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Manuscript Collection

Collection Title: Craven (Thomas) Letter

Collection Number: M147

Dates: March 28 (circa 1940)

Volume: 1 item

Provenance: Unknown

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical/Historical Sketch:

Author and art critic Thomas Craven was born in Salinas, Kansas, on January 6, 1889. After taking an A.B. degree from Kansas Wesleyan University in 1908, Craven worked at various positions which included reporting, night clerking, school teaching, and sailing. From 1913-1914, Craven taught English as an instructor at the University of Puerto Rico. Craven worked as a free lance writer and lecturer after 1919, producing works ranging from art critiques and reviews to novels. His works include: Paint (1923), a novel; Men of Art (1931); Modern Art (1935); Life of Benvenuto Cellini , ed. (1937); A Treasury of American Prints (1939); A Treasury of Art Masterpieces, ed. (1939); Cartoon Calvalcades, ed. (1943);: The Story of Painting: From Cave Pictures to Modern Art (1943); and The Rainbow Book of Art (1956). Thomas Craven is now recognized as a leader in the awakening of American art in the 20th century, and is known for his strong interest in the cultural development of America.

Thomas Craven was married to Aileen St. John-Brenon; they had one son, Richard. Craven died in 1969.

Scope and Content:

This collection consists of one autograph letter, signed by Thomas Craven and written on his personal stationary. The letter, dated March 28 (circa 1940), and addressed to a Mrs. Price, was found attached to page 448 of a copy of Craven's book, A Treasury of Art Masterpieces (in the collection of Cook Library, accession #107177). The letter comments on an Audobon painting, the "Snowy Heron," discussed on pages 450-451 of the same book.

The letter answers a reader's concern over Audobon's landscapes and the reader's "fine words" for Craven's work, A Treasury of Art Masterpieces. The body of the letter is in large part a critique of Audubon's "Snowy Heron," drawing upon the opinions of Constance Raurke (Ramke/Rawke) and Donald Culross Peattie (botanist and naturalist), as well as the author's own opinions.

It must be noted that A Treasury of Art Masterpieces won high critical acclaim. Also, for a work of its kind, it experienced phenomenal sales.

The following books by Thomas Craven are available in the Cook Library:

Men of Art (New York: Simon and Schuster, c1931), call number ND50 .C7.

Modern Art: The Men, the Movements, the Meaning (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1934), call number N6450 .C7.

A Treasury of Art Masterpieces, from the Renaissance to the Present Day (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1939), call number ND1170 .C7; 1952 edition, call number ND1170 .C7 1952.

A Treasury of American Prints: A Selection of One Hundred Etchings and Lithographs by the Foremost Living American Artists (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1939), call number NE950 .C7.

The Story of Painting, from Cave Pictures to Modern Art (New York, Simon and Schuster, 1943), call number ND50 .C72.

The Rainbow Book of Art (Cleveland: World Pub. Co., 1956), call number N5300 .C78.


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