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Vera and Samuel S. White III Collection

Identifier: WHI


This small collection contains a few letters, personal photographs, and copy photographs of artwork.


  • Majority of material found within 1940-1960


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Vera and Samuel S. White III Collection is 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

Samuel S. White III and his wife, Vera, were important collectors in Philadelphia during the early decades of the twentieth century. They were generous lenders to the inaugural exhibition at the new building of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1928. In 1967, the couple bequeathed over 300 objects to the museum--works encompassing modern painting, drawings, and sculpture (Matisse, Picasso, Cezanne, Braque, Brancusi), as well as illuminated manuscripts and Japanese ukiyo-e ("pictures of the floating world") prints. The collection also included works by the painter Arthur B. Carles, who had been Vera’s teacher.

Heir to the S. S. White Dental Manufacturing Company fortune, White trained as a gymnast in Philadelphia and at Princeton University before continuing his studies in physical culture at Cambridge University. During a visit to Paris, a friend suggested he model for Auguste Rodin, who preferred non-professional models. White posed for The Athlete (1901–04; Philadelphia Museum of Art) and later recalled that the time he had spent with Rodin’s students influenced his desire to collect art.

After he returned to Philadelphia, Samuel married the artist Vera McEntire in 1915. The couple befriended local artists including Charles Demuth and modern art collectors such as Earl Horter. Under the guidance of Demuth and Horter, and inspired by the collections of John Quinn and Dr. Albert C. Barnes—whose paintings were shown in 1923 at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts—the Whites began their own collection of modern art. One of their first acquisitions was Braque’s Analytic Cubist painting Basket of Fish (1910; Philadelphia Museum of Art), which they purchased from the Quinn collection sale in 1926. The couple traveled to the Far East, collecting ceramics, textiles, miniatures, and paintings. Man Ray photographed the Whites in the early 1930s, and Arthur Beecher Carles painted Vera’s portrait in 1922 (Philadelphia Museum of Art).

Works Consulted

  1. Boddewyn, Julia May. “White, Vera and Samuel S.” Metropolitan Museum of Art, January 2015.


1 linear feet

Processing Information

This collection was processed and described by Rose Chiango in 2018.

Guide to the Vera and Samuel S. White III Collection
Rose Chiango
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

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