexandria, Virginia, properties. It also includes many photographs or photostats of friends from Europe and artists she met (including photographs of Blanche, Sickert, and Pissarro - the latter was given to Blondelle by his widow).

 

 

Columbia Departments Campus Libraries
Columbia Libraries and Collections