The collection documents Henry Clifford’s role as Curator of Paintings for the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Letters, documents, and ephemera reveal the purchase of paintings, dinners and charity events with artists and acquaintances, travel to look at collections of art and works by individuals, and correspondence with artists and museum directors. Much of the collection is comprised of Clifford’s personal correspondence, a majority of which discusses the loan and publication of paintings from his own collection and his travels abroad.
Correspondence is organized in alphabetical order by last name of correspondent or proper name of organization. They are often grouped in subjects, with other documents and ephemera.
The contents of Box 1 document Henry’s work with the Ballet Theater in NYC, Ballet Guild, Inc. NYC, and the Ballet Russe benefit for the British War Relief Society, Inc. One letter shows Henry asking that the American British Art Center add his name to the effort and request for money (Folder 1); another letter, from Charles Randall MacIver of the American Association for Assistance to French Artists, discusses conditions during World War II that affected French artists and their families (Folder 1). This box also contains Henry’s resume after it was requested by the Army Specialist Corp (Folder 2). Several letters document Henry’s trips to Mexico: the first, a trip in 1942 to work with the Ballet Theater, Chagall, and Messina, on Aleko and Don (Folder 5), and the second, a trip to Mexico City in July 1944, when he hoped to organize an exhibit of paintings for the PMA (Folder 2). The box also contains correspondence with the Liturgical Arts Society of New York City (Folder 8).
Box 2 includes a letter regarding the Tanguy exhibit, which helped European artists in a time of crisis (1939) (Folder 1); a letter from 1947 describing progress in Florence after the war (Folder 4); and a letter from the Department of Agriculture indicating its desire to import olive oil from Henry’s farm in Italy. There is also correspondence regarding financial issues pertaining to David Lichine (Folder 5), a letter concerning the Ecclesiastical Art exhibition, and a letter from Alexander Calder (Folder 4). Other letters concern a review of Lionello Venturi’s book on Chagall, Henry’s discussion about the purchase of a Chagall with Mrs. Pierre Matisse, and correspondence about a book titled Art in Advertising. This box also contains correspondence with Sister Noreen of the College of Notre Dame of Maryland and with the Philadelphia Orchestra Association, Ballet Theater, Inc. and the Ballet Theater Foundation (Folder 3).
Box 3 consists of further correspondence with Sister Noreen; a letter regarding the proposal of Mr. John Walden Myer, Kenneth Day and George L.K. Morris for resident membership in the Century Association; and documents pertaining to the English Speaking Union, for which Henry served as a board member. In addition to letters to Eugene Ormandy, there exists correspondence regarding the Adult Advisory Committee of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Student Concert Series and Philadelphia Orchestra Association (Folder 9). The box also contains correspondence concerning both the Ballet Theater, Inc. and the Ballet Theater Foundation (Folder 2). Additionally, it contains a note to Georgia O’Keefe to meet for lunch (October 26, 1953) (Folder 8).
Box 4 contains correspondence with the Arts Committee of the Catholic Graphic Arts Guild, letters regarding a Juan Gris exhibition, and a letter against sending Michelangelo’s Pieta to New York City for the World’s Fair (Folder 13). Several letters document the Ballet Theater Foundation and Henry’s role on the Board of Directors of the Ballet Theater, Inc. The box also holds correspondence with the Philadelphia Orchestra Association regarding its appeal for funds, an invitation for Henry to hear Billy Graham, letters discussing nominations to the Century Club, and documents pertaining to Vassar’s Centennial loan exhibit (1961) and Middle States Evaluation (Folder 12). Additionally, it contains correspondence regarding tree peonies (Folder 9).
Box 5 includes six photographs of Diego Rivera’s murals (Folder 2) and a letter to Georgia O’Keefe inviting her to Mexico (Folder 6). This portion of the collection also documents correspondence regarding the Century Club, Orphans of Italy, and the English Speaking Union. The box contains Henry’s articles for the New Catholic Encyclopedia in addition to a lecture on French painting at the Hermitage delivered in December 1964. This box also includes thirteen individual letters to Henry Clifford by artists Henri Matisse, Leonid Massime, Anthony Tudor, Diego Rivera, Louis Aragon, John Sloan, Alexander Calder and Georgia O’Keeffe, regarding a variety of subjects (Folder 10).