Woody Internship at the Phillips Collection: Week 8 in Review

The Library of Virginia

The Library of Virginia

At the beginning of this week I conducted some genealogical research on Pippin’s family at the Library of Virginia in Richmond. Unlike earlier research expeditions to Pennsylvania and West Virginia, this was less of a “trip” because (conveniently!) I live in Richmond. Nevertheless, I’d never been to the Library of Virginia before, and Anne was curios to learn what their archive of 19th century tax records could reveal about Harriet Irvin Pippin (Horace’s mother) and her husband, Joseph Pippin.
I scrolled through a microfilm of the Personal Property Tax Records of Jefferson County, West Va. from 1850, 1860, and 1861 in search of references to Pippins and/or Irvins.
Harriet is mentioned as living in Jefferson County in the 1850 and 1860 censuses; Joseph appears on the 1860 census; and we know that Harriet and Joseph were married in Jefferson County in 1860. It seems logical that, as a free person of color known to be living in Jefferson County in 1860, Joseph Pippin would have had to pay property taxes (and therefore be mentioned on the 1860 personal property tax record). Yet he was nowhere to be found. None of the records I scrolled through mentioned Joseph Pippin (nor any Irvins).
There was, however, a Nace Pippin listed in 1860 and 1861. Anne recognized this name as someone living in Charles Town contemporary to Harriet and Joseph, but she is not certain of any relation between them. Nace Pippin was one of Jefferson County’s few free people of color actually listed in the records. Although he owned no taxable property, it is significant that he–unlike Joseph– was still included in the record. (Nace’s tax total was 80 cents. The surrounding entries ranged from $1.20 to $87.43.)
On Wedseday I wrapped up the Pippin Master List project– since May I’ve collected 49 complete exhibition checklists. I’ve tracked down the locations of 2 further checklists (one locked in an archive at SFMOMA, the other somewhere in West Chester, PA). Only 7 remain missing.
Throughout this week I continued working on the other Pippin projects. I’ve attached a great deal of archival records to Pippin’s family tree (ranging from birth certificates to obituaries) which includes upwards of 50 people.
I am still in the process of finding documentation of Halpert’s commissions on sales of works by Arthur DoveYasuno Kuniyoshi, and Jacob Lawrence.  The Archive of American Art’s digitized collection of the Downtown Gallery papers has a huge selection of records on these artists, but none of them explicitly list the commission, and not many of them list both the sale price and the net price (the payment received by the artist). Both of these details are essential for determining the commission percentage. I really do hope that I am able to find this information on these artists because it would help give a better idea of how Halpert’s representation of Pippin (as a less well known, African American, outsider artist) compared to that of other artists. A comparison to Jacob Lawrence would be especially interesting, considering his success and fame relative to that of Pippin. (And notably, Halpert began representing Lawrence at the same time as she began representing Pippin.)
On Wednesday I went with some of the other Phillips Collection interns on a guided tour of the National Portrait Gallery. Our docent showed us some of the highlights of the museum’s permanent collection and temporary exhibitions. I particularly enjoyed visiting the exhibit of Elaine de Kooning gestural portraits.
The National Portrat Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery

Later this week Kristina Neuhart from W&M’s Charles Center stopped by the museum. Together with Eliza and Anne we discussed the W&M and the Phillips Collection’s partnership through the Woody Internship and the potential for future collaboration over lunch.
In other news, the radio historian replied to my inquiry about Pippin on WDAS in 1942 (!). Unfortunately, his reply was that “little or no recordings or archives survive from that period.” So I suppose we’ll never know what Pippin had to say in that interview…