Major Butt & Frank Millet


George Behe

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Dec 11, 1999
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Hi, all!

In 1908 in Washington D.C. Frank Millet painted a portrait of his friend Archie Butt. Does anyone happen to know if this portrait still exists and, if so, where it is presently located?

Major Butt's friend Frank McCoy recorded a few humorous comments regarding the above portrait:

"I'm afraid we made a good deal of fun of this portrait of Archie. But since we allowed it was a good picture of his uniform, his countenance brightened. For he did love his uniform and had frank and unabashed pleasure in it -- the gaudier the uniform the better, the broader and yellower the stripes the better -- quite in contrast to the self-consciousness of the average regular officer of the days before the war, when the uniform was seldom worn away from army posts and made the wearer somewhat conspicuous...."

Any help regarding the present location of the Millet/Butt portrait would be greatly appreciated.

All my best,

George
 
May 12, 2005
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George,

You may want to contact the National Gallery of Art, a subsidiary of the Smithsonian Institution, at the following address:

The National Gallery of Art
6th and Constitution Ave.
NW Washington DC 20565

I do not have a curator's name but you can check their website to find the correct contact at:

http://www.nga.gov/resources/resource.htm

I have made a cursory search of the collection list and found no reference to the Frank Millet portrait of Major Butt, however on a separate archives page, I did find a reference to the following:

_________________________________________________

Smithsonian Institution Archive
National Collection of Fine Arts
Office of the Director
General Correspondence (1892-1975)

Record Unit 311; Series 1
Folder 10 - Correspondence (1924 and 1939) of Cecile de Wentworthy with Director concerning bequeathing of oil portrait of Major Archibald Butt to the NGA.

_________________________________________________

I hope the office of the Curator can help you locate this portrait. If it is not in the NGA, surely the museum can direct you to the proper source.

Randy

PS) Of course its likely the portrait alluded to is not the one by Millet but it's sure worth a try. Good luck!
 

George Behe

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Dec 11, 1999
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Hi, Randy!

Thanks very much for the information! I'll do my best to find out what's what at the NGA.

Take care, my friend.

All my best,

George
 

Kris Muhvic

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Sep 26, 2008
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Greetings-

I wish to offer some help; hope I don't confuse matters. According to the copy I have of "American Paintings from the Manoogian Collection", a joint exhibition by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and the Detroit Institute of Arts 1989-1990 (evidently Mr. Moanoogian was a quite an art collector/ industrialist) The biography of Mr. Millet says he "traveled extensively" in 1908 to Japan, China, and Korea.
Now, the bio. writer, Marc Simpson, lists his sources as follows:

-Weinberg, H. Barbara. "The Career of Francis Davis Millet"...Archives of American Art Journal 17, #1 (1977), 2-18.
-Sharpey-Schafer, Joyce. "Soldier of Fortune: F. D. Millet." Utica, N.Y., 1984.

Maybe this can narrow something down, or this is useless info.!

Take care-
Kris
 

George Behe

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Dec 11, 1999
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Hi, Kris and Mike!

Thanks very much for the additional information -- I'll let you know if I manage to hit paydirt.

Kris, I remember when the Millet exhibit appeared at the Detroit Institute of Arts, but I never got a chance to zip down there and take a look. (Who knows? I might have been able to see the Butt portrait with my own eyes.)

The "Soldier of Fortune" volume is an excellent biography of Millet but is kind of spotty in places; it covers Millet's 1908 trip to the Orient and then skips directly to 1911. (The volume doesn't have room to describe every one of Millet's paintings, either.) Even so, it's an *excellent* book and well worth obtaining.

All my best,

George
 

Kris Muhvic

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Sep 26, 2008
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Mr. Behe-
fellow Michigander!

No, I didn't see the Millet exhibit either, I was at the time up in Flint, going through my poor-student-coffee-house-angry-young-man phase, so I A), did not know of the exhibit because B), I was far too DREARY to know of it!

Now, since my last post, I was thinking: was this portrait a "painting"? I realise that is the idea here, but could it be a drawing of some sort? Black and white works were quite popular at this time...think of the wild success of Charles Dana Gibson to the provacative work of Aubrey Beardsley. Charcoal, pen-and-ink, pencil and the Arts and Craft movement's revival of woodcuts were quite common. And many artists, then as now, would utilise this genre. Unfortunatly today, this work is usually delegated to archives and footnotes- I guess sketches don't make good fodder for expensive, glossy coffee table books!

The only reason I mention all this is maybe the reason Butt's portrait is obscured results from possibly the simple nature in which it was done. Oils get the show, drawings get the shaft.

Yes, I could be barking up the wrong tree (or brush?!), only this "mystery portrait" has now got my itch...I'll try to find, or at least read "Soldier of Fortune..." Although I have never done this sort of thing before, I guess I could go to the DIA and see what they have in the nether-regions of collected works/documentations...if they'll let me. Of course, I could befriend a janitor- they know everything in a building, and infiltrate the catecombs (insert James Bond theme here!)...hmmm...let you know!

Thanks for the time!
Yours-Kris
 

George Behe

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Hi, Kris!

> fellow Michigander!

Hey, Flint isn't that far away from Mt. Clemens. Maybe we and a few fellow Michiganders can get together one of these days. :)

> No, I didn't see the Millet >exhibit either, I was at the time up in Flint, >going through my >poor-student-coffee-house-angry-young-man phase,

Can I take it for granted that both you and I are now in our complacent, dozing-in-front-of-the-TV phase? :)

> Now, since my last post, I was >thinking: was this portrait a "painting"? I >realise that is the idea here, but
> could it be a drawing of some >sort?

That's an excellent point that I had never even considered. The sentence which preceded the quote I posted here said that Butt was fond of having his portrait painted, so I automatically assumed that Millet's portrait of Butt was an oil painting. I guess that need not be the case, though.

>Although I have never done this sort of thing >before, I guess
> I could go to the DIA and see what >they have in the nether-regions of collected >works/documentations...if
> they'll let me.

That would be great, Kris -- I'd appreciate the help very much. In the meantime, I'll let ET know if I find out anything from the NGA. (Thanks again, Randy!)

All my best,

George
 

Kris Muhvic

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Sep 26, 2008
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George-

First off, thanks for putting up with my art history session, once the wheels start going I'm afraid I can get a bit tiresome...

I don't live in Flint anymore- I'm closer than you think! After a move to Fenton with my folks, I finally broke out on my own and live in Ferndale (a 6th letter theme going on !?!), above a storefront right on Woodward. So if any get togethers happen, you better at least let me know!
happy.gif


Oh...Hey-hey now, I'm not quite at the "dozing in front of the TV" chapter yet! I-I still have a few wild oats still in me...OK, so they're in a "Quaker" box, but let me have a little!
happy.gif


Re: Millet/Butt Portrait...I'll have to do a little research before research, and with work and all I'm sort of time-confined. But I will find out something. Even if it is nothing, then at least we'll know to take different avenues.

You take care,
and keep me informed what you found out-
Yours-
Kris
 

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