The Winterthur Library

 The Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera





Creator:          Joseph Pennell, 1857-1926                                         

Title:               Papers

Dates:             18990-1936

Call No.:         Col. 403

Acc. No.:         75x44, 75x346, 76x115, 81x68, 81x270

Quantity:        1 box

Location:        9 C 1






Joseph Pennell was born in Philadelphia on July 4, 1857 (the year has been misreported as 1860), the son of Rebecca A. Barton and Larkin Pennell.  Being Quakers, his parents preferred that Joseph go into business, but he wanted to be an artist and spent evenings studying at the Philadelphia Industrial Art School and at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.  In 1880, he left school and rented a studio, chiefly making his living by supplying magazine illustrations.  After 1883, however, he spent a great deal of his time traveling and working in Europe, using London as his home base, until in 1917, he returned to the United States to live.


Noted as one of the leading sketch artists of his time, his sketches and etchings are owned by many of the world’s major art museums.  In addition to his pen and ink drawings and his etchings, Pennell worked in water colors, oils, and pastels and made lithographs.  He won numerous medals at international exhibitions, including the Paris Exposition of 1900 and the St. Louis Exposition of 1904.  He illustrated and wrote a number of books, as well as manuals on book illustration.  Pennell, along with his wife, wrote a biography of James Abbott McNeill Whistler and edited a magazine called The Whistler Journal.  (The Pennells were friends with Whistler and collected his prints, books, and letters, which they donated to the Library of Congress.)


In February 1918, Pennell became the center of a controversy which led to his resignation from the Philadelphia Art Club.  The controversy arose after he let it be known that he thought that a club member who had served liquor to two visiting British officers had insulted American officers who were, by government decree, forbidden to drink alcoholic beverages.  This incident caused the University of Pennsylvania to cancel its plans to confer an honorary degree on Pennell and the United States Navy to withdraw its commission for sketches of Navy ships.  Finding sympathy from the Philadelphia Sketch Club, Pennell joined that group, and the Water Color Club, only to leave the Water Color Club in a dispute over an exhibition of his students’ work  in 1924.  Around 1921, Pennell moved to New York City where he died on April 23, 1926.


Pennell was married to Elizabeth Robins in 1884.  They had met a few years earlier when he was asked to provide some etchings of old Philadelphia buildings, and she was asked to write a magazine article based on the etchings.  After their marriage, she co-authored several books with him and wrote several others which he illustrated.  After her husband’s death she wrote about him and his work in books and introductions to exhibit catalogs.





The collection consists mostly of letters written by Pennell.  As well, there is a copy of his biographical essay about Charles Keene, a speech given to a club in 1923, copies of his etchings of Niagara Falls as printed in The Century Magazine (no date, after 1910), and newspaper clippings about Pennell.





The letters are arranged chronologically.





Purchased from various sources.






                        Keene, Charles, 1823-1891.

                        Oakley, Thornton, 1881-1953

                        Welsh, H. D.

                        Johnson, Robert Underwood, 1853-1937.

                        Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, 1855-1936.



            Artists - Correspondence.

            Artists - Autographs.



            Manuscripts - Specimens.

            Drawing, American.

            Speeches, addresses, etc., American.






            Art historians.

            Printmakers - Pennsylvania - Philadelphia.






Location: 9 C 1



Folder 1: Undated Letters (arranged by accession number):


75x44.3           To Johnson from Pennell, March 6th, n.y., London.  Says he has seen the Bristol pictures; mentions C. Henry Hart and a journal kept by Sharpless.


75x44.4           To Johnson from Pennell, June 2, n.y., Paris (“up in a garret looking over Notre Dame”).  Looks forward to a Le Puy article; suggests an idea for an article on “spectres, spooks, devils-ghosts- beasts, fiends” that are found at the cathedral of Notre Dame. 

                        Includes a sketch of a man startled by a gargoyle.


75x44.25         To Johnson from Pennell, Oct. 24, n.y., London. Discusses his article on Whistler; writes of going to Rome to represent the U.S. at an exhibition and a subsequent return home.  Mentions sending some French and Belgian prints to Johnson.


75x44.26         To Johnson from Pennell, Dec. 23, n.y., London.  Lists travel itinerary; agrees to write an article on lithography and use lithographs from the New York Public Library.


75x45.7           To Oakley from Pennell, July 27, n.y.,  Philadelphia. Has signed a book and left it with a hotel clerk.


75x45.8           To Oakley from Pennell, Aug. 14, n.y., Philadelphia. Refuses to use the telephone for communication; requests a letter or telegraph.


75x45.9           To R.U.J. from Pennell, June 27, n.y., London.  Has written to Theodore Andrea Cook, editor of the Field requesting his help.


75x45.10         To Johnson from Pennell, Aug. 3, n.y., London.  Mentions settlement of copyright dispute; describes his support for the Rome Exhibition.


75x346.2a-b    To Miss Woodward from Pennell, n.d., London.  Agrees to submit her drawings to a magazine and suggests she make her subjects smaller. 

                        Includes a printed photo of himself.



Folder 2: Letters, 1890-1900 (arranged chronologically)


76x346.1         To S. Richards from Pennell, June 30, 1890, Albi, France. Acknowledges receipt of a letter; gives new address in London.


75x44.1           To Johnson from Pennell, April 10, 1891, London.  Discusses plans for trip to Alaska and travel arrangements which are apparently confused.


75x45.12         To “Sir” from Pennell, Jan. 17, 1893, London.  Provides information about the availability of European road maps, mentioning several books and addresses to obtain.


75x44.2           To Johnson from Pennell, June 10, 1893, Paris.  Discusses writing various articles and making etchings of French city streets; mentions working with Whistler and helping each other print.


75x44.5           To Johnson from Pennell, Jan. 23, 1898, London.  Returns letter and mentions travel to Bristol to visit a Mr. Armstrong.



Folder 3: Letters, 1901-1910 (arranged chronologically)


75x44.6a-b      To Drake from Pennell, March 1, 1901, London.   Has sent 14 drawings; suggests reproducing them in half tone; mentions illness of Hugh Thompson; discusses Keppel’s wish to send Le Puy drawings to Buffalo.


75x44.7           To Johnson from Pennell, March 12, 1902,  London.  Sends article and drawings.


81x270.1         To Hartley from Pennell, January 12, 1905, England.  Confusion over a weekly illustration for a magazine.


75x44.8           To Johnson from Pennell, July 31, 1910, London.  Sends 20 etchings of work in England; Pennell did not receive Roman connoiseurship.



Folder 4: Letters, 1911-1916 (arranged chronologically)


75x44.16         To Johnson from Pennell, Jan. 15, 1911, London.  Writes with news that his Niagara lithographs were purchased for the Victoria and Albert Museum.


75x44.17         To Johnson from Pennell, Feb.12, 1911, London. Inquires if he received Niagara prints; anticipates sending Chicago etchings.


75x44.18         To Johnson from Pennell, March 8, 1911, London.  Mentions arrangements with Victoria and Albert Museum for purchase and exhibition of a complete set of lithographs; inquires about trip to Panama.


75x44.19         To Johnson from Pennell, March 12, 1911, London.  Primarily concerns proposal to the people of the Carlton Studio for an article on Thackery; mentions trip to Panama and possibly San Francisco.


75x44.20         To Johnson from Pennell, April 10, 1911, London.  Discusses membership and attendance at a social function by the Reform Club.


75x44.21a-b    To Johnson from Pennell, April 23, 1911, London.  Mentions work on the “Scene of the Installation of the Prince of Wales”; writes that he cannot afford trip to Panama;  negotiates payment and benefits with Johnson; discusses fair pay.


74x44.22         To Johnson from Pennell, Sept. 11, 1911, London.  Writes of purchases of his work, namely “The Coronation” purchased by the German government for the Berlin National Gallery, and others purchased for the Victoria and Albert Museum; mentions starting work on Whistler project.


75x44.23         To Johnson from Pennell, Sept. 27, 1911, London.  Discusses material for the Whistler article which includes published material, photographs from the 1860s; mentions having secured copyright in writing; requests a check for expenses.


75x44.24         To Johnson from Pennell, Sept. 29, 1911, London.  Mentions French prints-- number of them and sending more; talks about a shop called the Metropolitan.


75x45.5           To Mr. Oakley from Mrs. Elizabeth Pennell, May 4th, 1913, London.  Writes that Mr. Pennell is away and unable to answer letters; sends greetings to Mrs. Oakley.




Folder 5: Letters, 1917-1919 (arranged chronologically)



75x44.27a-b    To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, Nov. 11, 1917, Philadelphia.  Missed meeting of Philadelphia Sketch Club; mentions Sargent’s uninterest in a project; McLure Hamilton will undertake a poster.


75x44.28a-b    To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, Nov. 14, 1917, Philadelphia.  Discusses enlargement of his drawings; mentions hearing from Sargent and designing something for a series; requests meeting.


75x44.30a-b    To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, Dec. 4, 1917, Philadelphia.   Confusion over Welsh’s visit on previous Saturday; has not heard from Mr. Rubal concerning prints.


75x44.29a-b    To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, Dec. 5, 1917, Philadelphia.  Refuses lunch date; mentions proposed changes by Taylor and Rochester, NY and Boston, MA.


75x44.31a-b    To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, Dec. 6, 1917, Philadelphia. Notes dinner engagement at Widener’s Elkins Park lab; will meet with Welsh after that.


75x44.33a-b    To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, Dec. 13, 1917, Boston. Attempted to phone from Boston; inquires if there is a committee meeting.


75x44.34a        To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, Dec. 17, 1917, Philadelphia.  Requests dinner date to be moved.


75x33.32a-b    To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, Dec. 17, 1917, Philadelphia.  Requests dinner date to be abandoned.


75x44.35         To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, Jan. 21, 1918, Philadelphia.  Writes that their names were omitted from an article submitted by Pennell to Art News; requests Welsh to write to the editors.


75x44.36a        To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, Jan. 23, 1918, Philadelphia.  Recommends Violet Oakley for a poster project and asks Welsh to recommend her to the committee since he will be unable to attend the meeting; wrote to Keppels.


75x44.37         To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, Jan. 23, 1918, Philadelphia.   Telegraphed him to authorize use of prints; mentions favorable reviews of the Liberty Loan poster.


75x44.38a-b    To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, Jan. 31, 1918, Philadelphia.  Discusses scheduled meeting; in case of Pennell’s absence, he asked Welsh to voice his opinion on the attendance of meetings by Trask; mentions uses of his posters by government and movie theaters; requests more money from movie makers.


75x44.39a        To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, Feb. 6, 1918, Philadelphia.  Writes that he received an invitation to the White House from President Wilson by telegram.


75x44.40a-e    To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, Feb. 13, 1918, Philadelphia.  Writes that he has left the Art Club of Philadelphia; discusses availability of his works; complains that he must redraw an entire work because original was too large for the printer; criticizes the slow movement of the government agencies; refused to go to New York for printing of Liberty Loan posters.


75x44.41a-b    To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, Feb. 20, 1918, Philadelphia.  Mentions scandal with Art Club; University of Pennsylvania refuses to confer degree.


75x44.42a-b    To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, Feb. 20, 1918, Philadelphia.  Unavailable for meeting, but points out the next meeting and the fact that it has no agenda; requests confirmation of meeting date at the Academy; mentions working on a lithographed poster from stone.


75x45.1a          To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, Feb. 28, 1918, Philadelphia.  Requests a meeting presided over by Clarkson or Grover be held in Chicago; asks Welsh to propose this at the next meeting.


75x45.2a-b      To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, Feb. 28, 1918, Philadelphia.  Expresses dissatisfaction with Ketterlerius’ presentation of posters.


75x45.3           To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, Mar. 9, 1918, Philadelphia.  Notes that the Chicago meeting and exhibition are arranged; asks about posters; has not received material requested.


75x45.4           To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, Mar. 27, 1918, Philadelphia.  Writes about feeling down, not going out, needing medical attention; inquires about Chicago meeting report; commented on receiving a paper from Blumenthal requesting work.


75x44.43         To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, June 27, 1918, Chicago.   Requests information on publicity plans and travel plans.


75x44.44a-b    To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, June 29, 1918, Cleveland.  Requests information; mentions seeing poster all over the west.


75x44.45         To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, July 7, 1918, Cleveland.  Expresses sadness over Welsh’s mishap of some kind concerning Welsh’s work; requests a meeting with him; mentions that he is upset over Liberty Poster.


76x115            To Zug from Pennell, July 28, 1918, Philadelphia.  Keppels will give Zug the prints to reproduce; aware of the usefulness of his [i.e. Pennell’s] work; mentions a theft of one of Bone’s prints.


75x44.46         To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, June 27, 1919, Washington, DC.  Unable to meet him or the Judge.




Folder 6: Letters, 1920-1935 (arranged chronologically)


75x44.47         To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, Jan. 19, 1921, Philadelphia.  Recommends to Alliance that six to ten groups of artists from America and Europe be gathered for an exhibition; suggests guidelines for inclusion in the show; suggests arrangement of materials in exhibition.


75x44.57         [Postcard] To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, Mar. 9, 1921, Philadelphia. Requests a Mr. Falls to speak at an advertising meeting.


81x68              To G.I.O.G. from Pennell, May 22, 1921, Washington, DC.  Describes the purchasing activities of a third party.  Mentions that West did not come.


75x44.48a-b    To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, May 25, 1921, Washington, DC.  Asks when Welsh will be coming to Washington, DC


75x44.49a-b    To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, June 25, 1921, Brooklyn, NY.  Writes that he is enjoying Brooklyn and its scenery; has sent in his resignation as president of the Sketch Club; gives directions on how to reach the hotel he is staying at in Brooklyn.


75x44.50a-b    To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, July 4, 1921, Brooklyn, NY.  Gives directions on how to reach the hotel he is staying at in Brooklyn; speculates on Philadelphia’s July 4th celebration.


75x44.51a-d    To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, July 29, 1921, Brooklyn, NY.   Writes about a meeting behind the water coolers; discusses servants of acquaintances; speaks of illegal actions of a club member; inquires about a Taylor; requests Welsh not to come over with his family; includes sketch of a man.


75x44.52a-b    To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, July 31, 1921, Brooklyn, NY. Thanks him for telegraph concerning Taylor.


75x44.53a-b    To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, Sept. 10, 1921, Brooklyn, NY. Thanks him for sending plates; expresses his views on Taylor and the management of the Philadelphia Water Color Club.


75x44.54a-b    To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, Sept. 23, 1921, Brooklyn, NY.  Mentions a letter from John Braun requesting suggestions for a chairman of the Etching section of the Alliance; suggested Welsh as a candidate.


75x45.6           To Oakley from Pennell, Oct. 3, 1923, Brooklyn, NY.  Invites Oakley to his show at Keppel’s and tells him he can chose from items on exhibit; mentions the reception of his work by Philadelphia artists.


75x44.55a-b    To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, Oct. 23, 1921, Brooklyn, NY.  Discusses decision of Alliance to postpone a show; complains about making several trips and incurring expenses; suggests showing Braun prints for which there are proofs; discusses material for view at a reception; inquires if there is a catalog for the exhibition.


75x44.56         To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, Nov. 5, 1921, Brooklyn, NY. Writes that he is unable to complete catalog omissions; thanks him for work on the exhibition.


75x44.63         To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, April 4, 1923, Brooklyn, NY.  Notes that Adams portrait is not finished; reprimands Welsh for not properly placing return address on his letters.


75x44.64         To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, April 5, 1923, Brooklyn, NY.  Thanks Welsh for information on Peters; mentions writing to Peters; writes of being uninspired by Brooklyn.


75x44.60a-b    To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, April 19, 1923, Brooklyn, NY.  Inquires if Welsh has received his speech; alludes to his poor health.


75x44.61a-b    To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, April 22, 1923, Brooklyn, NY.  Asks what happened [presumably at the deliverance of his speech].


75x44.62a-b    To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, Dec. 2, 1923, Brooklyn, NY.  Laments losing the chance to work in a place; mentions Philadelphia newspapers.


75x44.65a-b    To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, Jan. 28, 1924, Brooklyn, NY.  Unsure if able to accept Alliance invitation.


75x44.66a-b    To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, Feb. 4, 1924, Brooklyn, NY.  Received a card from the Alliance describing events to take place at a function.


75x45.11         To Zigler from Pennell, Mar. 28, 1924, Brooklyn, NY. Replies to Zigler’s suggestion for making prints at an exhibition and requests him not to make the prints.


75x44.67a-b    To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, May 12, 1924, Brooklyn, NY.  Writes of work by another artist, saying that he suggested to the artist  to make a series of paintings of an old mill; did not like some portraits; mentions rushing an order of seashore items.


75x44.68         To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, Oct. 26, 1924, Brooklyn, NY.  Tells Welsh of  his dealings with Rodman-Wannamaker; mentions illness; writes of his resignation from the Water Color Club because they refused to exhibit his students’ work.


75x44.69a-b    To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, Nov. 12, 1924, Brooklyn, NY.  Pennell agrees to put an exhibition together; inquires if Welsh wants him to talk about teaching graphic arts; inquires if there is to be a catalog for the exhibit.


75x44.70a-b    To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, Nov. 14, 1924, Brooklyn, NY.  Curses the telephone; inquires if Welsh will take lithographs in class exhibit.


75x44.71a-b    To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, Dec. 3, 1924, Brooklyn, NY.  Requests that the meeting and talk be in the afternoon; mentions that the prints are ready; asks it to be explicitly stated that works are by his students.


75x44.72a-b    To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, Dec. 6, 1924, Brooklyn, NY.  Unable to come on Tuesday; school prints are ready; not necessary to insure prints; tells him to get prints from others--he has none.


75x44.73a-b    To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, Dec. 27, 1924, Brooklyn, NY.  Recounts events leading to exhibition and talks; requests that advertisements be printed for his lecture on teaching graphic arts.


75x44.75a-b    To Mr. Welsh from Pennell, May 1, 1925, Brooklyn, NY.  Inquires about Welsh’s well-being; asks if he received books; refuses request to speak before Welsh’s society.


75x45.13         Postcard with holiday greetings from Mrs. Pennell, 1935, addressed to Mr. and Mrs. and Miss Thornton Oakley.




Folder 7: Manuscripts


75x44.75         “The Art of Charles Keene,” by Joseph Pennell.   A biographical essay.



Folder 8: Speeches


75x44.59         Speech addressed to a Philadelphia club, April 18, 1923.  Contained in a letter to Welsh.  Discusses the status of art, its audience, and its patronage in Philadelphia.



Folder 9: Publications


81x270.2         Pages from The Century Magazine, n.d.  "Niagara Falls: Six Lithographs by Joseph Pennell, Sketched from Nature in the Autumn of 1910."



Folder 10: Newspaper articles

75x44.41b-c    Two newspaper articles concerning Pennell’s disassociation with the Philadelphia Art Club and association with the Philadelphia Sketch Club


75x44.76         Newspaper clipping, “Pennell Starring In Artists’ Tempest.”  n.d., 1924.  Recounts Pennell leaving the Philadelphia Water Color Club.


[no acc. no.]     Photo of Pennell from The Boston Herald, Nov. 19, no year, but ca.1925.  Pennell is drawing the new Washington Cathedral.


[no acc. no.]     Book review for Pennell’s book Liberty Loan Poster, no paper, no year, but ca.1918.

                        Review of exhibit of Pennell’s works at a public library, and notice of a lecture at the Museum of Fine Arts, presumably Boston, 1920 or 1925