Seattle Art Museum Connections
The bookplates featured here depict book ownership by persons connected to the Seattle Art Museum or bookplates specially designed for the museum's library.
Seattle Art Museum Ex Libris
These two bookplates were created specifically for the Seattle Art Museum Libraries, one in 1933 and the other in 2007.
The first, and original, Seattle Art Museum Library bookplate was created by Seattle artist, Ren Wicks (American, 1911-1997), who, at the time, was a Cornish College of the Arts student. In March of 1933, several months before the museum officially opened its doors, Museum Director, Richard Fuller (American, 1897-1976) announced a bookplate competition to find an ex libris for the museum's first library collection. The competition was open to "all Seattle artists with a an award of life membership in the museum to be presented to the winner."1 At the time, a life membership was equal to $500, a nice sum for 1933.2
In 2007, the museum itself undertook an endeavor to create another SAM-specific ex libris to acknowledge an unusually generous gift. In 2003, the museum established a Department of American Art, hiring a designated curator to oversee that area for the first time. Unlike collections in other subject areas headed by curators, like European art and African art, there had never been a dedicated effort to build up a research collection to support American art. An impressive fully-formed American art research collection of 10,000 titles was located and purchased on SAM's behalf by two generous donors, Susan Winokur and Paul Leach, along with additional funding from SAM's Council on American Art and the Marie Lamfrom Foundation. To honor this important gift, a bookplate was designed by SAM's design team which depicts a drawing, "The Old Mirror," ca. 1905, by Lillian Westcott Hale (American, 1891-1963) from the collection of Winokur and Leach.
Connections to the Seattle Art Museum
These ex libris represent the collections of people who had important relationships with the Seattle Art Museum.
Ex Libris of Manson Franklin Backus
The personal bookplate of Manson Franklin Backus (American, 1853-1935), states in Latin, "Trust in God" and depicts a coat of arms with three doves and a chevron. Backus was a Seattle banker and philanthropist. He supported the Seattle Fine Arts Society, a predecessor to the Seattle Art Museum. Upon his death in 1935, his estate bequeathed more than 300 prints to the Seattle Art Museum, and a library of more than 160 volumes on prints and printmaking to SAM's Library.
Ex Libris of Cebert Baillargeon
The personal bookplate for Cebert Baillargeon (American, 1889-1964) was illustrated by artist, Jacob Elshin (American, 1892-1976). It depicts a world map with the four winds, fish, birds, ships, and an image of the Baillargeon home hovering over North America. Baillargeon was a banker and early patron of the Seattle Art Museum. Members of the Baillargeon family continue to be active in the museum.
Ex Libris of Martha and Henry Isaacson
The personal bookplate for Martha and Henry Isaacson (American, 1901-2000 and 1899-1985) depicts a large coat of arms with multiple charges: the coat of arms is crowned with the three crowns of a Viking ship, and directly below is a circle with the three crowns of Sweden. The Isaacsons were local steel magnates and major donors to the Seattle Art Museum's porcelain collection. Martha was a founding member of the Seattle Ceramic Society.
Learn more about collecting porcelain in the Seattle area and its connections to the Seattle Art Museum here.
Ex Libris of Erna Mandowsky
The personal bookplate for Erna Mandowsky (German, 1906-2003) depicts Florence Cathedral overlooking a medieval wall surrounded by a brown border. Mandowsky was an art historian, who studied under Erwin Panofsky. Forced to emigrate from Germany before World War II, she spent an active career moving between institutions until her retirement in Seattle, where she volunteered with the Seattle Art Museum and authored a collection guide: Old Master Drawings: Seattle Art Museum Collection Guide (1980).
Ex Libris of the West Seattle Art Club
The bookplate for the West Seattle Art Club depicts two daffodils and is followed by the name of a member who the organization wishes to memorialize. Founded in 1910 by Katherine B. Baker, with a mission to provide art education, support of the arts, and community activism, the West Seattle Art Club sponsored purchase prize awards for a series of Northwest art exhibitions. These purchase awards resulted in a number of works by Northwest artists coming to the Seattle Art Museum's permanent collection. The WSAC continues to make annual donations of books to SAM's libraries.
Ex Libris of Katherine White
The personal bookplate of Katherine White (American, 1929-1980) features a round, striated, female mask of the Luba. White was an important collector whose gift of art established the Seattle Art Museum's African art collection and added important works to other areas of the collection. The image depicted on the bookplate resembles the Congolese/Luba Mask (Kifwebe) (81.17.869) given by White to the Seattle Art Museum shortly after her death. Learn more about Katherine White and her bookplate here.
1“Art Contributes to Art: Prize Designs for the Seattle Art Museum’s Use,” Seattle Sunday Times (May 28, 1933), p. 46.
2 Seattle Art Museum, “Annual Report of the Seattle Art Museum, Formerly the Art Institute of Seattle: Twenty-eighth Year, 1933,” Seattle Art Museum Libraries: Digital Collections, accessed November 11, 2017, http://samlibraries.omeka.net/items/show/7 (p. 31).