University of Texas, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Tennessee Williams:

An Inventory of His Art Collection at the Harry Ransom Center



Collection Summary

Creator: Williams, Tennessee, 1911-1983
Title: Tennessee Williams Art Collection
Dates: circa 1928-1980
Abstract: The collection consists of paintings, drawings, and prints by and related to Tennessee Williams. Art by Williams includes twenty-six paintings of still lifes, landscapes, and portraits of his friends, including a few paintings from his childhood years.
Call Number: Art Collection AR-00299
Extent: 2 boxes, 5 framed paintings, 1 framed print (39 items)
Repository: Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin,

Biographical Sketch

The playwright Tennessee Williams was born Thomas Lanier Williams, III, on March 26, 1911, in Columbus, Mississippi, to Cornelius Coffin and Edwina Dakin Williams. He spent his early childhood in Mississippi and Tennessee before his family moved to St. Louis, Missouri, in 1918. Williams started writing at an early age, and he showed early artistic ability. He briefly attended the University of Missouri and Washington University in St. Louis before graduating from the University of Iowa in 1938. A few months after graduation, he moved to New Orleans, where he soon became friends with a clarinetist, Jim Parrott. In early 1939, Williams went with Parrott to Los Angeles hoping to find a screenwriting job and briefly worked on Parrott’s uncle’s pigeon farm. During this time he also received art lessons from Parrott’s mother Adelaide, a WPA art instructor, who was impressed by Williams’ artistic talent. After this, Williams sketched and painted often, and he continued to do so for the rest of his life. For subjects, he turned to his mother Edwina, his sister Rose, and friends, including Jim Parrott. As his writing career developed he also painted characters from his plays. Later in life while living in Key West, Florida, Williams received further lessons from Henry Faulkner, with whom he also exhibited works. At this point he also created limited edition portfolios which he sold in New York through Gotham Book Mart.

In March of 1939, Williams won a $100 Group Theatre Prize for five one-act plays later published as American Blues as well as a $1,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation for Battle of Angels. He gained even greater success with The Glass Menagerie in 1944. His plays A Streetcar Named Desire (1947) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955) both won Pulitzer Prizes. Other successful plays included Suddenly Last Summer (1958), Sweet Bird of Youth (1959), and Night of the Iguana (1961). Williams also wrote two novels, film scripts, poetry, essays, short stories, and his autobiography, Memoirs (1975). He died February 25, 1983, in New York City.


Scope and Contents

The Tennessee Williams Art Collection consists of paintings, drawings, and prints by and related to Tennessee Williams. The collection is divided into the following series: I. Works by Tennessee Williams; II. Portraits of Tennessee Williams by Other Artists; and III. Works Related to Tennessee Williams.

Series I. is comprised of twenty-six paintings and drawings of still lifes, landscapes, and portraits Williams made of his friends, including a few paintings from his childhood years. These works are arranged by accession number. Series II. consists of four portraits of Williams created by various artists. Series III., Works Related to Tennessee Williams, includes a portrait of Williams' maternal grandfather, Dr. Dakin; a dust jacket design by Cecil Beaton for The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone; a preliminary sketch by Thomas Hart Benton for his painting The Poker Night, which was used on the cover of the Signet paperback edition of Streetcar Named Desire; and drawings of Williams' dog, Buffo, by the actress Anna Magnani, who won an Oscar for her role in the screen version of The Rose Tattoo. These works are arranged alphabetically by artist surname.


Restrictions

Access:

Open for research. Please note that a minimum of 24 hours notice is required to pull Art Collection materials to the Ransom Center's Reading and Viewing Room. Some materials may be restricted from viewing. To make an appointment or to reserve Art Collection materials, please contact the Center's staff at art@hrc.utexas.edu. Researchers must create an online Research Account and agree to the Materials Use Policy before using archival materials.

Use Policies:

Ransom Center collections may contain material with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in the collections without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the Ransom Center and The University of Texas at Austin assume no responsibility.

Restrictions on Use:

Authorization for publication is given on behalf of the University of Texas as the owner of the collection and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder which must be obtained by the researcher. For more information please see the Ransom Centers' Open Access and Use Policies.


Index Terms

People
Beaton, Cecil, 1904-1980.
Benton, Thomas Hart, 1889-1975.
Jones, Liza.
Kinstler, Everett Raymond.
Magnani, Anna, 1908-1973.
Safran, Bernard, 1924- .
Williams, Tennessee, 1911-1983.
Subjects
Dramatists, American.
Portrait painting.
Document Types
Caricatures.
Drawings.
Landscape paintings.
Paintings.
Self-portraits.

Related Material

Additional portraits of Tennessee Williams, also held in the Art Collection, include works by Don Bachardy, David Levine, Emanuel Romano, and David Schorr. Extensive Tennessee Williams manuscript holdings are held in the Tennessee Williams Collection (MS-04535) and several smaller collection. Photographs by and of Williams can be found in Tennessee Williams Literay File Photography Collection (PH-02858) and in other Liteary Files of the Photography Collection (PH-00281).


Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Tennessee Williams Art Collection (AR-00389). Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin.

Acquisition:

Purchases, 1966-2019 (R2913, R1963, R5900, 19-09-018-P); gifts, 1966-2003 (G12245, G10499)

Processed by:

Alice Egan, 1997, Helen Young, 2001, and Mary Alice Harper, 2019


Sources:

Leverich, L. Tom, the Unknown Tennessee Williams. New York: W. W. Norton, 1995.

"Tennessee Williams."Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series, vol. 31, ed. J. G. Lewniak. Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1990.


Tennessee Williams Art Collection--Item List

Series I. Works by Tennessee Williams, 1928-1947, 1981, undated

Box
1.1 Williams, Tennessee (attributed). [Jim Parrott?], 1939?
Watercolor, 45.5 x 30.4 cm.
Box
1.2 Williams, Tennessee. [Tennessee Williams, self-portrait], 1939.
Oil on paperboard, 30.4 x 20.7 cm.
Box
1.3 Williams, Tennessee (attributed). [Fred Parrott?], 1939?
Oil on paperboard, 35.5 x 22.8 cm.
Box
1.4 Williams, Tennessee? [James Merle or Frank Merlo], undated.
Oil on paperboard, 30.4 x 21 cm.
Box
1.5 Williams, Tennessee. [Frank Merlo], undated.
Oil on canvas board, 50.1 x 40.4 cm.
Box
1.6 Williams, Tennessee. Jim, 1939?
Oil on paperboard, 30.3 x 20.9 cm.
Box
1.7 Williams, Tennessee. [Jim Parrott?], undated.
Oil on paperboard, 30.5 x 25.5 cm.
Box
1.8 Williams, Tennessee. [Still life], undated.
Oil on board, 20.8 x 30.2 cm.
Box
1.9 Williams, Tennessee. [Prancing horse with vase], undated.
Oil on board, 25.4 x 30.5 cm.
Box
1.10 Williams, Tennessee? [Landscape], undated.
Oil on masonite, 22.8 x 30.1 cm.
Box
1.11 Williams, Tennessee (attributed). [Tropical scene at night], circa 1928.
Oil on linen, 27.9 x 31.2 cm.
Box
1.12 Williams, Tennessee. [Winter landscape], before 1939.
Oil on paper, 9.2 x 12.7 cm.
Williams, Tennessee. [Spring landscape], before 1939.
Oil on paper, 9.9 x 12.2 cm.
Williams, Tennessee. [Summer landscape], before 1939.
Oil on paper, 8.4 x 9.9 cm.
Box
2.1 Williams, Tennessee? [Landscape], undated.
Oil on board, 25.9 x 40.3 cm.
Box
2.2 Williams, Tennessee. Purification [2 female figures, 1 male figure], undated.
Ink on coated board, 28.3 x 17.8 cm.
Location
Screen Storage Williams, Tennessee. [Tennessee Williams, self-portrait], undated.
Oil on canvas, 39.5 x 29.5 cm (visible image); 59 x 50 cm (frame).
Box
2.3 Williams, Tennessee. [Unidentified woman], 1947?
Oil on canvas board, 40.3 x 30.1 cm.
Location
Screen Storage Williams, Tennessee. [Pancho Rodriguez], undated.
Oil on canvas board, 39.5 x 29.5 cm (visible image); 59 x 50 cm (frame).
Box
2.4 Williams, Tennessee. [Male dancer], 1947?
Oil on canvas board, 50.1 x 40 cm.
Box
2.5 Williams, Tennessee. [Standing jester], 1947?
Oil on canvas board, 50.1 x 40 cm.
Location
Screen Storage Williams, Tennessee. By the time Summer and Smoke were past, circa 1947.
Oil on canvas, 39.5 x 49.5 cm (visible image); 42.5 x 53 cm (frame).
Box
2.6 Williams, Tennessee. The Vogue of the Wide Tie [head profile of man facing left], undated
Pencil, 15.2 x 10.1 cm.
Box
2.7 Williams, Tennessee. Criswell, undated.
Pencil, 27.8 x 21.5 cm.
Location
Screen Storage Williams, Tennessee. [Crucifixion], undated.
Oil on canvas, 24.5 x 19.5 cm (visible image); 37.5 x 32.5 cm (frame).
Williams, Tennessee. Evening in the Studio, 1981.
Acrylic on canvas, 54.6 x 69.8 cm (visible image); 56.2 x 71.3 (canvas on original stretcher); 64.9 x 80.1 cm (frame).



Series II. Portraits of Tennessee Williams by Other Artists, 1962, undated

Location
Screen Storage Kinstler, Everett Raymond. The Violets in the Mountains … [design with face portrait of Williams, with quote from Camino Real; "V/L"], 1975.
Color lithograph, 55.7 x 40 cm (visible image); 81.9 x 61 cm (frame).
Box
2.8 Safran, Bernard(?). [Tennessee Williams, Time Magazine cover portrait, preliminary drawing], 1962?
Crayon, 24.8 x 21.2 cm.
Box
2.9 Safran, Bernard. Tennessee Williams [Time Magazine cover portrait], 9 March 1962.
Color reproductive print, 25.3 x 20.3 cm.
Box
2.10 Unidentified. [Caricature of Tennessee Williams], undated.
Watercolor, 24 x 20.1 cm.



Series III. Works Related to Tennessee Williams, 1948-1980, undated

Box
2.11 Beaton, Cecil. The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, 1950s?
Color ink, crayon, and gouache, 36.2 x 28.2 cm.
Box
2.12 Benton, Thomas Hart. The Poker Night, 1948.
Pencil and ink, 18.5 x 21 cm.
Box
2.13 Jones, Liza. Snowfall [with poem by Tennessee Williams], 1980.
Color etching, 17.5 x 24.7 cm (image); 37.5 x 57.5 cm (sheet).
Box
2.14 Magnani, Anna. Buffo! [Tennessee Williams' dog], undated.
Pencil, 21 x 29.5 cm.
Magnani, Anna. Buffo! [Tennessee Williams' dog], undated.
Pencil, 13.5 x 10.2 cm.
Box
2.15 B. A. [Unidentified]. Dr. Dakin [Tennessee Williams' grandfather], undated.
Pencil, 20.7 x 27.9 cm.
Box
2.16 Unidentified. The Trade Winds, Key West, Florida, undated.
Woodcut, 8.3 x 13.9 cm.
Box
2.17 Unidentified. The Night of the Iguana, 1961?
Color poster, 56 x 35.7 cm.
Unidentified. The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore, 1964?
Color poster, 56.1 x 35.7 cm.