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Earl Horter Collection


Held at: Philadelphia Museum of Art Archives [Contact Us]Philadelphia Museum of Art, PO Box 7646, Philadelphia, PA 19101-7646

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Archives. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

In a review of a 1977 retrospective exhibit of Earl Horter, the writer credited the artist as having a critical role in introducing modern art to the Philadelphia area through his own works, collection and teachings. Born in 1881 in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, Horter gained his earliest experience in the graphic arts working for a stock certificate engraver. He later made a living as an illustrator and commercial artist, working for the advertising agency of N.W. Ayer. At the same time, he privately created etchings of architectural subjects. Horter eventually left behind his commercial practice to pursue painting in oil, watercolor and aquatints. By the 1930s he began teaching at the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art, University of Pennsylvania Night School, the Graphic Sketch Club and the Tyler School of Fine Arts of Temple University. Horter avidly collected French moderns, as well as Native American art. At one time he owned 22 Picassos and approximately 1,500 American Indian relics. Major museums that acquired Horter's own artworks included the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA), the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Chicago Art Institute and New York's Metropolitan and Whitney Museum. Almost sixty years after his death in 1940, PMA examined Horter's influence on and by modern art. In that 1999 exhibition, "Mad for Modernism: Earl Horter and His Collection," 100 objects that Horter acquired during the 1920s and 1930s and that were dispersed after his death, were reunited. The collection consisted of European and American modern art, African sculpture and Native American artifacts.

This collection consists primarily of photographs, clippings, and exhibition catalogues and checklists pertaining to Horter during his lifetime, as well as some correspondence, writings and ephemera. Three publications with graphics worth noting are the March 1929 issue of "Autocar Messenger," which featured one of Horter's prints on the cover, a 1930 issue of "Advertising Arts: Section of Advertising and Selling," and the illustrated script for the 1940 "Bal Masque: A La Hollywood," with cover art by Philadelphia caricaturist Lou Hirshman. The booklet was dedicated to Horter's memory. Most of the correspondence was written by Madge Hardin Walters, who lived in California and apparently shared Horter's enthusiasm in Native American artifacts. Inventories and clippings further document Horter's collection of such items. Some were published after Horter's death. Other posthumous material consists of newsclippings of later retrospective exhibitions as well as a death mask and hand of the artist, given by his widow. Item-level inventories were prepared in 1995 and 1999.

This material was transferred from the Philadelphia Museum of Art Library. It was originally classified as rare book material.

The collection was microfilmed by the American Archives of Art. Reel nos. 4547 and 4548. Copies are availabe in the Museum's Library.

These materials were arranged and described by Bertha Adams. Funded by a grant from The Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Philadelphia Museum of Art Archives
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Bertha Adams
Finding Aid Date
Funded by a grant from The Institute of Museum and Library Services
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

The Earl Horter Collection is the physical property of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Archives. The Museum holds literary rights only for material created by Museum personnel or given to the Museum with such rights specifically assigned. For all other material, literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. Researchers are responsible for obtaining permission from rights holders for publication and for other purposes where stated.

Collection Inventory

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