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Jean Liberte Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Liberte, Jean, 1896-1965.
Title: Jean Liberte Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1924-1970
Quantity: 1.75 linear ft.
Abstract: Papers of the Italian-American painter. Correspondence (1924-1970), mostly of Jean and wife, Ruth K. Liberte; photographs and reproductions of his work; and memorabilia, including articles, awards, clippings, invitations, exhibition catalogs and programs.
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

Jean Liberté (1896-1965) was an Italian-American artist. Born in Italy, Liberté emigrated to the United States in 1900 and became a citizen in 1932. He received his art education at Cooper Union and studied under Arthur Crisp, David Karfunkle, and Kenneth Hayes Miller at the Art Students League in New York City. Liberté also attended the National Academy of Design and the Beaux-Arts Institute for a short time. From 1946 until his death, Liberté taught painting at the Art Students League and casein painting at the North Shore (New York) Community Center Art School; he was also visiting lecturer for the Great Neck (New York) Art Association, Scarsdale Art Center, and the Roslyn (New York) Art Center.

Liberté exhibited in many one-man shows and shows with others throughout the world, and his work is represented in the permanent collections of many important galleries. He received numerous awards as a recognized authority on the technical aspects of casein painting and commendations for his experiments in gouache.

Liberté was married to the former Ruth Rita Kagan, a fellow artist. They had no children.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Jean Liberté Papers are divided into correspondence, photographs and reproductions, and memorabilia. The bulk of the material in the latter two categories is not dated.

Correspondence covers 1924-1970, with emphasis on 1933-1935, and includes both incoming and outgoing letters. Significant correspondents who exerted considerably influence on Liberté's work include Elizabeth Ames (letters date from 1932 to 1934) and his wife, artist Ruth Rita Kagan (letters dated from 1924 to 1943). Initials "LJL" and "RRKL" refer to Liberté and his wife, respectively.

Material in Photographs and reproductions is entirely undated, and includes photographs of Liberté's paintings plus two reproductions of artwork by Ruth Rita Kagan Liberté. Untitled reproductions include a book, Drawings by American Artists (ed. Norman Kent, Watson-Guptill Publications, Inc., N.Y., 1947), which contains an analysis of Liberté's drawing technique and a reproduction of one of his black chalk sketches.

Memorabilia (1934-1969) includes awards, invitations, and legal notices received by Liberté or his wife. Biographical material contains newspaper and periodical clippings dealing with Liberté's professional life. Mementoes, photographs of family and friends, and art exhibition programs from exhibits by both Liberté and his contemporaries are also included.

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Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence is arranged chronologically; undated material is at the end of the series. Memorabilia is arranged alphabetically by type; within this, programs are arranged chronologically with undated material at the end.

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Access Restrictions

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Subject Headings


Liberte, Jean, 1896-1965 -- Archives.
Liberte, Ruth Kagan.


Art, American -- 20th century.
Art, American.
Italian Americans.
Painters -- United States.
Painting, American -- 20th century.
Painting, American.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Exhibition catalogs.
Programs (documents)



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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Jean Liberté Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Mrs. R. Liberte, 1970.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: BLE
Date: Feb 1971
Revision history: 31 Mar 2008 - converted to EAD (MRC)

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Box 1 1924
Box 1 1929
Box 1 1932
Box 1 1933 (3 folders)
Box 1 1934 (3 folders)
Box 1 1935 (2 folders)
Box 1 1936
Box 1 1937
Box 1 1938
Box 1 1940
Box 1 1941
Box 1 1942
Box 2 1943
Box 2 1945
Box 2 1947
Box 2 1948
Box 2 1949
Box 2 1950
Box 2 1951
Box 2 1952
Box 2 1953
Box 2 1954
Box 2 1956
Box 2 1958
Box 2 1964
Box 2 1965
Box 2 1966
Box 2 1967
Box 2 1968
Box 2 1969
Box 2 1970
Box 2 Undated
Photographs and reproductions
Liberté, L. Jean
Box 2 "Early Painting" (1 item)
Box 2 "Fog at Grand Manan" (3 items)
Oversize 1 "Group of Paintings" - includes New England Church; Rocks and Sea; Sunset, Gloucester; Mother and Children; Artist's Wife
Box 2 "Mother and Two Children" (1 item)
Box 2 "Mother of Spain" (3 items)
Box 2 "New England Wharf" (1 item)
Box 2 "New York City" (1 item)
Box 2 "Part of Gloucester" (1 item)
Box 2 "Portrait of a Woman (Ruth)" (1 item)
Box 2 "Road in Monhegan" (1 item)
Box 2 "Sea Coast of Maine" (1 item)
Box 2 "Serenity" (1 item)
Oversize 1 Studies on Martha Graham (3 items)
Box 2 Studies on Old Jewish Types (3 items)
Box 2 Untitled, in Drawings by American Artists (ed. Norman Kent, Watson-Guptill Publications, Inc., N.Y., 1947) (1 item)
Box 2 Untitled (17 items)
Liberté, Ruth Rita Kagan
Box 2 "Clown at Circus" (1 item)
Box 2 "Jamaica" (1 item)
Oversize 1 Awards 1945
Box 2 Awards 1960, 1963
Biographical material
Box 2 Newspaper clippings 1949, 1950, 1952-1955, 1962, 1965, 1968, undated (4 folders)
Box 2 Periodical clippings 1948-1949, 1950-1954, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1969 undated (4 folders)
Box 2 Invitations 1950-1967
Box 2 Legal notices 1965
Box 2 Miscellaneous mementoes undated
Box 3 Art Students League undated (2 items)
Box 3 Art Students League, class ca. 1960 (5 items)
Oversize 1 Art Students League, class undated
Box 3 Family undated (4 items)
Box 3 Friends undated (4 items)
Box 3 Self undated (5 items)
Box 3 Studio undated (5 items)
Programs, art exhibitions
Box 3 1934, 1949
Box 3 1950
Box 3 1952
Box 3 1953
Box 3 1955
Box 3 1958
Box 3 1965
Box 3 1969
Box 3 Undated

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