Scope and Content of Collection
Title: James Thrall Soby papers
Date (inclusive): 1928-1975
Date (bulk): 1935-1955
Collection number: 910128
Soby, James Thrall, 1906-1979
5 linear ft.
(10 boxes, 1 flat file
Getty Research Institute
Special Collections and Visual Resources
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles, CA
Abstract: American art critic, curator, and collector. Papers document Soby's nearly 45-year career in 20th-century art scholarship
and criticism. Materials date from about 1929, when Soby became a partner in Edwin Valentine Mitchell, Inc., booksellers
and publishers, to his retirement from the board of trustees at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1975. The bulk of the
collection comprises correspondence from 20th-century artists and photographers, MoMA personnel, curators, critics, friends
and family members.
Language: Collection material in English
Open for use by qualified researchers.
James Thrall Soby papers, 1928-1975, Getty
Research Institute, Research Library, Accession no. 910128.
Acquired in 1991.
Lynda Bunting began processing the collection October 1993, and
finished writing the finding aid March 1994.
||Born December 14 in Hartford, Conn. Son of Charles (in tobacco
business) and Anna (Hazlewood) Soby
||Educated at Kingswood School
||Attended Williams College
||Buys a reproduction of a Maxfield Parrish print
||Bought a third interest in Edwin Valentine Mitchell's bookshop
in Hartford, Conn.
||Worked at Wadsworth Athenaeum
||Director of painting and sculpture and member of board of
trustees, Museum of Modern Art, New York
||Assistant director, MoMA
||Chairman of department of painting,
||Author of monthly column of art criticism in
Saturday Review of Literature
Magazine of Art, chairman of
editorial board, 1951-52.
||Married third wife Melissa Wadley (Soby had two previous
wives, Mimi and Mary Eleanor [aka Nelly]); children: Peter Allyn
||Awarded honorary L.H.D. from Williams College
||Vice-president of MoMA
||Died January 29 in Norwalk, Conn.
Scope and Content of Collection
The James Thrall Soby collection documents Soby's career as author,
art critic, curator, editor, collector and Museum of Modern Art, New York,
director and trustee. The papers date from about the time he became a third
partner in Edwin Valentine Mitchell, Inc., Booksellers and Publishers, in 1929,
to his retirement from the board of trustees at MoMA in 1975. The bulk of the
material dates from 1935-1955 when Soby was most active. Most of Soby's papers
can be found in MoMA's Library, which has a large collection of complimentary
The archive consists primarily of letters sent to Soby
from 20th century avant-garde artists and photographers, MoMA
personnel, curators, critics, friends and family members. These letters
received by Soby record his substantial involvement with the then contemporary
art scene. The collection has very
few copies of Soby's own letters, but it does contain some manuscripts and
notes for his writings. The correspondence files also include many original
drawings and photographs and handmade Christmas and postcards from artists.
Filed in separate series are a substantial quantity of letters and drawings
from the Russian-born American painter and set designer Eugene Berman; letters,
manuscripts and other material from and about American painter Peter Blume; and
miscellaneous papers, clippings and photographs.
Berman, Eugene, 1899-
Blume, Peter, 1906-
Soby, James Thrall, 1906-
Art critics—United States
Art historians as collectors—United States
Art museum directors—United States
Art patrons—United States
Art—Collectors and collecting—United States
Neoromanticism (Art movement)
Genres and Forms of Material
Greeting cards—20th century
Barr, Alfred Hamilton, 1902-
Blume, Peter, 1906-
Calder, Alexander, 1898-1976
Magritte, René, 1989-1967
Man Ray, 1890-1976
Miró, Joan, 1893-
Mitchell, Edwin Valentine, 1890-1960
Rivers, Larry, 1925-
Rouault, Georges, 1871-1958
Shahn, Ben, 1898-1969
Tanguy, Yves, 1900-1955
Tchelitchew, Pavel, 1898-1957
Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.)
Galleria Schwarz, Milan.
Man Ray: dal 14 marzo al 3 aprile 1964 alla Galleria
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.
Peter Blume: a retrospective exhibition, Museum of
Contemporary Art, Chicago, Illinois, January 10 to February 29,
Cubism, futurism, dadaism, expressionism and the surrealist
movement in literature and art
. Preface by Paul Eluard. New York:
Pierre Berés, 1948.
Demain, Monsieur Silber. Paris: Pierre Seghers,
Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford, Conn.
Tonny, Tchelitchew, Berard, Berman, Leonide.
Hartford, Conn.: The Athenaeum, 1931.
Art & Industry 35, no. 208 (Oct. 1943).
After Picasso. Hartford, Conn.: E.V. Mitchell; New
York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1935.
Eugene Berman: Catalogue of the Retrospective Exhibition of
His Paintings, Illustrations, and Designs
. Boston, Mass.: Institute of
Modern Art, 1941.
The Early Chirico. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company,
Paintings, Drawings, Prints: Salvador Dali. New York:
Museum of Modern Art, 1941.
Pavel Tchelitchew: Paintings, Drawings. New York:
Museum of Modern Art, 1942.
Romantic Painting in America. New York: Museum of
Modern Art, 1943.
Georges Rouault: Paintings and Prints. New York:
Museum of Modern Art, 1945.
Ben Shahn. Middlesex, England: Penguin Books,
Museum of Modern Art. New York: Museum of Modern Art,
The Prints of Paul Klee. New York: Museum of Modern
Contemporary Painters. New York: Museum of Modern Art,
Twentieth-Century Italian Art. New York: Museum of
Modern Art, 1949.
Paintings, Drawings, and Prints by Paul Klee: From the
Klee Foundation, Berne, Switzerland, with Additions From American Collections.
New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1949.
Modigliani: Paintings, Drawings, Sculpture. New York:
Museum of Modern Art, 1951.
Giorgio de Chirico. New York: Museum of Modern Art,
Yves Tanguy. New York: Museum of Modern Art,
Balthus. New York: Museum of Modern Art,
Modern Art and the New Past. Norman: University of
Oklahoma Press, 1957.
Ben Shahn: His Graphic Art. New York: G. Braziller,
Arp. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1958.
Juan Gris. New York: Museum of Modern Art,
Joan Miró. New York: Museum of Modern Art,
Recent Sculpture U.S.A. New York: Museum of Modern
The James Thrall Soby Collection of Works of Art Pledged or
Given to the Museum of Modern Art
. New York: Museum of Modern Art,
Rico Lebrun Drawings. Berkeley: University of
California Press, 1961.
Paintings of Ben Shahn. New York: G. Braziller,
Bonnard and His Environment. New York: Museum of
Modern Art, 1964.
The School of Paris: Paintings From the Florene May
Schoenbrorn and Samuel A. Marx Collection
. New York: Museum of Modern
Rene Magritte. New York: Museum of Modern Art,