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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the George Henry Yewell Papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1847-1919
Creator: Yewell, George Henry (1830-1923)
Extent: 1.50 linear feet.
Collection Number: MSC0041
Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Summary: Artist. Correspondence, diaries, sketchbooks, and photographs.

Alternate Extent Statement: Photographs in Boxes 1-3.

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

Use: Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.


Preferred Citation: George Henry Yewell Papers, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.

Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Address: Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5921
Curator: Greg Prickman

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.

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.
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 (MsC0086)

Ness, Xenobia and Louise Orwig. Iowa Artists of the First Hundred Years. Special Collections, Iowa AuthorsPelzer, Mildred W. "Henry H, Yewell."

The Palimpsest, November 1930, 483 -- 498.pp.

Browse by Series:
Series 1: GENERAL
Series 3: JULY 2007 ADDENDUM

  • Series 1: GENERAL
  • Box 1:
  • Archives of American Art Journal, v. 21 n. 3, p. 26. - 1981
  • Autographs of visitors to Yewell's studio in Rome - 1874-1875
  • Biographicalsketches 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.
  • Durer house, Nuremburg
  • Photographic portrait of an unidentified woman (possibly Fredrika Bremer?)
  • Reproduction of painting of girl with basin
  • Reproduction of Durer print-family traveling (Mary, Joseph, Jesus?
  • Reproduction of Durer print-angel descending upon an inn?
  • Photo of classical statue-seated woman
  • Reproduction of Durer print-manger scene
  • Reproduction of Durer print-angels above men at a tomb
  • Journal clipping containing Millet's "La Bouillie"
  • "The Bootblack" painting by Yewell (photographic reproduction)
  • Copyrights - 1887, 1893
  • Correspondence - 1852-1919
  • 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
  • Photographs: Buildings in Italy and France
  • Photographs: Henry Carver (uncle of George Yewell)
  • Photographs: Miscellaneous, including "Indian Boy" by Crawford
  • Photographs: Negatives
  • Photographs: Reproductions
  • Photographs: Studio portraits
  • Box 3:
  • Photographs: Unidentified people
  • Photographs: George H. Yewell ?
  • Photoreproductions of 5 Yewell's sketches - 1954-1955
  • 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
  • Sketchbooks: Egypt
  • Sketchbooks: Iowa City landscapes
  • Sketchbooks: Landscape and human figures in a mostly empty sketchbook. Includes pencil
  • Sketchbooks: Liverpool, England - 1856
  • Sketchbooks: Old Masters
  • Sketchbooks: Oscar Coast Collection
  • Sketchbook with sketches on the insides of the boards
  • Box 4:
  • Sketchbooks: Various subjects
  • Sketches by Yewell
  • Yewell's palette (Not in box; freestanding on shelf)
  • Box 4:
  • Computer print-outs of materials on Yewell
  • Miscellaneous papers relating to George Yewell from the files at the Museum of Art. Photocopies
  • List of paintings by Yewell in the University of Iowa Museum of Art.
    Museum records for all paintings. Photocopies. These are sometimes accompanied by a photocopy of the painting. Paintings include:
  • 1. Streets in Cairo, Egypt (Mosque of Kait Bay)
  • 2. Ferry of the Canal in Venice
  • 3. The New Cordial
  • 4. The Virign and the Rabbit (Orig. by Titian)
  • 5. Virgin with St. Stephen (Orig. by Titian)
  • 6. Part of Claudian Aqueduct, Rome
  • 7. Courtyard of San Gregorio, Venice
  • 8. Portrait of Man and Child (Orig. by Van Dyck)
  • 9. Black Sand Beach
  • 10. Head of Saint with Palm
  • 11. Churches of St. Pierre and St. Dominico
  • 12. Church at Moret, France
  • 13. Round Ruin
  • 14. Bridge with Arch
  • 15. Trees on the Hillside
  • 16. The Mountain
  • 17. Sailboat and House at Left
  • 18. Archway
  • 19. Sunset in Venice
  • 20. Bridge with Arched Span
  • 21. Courtyard and Watergate, Moret, France
  • 22. Castle Corner
  • 23. Girl, Steps Under Archway
  • 24. St. Mark, Venice
  • 25. Children on the Sea Shore
  • 26. Minaret
  • 27. Cliffs, Normandy, France
  • 28. The Marriage in Cana (Orig. by Veronese)
  • 29. At Longarone, Venetian Tyrol
  • 30. Lions Head
  • 31. Portrait of Man
  • 32. Perugia Landscape
  • 33. Barn and Stream
  • 34. From the Studio Window, Capri
  • 35. Copy of a Painting in the Luxembourg, Paris
  • 36. Mosque at Kait Bay?
  • 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.
  • Series 3: JULY 2007 ADDENDUM
  • Box 4:
  • Guerra, Alfred A. "The Iowa Railroad Wars and George Henry Yewell's 'Muscatine Opposition.'" Nineteenth Century Vol.25:No.1 (Spring) pp. 19-23. Photocopy. Gift of Al Guerra. - 2005
    July 2007 Addendum
  • Series 4: ITEMS IN MAP CASE 13 DRAWER 12
  • Pencil drawing
  • Black portfolio: Etchings: Notre Dame, Paris - 1853, 1887
  • Black portfolio: Etchings: (Little boy smoking with dog), undated
  • Black portfolio: Etchings: Untitled. Gift of Mary Lou Kissel
  • Prints made from Yewell plates by Virginia Myers: Newspaper article about Virginia Myers - 1978
  • Prints made from Yewell plates by Virginia Myers: Portfolio of nine original copperplate etchings by George Yewell, Printed at Tenacre. Virginia A. Myers assisted by Dellas R. Henke, June 1978. Solon, Iowa. - 1830-1923, 1978
  • Untitled - 1887
  • Paris in 1858 - 1858, 1898
  • Paris from a drawing made in 1858 - 1884
  • Rouen from the Hill of Conteleu - 1886
  • Sorrento, undated
  • Untitled portrait of Kirkwood, undated
  • 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 cloth ties for closure, 20 1/2 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. - 1861, 1865, 1870
  • Portfolio, rust-colored cover, 18 x 13 3/4. - 1865
    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.
  • 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

This collection is indexed under the following subject terms.

Landscape painters
Portrait painters

Geographic Names:
United States -- Iowa -- Iowa City

Genre/Form of Materials:
Paintings (Visual works)