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Daniel M. Williams Biographical Collection of George Grey Barnard

Identifier: DMW

Scope and Contents

Daniel Williams devoted more than 30 years to writing and revising his massive biography on sculptor, George Grey Barnard. Although the book was never published, this collection documents Williams's research and writing of this 1300-plus-page volume of biographical material. Included in the collection is correspondence, articles, newspaper clippings, ephemera, notes, many typescript drafts of the book, and photographs.

Williams kept correspondence with a number of people and institutions regarding the writing of his biography, including George Grey Barnard and his family. The "Williams correspondence" series includes a significant amount of correspondence from Barnard, Edna Barnard, and Harry Maule, a representative from Doubleday, Doran & Company, the publishing firm that gave Williams a writing contract for the biography in 1938. As evidenced in their correspondence, Williams and Barnard maintained an amicable relationship. Williams frequently visited Barnard, transcribing their conversations and interviews to use as subject matter. Barnard generally supported the effort, although his letters and annotations to various manuscript drafts show he had many reservations and stipulations regarding the content of the biography. Nonetheless, Barnard gave Williams his own personal correspondence with family and friends to use in the biography. These letters make up their own series called "Barnard correspondence."

Although unsuccessful in publishing the biography, Williams did get at least two articles on the sculptor into print. These are filed in the "Reference" series along with articles by other authors, including four written by Barnard, and newspaper clippings and ephemera. Much of the reference material pertains to Barnard's collections of Medieval antiquities and his art projects. Daniel Williams also maintained extensive working notes in no known order. These are filed in their own series entitled "Working notes." The bulk of the notes was most likely written before Barnard's death and in conjunction with early drafts of the typescripts. These notes most notably include a questionnaire answered by Barnard as well as various annotations by Barnard and corrected fragments of the typescript. Also included is a folder of transcribed Barnard family correspondence.

There are eighteen identified but incomplete drafts and fragments of the typescript in the "Writing drafts" series. It is unclear as to the order of their creation or revision, or if there is a final version. Nearly all the drafts and remaining fragments have been annotated and edited by Williams and, in a few instances, by Barnard or his son, Monroe.

The last series, "Photographs," includes images of Barnard, various members of his family and other individuals, childhood residences, as well as many of his art projects.


  • 1863-1969, undated


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Daniel M. Williams Biographical Collection of George Grey Barnard Archives 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 where stated.

Biographical / Historical

Schooled in law, Daniel Mortimer Williams spent most of his professional life writing. Working as an editor, correspondent, columnist and magazine contributor, Williams' writing career took him from Texas and Mexico to New York City and Washington D.C. During the last thirty years of his life, Williams worked on a biography of the American sculptor and Medieval art collector George Grey Barnard. Despite several submissions, Williams never found a publisher for his ambitious project, which in certain manuscript versions numbered more than 1,300 pages. Williams did, however, succeed in getting his articles about the artist published in the Readers Digest and the North American Review.

Born October 17, 1890, in Childress County, Texas, Williams was one of three sons of Thomas Arnold Barlow and Rebecca (Raworth) Williams. Unlike himself, Williams's brothers maintained their careers in Texas. His twin brother, David Reichard, became an architect deemed the "father of Texas modernism." The younger brother, George Raworth, became the first formally trained urologist in Dallas. Daniel did, however, begin his newspaper career in his home state. While attending the University of Texas, he served as editor of the Daily Texan, and became the first in that position to allow women on the staff. In 1917 Williams graduated with a B.A. and a degree in law. That year he also enlisted in the army and served in France for the duration of World War I. Before leaving in 1919, Williams attended the Sorbonne in Paris. He then returned to Childress County and practiced law for a year. In 1920, he returned to the University of Texas and for the next year taught English. His next job, also of one-year's duration, was as editor of a Mexican newspaper, the Tampico Tribune. In 1922 Williams took his journalistic career to New York City, working over the next decade for several newspapers, including the World Telegram, where he served as an editor and editorial writer. His work focused on social and governmental reform issues, such as civil liberties, safe food and milk regulations, bank investment and deposit protection and work programs for the unemployed. He was also instrumental in the founding of the American Newspaper Guild in New York and was a member of the American Civil Liberties Union. In 1941, Williams moved to Washington, D.C., where he first worked as a While House and State Department correspondent for the news wire service, Trans-Radio Press. From 1946 to 1947, he wrote columns for the Washington Post.

Perhaps it was Williams's attention to social issues that brought him and the American sculptor George Grey Barnard together. As a letter from Barnard reveals, he and Williams had been exchanging friendly correspondence by no later than 1934. In his two articles published in 1937, Williams championed Barnard's work, particularly the Rainbow Arch, which the artist envisioned as a monumental memorial to peace, inspired by the human suffering of the First World War. According to correspondence written less than two months before his death in April 1938, Barnard recalled his agreeing to let Williams write his biography because the writer, having been "a great friend to [the] Rainbow Arch," had lost his job. Unfortunately, Barnard felt the need to remind his friend of this agreement because he was so displeased with the manuscript Williams sent him for review. "You tried to create a pagan Zeus, a god following his own desires--reckless of all others," Barnard complained, "[I]f . . . printed, I surely would have no friends in the world." Undaunted, Williams continued working on his manuscript, offering it for comment to Barnard's son and widow, who expressed her own concerns with the work. Publishers were no more encouraging, yet Williams continued to submit his manuscript despite their rejections. His last attempt was in 1962.

In addition to his Barnard articles, Williams was published in the New Republic and the New Yorker. In 1946 he began working on a biography of Mary McLeod Bethune, an African American educator, reformer and activist during the first half of the 20th century. Like the Barnard book project, the Bethune biography was never completed. Williams remained in Washington with his wife Jean (Lockwood). They had two children, David R. and Jean. Williams died on November 1, 1969, at the age of 79.

Acclaimed as the "Titan of American sculptors" and the "Michelangelo of his time," George Grey Barnard carved for himself not only an international reputation as an artist but also as one of the most ardent collectors and private dealers of Medieval art and architecture, contributing greatly to American appreciation of Romanesque and Gothic art.

Born in 1863 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, Barnard was son to a Presbyterian minister, Joseph H. Barnard, and his wife Martha Grubb. He had a brother, Evan, as well as two sisters, May and Barbara, who also went by the nickname "Toots." Barnard's family moved west in 1866, living in Waukesha, Wisconsin, Kankakee, Illinois and Muscatine, Iowa. During this time, Barnard worked as a self-trained taxidermist and jeweler's engraver. In 1882 he enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago, where according to the art historian Harold E. Dickson, his studies of casts of works by Michelangelo convinced the young Barnard to make the Renaissance master his "lifetime ideal." With the money he earned from his portrait bust of a child, Barnard went to Paris in 1884 to study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. After three years of toiling long hours in the studio and living nearly destitute, Barnard met his first major patron in 1886, Alfred Corning Clark, heir of the Singer Manufacturing Company. Clark's fist commissions included the marble figure "The Boy," and a memorial to Clark's friend, the singer Lorentz Severin Skougaard, entitled "Brotherly Love." Clark also commissioned "Two Natures," an allegorical work inspired by a line from Victor Hugo regarding the internal struggle of man's two natures. Exhibited at the 1894 Salon of the Champs de Mars, the piece, which now belongs to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, won critical acclaim for Barnard, including the praise of Auguste Rodin who served on the exhibition jury. While in Europe during this period, Barnard also met his future wife, Edna Monroe of Boston. They married in 1895 and returned to the United States, settling in New York's Washington Heights. They would have three children, Vivia, Monroe and Barbara. During the early years of marriage, Barnard continued to produce major works in bronze, marble as well as oak, including "The Hewer," "Maiden with Roses," and "Norwegian Clock." At the turn of the century, he taught briefly at the Art Students League of New York as a Professor of Sculpture. More accolades came Barnard's way, including gold medals at expositions held in Paris (1900) and in Buffalo (1901).

Despite these successes, Barnard suffered setbacks as well, particularly financially after the death of his friend and patron Clark in 1896. Then in 1902 Barnard received a major commission--the largest dollar amount awarded an American artist--to produce the sculpture for the Pennsylvania Capitol at Harrisburg. For this project, Barnard moved his family the following year to Moret-sur-Loring near Fontainbleau, France, and worked there until its completion in 1910. During this period, Barnard once again found himself in financial straits as the State of Pennsylvania was experiencing its own budget crisis, and cut Barnard's funding by more than half, and then all together. Private financing allowed Barnard to complete the project's two monumental figural groups, "Love and Labor" and "The Burden of Life." Like "Two Natures," his Harrisburg project was exhibited at the Salon (1910) and highly praised. Upon the work's final placement at the Capitol, an opening ceremony was held October 4, 1911, designated "Barnard Day" by the Pennsylvania Legislature.

Not all of Barnard's creations were as well received. Originally intended for placement in New York City's Central Park, Barnard's 1895 sculpture of the god Pan was rejected because of the controversy created over the image's nudity. The reclining half-man, half-goat figure was later presented to Columbia University. Barnard's interpretation of a young Abraham Lincoln created an even greater stir. Commissioned by Charles Taft for the City of Cincinnati, Barnard sought to create a "Lincoln for the people." When it was announced that a replica of Barnard's 11-foot bronze, dedicated in 1917, was to go to Westminster Abby to commemorate 100 years of peace between America and Great Britain, harsh reactions ensued. Barnard's "Lincoln" was denounced as "slouchy and ungainly" and reportedly criticized by the late President's son, Robert Todd. Despite the replica's ultimate placement in the factory town of Manchester, Barnard was not deterred and continued to sculpt a series of heads of Lincoln, including a 15-foot version.

While Barnard's work was often described as visionary, the same can be said of his other passion--the collecting and exhibiting of Medieval sculpture within an architecturally suitable surrounding. His efforts generated public interest in art of that period and influenced later museum installations. As with his art, Barnard's collecting was inextricably linked with his finances.

Before private funding became available to complete the Harrisburg project, Barnard, while still in France, needed other means to provide for his family. In 1905 he began buying carved medieval figures and architectural elements he discovered in the French countryside. While the accounts of Barnard pedaling his bicycle to remote farms and other village sites to acquire his pieces are now legendary, his efforts at the time brought disappointment when an assumed purchase by the Metropolitan Museum of Art did not materialize. In the end, however, this failed transaction resulted in another opportunity. Having decided to keep and continue to buy pieces for his own collection, which expanded after another buying trip in 1913, Barnard shipped his acquisitions to the States that year with the intent of exhibiting them in a brick building he designed specifically for that purpose in Washington Heights. Barnard opened his building to the public in December 1914, charging admission. Proceeds would go to families in France now destitute from the outbreak of war. Barnard's distress over the First World War so overwhelmed him that the declaration of Armistice in 1918 inspired him to develop a project that would serve as a war memorial and monument to peace. In Barnard's vision, this sprawling complex of architecture and sculpture would be erected on the northern point of Manhattan and serve as an "art acropolis." While his acropolis vision would be scaled down to a monumental sculptural program known as the "Rainbow Arch," Barnard remained committed to the project until the day he died.

To help finance his new vision, Barnard sold his medieval collection in 1925 to John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who was also a patron of Barnard, having at his Pocantico Hills (NY) estate, "The Hewer," "Rising Woman" and "Adam and Eve." Rockefeller presented his purchase to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The collection continued to be exhibited in Barnard's brick building for the next ten years while Rockefeller financed the construction of an edifice to house permanently the more than 600 pieces. The collective project became "The Cloisters," situated in Fort Tryon Park of Washington Heights--the same area Barnard had hoped to use for his art acropolis.

After the Cloisters sale, Barnard returned to Europe in the summers of 1925 and 1927, to acquire a second collection, which he named "The Abbaye." In the course of the latter excursion, Barnard found it necessary to mix business with politics, using his reputation as a buyer of French artifacts to ameliorate international cultural relations. Responding to the Senate's accusations of France's history being bought up and shipped away by American millionaires, Barnard explained his actions as a way of rescuing treasures long ignored and neglected. Because of the impact of his comments, Barnard's French colleagues made him a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor the following year. Back in the states, Barnard sold some of his new acquisition to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but he kept most of it to fill the void created when the elements of the Cloisters were relocated in 1936. He reopened his Abbaye in the fall of 1937. By that time, he was storing his model for the "Rainbow Arch" in a vacant railway powerhouse, having been forced to abandon his studio after the City's designation of the area for the Fort Tyron Park. He exhibited the 100' x 60' model in the spring of 1935, his first exhibition in 20 years. Although it drew crowds, Barnard's largest project did not generate the necessary funding.

While working on a larger-than-life-size statue of Abel, Barnard suffered two heart attacks in one day. He died two weeks later on April 24, 1938--three weeks before the opening of the Cloisters. Barnard's funeral was held at the Abbaye, and the burial was in Harrisburg. Except for a three-month reopening in May 1940, the Abbaye remained closed, and in 1945 the Philadelphia Museum of Art bought most of its pieces. The model of "Rainbow Arch" was dismantled, and few plaster fragments remain.


8.5 linear feet

Language of Materials



This collection documents the efforts of journalist Daniel M. Williams to refine and publish a biography of the American sculptor and collector George Grey Barnard. While the project never came to fruition, the collection represents approximately 30 years of Williams's accumulated research and writings, and consists of correspondence, including some of Barnard's personal letters to his family, as well as clippings, ephemera and photographs regarding the artist's life and career as a sculptor and important collector of Medieval art and architecture.


The collection has been arranged into five series according to their subject matter and use in the production of the biography. They are "Williams correspondence," "Barnard correspondence," "Reference," "Working notes," "Writing drafts," and "Photographs."

Custodial History

Gift of Jean Sherrill (daughter of Daniel Williams), December 2003.

Related Materials

The Cloisters Library and Archives, Metropolitan Museum of Art. George Grey Barnard Papers.

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Archives. George Grey Barnard Papers.

Processing Information

These materials were arranged and described by Courtney Smerz, Bertha Adams, Adrianna Del Collo and Kat Stefko. Funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


Guide to the Daniel M. Williams Biographical Collection of George Grey Barnard
Finding aid prepared by Courtney Smerz, Bertha Adams, Adrianna Del Collo and Kat Stefko.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Repository Details

Part of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Library and Archives Repository

Philadelphia Museum of Art
PO Box 7646
Philadelphia PA 19101-7646 United States