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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


1 linear feet

Biographical / Historical

White, Vera and Samuel S. St. Louis, 1888–1966, and Philadelphia, 1876–Bryn Mawr, Pa., 1952 Samuel S. White III and his wife, Vera, were important collectors in Philadelphia during the early decades of the twentieth century. Generous lenders to the inaugural exhibition at the new building of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1928, the couple bequeathed their entire collection—nearly 400 objects, ranging from nineteenth-century paintings to African masks, illuminated manuscripts, and modern art—to the museum in 1967. 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).

Contributed by Julia May Boddewyn, January 2015 For more information, see: Gardiner, Henry G. “The Samuel S. White, 3rd, and Vera White Collection.” Philadelphia Museum of Art Bulletin 63, no. 296/297 (January 1, 1968): 71–72, 75, 147, 150. Tancock, John L. The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin: The Collection of the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1976.

Information taken from Met Museum Leonard A. Lauder Research Center for Modern Art website.
Rose Chiango

Revision Statements

  • 04/02/2019: Molly Reynolds: Material from TCA collection

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