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Peabody Gallery of Art records

Identifier: PIRG-08-01

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

This collection contains records of the Peabody Gallery of Art, records related to the stewardship of the Peabody Art Collection after the closure of the Gallery, and records of other fine art acquired by the Peabody Institute.

Records include exhibition catalogues and announcements; lists of works in the collection; correspondence with artists, scholars, museums, galleries and dealers; appraisals; collection management and financial records. Exhibition records also include special exhibitions at Peabody by the Baltimore Charcoal Club, the National Sculpture Society, Friends of Art and the Baltimore Watercolor Club.


  • Creation: 1866 - 2018


Conditions Governing Access

The bulk of the collection is open for use at the Arthur Friedheim Library Archives of the Peabody Institute.

Subseries 3.2 contains university records that are subject to a restriction period of 25 years from the date of creation. Subseries 3.2 may also contain confidential personnel information involving staff and contractors, particularly in files related to object conservation. Access to portions of subseries 3.2 may be granted at the discretion of archives staff. Contact for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright. All requests for permission to publish or perform materials in this collection must be submitted in writing to the archivist of the Arthur Friedheim Library.

Biographical / Historical

The Gallery of Art was one of the four branches of the Peabody Institute outlined in the founding letter from George Peabody in 1857. At the time of the founding, there were few public galleries of art in the United States. From the 1870s to the 1920s the Gallery functioned as an art school and museum for Baltimore and built a collection that was particularly strong in American art.

The first work acquired for the Gallery was William Henry Rinehart's sculpture Clytie, which was donated by John W. McCoy in 1873. A sculpture gallery, in what later became known as North Hall (now Leith Symington Griswold Hall), featured many neoclassical works by Rinehart and others, including a plaster cast of the Parthenon frieze. John Work Garrett, president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, purchased many plaster casts of antiquities for the Gallery in 1881.

Proceeds of the first loan exhibition, in 1879, were devoted to the purchase of American art. Several collectors, including Charles James Madison Eaton and George Carter Irwin, and artists made large bequests of artworks to the Peabody Institute, adding substantially to the Gallery's holdings. The Gallery would acquire paintings by artists such as Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt, Asher B. Durand, and Childe Hassam.

From 1911 to about 1924, the Gallery became especially active in hosting one-artist shows, exhibitions by local organizations such as the Charcoal Club of Baltimore, and a series of exhibitions by a group of Baltimore women artists who called themselves The Six.

The Gallery closed in 1924, at a time when the Peabody Conservatory was in need of more space on campus and the Baltimore Museum of Art had eclipsed the Gallery as the most significant local art institution. The Peabody Institute loaned or sold many of its artworks to local institutions beginning around this time. By the mid-twentieth century, many of the items from the Institute's art collection were displayed around the Peabody campus, held in storage, on loan to other institutions, or deaccessioned. In 1946 the Institute hired art historian Anna Wells Rutledge, who assembled collection files and produced a detailed catalog of the collection, List of Works of Art in the Collection of the Peabody Institute, Baltimore, Maryland (Baltimore: Peabody Institute, 1949). The Institute sold dozens of paintings in the 1960s, including a portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale that was subsequently donated to the White House.

The Peabody Institute began its affiliation with the Johns Hopkins University in 1977 and became a full division of the university in 1985. As part of a campaign beginning in the late 1980s to raise $15 million for the Peabody Institute endowment, most of what remained of the Peabody Art Collection was sold to the state of Maryland in 1996. The collection is now managed by the Maryland Commission on Artistic Property of the Maryland State Archives. The Peabody Institute continues to maintain a smaller collection of fine art that is separate from the collection now owned by the Maryland State Archives.

The Peabody Institute Board of Trustees assumed many of the responsibilities for art collection management throughout much of the collection's history. From approximately 1982 to 2007, Peabody Archivist Elizabeth Schaaf was the primary custodian of the collection. Even after the bulk of the collection was sold to the Maryland State Archives, many pieces remained on loan at the Peabody Institute campus.

See also:
Schaaf, Elizabeth. "Baltimore's Peabody Art Gallery." Archives of American Art Journal 24, no. 4 (1984): 9–14.

Abend, Allen C. Maryland's Treasure and Burden. Baltimore: Allen C. Abend, 2018.

1872. Sculptor William Henry Rinehart bequeaths his estate to the Peabody Institute so that the proceeds might be used to "aid in the promotion of a more highly cultivated taste for art."

1873. William Henry Rinehart's Clytie given to the Gallery of Art by John W. McCoy.

1875. Work begins on East Building (later known as the "Cathedral of Books"), designed to hold the art gallery and the new library.

1879. The Art Loan Exhibition, the first large exhibition at the Peabody Gallery, draws more than 500 visitors daily.

1881. John Work Garrett, President of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and a Peabody trustee, purchases a large collection of plaster casts of antiquities and a half-size bronze copy by Barbedienne of the gilded bronze doors on the east portal of the Florentine Baptistry, which were created by Italian Renaissance sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti.

1893. Charles James Madison Eaton's collection of fine arts bequeathed to the Peabody Institute.

1896. The Rinehart School of Sculpture is established by the Rinehart Committee of the Peabody Institute Board of Trustees, with funds from the sculptor's estate. 1908. Childe Hassam's Snowstorm in Madison Square is purchased for the Gallery of Art.

1911. Peabody trustee and collector John W. McCoy bequeaths his collection to the Gallery of Art. The Gallery holds an "Exhibition of Contemporary American Art" featuring the works of 105 artists, including Jonas Lie, Charles W. Hawthorne, and Childe Hassam.

1912. The Gallery of Art inaugurates Sunday hours and begins a series of one-person shows.

1914. "Modern Departures in Painting: 'Cubism,' 'Futurism,' etc.," including works by Glackens, Walt Kuhn and Prendergast, creates a sensation in the Gallery of Art.

1916. The Gallery presents a "Special Exhibition of Sculpture by Mr. Paul Manship."

1919. The Photographic Guild of Baltimore holds the first of several exhibitions in the Gallery of Art.

1942. Trustees purchase Mary Cassatt's painting Jeune femme en noir.

1948. Thomas Dewing's Lady with a Fan is acquired for the Collection of Fine Arts. The Peabody Institute and the Walters Art Gallery sponsor a major exhibition of the works of William Henry Rinehart.

1961. The Scipio tapestries by Adrian Maeght, circa 1536, are presented to the Peabody by the Hearst Foundation.

1971. Rinehart 75th Anniversary Exhibition sponsored jointly by the Peabody Institute and the Maryland Institute College of Art.

1976. "Old Masters and Young Maestros," an exhibition of works from the Institute's collection of fine arts, held in the old sculpture gallery in North Hall.

1982. Several Peabody paintings included in "American Impressionism," an exhibition of more than 100 works organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.

1987. Works from the Peabody Collection are represented in the "New Horizons: American Painting 1840-1910" exhibit touring the Soviet Union.

1996. The state of Maryland completes its purchase of the Peabody Art Collection.


13.05 Cubic Feet (33 boxes and 3 volumes)

Language of Materials



The Gallery of Art was one of the four branches of the Peabody Institute outlined in the founding letter from George Peabody in 1857. From the 1870s to 1924 the Gallery functioned as an art school and museum for Baltimore and built a collection that was particularly strong in American art. Most of the Peabody Art Collection was subsequently deaccessioned in the 20th century, with the bulk of the collection landing at the Maryland State Archives in 1996. The Peabody Gallery of Art records contain information about the exhibitions, catalogs, collection-management activities, and publicity associated with the Gallery and the Peabody Institute's art collections.


The collection is arranged in four series.

Series 1: Correspondence, 1941-1984
Series 2: Catalogs, 1879-1998
Series 3: Collection management, approximately 1870-2018
Subseries 3.1: Anna Wells Rutledge files, bulk: approximately 1948-1949, approximately 1879-1965
Subseries 3.2: Peabody Institute Trustees and Peabody Archives collection management records, approximately 1870-2018
Series 4: Research and publicity, 1866-1990s

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The bulk of the materials in this record group were likely acquired when the Peabody Institute Archives was established in the early 1980s, but there is no known information about where the records were previously held.

Most records from the 1980s and later were likely created by Peabody Institute Board of Trustees or by the Peabody Institute Archives itself. Elizabeth Schaaf, archivist for Peabody Institute from approximately 1982 to 2007, fulfilled many collection management responsibilities, including object tracking, loan management, conservation, and curation. Records created by the Peabody Archives were not formally accessioned. One box of collection management files from the 1980s, likely from the Board of Trustees, was assigned the accession number 1990C11, but no information on the origin of those files can be located.

Existence and Location of Copies

The Smithsonian's Archives of American Art reproduced correspondence and other records of the Peabody Gallery of Art and the Peabody Institute, 1860-1972, on a set of four microfilm reels in 1984. Copies of the microfilm reels are available locally through the library catalog and in digitized files at the Arthur Friedheim Library Archives. Additional copies of the reels are available at the Smithsonian Archives of American Art and may be available at other American art libraries.

1. Correspondence
2. Provost's reports
3. Reports to the trustees
4. Annual reports
5. Gallery of Art committee reports
6. Report on the Gilmor and Eaton collection
7. Acquisition and accession reports
8. Reports of deposits
9. Art loan exhibition
10. Financial data
11. Exhibition announcements, catalogs and invitations
12. Newspaper clippings
13. Printed material
14. Photos
15. Miscellaneous

Related Materials

Other Peabody Institute record groups contain materials pertaining to the Gallery of Art and the art collection. These include the Peabody Institute Board of Trustees records, Gallery of Art Committee (PIRG.02, Series D.6); the Peabody Institute Office of the Provost records (PIRG.03); and the Peabody Institute Office of the Executive Secretary records (PIRG.04). Photographs of the Gallery and some individual art objects can be found in the Institute photographs collection, PIRG.12.01.

The Maryland Collection on Artistic Property, based at the Maryland State Archives, has additional information on objects transferred from the Peabody Institute.

Processing Information

Originally processed by Elizabeth Schaaf and archives staff, 1983-1987. Additional physical processing by archives staff, 1990-2016.

Records pertaining to the Gallery of Art were artificially arranged in chronological order and microfilmed by the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art in 1984 before they were arranged in their proper record groups, which also include the Peabody Institute Board of Trustees records, Gallery of Art Committee (PIRG.02, Series D.6); the Peabody Institute Office of the Provost records (PIRG.03); and the Peabody Institute Office of the Executive Secretary records (PIRG.04).

Additional processing and partial reprocessing by Matt Testa in 2024. The original series were renumbered, new accessions were integrated, the arrangement was revised, and out-of-scope materials were removed. Original series B, Financial, was eliminated, and its contents were transferred to subseries 3.2. Original series D, Rutledge collection management records, became subseries 3.1 of a broader series, Collection management. Original box D.7, Rutledge research materials, was transferred to series 4.

Subseries 3.2, Peabody Institute Trustees and Peabody Archives collection management records, is minimally processed. Because the records were not in any meaningful original order, folders were arranged into core thematic groupings (e.g., inventories and appraisal, transfers of ownership, loans, conservation) and roughly sorted within.

The present arrangement remains based on the original processing in the 1980s.

Guide to the Peabody Gallery of Art records
Matt Testa
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Peabody Archives Repository

Peabody Institute
1 E. Mount Vernon Place
Baltimore MD 21202 USA