MsC 41

Collection Dates: 1847 -- 1919
1.5 linear ft.

Collection Guide

This document describes a Manuscript Collection held by the

Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries

Guide Contents

Administrative Information

Biographical and Historical Information

Scope and Contents of the Collection

Related Materials

Acquisition and Processing Information

Box Contents List

Administrative Information

Access and Restrictions: This collection is open for research. Ms. Brody has kindly given her permission to reproduce and quote from her paper on Yewell.

Digital Surrogates: Except where indicated, this document describes but does not reproduce the actual text, images and objects which make up this collection. Materials are available only in the Special Collections Department.

Copyright:  Please read The University of Iowa Libraries' statement on "Property Rights, Copyright Law, and Permissions to Use Unpublished Materials"

Use of Collections:  The University of Iowa Libraries supports access to the materials, published and unpublished, in its collections. Nonetheless, access to some items may be restricted by their fragile condition or by contractual agreement with donors, and it may not be possible at all times to provide appropriate machinery for reading, viewing or accessing non-paper-based materials. Please read our Use of Manuscripts Statement.

Biographical Note

George Henry Yewell was born in Havre De Grace, Maryland, in 1830. He and his widowed mother moved to Iowa City, Iowa, in 1841. Apprenticed to a tailor, Yewell's life changed when he earned statewide recognition for a political cartoon. State Supreme Court Judge Charles Mason recognized the young man's talent and befriended Yewell. With the help of some other prominent Iowans, he arranged for Yewell to study at the Academy of Design in New York. There Yewell met his second mentor, the portrait painter and teacher, Thomas Hicks. In 1856, Judge Mason again intervened, this time sending Yewell to study in Paris, France, with Thomas Couture. Paris was Yewell's home until the outbreak of the Civil War brought him back to the States. He never again lived in Iowa City, but visited the area regularly, and in 1863 returned to marry a local woman, Mary Coast. They returned to Europe in 1867, where they remained for the next eleven years. Yewell died on September 26, 1923, at Lake George, New York. At the time of his death he was the oldest member of the National Academy of Art. Some of Yewell's finest works are those related to Iowa. He painted a number of portraits of famous Iowans of the day, including Governor Samuel Kirkwood. His pencil drawings and sketches are perhaps the earliest existing drawings made of the Iowa City area. Although Yewell remains a minor artist in any historical sense, his legacy to Iowans is significant.

Scope and Contents

The papers of George Henry Yewell consist of four boxes of manuscripts and a map case drawer of large items.There are diaries and correspondence dating from 1847 to 1919, along with daguerreotypes and photographs. Yewell's sketches and sketchbooks include drawings of Egypt and England, copies of Old Masters, and landscapes of Iowa City and its surroundings. The palette that Yewell used when painting is also part of the collection, as are prints made by Virginia Myers from Yewell's plates.

Photographs: Box 2

Audio Material: Mini-cassette tape of the contents of some of the letters

Related Materials

The University of Iowa has a collection of thirty-six of Yewell's paintings.

For Peter Anthony Dey's speech at the unveiling of the portrait of Samuel Kirkwood see Peter Anthony Dey's papers

Ness, Xenobia and Louise Orwig. Iowa Artists of the First Hundred Years. Special Collections, Iowa Authors

Pelzer, Mildred W. "Henry H, Yewell." The Palimpsest, November 1930, 483 -- 498.pp.

Acquisition and Processing Information

The history of this gift is unclear. It is believed that Oscar Coast, brother-in-law to Mr. Yewell, donated these papers, along with nearly fifty paintings, to the University in 1923. In 1926, some of the paintings were hung in an installation in the Iowa Memorial Union. Sometime before 1967, they were taken down and placed in storage at the Memorial Union. In 1967, the paintings were presumably placed in the Museum of Art (which is where they are today) and the sketchbooks, memorabilia, and correspondence were transferred to Special Collections.

Guide posted to Internet: March 2000

Box Contents List

Box 1

Archives of American Art Journal, v. 21 n. 3 (1981), p. 26.

Autographs of visitors to Yewell's studio in Rome, 1874 -- 1875

Biographical sketches of Yewell, including pieces by Oneita Fisher, Natalie S. Brody, and R. H. Fitzgerald

Book cover, red, 8 1/4 x 5 5/8, funtioning as a scrapboook containing an assortment of images: 1. Durer house, Nuremburg; 2. Photographic portrait of an unidentified woman (possbily Fredrika Bremer?); 3. Reproduction of painting of girl with basin; 4. Reproduction of Durer print-family traveling (Mary, Joseph, Jesus?); 5. Reproduction of Durer print-angel descending upon an inn?; 6. Photo of classical statue-seated woman; 7. Reproduction of Durer print-manger scene; 8. Reproduction of Durer pring-angels above men at a tomb; 9. Journal clipping containing Millet's "La Bouillie."

"The Bootblack" painting by Yewell (photographic reproduction)

Copyrights, 1887 and 1893

Correspondence, 1852 -- 1919 and undated

Daguerreotypes of Henry Carver and Sallie Carver (Yewell's uncle and aunt), and George H. Yewell

Diaries, 1847 -- 1875

Engraving plates

Box 2

Landscapes and outdoor scenes in water color and oils

Newspaper clippings

Notebook. Contains poetry, description of painting techniques, addresses, and photographs of Yewell

Photograph album


Buildings in Italy and France

Henry Carver (uncle of George Yewell)

Miscellaneous, including "Indian Boy" by Crawford



Studio portraits

Box 3

Unidentified people

George H. Yewell [?]

Photoreproductions of 5 Yewell's sketches, dated 1954 (4) and 1955 (1)

Poem by Yewell, untitled

Postcards, including triptych (folded) duotone postcard, Parisssss-Sorbonne-Puvix de Chavannes - La Fresque du Grand Amphitheatre; 15 1/4 x 3 1/2

Presentation and unveiling of Judge Charles Mason's portrait, 1895



Iowa City landscapes

Landscape and human figures in a mostly empty sketchbook. Includes pencil

Liverpool, England, 1856

Old Masters

Oscar Coast Collection

Sketchbook with sketches on the insides of the boards

Box 4

Various subjects

Sketches by Yewell

Yewell's palette (Not in box; freestanding on shelf)

Materials from the University of Iowa Museum of Art

Computer print-outs of materials on Yewell

Miscellaneous papers relating to George Yewell from the files at the Museum of Art. Photocopies

Paintings by Yewell in the University of Iowa Museum of Art. List of paintings; museum records for all paintings. Photocopies. These are sometimes accompanied by a photocopy of the painting.

Prints/Plates by Yewell in the University of Iowa Museum. List of the prints and plates; museum records for the prints and plates. Photocopies. These are sometimes accompanied by a photocopy of the print.

July 2007 Addendum

Guerra, Alfred A. "The Iowa Railroad Wars and George Henry Yewell's 'Muscatine Opposition.'" Nineteenth Century, Vol.25:No.1 (Spring 2005), pp. 19-23. Photocopy. Gift of Al Guerra.

Map Case 13, darwer #12


Pencil drawing

Black portfolio


Notre Dame, Paris, 1853, 1887

(Little boy smoking with dog), n.d.

Untitled. Gift of Mary Lou Kissel

Prints made from Yewell plates by Virginia Myers

Newspaper article about Virginia Myers, 1978

Portfolio of nine original copperplate etchings by George Yewell, 1830 -- 1923. Printed at Tenacre. Virginia A. Myers assisted by Dellas R. Henke, June 1978. Solon, Iowa.

Untitled, 1887

Paris in 1858, 1898

Paris from a drawing made in 1858, 1884

Rouen from the Hill of Conteleu, 1886

Sorrento, n.d.

Untitled portrait of Kirkwood, n.d.

Untitled, 1995

Old Monestery Island at St. Elena, Venice, 1886

Untitled, 1888

Painting, oil landscape/ruins; on paper affixed to mat board; George H. Yewell; painting 9 x 5 1/8; Mat 13 1/8 x 9 3/4; "Geo. H Yewell /#3903 1/2 in [Giet?] written in pencil on back of mat.

Portfolio, blue cover , with four coth ties for closure, 201/2 x 13 1/2; "Rome/Paris Florence, Perugia & Venice" handwritten in pencil on label on cover; contains mostly photogroaphic reproductions of images, including 34 unidentified architectural sites, as well as images depicting the following sites: Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore; l'Academia di Francia vista dell Trinita dei Moritz; 432 Foro Romano Panorama; No. 1326 Monreale Chiostro Palermo; Foto Deroche Perugia; No. 128 Battistero di San Marco; Pont de Rialto; No. 59 Venezia -- detta glio del Palazzo Ducale; No 212 Palazzo de Camello- Venezia; Church of St. Germain; Mosaico sopra l'ultima porta di San Marco verso l'Orologio (Mosaic over the last portal of St. Mark's on the side of the clock tower; Torro nella Chiesa de S. Giorgio-Venzia; and images marked only with handwritten numbers (163, 234B, 222, 209, 131 [151?], 157, 254, 236, 13) [Includes two images similar to that sketched on the rolled tracing papers and rolled canvax, on of which has been marked with a grid and numerals].

Portfolio, blue cover, with four cloth ties for closure, 23 12/ x 19 1/2; "Anatomical Plates" and something illegible written in pencil on the cover; contains 35 mostly photographic reproductions of statues or art containing people, but also one flat canvas painted in oils (some stone steps and broken columns), and one newspaper (The New York Saturday Press from November 18, 1865 (including Mark Twain's "Jim Smiley and his Jumping Frog"), along with the following images: Rome/Palais du Vatican (Chapelle Sixtine, Michel-Ange, Adlophe Braun, phot.); (another bearing same captions); Livermore Falls, from under the bridge, Plymouth, N.H.; View in the Notch, White Mtns., NH; map of Pianta del capoluogo distrettuele di Pieve di cadore (with a sketch on the back); Fotografia dall'originale di C. Naya rev. Tijiano Venezia Acdemia li belie art (N. 1276-1336); Cappella di giotta in Padova, Venezia ottoore 1865; (three women); No. 1836 Pereo di  Benvenulo Cellini (Firenze); (Adam and Eve); Raphael No. 24 (argus); Durer's Ritter, Tod, Teufel; (statue of a man with grape leaf); a reprodution of a Durer-like print portraying Melencolia 1; (statue of man with grape leaf, arm outstretched); (statue of man with grape leaf, broken arms); (plaza with multiple nude statues); (soldier, monk, Mary/Jesus); Coroception de Luca della Robbin Assisi; (16 women saints, marked "10310" and "8133"); (21+ saints marked "10307" (crossed out) and "8130");  Benozzo Gozzoli Bettaglio, La Torre di Babele, C. Naya, 87SA, Venezia Gen 1870; Presentation in the Temple by Tin Toretto - in the Church of San Sebastian, Venice, C. Naha Gob; (lots of people, girl on steps, holy guy on top); (Mary/Jesus, people with book); Bennozo Gozzoli - Infanthia c. primo prodigio si Mose, Pisa, C. Naya, gen. 1870; Gloria di Venezia (Soffitto in 2 Twole) Paul Veronese, Paolo Veronese, Venezia Palazza Ducale; Benozzo Gozzoli - Oboe dopo uscito dall'orca, Pisa, C. Naya gen. 1870; Benozzo Gozzoli - La Torre de Babele, C. Naya gen, 1870; (woodcut of people outstide by fence); reproduction of Geo. H. Yewell Paris 1861 (3  boys).                                                                                                                                     

Portfolio, rust-colored cover, 18 x 13 3/4; "Fac-similies of thirty-three etchings by Turner for the plates of Liber Studorum . . . Reproduced from copies in the possession of Mr Rustkin of the Editor. . ."; plus four loose unassociated pages, bearing "Les Brodenses de Luzon," "America" by Crawford; "A Revery" by Hubert, and "Un Realiste" by T.C. 1865.

Two rolls, one on tracing paper, one on canvas - these appear to be preparations for a painting and are similiar in appearance to two architectural interiors in the collection, one of which is blocked out and numbered, possibily in preparation for sketching/painting.


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