Description: There are thirteen letters from Robert Langton Douglas to collector Frank C. Smith, as well as, 18 photographs/photostats of relevant art. The two initial letters from 1923 and 1924 reflect an engaging, seller-collector relationship between the two men. In the first Douglas writes, “I feel a pride in your collection. . . . I feel about it, as I am sure that you do, that a good collection is a work of art itself, and that we—you and I—are the artists.” He sends Smith photographs of Bernado Daddi’s works as he thinks “they are suitable for [Smith’s] collection. . . They are in perfect state and wonderful in characterization and composition . . . have a wonderfully human scene, recorded with vital power.” He also acknowledges the receipt of a purchase: “I am so glad that the Desiderio relief has arrived safely, and that you like it.” In the second he encloses “expert opinions” that Frank Smith wants: “They are both private letters. Please put them in the family archives, and do not show the originals.”
The remaining eleven 1940/1941 letters are exchanges between friends and colleagues who are working together on a “little book” Douglas, the art critic, is writing. He tells Smith “When you return [the manuscript], please tell me frankly if there is anything in it that you would wish to be omitted, or altered in it, or anything that you would desire to be added. Please be quite frank with me. . . . I know that you will recognize that I am sincere in the above request when I tell you that this is the first time in my life that I have made request of this kind of anyone--publisher, editor, or friendly critic. This time I am in deadly earnest about it. I want this little book to please you.” They also discuss the accuracy of the attributions of various works to various artists, correct titles of certain miniature paintings, and try to find the best photographs/etc. to use as illustrations in the book: “As regards the attribution of the Pieta to Andrea de Firenze himself, I will review again this attribution and will endeavour to revive my memories of this master’s authentic works by studying the photographs of his pictures that are in the Frick library”; “I wish that we could procure better reproductions of some pictures, than the Frick photostats, but because of war conditions, this is not possible. I think, however, that the reproductions of your pictures in the Worcester Art Bulletin are excellent.”
The letters also include feelings of delight, concern, as well as nostalgia. Douglas writes about his young children, their adventures at summer camp, worry over his older son, Donald, who is in the war, and mutual friends, “We called on Ethel Platt yesterday afternoon . . . made me very homesick; for I thought of Surrey woodlands carpeted with primroses, and of fields of daffodils; and I saw Claire and Gavin running about there, in the spring sunshine.”
The 1920s letters are written on both sides of 8”x6” ivory stationary with the address: “2, Hill Street, Berkeley Square. W.I.” Eight of the 1941 letters are on 9”x6” light blue stationary bearing the address: “4 East 70th Street, New York”, and three letters are written on blue stationary, approx 8”x6”. In all, 40 pages; plus 18 photos of painting with transmittal envelope from The Frick Art Reference Library. Item #A01060.
Robert Langton Douglas (1864-1951) was a British scholar known for his expertise on Sienese art, an art critic, and expert dealer. He taught modern history briefly at the University of Adelaide and lectured on art at the British Royal Institution and Society of Art. He was appointed the director of the National Gallery of Ireland in 1916. He authored several books, including Fra Angelico and A History of Siena.
Frank C. Smith was an attorney and a collector.
Condition: In very good condition.