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Provenance Project Notes and Outline
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Provenance Research Project (Presentation and Field Notes) In the museum world, the term provenance refers to the ownership history of an object. It is an area of study that museums have increasingly directed attention to, given growing international and national policy and statutes protecting objects of cultural heritage and evolving ethical norms around collecting. Major museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Getty Research Institute, have established provenance research units or projects with designated provenance researchers; at many institutions, provenance research is part of the role of registrars.

You will not be graded on whether you were able to construct a complete provenance of your object, as this may not be possible. You will be graded on field notes and a presentation on your provenance research. The field notes should be both descriptive and reflective and capture (in real time, rather than recorded at the end of term):


Friday, June 5, 2015

                Submit Provenance Research Proposal

Identify interested files from 1975 Inventory

                Submit those files interests to Rose Chiango


Friday, June 12, 2015

Meet with Isabelle

Review Gallery Artist Files

Review New FFAL Files


Friday, June 19, 2015

Generate Object/Artist/Donor profile using known information

Assemble all known elements


Friday, June 26, 2015

                Assemble secondary research materials

Identify possible points of research access using profile

                Contact those points – Submit research requests to David Grinnell


Friday, July 10, 2015

Visit SC/ASC/Carnegie Museum Archives


Friday, July 17, 2015

                Finalize Research points of access

                Make last minute visit to SC/ASC/Carnegie Museum Archives if necessary

                Prepare Class presentation materials, scans, photographs etc.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

                Present Provenance Project to class


Friday, July 24, 2015

                Clean and Assemble Field Notes into proper documentation


Tuesday, July 29, 2015

                Submit Final Field Notes and Project Documentation


Department Chairs Fine Arts Department


1927-1939        Frederick Mortimer Clapp

1939-1963        Walter Read Hovey

1963-1964        Virgil  D. Cantini  (Acting)

1964-1968        William C. Loerke, Ill

1968-1969        Aaron  Sheon (Acting)

1969-1974        Donald E. Gordon

1973-1974        Millard F Hearn, Jr. (Acting)

1974-1978        Millard F. Hearn, Jr.

1978-1979        Aaron Sheon (Acting)

1979-1984        John W. Williams

1984-1988        Katheryn M. Linduff

1989-1992        David Wilkins

1992-Present        Anne Weis

Subject Headings File

Art- General


PITT Chancellors

Pittsburgh Academy

1787                    Hugh Henry Brackenridge (Founder)

1789                    George Welch

1796                    Robert Andrews

1800                    Robert Steele

1801                    John Taylor

1803                    James Mountain                                                                                

1807                    Robert Patterson

1810                    Joseph Stockton                                                                                  

Western University of Pennsylvania

1819-1835           Robert Bruce                                                  

1835-1836           Gilbert Morgan

1836-1843           Robert Bruce                                                                          

1843-1849           Heman Dyer                                                                                                  

1849-1855           David H. Riddle (acting)                                                                                  

1855-1858           John F. McLaren

1858-1880           George Woods                                              

1880-1881           Milton Goff (acting)                                                  

1881-1884           Henry McCracken

1884-1890           Milton Goff                                                              

1891-1901           William Jacob Holland                                                          

1901-1904           John A. Brashear (acting)                              

University of Pittsburgh

1904-1920           Samuel B. McCormick                                                          

1921-1945           John G. Bowman                                                                                      

1945-1955           Rufus H. Fitzgerald                                                  

1955-1956           Charles B. Nutting (acting)

1956-1965           Edward H. Litchfield                                                

1965-1966           Stanton C. Crawford                                    

1966-1967           David H. Kurtzman                                      

1967-1991           Wesley W. Posvar                                          

1991-1995           J. Dennis O’Connor

1995-2014           Mark A. Nordenberg

2014-present: Patrick D. Gallagher


***May 19

Day 1 with Object: Sketchbook, Clapp Drawings

I was technically presented with the singular piece 41.4 Study- Young Boy and Woman but this sheet is only one of approximately 150-200 sheets that make up a sketchbook.

Accession#: 41.1

Home Location: Print Room-- Cabinet E-- Shelf 18

Condition: Unstable

Height: 6.875

Width: 7.688

Medium: Graphite/Pencil, red/Paper

Technique: Drawing

Culture: Europe before 1750

Gift of $1500 was donated by George Clapp specifically for the purchase of these 17th cen. Italian sketches from the collection of Mary B. Denny Burguin

Another name listed was G. S. Rupp

Records surrounding this transaction as well as letter of acknowledgement from Chancellor Bowman date July 1941.


***June 5

People Research

Mary B. Denny

Cannot readily find information

George H. Clapp

George Clapp was born in 1859. He was extremely involved in the educational institutions that were located in Pittsburgh. He became a trustee of the Carnegie Institute in 1896 and continued to serve in this capacity for 53 years. This service ended only with his death. He also served as a trustee for the University of Pittsburgh and the Carnegie Institute of Technology (Carnegie-Mellon University). The University of Pittsburgh honored him with a ScD in 1915 and named the biology department building, Clapp Hall, in his honor.


The first accession in Invertebrates at the museum was a collection of 546 specimens representing 60 species of shells from Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. This donation was one of some 190 donations made by Clapp to the museum. Clapp was appointed honorary curator of malacology in 1900. Overall, he donated more than 15,000 lots to the section. Though his collection did contain marine, freshwater, and terrestrial mollusks from around the world, most of the material he donated represented terrestrial shells of North America north of Mexico. Clapp's service to the people of Pittsburgh ended with his death in 1949 at the age of 90.




***June 12


Isabelle brought out on of the boxes and confirmed that there were approximately 250-300 sketches in the collection

Collection is of all different artist, possibly from different times and locations within Italy

Drawings of all various size, mediums, subjects, state of preservation

        BUT all seem to be “studies” from artist sketchbooks

All seem to have been displayed several times due to the multiple paper attachments

There are several number markings, but it is relatively simply to discern which matches Gallery

Some collector wrote whom they through the artist were on the front

Documentation found in Gallery File:

Major Questions we formed:

  1. How is Mary Denny (or her husband) connected to the University
  2. Why was Mary Denny willing to sale this collection during the war
  3. How did Mary Denny come to the collection
  1. she could have put it together herself
  2. she could have bought it
  1. when did she buy it?
  1. she could have inherited it from her father
  2. it could have be gifted to her (this is the least likely scenario)
  1. What was this collection called before its accession to PITT
  2. How was G.S. Rupp affiliated to PITT
  1. any association to the RUPP family of KY
  1. What is Clapp’s story with PITT
  2. Why would Clapp offer to purchase such a frivolous collection during the war when everyone (including Helena Frick) were making cut-backs



The cabinet is mostly newspaper clippings primarily dating to after the Department of FIne Arts moved to Frick Building in the 60s

        ***Follow Up in Local news to see if collection is listed in any Cathedral exhibition


*** June 13

Found a LibGuide for Pittsburgh historical newspapers to search for potential exhibitions.

Also ask David Grinnell for access to newly digitized PITT News articles

***June 14

Identified a collection in the ASC where G. Clapp is listed as a Person (as in Person and Subject Headings). I sent an email to David Grinnel, ASC, asking to come in to see these files.

Summary Information

Title: Chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh, John Gabbert Bowman, Administrative Files

Collection Number: UA.2.10.1921-1945

Creator: University of Pittsburgh. Chancellor.

Collection Dates: 1921-1945

Date Published: April 1971

Extent: 11.8 linear feet (21 boxes)

Language: English


This collection contains the office files of Chancellor Bowman, 1921-1947. In addition to the day to day files of the chancellor's office, there are the files of the financial campaign and construction for building the Cathedral of Learning, the controversy of the Liberal Club and Professor Ralph E. Turner, and Bowmans's correspondence with Helen Clay Frick.;cc=ascead;q1=Clapp;rgn=main;view=text;didno=US-PPiU-ua2101921


Box 2, Folder 15: Correspondence: George Hubbard Clapp

Letters concerning becoming President of the Board of Trustees; Stanton Crawford’s letter to Mrs. Mildred Stegeman (who was the secretary to Chancellor Bowman until his death) about the coins which Mr. Clapp gave for display in the Early American Room; Letter from Mrs. Stegeman in which she says that she has cleared out Dr. Bowman’s file and “At Dr. Bowman’s instructions I am destroying all his personal papers, of course, including any writing he had in the files”; List of items added to the Seismograph Station in 1936; Death notice of George Hubbard Clapp, March 31, 1949; Mr. Clapp’s picture painted by Madame Elizabeth Shoumatoff in 1938; Biography of George H. Clapp; 4 pictures of Mr. Clapp; Booklet on coins

 Box 2, Folder 16: Correspondence: Frederick Mortimer Clapp

Letters concerning the Fine Arts Department and Miss Frick (see also FF 145)

Box 8, Folder 71: Correspondence: G. Stanley Rupp

Nationality Rooms Book, donation by Mr. Leon Falk for publication of the book, January 8, 1947; 15 drawings were purchased from Dr. A. Avinoff, the money donated by Miss Helen C. Frick, March 2, 1944; Galen C. Hartman gave Crucible steel Co. of American stock to establish “Galen C. Hartman Library Fund” for books, November 8, 1945; List of land purchases for Medical Center, February 14, 1945; The University reimbursed for expenses of the Civil Affairs Specialists Training Program, by the U.S. Government, May 31, 1944; The University was paid for the use of its facilities by the Army Air Forces and A.S.T.P., February 18, 1944; List of contributors to the building fund for the Cathedral of Learning, 1934; List of items purchased, March 24, 1943 for the Darlington Library ; List of contributions from A.W. and R.B. Mellon; Condensed financial report of the Falk Elementary School from its opening in 1931/32 to 1941/42, also, 1941 Financial memorandum; List of buildings on Schenley Farms (Upper campus) Year completed and cost as of July 1, 1941; Treasurer’s report of assets of lands, buildings, etc, as of July 1, 1941; Copy of bill from R.C.A. Manufacturing Co., for the Electron microscope, November 1941 cost of $9500; University purchased a Collection of Italian drawings from Mary Burgwin Denny (Mrs. Harmar Denny) with funds donated by George H. Clapp, in 1941; Agreement with U.S. Department of Interior through Bureau of Mines for Anesthesia Research in 1941; List of subscribers to building fund for Cathedral of Learning, May 25, 1934

Box 19, Folder 145L Correspondence: Helen C. Frick, 1936-1946

Correspondence between Miss Frick and Chancellor re Frick art collection; bequest to Pittsburgh Free Dispensary; grant to University; correspondence re Frederick Mortimer Clapp as head, Fine Arts Department; support of Fine Arts Department and library; correspondence re bringing pianist Paderewski to Pitt, 1937. Mss. Of H.C. Frick article written by Marie McSwigan for Pitt, 1941; correspondence re George Washington letter given to Darlington Library by Helen Frick, 1942; letter re army trainees at Pitt. See also: Bowman restricted files and UA correspondence 1981


***June 16


Got ideas to check the following sources for leads


*** June 17

Email chain with David Grinnell about my ASC visit and request:

Hi Dominique—Sorry, I must not have been clear.  I knew you wouldn’t need the bulk of Frick Fine Arts records because they were limited to the library. That is why I didn’t suggest having them pulled for you…there are no records here for the department as a whole other than the exhibit catalogs.


In regard to GHC, it’s not unusual for a member of the Board of Trustees or an alum to purchase gifts for the University.   Don’t forget that in the 1940’s Pitt was a relatively small university.  Very little resemblance to the large bureaucratic organization that it would become following the 2nd World War.


Hope this is helpful….sorry I will miss you on Friday.




From: Luster, Dominique S

Sent: Wednesday, June 17, 2015 10:39 AM

To: Grinnell, David R

Cc: Brodt, Zachary L; Taylor, Ashley Laine

Subject: Re: ASC Research


Good Morning All,


David, thank you very much for your insight. Unfortunately, we do not believe this collection has any association to the Frick Library as it was accessioned into the Gallery in 1941. We have reason to believe some of these pieces were exhibited in the Cathedral so yes, an exhibition catalog could be useful. Thank you.


I will also check Documenting PITT for other references.


I am actually looking for information regarding both Clapps. Dr. M. Clapp was Department Chair up until 1939 and may provide some insight as to Mary Denny’s relationship to the Fine Arts Department. I’m also interested in Dr. George H. Clapp as he was the one who actually paid for the collection in 1941. I understand his place on the Board of Trustees but I don’t understand why he specifically would offer to pay for art?


Thank you for your assistance in this matter.


Ashley, I will see you on Friday!


From: <Grinnell>, David R <>

Date: Wednesday, June 17, 2015 at 10:01 AM

To: "Luster , Dominique S" <>

Cc: "Brodt, Zachary L" <>, "Taylor, Ashley Laine" <>

Subject: RE: ASC Research

Good Morning Dominique,


Thanks for your message concerning your research on Frick Fine Arts collections.  I will be away from the ASC on Friday, but Ashley will be on the ref desk that afternoon to assist you. I’m happy to have the Bowman boxes pulled and waiting for your arrival.


I have reviewed the records in the University Archives related to Frick Fine Arts and found that there are mostly boxes of records for the library.  One exception is a single document case containing exhibit catalogs from the University Art Gallery. I’ll pull that just in case there is something interesting there for you.


In regard to the Pitt News, yes that material has been digitized but it isn’t not yet available—there is no way to search it without it being online.  But, the good news is that the Alumni Publications section of Documenting Pitt is often a great place to locate information on donations to the university for the time period you are researching.  So, we would highly recommend that you take a look there.  We have often found information on room dedications and donations of paintings within the pages of the alumni publications, so there is a good chance something was recorded there.


I assume when you refer to Dr. Clapp you mean Dr. Frederick Mortimer Clapp, the head of the Fine Arts Program?  I ask because the President of the Board of Trustees during the 1940’s was Dr. George Hubbard Clapp—GHC was a huge benefactor to the University and was a very well-known numismatic and collector of many things.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he was also an art or print collector.  But, I want you to know this detail because when you search on Documenting Pitt, you might get hits for both of these men.


I hope this information is helpful and I wish you the best of luck with your research.  I’ve copied Zach and Ashley on this message, so if you have any further questions or if they have additional suggestions they can chime in….


All my best,



***June 19

Visited ASC Today. Looked through files listed above. David Grinnell also pulled a box of FFAG exhibition catalogues. Found an exhibition catalog 1974 in which many (at least 20) of the drawings were used. Can tell from the UAG accession numbers

Antiquity Reborn: An Exhibition of Prints, Drawings and Books from the Collection of Frick Fine Arts Library Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, and University Art Gallery. November 8-December 8, 1974


*** June 23

Found Connection of Mary Denny to PITT. Both her husband and her Father were a trustee

Harmar Denny (May 13, 1794 – January 29, 1852) was an American businessman and Anti-Masonic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania.

Harmar Denny was born in Pittsburgh the son of Ebenezer Denny and Nancy Wilkins.[1]His father had served as adjutant to General Harmar during wars on the western frontier. Graduating from Dickinson College in Carlisle in 1813, Harmar Denny was admitted to the bar in Pennsylvania in 1816 and became a law partner with Henry Baldwin and practiced law in Pittsburgh . He married Elizabeth F. O'Hara on November 25, 1817 and they had 11 children. Elizabeth was the daughter of General James O'Hara and Mary Carson O'Hara. He served as a member of the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives from 1824 to 1829. In 1829 he became a ruling elder of the First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh.[2]

Denny was elected as an Anti-Masonic candidate to the Twenty-first Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of William Wilkins. He was reelected to the Twenty-second through Twenty-fourth Congresses and served from December 15, 1829, to March 3, 1837. After his term, he resumed the practice of law in Pittsburgh, and became a delegate to the Pennsylvania State Constitutional Convention in 1837. He was a presidential elector on the Whig ticket in 1840. As commissioner under act of incorporation of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, April 13, 1846, he incorporated the Ohio & Pennsylvania Railroad Company, 1848. He was admitted to the American Philosophical Society in 1848. In 1849 he was elected president of the common council of Pittsburgh. [3]He declined the nomination to be a candidate for Congress in 1850. He served as president of the Pittsburgh & Steubenville Railroad Company in 1851 and 1852. He was a trustee of the Western University of Pennsylvania, now the University of Pittsburgh, and director of the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.[1]

He was buried at Allegheny Cemetery in Pittsburgh's Lawrenceville neighborhood.

New York State Senator Henry E. H. Brereton (1865–1957) was his grandson; Congressman Harmar D. Denny, Jr. (1886–1966) was his great-grandson.

Mary Denny’s Husband: Harmar Denny

Lieutenant Colonel Harmar Denny Denny, Jr. (July 2, 1886 – January 6, 1966) was a pilot and Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania.

Harmar D. Denny, Jr., was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania. He was the great-grandson of Congressman Harmar Denny. He attended St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire, in 1904, graduated from Yale University in 1908, and from the law school of the University of Pittsburgh in 1911. During the First World War he served in the United States Army Air Corps as a first lieutenant and bombing pilot. Upon his return to Pennsylvania, he practiced law and was the director of public safety for the city of Pittsburgh in 1933 and 1934. He was an unsuccessful Republican candidate for mayor of Pittsburgh in 1941. During the Second World War he served as a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army Air Corps as assistant air inspector, Eastern Flying Training Command, 1942 to 1945. At his retirement he was commissioned a lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force.

Denny was elected as a Republican to the Eighty-second Congress, defeating incumbent Democratic Congressman Harry J. Davenport in the Pennsylvania 29th district. He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1952 when redistricting forced him into an election against incumbent Democratic Congressman Herman P. Eberharter in the 28th District. After his term in Congress he served as a member of Civil Aeronautics Board from April 7, 1953, to November 15, 1959. He died in Buxton, Derbyshire, England and is buried at Allegheny Cemetery in Pittsburgh's Lawrenceville neighborhood.

Found a finding aid of the Denny-O’Hara Families - Heinz (Mary Burgwin Denny’s Father in Law)

The Denny and O'Hara families are two prominent families who migrated to the Pittsburgh region prior to the American Revolution. Ebenezer Denny and James O'Hara both served in the Revolutionary War and became civic and business leaders of the growing city. Two of their children, Harmar Denny and Elizabeth O'Hara, were married in 1817, uniting the families.;cc=hswpead;rgn=main;view=text;didno=US-QQS-MSS51


***June 24

Hunting down Mary!

Mary Blair Burgwin Denny

Birth: Aug. 26, 1889

Death: Sep. 27, 1965



Allegheny Cemetery


Allegheny County

Pennsylvania, USA

Plot: Section 11 Lot: 6



***July 5

May have found contact information for Mary’s relatives:

1170 Bower Hill Rd

Pittsburgh, PA 15243-1344

 (412) 429-0156

Called, no answer.

Harmar Denny was listed as a relative on the public record at Cheswick, PA 15024, no number. Obviously he’s deceased but maybe this is a relative.

Sent a cold email to the contact listed on


***July 14

Looked through available CLP databases for Mary’s Children. No luck

Joined (free trial)

Found an Passport Application for Mary as well as two New York Passenger List manifestos

HOWEVER! I found tons of information about Harmar. I will try to track Mary’s Children through him.

Full name: Harmar Denny Denny

Birth:  2 Jul 1886 - Allegheny, United States

Marriage:  10 Apr 1915 - Pennsylvania, United States

Death:  6 Jan 1966 - Derbyshire, England

Parents:  Harmar Denny, Elizabeth Bell Marshall

Spouse:  Mary Blair Burgwin

Children: Elizabeth M Denny (1918), James O H Denny (1920), Anne B Denny (1923)

Full Name: Elizabeth M Denny

Birth:  01 Apr 1917 (1 Apr 1917) - USA

Marriage:  1938 - Pittsburgh, Allegheny County(Allegheny), Pennsylvania

Death:  31 Aug 2003 - Meridian, Idaho

Parents:  Harmar Denny Denny, Mary Blair Burgwin

Spouse:  John Brooke Saxman

Full Name: James O’Hara Denny

Birth:  02 Aug 1919 (2 Aug 1919) - Allegheny, USA

Death:  29 May 1993 - Pittsburgh, Allegheny, Pennsylvania, United States of America

Parents:  Harmar Denny Denny, Mary Blair Burgwin

Full Name: Anne B Denny

Birth:  06 Sep 1922 (6 Sep 1922) - USA

Marriage:  23 May 1958 - Chiswick, Middlesex, England

Death:  12 Jun 2009 - Pennsylvania, USA

Parents:  Harmar Denny Denny, Mary Blair Burgwin

+well it looks like all Mary’s children are deceased. Not sure if the grandchildren would even know anything about her much less her art collection.


***July 18

Since tracking the art through Mary is going to be close to impossible, I’m going to do some last looking through newspapers to check for any final clues.

“$67,600 left in Denny Will”

Pittsburgh Press - February 11, 1967

“Book Finds Its Way to Library After 56 Years”

The Day - November 2, 1970

        Not relevant, but funny!

Documenting PITT

October 1939 Article on the opening of the new “modern” Fine Arts exhibition space in the Cathedral. As this article pre-dates this donation, Denny either already had an established relationship with the department or she has made other donations to the department.

November 54 Press Release specifically on this collection’s (probably first) exhibition.