Archives Directory for the History of Collecting in America

Archives related to: O'Brien Galleries

titleO'Brien Galleries records, 1811-1970.
repositoryArchives of American Art
collection titleCorrespondence, business records, notes and writings, printed material, and photographs chart the gallery's history.

REELS 4180-4181: Correspondence from artists, patrons, and others (1811-1952) includes 8 letters from Winslow Homer (1898-1902). Business records include financial and legal documents (1857-1941), name lists and lists of paintings sold, painting and print registers (1898-1954), and minutes from corporation meetings (1901-1941). Howard O'Brien's writings include poems (1909-1944), some illustrated with photographs; a script "Cherchez La Femme"; and a typescript "The Long Trail". Printed material includes advertisements, clippings (1900-1970), exhibition catalogs (1921-1924), a sale catalog, and a booklet (1927) on landscape painters of America. An album contains photographs of portraits painted by Louis Betts, an artist promoted by O'Brien. Other photographs (1885-1936) show O'Brien family members, Winslow Homer, and one of Irene Dunne (an autographed publicity shot).

REEL 4193: A scrapbook contains exhibition announcements, clippings, and brochures from Chicago (1873-1941) and Arizona (1953-1958).
extent3 microfilm reels. reels 4180-4181, and 4193
formatsCorrespondence Notes Photographs Financial Records Scrapbooks
accessPatrons must use microfilm copy.
record source
acquisition informationLent for microfilming 1986 by the current owners of the gallery, Stephanie Roberts and her husband, Bill Dickerson.
updated05/12/2022 11:09:57

titleBenjamin K. Smith papers relating to O'Brien Galleries, 1912-1941.
repositoryArchives of American Art
collection titlePapers kept by Benjamin K. Smith, an employee of the O'Brien Galleries (1912-1922), including: handwritten lists concerning paintings from the Samuel Nickerson collection on consignment from the Chicago Art Institute (1920-1921) and furniture bought for the O'Brien Galleries (photographs of furniture microfilmed on reel 4181);

a December 1912 issue of ART, a monthly magazine published by the Galleries; sales catalogs and announcements for the O'Brien Art Galleries, the House of O'Brien, and M. O'Brien & Sons; a 1922 exhibition announcement for paintings by Helen West Heller at the Walden Book Shop with pencil sketches of a table "Spanish early 17th cent." on its reverse; a newspaper advertisement and an article (1941) "Gallery Fading from Picture as Art Declines in Chicago."

Bio / His Notes:
Art gallery; Chicago, Ill. and Scottsdale, Az. Chicago's first art gallery and one of the oldest family owned and operated gallery in the United States. It opened in 1855 as a frame shop, offering a variety of services to both artists and collectors.

It was called by several names, including O'Brien's Art Emporium, O'Brien Art Galleries, O'Brien Galleries, House of O'Brien, and M. O'Brien & Sons.

The gallery remained in Chicago until 1941, closed during the war, and resumed operation in Scottsdale, Arizona in the 1950s. Three generations of O'Briens (Martin, William, and William Jr.) ran the gallery before it moved to Arizona; all were committed to bringing culture and the visual arts to Chicago.
extent1 partial microfilm reel reels 4065 & 4181
formatsDrawings Exhibition Catalogs Photographs Clippings Microfilm
accessPatrons must use microfilm copy.
record source
acquisition informationDonated by Barton Smith, 1986, son of Benjamin K. Smith (1872-1973), was an employee of the gallery from 1912 to 1922 prior to opening his own art appraisal business.
updated11/12/2014 11:29:48