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Ashley Bryan and Eva Brussel Mason correspondence and artwork

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Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. 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

Ashley Bryan was born on July 13, 1923 in Harlem, New York to Antiguan immigrant parents Ernest Bryan and Olive (Carty) Bryan. In 1940, Bryan studied at Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art with a focus on sculpture, calligraphy, design, and book illustration. However, in March 1943, Bryan was forced to postpone his studies due to his induction into the United States Army to serve in World War II. He was honorably discharged in early 1946 and promptly resumed his studies at Cooper Union, graduating in June 1946. Bryan went on to become a celebrated artist and storyteller best known for his award-winning children's book illustrations with particular emphasis on African folktales and African-American spirituals. Bryan died on February 4, 2022.

Eva Brussel Mason was born Evelin Brussel on January 19, 1924 in New York to Russian immigrant parents Jacob and Julia Brussel. Brussel attended Cooper Union while living with her aunt and uncle, Isaore and Lillian Brusel. By 1948, she and her mother had moved to California and in 1952, Brussel married Leo Mason. She died on November 1, 2010.

Bryan and Brussel met during their studies at Cooper Union and remained friends until Brussel's death in 2010. Bryan and Brussel correspondenced extensively over their nearly 70-year friendship, beginning during Bryan's time serving in the U. S. Army in World War II. Much of this correspondence may be found in the Ashley Bryan papers, 1823-2019 (bulk: 1928-2019), along with a more detailed biographical note on Ashley Bryan.

The Ashley Bryan and Eva Brussel Mason correspondence and artwork includes a hand-painted wooden box inscribed with text including, "to Eva from Ashley," "Paris," "Le Havre," and "Omaha Beach" on the exterior side panels, with a scene depicting a musician playing a bowed instrument for a listener, with farmland and animals in the background, and a scroll in the top-left corner that reads, "Je vois une fillette avec une beau garcon je ne vouale dirat pas ce quils aisent la vas." Also included is a tempera painting entitled, "Two Lace Makers of Rouen." Bryan made these two pieces of artwork for Brussel during his active service in the United States Army during World War II.

There are also two letters from Ashley Bryan to Eva (Brussel) Mason regarding a sea glass panel that Bryan made for Mason as a gift. The first letter, dated September 8, 1965, included a large sketch of the panel which is also included in the collection, and discusses technical aspects of the panel. The second letter, dated October 22, 1965, confirms the successful delivery of the sea glass panel to Mason's home, more detail regarding the panel, and a brief summary of Bryan's recent artistic activity.

This small collection will be of value to scholars interested in Ashley Bryan and Eva Brussel Mason as an accompaniment to the larger and more substantial Ashley Bryan papers, 1823-2019 (bulk: 1928-2019), where nearly 70 years worth of correspondence between Bryan and Brussel can be found.

Gift of Lynda and Robert Mason, 2019.

Publisher
University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Sam Sfirri
Finding Aid Date
2022 June 7
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

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"Two Lace Makers of Rouen," tempera painting, 1944.
Box 1 Item 1
Hand-painted wooden box, circa 1945.
Box 2 Item 1
Correspondence from Ashley Bryan to Eva Brussel Mason, 1965 September 8.
Box 3 Folder 1
Sea glass panels sketch, 1965 September 8.
Drawer OS FF 02 Folder 1
Correspondence from Ashley Bryan to Eva Brussel Mason, 1965 October 22.
Box 3 Folder 2

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