Donation of Dora J. Gage
Scope and Contents
The Donation of Dora J. Gage consists of materials dating from 1940 to 1965 and includes photographs of Marsden Hartley, his friends and associates, and the interior and exterior of his studio, in Corea, Maine. Also included in the donation is a photograph of a drawing of Marsden Hartley by Polly Scribner Ames, and a photograph of Mrs. Dora J. Gage, dated 1965.
- Creation: Majority of material found within 1940 - 1965
- Creation: 1940 - 2003
- Gage, Dora J. (Person)
Biographical / Historical
Mr. Clarence Goldberg and his wife Adrienne have been friends with Mrs. Dora J. Gage and her husband for over 50 years. The Goldbergs provided the following information about the Gages and how they met Marsden Hartley.
Mrs. Gage was born in New York City in 1898 and grew up in Brooklyn. As a child of four or five, she was injured on her doorstep as the result of a random shooting. Following this incident, her mother moved the family to Boston.
Mr. Henry Gage, Dora’s husband, was an historian and helped to found the Westminister record label in the 1950s, which produced and recorded the finest and rarest classical music of its kind, much of it in Europe. Mr. Gage started the Berlioz Society. Many of the Gages’ friends were musicians whom Henry Gage met through his work for Westminister. They were also friends with actors, such as Edmund Purdom, who played in the movie The Egyptian.
The Goldbergs described the Gages as “unworldly.” According to the Goldbergs, they had a very interesting life in which art, music and friendships mattered most of all. Money and material things were never very important to them. For many years, they lived in the same two-story apartment building in New York City, on East 19th Street near Second Avenue in Gramercy Park, on a site which is now a hospital. They never had a car or bought a house.
During World War II, the Gages both worked. They did not have any children. Mrs. Gage worked for a publishing firm. She later worked for the Brooklyn Museum as an assistant to the Women’s Auxiliary and assisted with fundraising efforts. She was also an editor and a member of a group called The Open Road, in which Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt was interested. Mrs. Roosevelt wrote Mrs. Gage a kind note in 1941, two days before Pearl Harbor. The Goldbergs brought the note from Mrs. Roosevelt to The Phillips Collection during their visit.
The Gages bought war bonds and set them aside. They had no plans to cash them in, but when a deadline was announced for doing so, they learned that they had $600,000 worth of bonds. Their new-found financial security enabled them to venture further afield. The Gages enjoyed traveling, and they traveled through Scotland with a daughter of the illustrator Arthur Rackham. According to the Goldbergs, the Gages entertained beautifully. The Goldbergs were often guests at their New Years Eve parties. Henry Gage was a terrific baker and made delicious cakes.
The Gages began going to Maine for vacations during the 1930s. On one trip, they were driving though Corea, and met Forrest and Katie Young by chance. Forrest Young was a lobster fisherman. His wife Katie was known as “the foreigner” by locals because she was from Austria, despite the fact that she had lived in Corea a long time. The Youngs were very hospitable and offered their cottage to the Gages as a place to stay.
Forrest Young knew Marsden Hartley and offered Hartley his chicken coop to use as a studio. Hartley was in Corea between 1940 and 1943. The Gages ate meals with the Youngs in their home, so their experiences were probably very similar to those of Marsden Hartley. The Gages probably met Marsden Hartley around 1940, when he first went to Corea.
Mr. and Mrs. Gage went to Marsden Hartley’s first Museum of Modern Art retrospective in 1943 with Forrest Young. They saw a painting that depicted a pair of old boots, and Forrest Young exclaimed with surprise, “Them’s ma [my] old boots.”
After Marsden Hartley died in 1943, his relatives, who virtually disowned him when he was alive, descended on the chicken coop studio in Corea and nearly stripped it of its contents. For some reason, they referred to Hartley as “Uncle Ned.” They missed several rolled up posters and the Youngs asked the Gages what the posters were and what they thought should be done with them. Mrs. Gage took them to The Brooklyn Museum for conservation, where they were discovered to be original posters of Jean Avril by Toulouse Lautrec. The Youngs decided to sell them, which made it possible for them to remodel their farmhouse.
The Goldbergs and the Gages met through Professor Samuel Workman, Mrs. Goldberg’s professor at Northwestern University during the late 1940s. Mrs. Goldberg studied literature and wrote an essay on Emily Dickinson for her Masters Degree at Columbia University. She wrote an article “Emily Dickinson’s Social Attitudes: A Dissenting View,” which was published in The Western Humanities Review in Autumn 1952. Mrs. Goldberg published the article under her maiden name, Adrienne Berenson.
Professor Workman invited the Goldbergs to Corea, where they met the Youngs. Dr. Workman suggested that the Goldbergs call the Gages and introduce themselves. Even though they felt uncomfortable doing so, they called the Gages, met, and became close friends.
1 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
The collection is arranged in one series, consisting of a single letter from Mrs. Goldberg, photographs of Marsden Hartley, his friends, associates, and studio; and a photograph of a drawing of Hartley.
The Donation of Dora J. Gage was given to The Phillips Collection through Mr. Clarence Goldberg, who holds power of attorney for Mrs. Gage. Mr. and Mrs. Goldberg brought the materials included in the gift to The Phillips Collection on December 17, 2003, and discussed them with Karen Schneider, Librarian and Beth Turner, Senior Curator. The donation was in the custody of The Phillips Collection Archives beginning December 17, 2003. The Deed of Gift of Historical Materials to The Phillips Collection for the Donation of Dora J. Gage was signed by Mr. Clarence Goldberg on March 3, 2004.
The collection was in minimal order at the time of accession.
During processing, photographs were lightly marked in pencil on the back upper left-hand corner with Gage, followed by a number. The numbers correspond to the box inventory of the collection, which is listed below. Each photograph was placed in a polypropylene binder page.
The photographs were arranged by general themes when possible. A photograph of Mrs. Dora Gage appears first, followed by photographs of Marsden Hartley’s friends and associates; the exterior of Hartley’s studio; photographs of Hartley; photographs of the interior of his studio; and a photograph of a drawing made after Hartley’s death.
The photograph of a charcoal and crayon drawing of Marsden Hartley after death , by Polly Scribner Ames was removed from its wooden frame and mat board support, which had a high acid content, and placed in a polypropylene binder sheet. The entire collection is housed in a single photo binder album box.
- Donation of Dora J. Gage, 1940-2003
- The Phillips Collection Library and Archives 1600 21st Street NW Washington D.C.
- Karen Schneider, Librarian
- March 2004
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
Part of the The Phillips Collection Archives Repository
1600 21st St. NW
Washington DC 20009 United States