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.

Connections to the Seattle Art Museum

These ex libris represent library collections, that now reside in the Seattle Art Museum Research Libraries, of people who had important relationships with the Seattle Art Museum.

Ex Libris, Confido in Deo, Manson Franklin Backus

Manson Franklin Backus (American, 1853-1935)

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 Cebert Baillargeon

Cebert Baillargeon (American, 1889-1964)

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 Blanche M. Harnan

Blanche Harnan (American, 1889-1968) was one of the founding members of the Seattle Ceramic Society, which stimulated the collection of European porcelain through study groups. The Society's stated goal was to collect European porcelain worthy of exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum. In 1954, Harnan was made Honorary Curator of Porcelain at SAM, "in recognition of her knowledge in a specialized field and in appreciation of her service to the Museum..."3 She held the position until her death in 1968. And, although none of these bookplates were personally made for its owner, they are still a wonderful reflection of a woman who was deeply committed to scholarship. 

Learn more about porcelain collecting in the Seattle area and its connections to the Seattle Art Museum here.

Martha and Henry Isaacson

Martha Isaacson (American, 1901-2000); Henry Isaacson (American, 1899-1985)

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 porcelain collecting in the Seattle area and its connections to the Seattle Art Museum here.

Fiorensa, Ex Libris, Erna Mandowsky | Erna Mandowsky, Fiorensa, Ex Libris

Erna Mandowsky (German, 1906-2003)

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). 

Presented by West Seattle Art Club Founded 1910 in Memory of JoAnn Fulton

West Seattle Art Club (Founded 1910)

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.

From the library of Katherine White

Katherine White (American, 1929-1980)

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,, p. 31.

3 Seattle Art Museum, “Annual Report of the Seattle Art Museum: Forty-Ninth Year, 1954,” Seattle Art Museum Libraries: Digital Collections, accessed April 10, 2018,, p. 9.

Seattle Art Museum Connections