Carl W. Peters Papers

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Collection Overview
Call Number: D.422
Dates: 1899-2004
Physical Description: 10 boxes
Language(s): Materials are in English
Repository: Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation

Biographical/Historical Note
Carl William Peters (1897-1980) was an American regionalist painter. Born in Rochester, New York, he moved to a small farm in the nearby town of Fairport in 1911. The rural landscape inspired a love of nature that would later define Peters's work as an artist. Two years later the University of Rochester's Memorial Art Gallery was established. The exhibits organized by its first director, George Herdle, left another strong impression on young Peters, who at age seventeen established his own Rochester studio and declared himself an artist in the city directory.

With the outbreak of World War I, Peters left high school to attend the Mechanics Institute, now the Rochester Institute of Technology, where his art studies included anatomy, perspective, and illustration. He left for Europe as a cavalry soldier in 1918 and was assigned to the Camouflage Corps as a designer. He settled in New York City following the war, where he joined the Arts Student League and attended their summer school in Woodstock. It was here in 1921 that Peters heard the lectures of Robert Henri and was enthralled by the egalitarian values of the Ash Can School, who were known for their realist depictions of daily life in New York City's working class neighborhoods. This influence remained with Peters throughout his career. He established his landscape style at Woodstock and was soon submitting his work to prominent national shows.

In 1925 Peters moved to Gloucester, Massachusetts, having grown fond of the art colony life. Alternating between rural and urban landscapes, his style quickly became so unique his works were said to be instantly distinguishable from those of his Rockport friends, who were mostly realists and American Scientists. During this time he began winning high honors such as the Hallgarten Prize from the National Academy of Design for his oil paintings and became the first recipient of the Lillian Fairchild Award from the Memorial Art Gallery. Throughout his career, other prizes would include the silver medal and two first places from the Rochester Art Club, the Mr. and Mrs. Spencer White Award from Academic Artists, and numerous medals and awards from the Rockport Art Association.

In Rochester Peters is perhaps best known for the large mural Rochester Past, Present, and Future formerly at the Genesee Valley Trust Company Building (today the Times Square Building), but now destroyed. Completed along with the building in 1930, the mural was contemporaneous with those of three other artists in New York City (Thomas Hart Benton, Boardman Robinson, and D. Putnam Brinley) who also drew on iconography from American history. Together, these four murals contributed to a national popularization of the Depression-era mural, which is distinguished by its American historical themes as opposed to the 'timelessness' of earlier murals. As the Depression continued, Peters joined thousands of other artists in the Public Works Art Projects and painted additional murals. He also kept up his plein air works, often depicting the agrarian community in which he had grown up.

Peters divided his time between his studios in Fairport near the Erie Canal and Rocky Neck in Cape Ann. While living in Massachusetts during the summer, he taught art classes and enjoyed painting the fishermen of Rockport. Beginning in the 1940s his style leaned towards a more colorful bravura although his interest in landscapes and everyday scenes remained constant until his death in 1980.

Carl W. Peters married Christine and had two daughters, Elaine and Gay. The couple divorced in 1948. Peter later married Blanche Peaslee, who survived him.

The CARL W. PETERS PAPERS is open for research use. Researchers are advised to contact Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation prior to visiting. Upon arrival, researchers will also be asked to fill out a registration form and provide photo identification.Use
Reproductions are made upon request but can be subject to restrictions. Permission to publish materials from the collection must currently be requested. Please note that some materials may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the researcher's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information contact
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The Carl W. Peters Papers were donated in February 2009 by Nancy Miller Batty, whose father had been a neighbor and student of Peters's. The papers consist primarily of his sketches and sketchbooks, but also include material related to his life, career, and artistic legacy. Another collection of Carl W. Peters papers is located in the . More information about Peters is also available from , the , and the .Citation
[Item title, item date], CARL W. PETERS PAPERS, D.422, Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation, River Campus Libraries, University of Rochester
Administrative Information
Author: Finding aid prepared by Rare Books and Special Collections staff
Publisher: Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation
Rush Rhees Library
Second Floor, Room 225
Rochester, NY 14627-0055

Content List
Box 1: Career and Personal Papers (1927-2000s)
Folder 1. Appraisals (1985-98)
Folder 2. Archives of American Art (1981-84)
Folder 3. Biographical
Folder 4. Blanche Peters (Personal)
Folder 5. Cape Ann Historical Association Correspondence (1994-95)
Folder 6. "Catalogue of the One-Hundred-and-Twenty-Second Annual Exhibition of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts" (1927)
Folder 7. "Catalogue of the One-Hundred-Twenty-Eighth Annual Exhibition of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts" (1933)
Folder 8. Clippings and Press Releases (1946-2000s)
Folder 9. Correspondence (1954-78)
Folder 10. Correspondence (1980-99)
Folder 11. Exhibit Comments (n.d.)
Folder 12. Exhibit Catalogues (1930-57)
Folder 13. Exhibit Catalogues (1963-79)
Folder 14. Exhibit Catalogues (after 1980)
Folder 15. Financial (1948-84)
Folder 16. Gold Leaf ("For Mrs. Peters")
Box 2: Career and Personal Papers (1919-2004)
Folder 1. Labels (Brass - for Paintings)
Folder 2. Memorial Art Gallery (1922-80)
Folder 3. Military and Personal Papers (1919-87)
Folder 4. Miscellaneous
Folder 5. Obituaries (1980)
Folder 6. Photographs (c. 1900s-50s)
Folder 7. Photographs (c. 1960-89)
Folder 8. Photographs of Paintings and Exhibits (n.d.)
Folder 9. Printed Reproductions (n.d.)
Folder 10. R.H. Love Galleries Correspondence (1993-95)
Folder 11. Rochester Art Club (1948-75)
Folder 12. Rockport Art Association (1930-2004)
Folder 13. Second Annual Festival of the Arts - Gloucester, Mass. (1953)
Folder 14. Spanierman Gallery (1997-98)
Box 3: Books (1899-1994)
Folder 1. E.A. Kimball, The Peaslees and Others of Haverhill and Vicinity (1899)
Folder 2. Rochester Chamber of Commerce, 100 Years: A Century of Commerce in Rochester
Folder 3. (1934 - Peters mural on cover)
Folder 4. Artists of the Rockport Art Association (4th ed., 1964)
Folder 5. Marlene Park and Gerald Markowitz, New Deal for Art (1977)
Folder 6. Charles Movalli, "Looking for Patterns: A Conversation with Carl W. Peters" (American Artist, 1977)
Folder 7. R.H. Love Galleries, The Art of Carl William Peters (1994 exhibit)
Folder 8. Miscellaneous - Other Artists
Box 4: Sketchbooks (1927-1978)
1. Notebook (1927)
2. Sketchbook (1947)
3. Sketchbook (c. 1949)
4. Sketchbook (c. 1950)
5. Notebook (c. 1952-54)
6. Sketchbook No. 12 (c. 1954)
7. Accounts and Sketch Book (c. 1956-57)
8. Notebook (1956-78)
9. Sketchbook (1957)
Box 5: Sketchbooks (c. 1957-1976)
Folder 1. Sketchbook (July 1957)
Folder 2. Sketchbook No. 21
Folder 3. Sketchbook No. 23 (1963)
Folder 4. Sketchbook No. 31 (c. 1976)
Folder 5. Sketchbook No. 36
Folder 6. Sketchbook No. 42
Folder 7. Sketchbook No. 71
Folder 8. Sketchbook No. 75
Folder 9. Sketchbook No. 84
Folder 10. Sketchbook No. 86
Box 6: Sketchbooks
Folder 1. Sketchbook No. 87 (1966-?)
Folder 2. Sketchbook No. 94
Folder 3. Sketchbook No. 97
Folder 4. Sketchbook No. 100
Folder 5. Sketchbook No. 108
Folder 6. Sketchbook No. 112
Folder 7. Sketchbook (n.d.)
Folder 8. Sketchbook (n.d.)
Folder 9. Sketchbook (n.d)
Folder 10. Sketchbook (n.d.)
Box 7: Sketchbooks and Sketches
Folder 1. Sketchbook (n.d.)
Folder 2. Sketchbook (n.d.)
Folder 3. Sketchbook (n.d.)
Folder 4. Sketchbook (n.d.)
Folder 5. Sketches (n.d.)
Folder 6. Sketches (n.d.)
Box 8: Works
Folder 1. Sketches (n.d.)
Folder 2. Small Watercolors (n.d.)
Folder 3. Sketches (n.d.)
Folder 4. Advertisement for Great Western Wines with Peters Painting (c. 1950s-60s)
Folder 5. Oversized Photographs (1970s)
Folder 6. Sketchbook No. 58
Box 9: Scrapbook (1915-1964)
Box 10: Painter's Kit

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