Philadelphia Museum of Art Archives
Philadelphia Museum of Art Archives

Francis Bacon Foundation Records Edit

Summary

Identifier
FBF

Dates

  • 1936-1997, undated (Creation)

Extents

  • 18 cubic feet (Whole)

Agent Links

Notes

  • Abstract

    The Francis Bacon Foundation was formed by Walter and Louise Arensberg in 1938 to promote study in science, literature, religion, history and philosophy with special reference to the works of Francis Bacon. The Foundation also served as the legal owner of the Walter and Louise Arensberg art collection. The Francis Bacon Foundation Records consist of correspondence, administrative and financial records which illustrate the organizational aspects of the Foundation, the Baconian research conducted by its staff, and the art historical research conducted by outside researchers using the Francis Bacon Foundation Library and Arensberg Archives. Because of the Foundation's close association with Walter and Louise Arensberg, the Records also shed some light on their personal lives.

  • Processing Information

    These materials were arranged and described by Katy Rawdon, Adrianna Del Collo and Katherine Stefko. Funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

  • Access Restrictions

    The collection is open for research. All files in the "Forms" Subseries of the "Library records" Series are restricted until Jan. 1, 2027. The "Fragile restricted papers" may only be consulted with permission of the Archivist. Preservation photocopies for reference use have been substituted in the main files.

  • Use Restrictions

    The Francis Bacon Foundation Records are the physical property of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Archives. The Museum holds literary rights only for material created by Museum personnel or given to the Museum with such rights specifically assigned. For all other material, literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. Researchers are responsible for obtaining permission from rights holders for publication and for other purposes as stated.

  • Preferred Citation

    [Item identification and date], [Series info.], Francis Bacon Foundation Records, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Library and Archives.

  • Related Material

    Philadelphia Museum of Art, Archives. John Raphael Covert Papers.

    Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery (San Marino, CA). Francis Bacon Foundation Records.

    Philadelphia Museum of Art, Archives. Arensberg Archives.

  • Acquisition and Custody Information

    Gift of the Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery (2001), which had received the material as part of a larger gift from the Francis Bacon Foundation in 1995.

  • Accruals

    2001. The following items were given by Naomi Sawelson-Gorse from Elizabeth Wrigley's estate: a promissory note to Elizabeth Wrigley from Louise Arensberg dated Dec. 31, 1950; five letters between Elizabeth Wrigley and the Philadelphia Museum of Art dated April-May 1967; and one letter from Elizabeth Wrigley to James Madsen Gallery dated Feb. 7, 1967.

    2003. The following letters were given by Conrad C. M. Arensberg on Feb. 18, 2003: Two TLS from Naomi Sawelson-Gorse to Charles C. Arensberg dated Nov. 15, 1989.

  • Historical Note

    The Francis Bacon Foundation was formed by Walter Arensberg in 1938 to promote study in science, literature, religion, history and philosophy with special reference to the works of Francis Bacon. The Foundation held offices in the Arensbergs' Hollywood home, and was primarily concerned with proving Arensberg's theory that Francis Bacon was the true author of the works of William Shakespeare. In addition to researching this theory, the Foundation also sponsored lecture series sometimes in conjunction with the University of Southern California and the Claremont Colleges on topics related to Bacon and Renaissance literature. The Foundation also served as the legal owner of the Walter and Louise Arensberg collection comprised primarily of 20th century and pre-Columbian art, and the staff often handled the Arensberg's personal affairs. Many of the Arensbergs' close friends and associates were involved in the Foundation; from 1950-1952, Marcel Duchamp served as a member of the Board of Trustees.

    The Foundation maintained a significant library collection of reference and rare books. Walter Arensberg had begun collecting early editions of works by Dante Alighieri while still an undergraduate at Harvard, and expanded his collection to include other Renaissance authors, particularly Francis Bacon. These books formed the basis of the Foundation's library, which also included a number of manuscript materials and many volumes on the Bacon-Shakespeare controversy, as well as the Arensbergs' art books and a number of the their personal papers.

    After the death of Louise and Walter Arensberg in late 1953 and early 1954, the Foundation's Board of Trustees arranged for the sale of the Hollywood house, most of the furnishings, Oriental rugs, and jewelry that the Arensbergs had collected. The Francis Bacon Library, which continued to be run by the Foundation, moved to offices in downtown Pasadena in 1954, where it functioned primarily as a research library. In 1961 it moved to a building in Claremont, California, on land donated by the Claremont University Center with which it was then affiliated. In 1995, due to escalating financial problems as well as the illness of Elizabeth Wrigley, who had served for a number of years as library director, the Foundation sold its collection of rare books and manuscripts to the Huntington Library. The same year, the Arensbergs' personal papers and the institutional records of the Foundation were divided between the Huntington and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

  • Scope and Content Note

    The Francis Bacon Foundation Records consist of correspondence, administrative and financial records which illustrate the organizational aspects of the Foundation, the Baconian research conducted by its staff, and the Baconian and art historical research conducted by outside researchers using the Francis Bacon Foundation Library and Arensberg Archives. Because of the Foundation's close association with Walter and Louise Arensberg, the Records also shed some light on their personal lives and their art collection.

  • Language of Materials

    English.

Components