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Document Archive for Gilbert Munger

Detailed Entries for Periods 10 - 11

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Period 10: Health problems - Washington D.C.
Go to:   Guide Page    Previous Period    Next Period
1901 Feb Munger moves to Washington D.C. for the milder climate. [Sweeney, p.65]
1901 May 5 "Munger calls & gives (illegible) experience." [GS - Emmons] Emmons is in Washington D.C.
1902 Jan 14 Letter from  Munger to friend James Cresap Sprigg --

Jan. 14, 1902

Dear Mr. Sprigg .

Your kind letter Enclosing the Sock Certificate reached me quite safely this morning. I am temporarily located at 1420 - 4th floor 3 rooms and a bath room under Paris' former Studio. it was the best I could find in my haste to get to work. Young Evans is with his brother up in N.Y. State. The "Grippe" has got him, I understand. I have seen young Whitten two or three times. I know no one in the building - and do not want to. So am left severely alone to do my work. The Elevator boy and nigger porter seem to run the property.
     Just before Christmas I received notice from my picture dealer that he would open in Chicago with my collection soon after Christmas, and de-sired me to come on. and expect to go when he writes me. He predicts a great success with my work.
     It is gratifying to know that the Picture is daily improving, and that you are pleased with it. by the way it is the fad now days to have no more than 4 to 6 pictures on the walls in one room, and all large, instead of little dabs of pictures all over the place. The effect is certainly very fine. in most of the apartment buildings in New York the ceilings are too low for the proper display of pictures. Should you de-sire to Exchange the picture I will do so at any time, but - the probabilities are you will not always remain where you are.
     Enclosed in another envelope you will find my printed list of decorations and the receipt for the stock.

With kindest regards to yourself + wife I remain

Ever yours

Gilbert Munger
1420 New York Ave"

[Private collection]
1902 Jan 19 Letter from  Munger to friend James Cresap Sprigg:
1420 New York A.
Washington Jan 19.

Dear Mr. Sprigg,

There is not a living in this country for a good landscape painter. I propose to abandon it and paint portraits. There is no longer any encouragement to work from 16 to 18 hours a day, at a loss. A doctor has warned me that, if I continue it will result in brain trouble and paralysis. I am

(The following line appears vertically along left margin of 1st page)
I would not go to any more expense in the gallery it is all right as it is of present

at the moment, and have been for several months suffering intensely. and at times it is with great difficulty I can walk to the street without falling. When last in Cleveland, I made $5000.00 in clear profit in 5 months painting portraits and refused several other orders - on the other hand Eleven of my smallest pictures 11 x 17 have recently been sold in London for $400.00 each. Since my return from New York, I have sold one of my little foreign pictures for $675.00 and have offers on more of them. The little picture is only 7 x 10 inches.
     The New York dealer now at Veerhoffs has returned from New York bringing with him 25 or 30 more pictures. he sold a number of the first lot. he is the cleverest dealer I have ever met. he sells pictures to the Corcoran Gallery, the Boston Museum and many of the most prominent men in the country. sells on commission, writes his own art criticisms for the papers. carries a collection of Biographies of all the painters living + dead, prices of their work etc. pays all expense and only charges 10 per cent on sales - has been in the business 35 years.
     If your friend will offer $4500.00 from my pictures I will consider it. I should then lose about $1000.00 if not I must come on again to New York which means more expense and loss of time, and talk it over with you.
     I can sell the foreign pictures to greater advantage here, a friend wants them.

Sincerely Yours
Gilbert Munger"

[Private collection]
1902 Jan 22 Letter from  Munger to friend James Cresap Sprigg
1420 New York Avenue
Jan 22nd 1902

Dear Mr. Sprigg.

In this letter I must depart from my usual cus- tom of keeping all of my plans and movements an absolute secret from everyone. I have already spent over seven years in this country Seven long years gone out of my life, and all of these years I have been trying to get back to Europe where I should have re- mained, had it not been for the well meaning but unfortunate advise of a friend. at one time I could have returned with several thousand dollars with which I could re es- tablish myself in London. A friend induced me to put this money in underground trolley. Wheeler assured me that he looked upon me as one of his own family and if he failed in his Enterprise would return to me every dollar I invested with him. I must leave Washington and live New York. he would bring JP Morgan, Yerkes and the richest men in New York to my Studio he would make my Studio the resort of all the richest people, would sell all of my pictures for me, & make me known all over the country. consequently I gave up Washington where I was doing well and took an apartment in the Newark flats. during the whole of the two years there he brought one man who was not a picture buyer. at the end of two years I gave up the apartment and commenced to pack for Europe. more advice from a friend, a lady this time. I must not think of going back. she was one of the 4 hundred, she had never seen such pictures, I must take a studio near the Waldorf, she would bring the 4 hundred and many out of Town millionaires. I believed all this, followed her directions, and then never saw her again, result, three thousand dollars out of pocket. again I resolved to go to Europe with no money and trust to luck, had packed + stored half of my pictures in the Lincoln, and was busy packing the rest, so that they could be sent on to me. "

(more pages ?)

[Private collection]
1902 Jan 24 Letter from James T. Gardner, 14 Church Street, New York to S.F. Emmons, Esq., 1721 "H" Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., regarding Clarence King's estate and arrangements for supporting King's widowed mother, Mrs. Howland:
"    ...
     You are perfectly right about not applying to Congress for anything for Mrs. Howland. It would be unsuccessful and would be particularly distasteful to us all.
     I have no doubt that when I get the power to deal with the bric-a-brac pictures etc., they can be sold for such a sum that the interest of it will keep Mrs. Howland comfortable for the rest of her life if she lives with Marian.
     The three Turner water-colors alone must be worth $20,000. From Mr. Laffen of the 'Sun' who was with King at the time he purchased, I got the price he paid for one of them which was considered a bargain at the time, twenty years ago. Meantime Turner water-colors have risen steadily in value.
     Will you kindly as Munger whether he knows the address of the place where King had his pictures stored in London during the last four or five years and whether he knows how many pictures he had stored? If Munger traded the unfinished 'Millais' with King for one of his pictures, I suppose Munger has the picture of his own that the trade was made for. Does Munger want to hold the Estate to the trade or does he want to give the Estate the 'Millais' picture which is salable and will bring something for Mrs. Howland while his picture is, of course, of little market value? If Munger would be willing to give the 'Millais' to Mrs. Howland direct, the Estate would release any claim on his picture and you might possibly sell the 'Millais' to the Corcoran Art Gallery for a good price.
     ..." [GS - Emmons]
1902 Apr 7 " ... Munger meets me on F Street at lunchtime." [GS - Emmons]
1902 Aug 26 Letter from  Munger to friend James Cresap Sprigg
1420 New York Av.
Washington DC.
Aug. 26, 1902

Dear Friend Sprigg

It is not neglect or a lack of interest in your success that has caused me to be so long silent. I did not wish to distress you in regard to my own condition.
     I have not been well since I came to this city 18 months ago. Five months ago I was taken in the region of the solar plexus, with the most agonizing pains. after enduring it for 3 weeks I went to a doctor who told me that I had Neuralgia of the Nerves, and he treated me for it with no result. I then tried Electricity for more than a month, no results, except to make me much worse. Third Doctor told me I had inflimation of the stomach and not Nueralgia of the nerves, he treated me - no result. I gave up medical treatment and tried to cure it myself, and began to improve, but the intense pain continued. at last - I discovered a Doctor who understood my complaint and I am in his hands, with prospects of recovery to better health than I have had for some years. From the previous mal-treatment by the 3 Doctors I was thought to the Verge of Cancer in the Stomach which in 4 or 5 months would have been abso- lutely incurable.
     As soon as I am able I propose to return to New York to live. I am heartily tired of this stupid nigger Village. I have not been able to work a day in the past 5 months, on account of my in- tense suffering and loss of sleep.
     I look forward with unspeakable joy to a return to New York and to Astor Court, to meeting you and your estimable wife once more, and to enter again in an active and busy life. My expenses here are very heavy, and I am nearly stranded.

Kindest regards -
Ever yours, Gilbert Munger"

[Private collection]
1902 Dec 1 "After hours go to Providence Hospital to see Munger, who is no better, but going to move back to studio." [GS - Emmons]
1902 Dec 21 " ... At four out to call on Munger at his studio. ... " [GS - Emmons]
1902 Dec 28 "After church go down to office then off to Munger's studio to cheer him up. He looks still like a death's head but is more cheerful." [GS - Emmons]
1902 The Washington D.C. City Directory lists Munger at 1420 New York Avenue with occupation as artist. [GS]
1903 Jan 15 "At office all day. After hours call on Munger." [GS - Emmons]
1903 Jan 26 "Munger seeks to borrow $10." [GS - Emmons]

Period 11: Aftermath
Go to:   Guide Page    Previous Period    References
1903 Jan 27 "Munger dies at 5:30 pm." [GS - Emmons] This line was added later than the rest of the entry on this diary page; see item at 1903 Jan 29. "Week's Death Record in District: Munger - January 27, at 1420 New York Avenue northwest, Gilbert M.(?) Munger, sixty-six years old." [MM - The Washington Times, 8 Feb 1903, p.18, c.4] "He breathed his last almost at the moment when he had put the finishing touches to his great canvas, Niagara Falls, showing both the American and Canadian views." [Memoir, p.21]
1903 Jan 29 "Leave at 5:30 and go to Munger's studio, where I learn that he died two days since." [GS - Emmons]
1903 Jan 31 "Morning to dentist. Thence to Munger's studio where I meet his brother and Walter Paris. Tell of <illegible> having mysteriously disappeared. [GS - Emmons]
1903 Feb 6 "FAMOUS ARTIST IS BURIED HERE - Remains of Brother of R. S. Munger Brought From Washington.
     Gilbert Munger, the famous artist, whose death occurred in Washington, was buried in Duluth yesterday afternoon.
     The body arrived at noon over the Omaha train and at three o'clock a brief service was held at Stewart's undertaking rooms, Rev. Dr. S. P. Long officiating. Only relatives were present. The body was placed in a vault in Forest Hill cemetery.
     Brother in Duluth
     Mr. Munger was a brother of R. S. Munger. of this city, who went to his bedside about ten days ago. Although he had been in ill health for several years, fatal symptoms did not develop until a few days before his death, which occurred Jan. 27, the day following the arrival of the brother from Duluth. Acute indigestion was the malady.
     Mr. Munger was sixty-five years of age and enjoyed a wide reputation on two continents as an artist, his most noteworthy work being in landscape. He was the possessor of several medals, some of which were won at world's fairs and others for salon and academy exhibits. He won medals at the Centennial in Philadelphia, at the world's fairs in Chicago and Paris and at the Pan-American exposition. A number of his pictures are used as models in the Chicago Art Institute*, and he is also represented in the Field Museum, Chicago.
     Went Abroad to Study
     Mr. Munger at an early age became employed in the bureau of printing and engraving in Washington. He took up the work of engraving and then went abroad to study art. particularly painting. Landscape work became his forte and in London and Paris, where he lived alternately most of his life, his work was in great demand. About ten years ago he returned to the United States and has since lived in New York city and Washington.
     Mr. Munger a number of years ago made long visits to Duluth, spending much time with his brother here, and making many friends. He had no family." [Duluth News Tribune] * Marie Kroeger of the Art Institute of Chicago Archives writes in June 2005: "We have your book on Gilbert Munger in the library, but I can find no record that the Art Institute ever exhibited his works or owns any of his works. I am told that in the early days of the School of the Art Institute, there were art works which were used by the students in their education program, which were not part of the museum collection. Perhaps some of his works were in that collection. Sorry we could find nothing specific.
1903 Feb 8 "WAS AN ARTIST OF MUCH RENOWN - The Late Gilbert Munger's Works Were Classed With Corot's - Was Decorated By Half a Score of European Monarchs.
     Gilbert Munger, whose body was buried at Forest Hill cemetery Thursday, was better known in artistic circles on the European continent than in the United States. He had been decorated by half a score of European monarchs and had been knighted by several, all in honor of his abilities as a painter. For many years his pictures 'hung on the line' in the Royal Academy and he was an honored exhibitor in the same preferred position in the French salon and in many other art exhibitions of continental Europe.
     Mr. Munger was a younger brother of Roger S. Munger, of this city. When a child he studied art as best he could, and when but fourteen he was a master engraver in the employee of the government, working on the illustrations of elaborate reports, and in the works of Professor Agassiz and of the Smithsonian. When the war broke out he enlisted and retired at its close a major of engineers. After the was he spent a number of years among the Rockies and Cascade mountains, working at his profession, accompanied by the famous Clarence King, between whom and Munger there was a close friendship. During this period he did much work that is still on exhibition in famous galleries of England.
     He went abroad to live in 1877, and spent a number of years in England. painting in company with J. E. Millais and other noted artists of the day. There he met with the utmost success, though never much of a public exhibitor, never at all, in fact, in any but purely art exhibitions of the highest class and in no world's fairs.
     After some years' residence in England Mr. Munger went to Paris and for a long time resided in that artist's paradise., the forest of Fontainebleau, made forever famous by the works of Corot and the Barbizon school. So closely did Mr. Munger's work approach the best of that of Corot and his associates, that they have often been compared, and not always to the disadvantage of the American. He has been likened, in technique and expression, to Corot and Rosseau, with a suggestion of Constable or P. Nasmyth.
     Private galleries in the country contain a number of examples of his work. There are pictures of his in the Hill and Walker collections at St. Paul and Minneapolis, with others in Chicago and many in the east. Five or six of his finished pictures are owned in Duluth, all but one of them landscapes, including Fontainebleau and the falls of Minnehaha, and a gorgeous Venice, unlike his usual style, which was quiet and reproved. He was painting steadily up to the time of his last illness, and there are several unfinished pictures still on his easels. He was a noted collector of rare pictures, books, and miniatures, and his selections were marked by an expert knowledge and the most delicate taste. His own pictures sold during his lifetime for high prices, often for as high as £100 each.
     Mr. Munger left no relatives but his brother in Duluth and the latter's two daughters, Mrs. D. E. Woodbridge and Mrs. W. B. Silvey. The funeral services here on Thursday, which were conducted by Dr. Ryan, were attended by none but relatives and a few family connections. Most of Mr. Munger's own friends lived in the east, especially in Washington, where he died, and in New York." [Duluth Sunday News Tribune]
Old and Modern Pictures of Clarence
King, W. H. Fuller, T. G. Weil, Vic-
toria Newcomb, and 'John Doe' at
the American Art Galleries

Those who had thee privilege of knowing the late Clarence King will not be surprised that among the objects left in care of his executors are pieces of uncommon beauty; for though he never counted himself a collector he had an appreciation of art that is rare among men of science. Perhaps it was the long sojourns in England that made him take to watercolors; for there is the home of the art; at any rate, he left many watercolors, especially British ones, beginning with a delightful bit of the white cliffs of Albion by J. M. W. Turner, a small 7 by 9 inch drawing, very delicate in touch, with Turner's tremendous moving ocean in the foreground.
... At Mendelssohn Hall, along with the King pictures, the Claude Montes belonging to the late Mr. Fuller will also come to the hammer.
... Then there are the pictures left by Theodore G. Weil, by H. Victor Newcomb, and still others sold by order of a firm of lawyers for the benefit of 'John Doe,' or, as the Roman lawmen used to say, of  'Caius.' So we are to have the pick of no less than four collections of paintings, representing a very wide range of taste and including some extremely beautiful pieces.
A little figure by Winslow Homer turns up among the pictures John Doe is selling, a girl in red stockings and the dress of a farmer's daughter carrying a pail of water, with head slightly inclined to the right and body out of plumb, to indicate the weight on the straight right arm. Brilliant Autumn leaves on a shrub to the right give the key of color. It is dated 1874, and has Homer's direct, unvarnished style. There are three landscapes by David Johnson, N. A.: a 'Twilight,' by George Inness, two Egyptian views by R. Swain Gifford, 'The Kissing Bridge,' with two couples, by George H. Boughton; two canvases by the late Albert Bierstadt, a couple of landscapes by Gilbert Munger, and 'Mussel Gathers,' by Charles Sprague Pearce. ... There is something here for every taste, and the general average of work is decidedly high." [JM, New York Times, p.9]
1903 Mar 12 Munger paintings are sold at a combined sale including items from the estate of Clarence King: 89. Lake in the Mountains, Humboldt Nev (14 x 20) to W. H. Young; 91. Landscape (28.5 x 36.5) to T. R. Ball; 92. Sunset (21 x 44) to F. Chapman. [American Art Annual 1900-3]
1903 May 2 "ART OF MINNESOTA - Works of the Late Gilbert Munger Are Brought to North Star State - May Be Offered as Part of Minnesota Exhibit at the St. Louis Exposition
     Roger S. Munger of Duluth passed thru this city this week en route for home, after an absence of four months spent in Washington. His visit to the capital city was undertaken under distressing circumstances. Early in January he received a telegram stating that his brother, Gilbert Munger, was dying in his studio there. He was aware of the fact that his brother had been in ill health for a long time and immediately answered the summons, arriving in Washington three days before his brother's death.
      [A photo of a bust of Gilbert Munger appears here in the article with the caption: 'BUST OF GILBERT MUNGER. Made at Nice, Italy, by M. Cattin.' Cummings (p.18, n.3) says the bust was done in 1891 by Massimiliano Contini of Nice, b. 1850.]
     Gilbert Munger, who was 66 years old, is one of the few artists who Minnesota can claim as her own. In the family, which is of Connecticut origin, were four brothers, in all of whom the artistic temperament was highly developed. William, Roger S. and Russell developed this trait along musical lines, William, who died young, being a violinist of marked skill. These three came to Minnesota in 1859. Roger S. and Russell were music dealers in St. Paul for a great many years. It was in there store on Third street that their brother Gilbert established his studio in 1869 (sic) and there he painted more or less during the next two years. At that time the subjects he chose were interesting Minnesota scenes, notably the Red River Ox Trains, which brought fur down from the Canadian border and were sufficiently picturesque to attract the attention of anyone.
     Minnehaha in those years was not the trickling stream that it has been recently. Mr. Munger put the beauties of the falls on canvas. He introduced into his pictures of Minnehaha, some real Indians, whom he found living at Mendota. The first large canvas of the falls that he finished was sold to Mr. Ralston, a San Francisco banker, and is now highly prized by his family. The two or three others that Mr. Munger painted at that time became part of the art collections of eastern people. Valuable paintings of Mississippi scenery were consumed in a fire, which destroyed Munger Bros. establishment some years later.
     Mr. Munger's art education began in Washington, D. C., where he was employed by Commodore Wilkes. At that time, sketch book in hand, he visited the environs of Washington and roamed over the hills of Georgetown, making sketches. It was his intention to become an expert steel engraver and during his early years we worked at that employment. Wider fields of art, however, tempted him, the result being that the art galleries of Europe and American have been enriched by specimens of his work. It is remarkable that altho he sold pictures at prices as high as $10,000 he never received an art lesson during the whole course of his life.
     His first art work was done in the Rocky mountains, where he was connected with the first survey, ever organized by the government, under Clarence King. Encouraged by some Englishmen, whom he met there, he went to England and established himself on the Thames in a houseboat. The pastoral scenery of England appealed strongly to his artistic temperament and there he spent several years. Subsequently he went to Paris, joining the American colony there, and until very recently made that his home.
     He was an indefatigable worker and frequently spent the whole day and half a night at one sitting at his easel.
     He traveled extensively in Europe and found a ready sale for all his pictures. One of these trips was made with Millais, who was his personal friend and together they painted the highlands of Scotland. He sold pictures in Germany, Russia, Italy, France, Belgium, South America, England, and the United States and was decorated by nine different rulers. At his death he left about thirty of his pictures, which were on exhibition in New York. His brother Roger, in whose possession they now are, is inclined to offer them for exhibition to the state of Minnesota to be sent to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition next year, as examples of Minnesota art. They are some of the finest, many of them the largest canvases which Gilbert Munger ever painted. They represent scenes in all parts of the world and are considered splendid examples of a part of the life work of one of the greatest painters America has had." [Minneapolis Journal, p.7]
1903 Jun 27 Munger painting sold at London auction. The catalog title page shows: "Catalog of important modern pictures of the French and English Schools, the property of Alderman Sir Horatio D. Davies, K. C. M. G.  M. P., who has given up his country residence, Wateringbury Place, Kent, also pictures the property of J. G. Menzies, Esq., and pictures and drawings the property of a gentleman and from numerous private collections and different sources: which will be sold by auction by Messrs. Christie, Manson & Woods at their Great Room, 8 King Street, St. James Square, on Saturday June 27, 1903 at one o'clock precisely. On page 11 of the catalog in the section of Alderman Davies' properties appears: "G. Munger  59. Near Moret  On panel  11 1/2 in. by 17 1/2 in." Handwritten notes on the facing page record that the painting sold for 29.8.- to Arthurton (or Artharton). [VH - from microfilm of the auction catalog.]
1903 Jul 18 "District Courts.
Probate Court -- Justice Anderson ... Estate of Gilbert Munger: proof of publication." [The Washington Post, p.14]

July 29/03

Mr. J.C. Sprigg Jr

Dear Sir

I trust you will pardon my seeming tardiness + acknowledging your of July 22nd with enclosure of Mr. Munger's biography. Your letter followed me from the City to my Country house + I fully intended writing you before my return to NY. another week has flown bye + I am again at my Country house + find yours before me, with the other papers that escaped my attention last week.
     I thank you for the sketch you sent + have passed the (illegible) to Mrs. Ball who has claimed the picture. She is very fond of it. in fact it has the place of honor in her own room - over her writing desk - Will you favor me with your company at the Manhattan Club Madison Ave & 26th St at 7 PM on Tuesday next, where we can discuss Art, Mr. Munger & kindred subjects & see what can be done to keep ourselves in proper condition to enjoy these pleasures. A wire to my NY address, as below will reach me on Monday or later.

Sincerely yours
Thomas R. Ball

[Private collection]
"Aug 11 (hole in paper)

Dear Mr. Sprigg

Your note and the photograph of Gilbert Munger are at hand. I have been at the beach or I would have acknowledged both before now. Although I have not seen Mr. Munger since I w (hole in paper) but I should have recognized him I am sure had I chanced to meet him. the photo carriers (hole in paper) your description (hole in paper) once I thank you for (hole in paper). There is no hurry about sending the pictures to the Museum as the Committee on acceptance of gifts will not meet until October. I should be pleased to learn the result of your visit to Washington in the meantime believe me.

Faithfully yours
Geo. H. Sharp

[Private collection]
1903 "After Gilbert Mungers's death in 1903, Myra Dowd Monroe and Roger S. Munger went to New York to clear out GM's effects which were stored in the Lincoln warehouse. There were GM's pallette, brushes, watercolor boxes, sketch books, etc. There was also many unstretched canvasses in rolls." [From the report written by Robert S. Orcutt concerning his 29 September 1994 visit with Doris Monroe Weissman, Monroe's daughter.]
1903 "The Hon. William J. White, of Cleveland O., owns eight or ten of this artist's best works." [Munger Obituary in American Art Annual 1900-3] According to the "Encyclopedia of Cleveland History" available via the Cleveland Public Library web site, Mr. White was elected to Congress from the Cleveland area in 1892 and he had a good art collection. According to Hiram College, White's son Harrie Walter White was in the same class with Harold Bell Wright in 1894-5. Thus it seems likely that White was Munger's Cleveland patron when Munger was painting portraits there around 1895 (see the entry above for 1895~). Searching for White family portraits seems to be in order.
1904 Jan 4 - 16 A retrospective exhibition of Munger paintings is presented at Noe (Noé) Art Galleries, 368 Fifth Ave, New York. [Cummings, p. 18, note 4]  The catalog list published is:
  1. Fontainbleau
  2. Lake Peat, Fontainbleau
  3. Seine, Near Poissy
  4. Near Fleury
  5. Pigeon Lake, Near Fontainbleau
  6. Fontainbleau
  7. Near Poissy
  8. Near Bougeval
  9. Fontainbleau
  10. Seine, above Poissy
  11. Niagara Falls
  12. Venice
  13. Franchard, Fontainbleau
  14. Fontainbleau Border
  15. Fontainbleau Border
  16. Anvers, Near Paris
  17. St. Germaine
  18. Fontainbleau Border
[Exhibition catalog]
1904 Jan 5 "Art and Artists - The late Gilbert Munger was an American, who was born in Connecticut in 1836, and went abroad early in his career to stay until within a few years of his death. Spending a long time in France, at Barbizon, where he was intimate with many of the "men of thirty," and afterward returning in England, he established himself in London, becoming a regular contributor to the Royal Academy and other British exhibitions. A collection of his work is now shown at the Noe (Noé; formerly Avery) Gallery, 366 Fifth avenue, where eighteen canvases are hung, giving an adequate idea of the artist's manner of work and the themes he most favored. The influence of his sojourn, near the forest of Fontainebleau and his intimacy with the men identified with that place are unmistakable. There is scarce a picture here which does not show some trace of their mannerisms, their methods of painting, or their way of seeing nature. Rousseau, Corot, Diaz, have contributed their share, the result being generally an eclectic canvas suggesting any or all of these men.
     It was when Mr. Munger more nearly approached Rousseau that he was most successful. Given a dark tree, some distance illumined by strong afternoon sunlight, a sky of brilliancy, and Mr. Munger would occasionally secure some fine passages, suggestive of the great Barbizon painter. Left to himself, as in the large canvas of "Niagara Falls," it cannot be said his art was very impressive. The color in this picture is commonplace, the drawing not too distinguished, and the conception only feeble. One or two of the Fontainebleau canvases here are fairly successful and more personal, but as a rule all are so reminiscent as to force comparison, not to the advantage of Mr. Munger. It is interesting in view of the quality of the work shown, which we presume is to be accepted as more or less representative, to note that honors were fairly showered on this American artist, who had a large number of medals and decorations from France, Germany, Belgium, Russia, and Italy, for which excuse is by no means evident in the present display." [New York Commercial Advertiser]
1904 Sep 9 "PROBATE COURT -- Mr. Justice Anderson.
Estate of Gilbert Munger: rule on administration to show cause why certain claim should not be paid. Attorney: John L. Warren." [The Washington Post, p. 11]
1904 Dwight Williams of Cazenovia NY, an artist friend of Munger's, paints a copy of a Munger Barbizon painting. A resident of Cazenovia discovered the Williams painting in his attic in 2006. It apparently had been there for some time. The back of the painting is inscribed in pencil on the strecther: "Fontainbleau Morning of Munger (after the Fontainbleau School) 1904 - With variations in color - Painted by Dwight Williams of Cazenovia N.Y. - Painted on extra fine French canvas" A label stuck to the canvas on the back says: "It is hearby certified this is a work of Dwight Williams of Cazenovia, N.Y. (signed by) F. L. Kormer, Executor & Harros B. Shepherd, Chairman of Committee" [This information received in an email from the discoverer.]
1904 Memoir published. [Memoir]
1905 Feb 18 Munger paintings sold at London auction. The catalog title page shows: "Catalog of modern pictures and water colour drawings, the property of a gentleman, also modern pictures and drawings the property of a lady, and from numerous private collections and different sources: which will be sold by auction by Messrs. Christie, Manson & Woods at their Great Room, 8 King Street, St. James Square, on Saturday February 18, 1905 at one o'clock precisely. On page ? of the catalog in the section for "property of a lady" appears: "G. Munger  38. The Forest of Fontainebleau  On panel  11 1/2 in. by 17 1/2 in." and "G. Munger  39. Near Creil   On panel  11 in. by 17 in." Handwritten notes on the facing page show that lot 38 sold for 18.18.- to Bigham and that lot 39 was bought in for 10 guineas. [VH - from microfilm of the auction catalog.]
The Alma-Tadema, "Spring,"
Sold for $22,600; Israel's
"Frugal Meal," $19,500.

43 PICTURES FOR $162,225

Depreciation in Value of Meissonier -
"The Reconnaissance," for Which
Yerkes Paid $13,500, Sold for $5,300.

There was a big and interested crowd at the first evening sale of the Charles T. Yerkes collection of pictures at Mendelsohn Hall, and if conclusions can be drawn from prices bought last evening, the sale will be an unusual one. The first lot of a collection will usually bring out the smallest crowd and the least enthusiasm; and the least interesting pictures are shown. Last night the forty-three pictures disposed of brought $162,225. The Alma-Tadema, "Spring," which has attracted a great deal of attention since it had been on exhibition at the American Art Galleries, bought the highest price, $22,600. It went to a Western dealer, Henry Rheinhardt.
Following is the full list if pictures, artists, and buyers, or agents:
Near Nanterre - Gilbert Munger: T. R. Benkard $425
Among those in the audience were Mr. and Mrs. C. B. Alexander, Mr. and Mrs. Charles P. Taft, John W. Gates, and Mr. and Mrs. W. G. Oakman. The sale will continue this evening at Mendelssohn Hall." [The New York Times, p.4]
     The above picture was recently unearthed in the storeroom of a Washington art dealer by C. H. Syme and sold by him to Z. T. Mullin of Washington, who sent it to his son, H. J. Mullin of this city.
     It is a picture of Duluth in the early days and was painted by Gilbert Munger. Mr. Mullin, whose office is in the Lonsdale Building, invites all those interested to step into the building and see it.
     The picture was in the back room of an art dealer in the city of Washington, and had been there until he had nearly forgotten its existence. It was covered with dust when found.
     The picture hung at one time in the old Wormley Hotel in Washington. It is believed that it was taken there at the time an effort was being made to secure a land grant for the old Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad, on the occasion of Proctor Knott's speech. After the hotel was torn down the picture made its way in some manner into the art dealer's shop. There it has been ever since.
     When he discovered it, Mr. Syme washed the dust from it and showed it to several Duluthians, hoping to interest them in purchasing it. Mr. Mullin finally bought it.
     The Duluth man who now owns it will probably have it hung at the Commercial club for a time. The name of the painter is quite visible on the back of the canvas.
     Old-time Duluthians who have seen it think it should become the property of the city and be preserved with the relics of its day." [The Duluth Herald, p.17] Donet D. Graves Sr., Esq., great-great grandson of James Wormley and historian of the Wormley Hotel, says that Clarence King was an intimate friend of Wormley. In fact one of his grandsons was named Clarence King. Graves provides a estate inventory of Wormley's widow listing the painting "Duluth", recorded as located in the main dining room of the hotel. See also the entry for 1929 May 23 below.
1916 Nov 16 Munger painting sold at London auction. The catalog title page shows: "Catalog of the collection of modern pictures and water colour drawings of the British and Continental Schools, the property of a W. Y. Baker, Esq., late of Aspen House, 219 Brixton Hill S.W.,  which (by order of the executors) will be sold by auction by Messrs. Christie, Manson & Woods at their Great Room, 8 King Street, St. James Square, on Thursday November 9, 1916 and following day, also on Thursday November 16, 1916 and following day at one o'clock precisely. On page 39 of the catalog appears: "Gilbert Munger  261. Near Moret   On panel  11 1/2 in. by 17 1/2 in." Handwritten notes on the facing page record the lot sold for 11.3.6 to Mitchell. This painting was also in the sale of 27 June 1903 as lot 59. [VH - from microfilm of the auction catalog.]
1923 Nov 12 Six Munger paintings are exhibited at "Exhibition of Paintings from the Collection of Hon. Lyman A. Mills of Middlefield, Conn. in The Morgan Memorial, Hartford, Connecticut, Beginning November 12th, 1923." The titles are: 10. Near Poissy; 33. Franchard, Near Fontainebleau, 1892 (Made a gift to the Athenaeum); 34. Near Saint-Germain; 35. Reflections; 36. Carnival At Nice, 1890; 37. Colorado River, 1876. [Exhibition Catalogue, provided courtesy of the Wadsworth Athenaeum Archives]

"Mills Collection of Art At Morgan Memorial - Middlefield's Connoisseur Loans Over 30 Masterpieces for Exhibit - Gilbert Munger Paintings to Predominate
     From a sunny cheerful house, built in 1787, which sets well back from the road and overlooks a lovely sweep of country that might inspire any artist to paint endless landscapes, come the thirty-odd paintings which are to be seen in the Middle Pictures Gallery, on the second floor of the Morgan Memorial.
     Lyman A. Mills of Mansfield, who has sent the gems of his collection to the Atheneum, began in the '80s to acquire pictures; and today his interest in them is as keen as ever. Works by American artists predominate, but his taste is catholic enough to include also examples of the English, French, German, and Dutch schools, when he finds a canvas that appeals to him. Collecting has been a keen pleasure to Mr. Mills, and he tells numerous anecdotes and recollections, which add greatly to the interest of the pictures. Many of the American works are early ones; but the recent exhibitions at Lyme and elsewhere have not lacked Mr. Mills' patronage.
     The largest number of pictures in the present exhibition by any one artist are by Gilbert Munger, who was born in 1836 [sic] at North Madison. Later the family went to New Haven to live. As a child Munger showed artistic talent; and, after studying engraving in Washington, he became a government engraver at the age of fourteen. He made the plates of birds, plants, fish, etc, etc. for the publications of the Smithsonian Institution for Prof. Louis Agassiz and others. However, his great desire was to paint; and he managed to sketch and study before and after his working hours. During the Civil War he was engaged on the field fortifications around Washington, and when it ended he took a studio in New York and began to paint. That winter he exhibited at the National Academy of Design. Then he spent three years in the Rocky Mountain region producing some of the sincerest and most interesting work of his life. To this period belongs the Colorado River No. 36 in the exhibition; and doubtless, also No. 35 Reflections which is not dated. While in the West, Munger also met several Englishmen who advised him to take his studies to England, which he finally did. He found am appreciative public in London, and received many orders. Later he went to Scotland with Sir John Millais; and in 1879 he exhibited at the English Royal Academy some of his Scottish pictures. Loch Marie, one of these, is a large canvas now owned by Mr. Mills.
Had Bond Street Studio.
     Munger had a fine studio near New ond street and was a distinguished figure in London where he remained for ten years. Next he went to Paris, and traveled extensively through Europe in the summers. Ruskin invited him to come to Venice, and fifty pictures resulted from that trip. A large pearly-toned, distant view of Venice, showing the Campanile and palaces belongs to Mr.Mills. The Carnival of Nice (No. 34) dated 1890 is an interesting handling of large groups of people in the plaza before the Casino. The St. Germain (No. 34) and Franchard (No. 33) reminiscent of Corot and the Barbizon School, and Near Poissy, one of his late works done shortly before his return to America in 1893, complete Munger's group in the exhibition. The later picture arrests attention by the brilliant rendering of clouds, while the whole tonal effect is entirely different from his other canvases. From 1880 to 1890 is considered the best period. His work is not generally known because he exhibited but seldom, and most of his paintings were sold in advance. He made his home in Washington, finally, and died there in 1903. Mr. Mills has a great appreciation of Munger's work and he owns some fifteen examples all told.
     On the short wall with the very beautiful sunset Franchard Near Fontainebleau by Gilbert Munger, which Mr. Mils has presented to the Athenaeum for its permanent collection, ...
     ... " [Hartford Courant; clipping provided courtesy of the Wadsworth Athenaeum Archives]
1926 Jan 5 "
The Smithfield Company
Smithfield, Virginia
January 5th, 1926.

Broadmax Cameron, Esq.,
Citizens National Bank Bldg.,
Baltimore, Maryland.

My dear Broadmax,

           I think it well to give you in writing
a brief memorandum or chain of title covering ownership
of the French landscape by the great artist Corot left
with you, today, as you are good enough to try to dispose
of it among your friends.
           The painting came into my possession
nearly 30 years ago, through Gilbert Munger, the great
American artist, who said that he obtained it with a small
Diaz landscape of the Forest of Fontainebleau from Corot's
private gallery at the sale of his effects, not long after
Corot's death. As you know, Gilbert Munger died some 23
years ago, and for many years prior to his death, had been
one of my most intimate friends. Mr. Munger, himself,
followed in the tracks of the old masters of the Barbizon
School, and painted some of the finest landscapes now
adorning many European galleries. He was decorated by
nearly all foreign governments, and declared to be by the
great art critics of his day, the peer of the painters
of the Barbizon School.
           The Corot should bring about $10,000.,
but being in need of funds for the above business, to in-
crease their supply of Smithfield Hams. I am willing to
consider a reasonable offer.
           Thanking you in advance for any trouble
that you may go to, I am,

           Hastily yours,

J. C. Sprigg (signed)"

[Letter courtesy of Marilyn Cathcart] Cameron is Sprigg's son-in-law. The letter was found in the estate of Cameron's wife (Sprigg's daughter) Julia Duryea Sprigg Cameron.
1929 May 23 "Offers to sell painting - Henry J. Mullin, former real estate dealer of Duluth, now living in Jenkins, Minn., wrote to the city council on Wednesday offering to sell an oil painting showing Duluth's early business district, the work of Gilbert Munger, a Twin Ports pioneer resident. The painting now hangs in the Kitchi Gammi club lounging room." [Duluth News Tribune; clipping provided courtesy of Patricia Maus, Northeast Minnesota Historical Center, Duluth] .
1950 Apr 9 "Munger's Works Shown - By Earl Finberg
     An exhibition of a baker's dozen of landscapes by Gilbert Munger marks the expansion of the Penthouse gallery facilities in the Lyceum building.
     The American landscape painter, who died in 1903, is connected with the city through relatives, two of whom are lending pictures for the exhibition. Roger Woodbridge , Sr., is showing three landscapes, including 'Forest at Fontainebleau'; Mrs. Warren Jamar is lending another three, including 'Minnehaha.'
     At 7 p.m. Monday the paintings will be previewed in the second studio recently taken over by the Penthouse gallery. Dell Wheeler is continuing her classics in the first, and the additional space will be given over to exhibitions directed by Will Marvin Mudge.
     Gilbert Munger was born in Connecticut in 1836 [sic]. He began his career in art when he was 14, engraving plates of flora and fauna in the employee of the federal government.
     In 1860, with the Civil was clouds gathering, he gave up both engraving and his plans to paint and became an army engineer. But after the war he took a studio in New York and began to work on landscapes.
     One of his early works was 'Minnehaha,' which was exhibited in many cities and which brought him a commission from the Prussian government to paint 'Niagara Falls.' He was paid $5,000 for the picture. The 'Minnehaha' commanded the same sum.
     Now Munger went west and spent three years in the wildest scenery of the Rocky mountains. Ranging from British Columbia to California with easel and palette, he next turned to paint the wonders of Yosemite valley.
     There he met certain Englishman who commissioned him to do $10,000 worth of paintings. They also urged him to travel to England. In 1876 [sic] he went abroad to live years in England. A frequent exhibitor in the Royal Academy, he found ready buyers for his American and British landscapes.
     Munger went on to the Continent, painting in Venice and the forest of Fontainebleau. Finally, when his health was failing, he returned to his native land. He died in Washington, D.C., in 1903.
     A memoir written in 1904 said of Gilbert Munger: 'He created not only a different style of treatment, but a distinct style of subject, and revealed to the world the artistic possibilities of the very simplest phrases of nature when translated with sympathetic appreciation of their modest beauties and the subtle poetry which invests them.'" [Duluth News-Tribune, p.2] The article includes photos of the paintings Forest at Fontainebleau and Minnehaha Falls. The chronology of Munger's life is misleadingly compressed in this account.
1960 Apr 10 "Tweed Gallery Site of Exhibit - Munger Paintings to be Displayed
     Twenty-four paintings by Gilbert Munger go on display today at the Tweed gallery as part of UMD's Fine arts festival.
     Munger, who was decorated by kings, often stayed in Duluth to visit his brother Roger S. Munger. On two such visits - in 1871 and 1872 - Munger produced two oil paintings of Duluth and its harbor, which are included in the exhibit.
     After Munger's death in 1903, many of his painting were brought back to Duluth by members of Munger's family.
     Most of the paintings in the exhibit are loaned to the gallery by Miss Melville Silvey, Duluth, grand-niece of the artist. Miss Silvey  previously had given six Munger paintings to the Tweed Gallery in memory of her mother Alice M. Patrick.
     Mrs. Roger Woodbridge, Duluth, whose late husband was a grand-nephew of the artist, also is donating paintings for the show.
     Other Munger paintings were borrows from the public library, Pilgrim Congregational church, Kitchi Gammi club, and the St. Louis County Historical society, which also loaned a bronze bust of Munger. The many international medals awarded to Munger also will be shown.
     The paintings will be on display from 3 to 5 p.m. today and during regular gallery hours through April 26." [Duluth New-Tribune]
1972 Dec 10 Classified ads: 730 Antiques

"AMERICAN - Paintings by ... Gilbert Munger, ...and others. The Sporting Gallery Inc., Middleburg, Va., 22117. OPEN Mon. thru Sat., 9-5, 471-1733." [The Washington Post]
1982 "Gilbert Munger: On the Trail" published in the Benton Museum of Art Bulletin. [Cummings]
1982 Gilbert Munger chapter in American Paintings at the Tweed Museum of Art. [Sweeney]
1992 Apr 26 "Paintings of America
And Photos of New Mexico

By Vivien Raynor

With paintings, as with individuals, the face can be familiar but not the name. This is very much the situation now in the Benton Museum, at the University of Connecticut in Storrs.
     The current show, which was organized by Hildy Cummings, the museum's curator of education, and Helen Fusscas, a former art dealer, includes 48 painters. None of them are superstars, although some enjoyed fame in their own time and have made a comeback, while others have remained in limbo. But still, the revisionist spirit behind the show is not the kind that revives reputations better left for dead. The curators have chosen artists, who, in Mrs. Cumming's words, "did not change the course of American art but whose talent and vision greatly enriched it."
     In confining themselves to painters of quality (dread word), the curators have come up with work that is often seems more recognizable that it is. Thus, for a split second, it is possible to see an Asher B. Durand in Nelson Augustus Moore's "The Path Home" (1892); from across the room, Gilbert Munger's "Scene in the Wasatch Mountains" could be a Bierstadt study. Whether it's a matter of influence or Zeitgeist, the effect can be quite disconcerting.
..." [The New York Times, p.CN24]
1994 Fall "Gilbert Munger's Paintings of Lake Marian" published in the St. Louis County Historical Society Newsletter. This document archive contains much of the source material for the article. [Schroeder]
1997 Nov 20 Notes on a visit with Brodnax Jr and Mignon Cameron and with Julia Duryea Sprigg Cameron, by Michael D. Schroeder.

Brodnax Cameron's grandfather was James Cresap Sprigg; born March 16, 1858, died 1946. He married Grace Elizabeth Duryea on December 15, 1896 and they made their home in Essex Fells, NJ, until after 1917. The first child was Julia Duryea Sprigg Cameron, born in 1897. She is Brodnax's mother and currently lives next door.

Seven Munger paintings hang in Julia Cameron's house, six of which have been reported to the Inventory of American Painting. They were inherited from her father. Julia Cameron remembers Gilbert Munger as a friend of the family, who often spent weekends at their house, probably in Essex Fells, NJ. "When he came down to breakfast in the morning, he would always say good morning to the children in a different languages. He was very nice and very good looking." Julia Cameron must have been about 5 years old at the time, since Munger died in 1903. She also stated that Munger went with them on vacations to the Catskills.

Since JCS was only 19 when Munger left for Europe in 1877, Munger's friendship with the Sprigg family must have developed after he returned in 1893, or possible in Europe.

The paintings in Julia Cameron's house were given to the Sprigg family at Munger's death, according to the statements made by Mingon Cameron on the submission forms: "According to family tradition, Gilbert Munger bequeathed to his friend, James C. Sprigg, the contents of his studio, including several of his paintings".

The IAP forms state that the memoir Gilbert Munger, Landscape Artist, 1836-1903 was written and privately published by James C. Sprigg in New York in 1904. This statement is corroborated by the author's signature on the last page of the family copy of the published book.

James Cresap Sprigg Jr., son of JCS born in 1898, also had six Munger paintings, presumably inherited from his father. JCS Jr died in 1989. After his wife died some time later the pictures were bequeathed to Julia Cameron and are now stored at an historical society museum in Virginia. These paintings are not registered with the IAP. JCS was involved in (owned?) the Smithfield Ham & Products Co. His son JCS Jr. joined the firm and eventually took it over.

Subsequent to the visit I contacted the historical society and made arrangements to have the JSC Jr. paintings photographed. The museum informed me that the estate of JCS Jr. contained several boxes of letters written by and to his father, including some from and about Gilbert Munger. These letters have ended up at a local antiques center. I contacted the center and made arrangements to learn the contents of these letter as they regard Gilbert Munger.
2003 Jul 26 Major Munger exhibition opens at the Tweed Museum of Art, University of Minnesota Duluth.
2003 Jul "Gilbert Munger's quest for distinction" published in The Magazine Antiques.. This document archive contains much of the source material for the article. [SSA]
2003 Jul Gilbert Munger: Quest for Distinction published. This document archive contains much of the source material for the book. [SSB]
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