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Charles M. Kurtz

Table of Contents

Collection Overview
Information for Users

Preferred Citation
Terms of Access and Use

Administrative Information

Acquisition Information
Processing Information

Biographical Note
Scope and Content Note
Container List
Search Terms

Subject Terms
Genre Terms

Associated Material

Separated Material
Related Resources

Collection Overview

Charles M. Kurtz Records, 1905-1909 

Collection number:

Kurtz, Charles M. (Charles McMeen), 1855-1909 

1 manuscript box (.4 linear feet) 

Language of Material:
Collection material in English. 

Albright-Knox Art Gallery. G. Robert Strauss, Jr. Memorial Library

Records and correspondence of Charles M. Kurtz, first director of the Albright Art Gallery from 1905, through 1909.

Information for Users

Preferred Citation
[Description and dates], Box/folder number, AK2.2, Charles M. Kurtz Records, 1905-1909, G. Robert Strauss, Jr. Memorial Library, Albright-Knox Art Gallery. 

Terms of Access and Use
The Charles M. Kurtz Records, 1905-1909 are open for research. 

Copyright is held by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Additional copyright may be held by individual artists/authors, their heirs, or assigns. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright and the G. Robert Strauss, Jr. Memorial Library before publishing quotations from materials in the collection.

Administrative Information

Acquisition Information
Transferred from the Director's Office.

Processing Information
Collection processed by: Gallery Archives staff, c.1985. Finding aid revised by Elizabeth Evans, Jessica Tanny, and Susana Tejada, January 2006. Finding aid encoded by: Sheryl Saxby, February 2006. Encoding revised by Amy Vilz, August 2008.

Biographical Note

Charles M. Kurtz, first director of the Albright Art Gallery, played a prominent role as an administrator, patron, and promoter of the arts in the United States during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Kurtz first came to Buffalo, New York, in 1884 when, as general manager of the American Art Union, he helped organize an exhibition for the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy. He served as art director for numerous expositions and art fairs, including the Southern Exposition in Louisville, Kentucky (1883-1886), the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago (1891-1893), the St. Louis Annual Expositions (1894-1899) and the United States Commission to the Paris Exposition of 1900. He was offered the directorship of Buffalo's Pan American Exposition but was unable to accept due to poor health.

In 1905, the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy appointed Kurtz as the first director of the newly built Albright Art Gallery. During his tenure, he organized the inaugural loan exhibition, the first of many watercolor exhibitions, and the first annual American exhibition. He was also editor of the Academy's publications, Academy Notes and the Blue Book. In 1909, he assisted the Hispanic Society of America with their major exhibition on the artist, Joaquín Sorolla. Before the opening, Kurtz suddenly became very ill and died on March 21st.

-- Biographical information adapted from original Albright-Knox Art Gallery finding aid.



 Charles McMeen Kurtz born March 20th in Newcastle, Pennsylvania


Receives B.S. degree from Washington and Jefferson College, Washington, Pennsylvania


Studies at the National Academy of Design, New York, with Lemuel Wilmarth and William Morgan; writes a column, "New York Letters," for The Courant published in Newcastle


Edits a small daily paper published during a "National Camp Meeting for the Promotion of Holiness" held that summer in Newcastle; its critical stance results in his public denouncement and earns him a reputation as a journalist in western Pennsylvania; receives M.A. degree from Washington and Jefferson College


Becomes local editor of The Guardian of Newcastle


Publishes The Daily Reporter, a financial success


Publishes the first issue of National Academy Notes; travels in Europe, spending time in England, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France (Paris)


Prepares Illustrated Notes for Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition


Writes "Art Notes" in The New York Tribune and resigns December 23rd


Accepts position to write for Music and Drama, a new daily paper


Becomes the general manager of the American Art Union; exhibits a large collection of Art Union paintings in Buffalo, New York, and Louisville, Kentucky, where they became part of the Southern Exposition's first great art display


Accepts offer to become Director of the Art Department, Southern Exposition, Louisville


Edits Art Union magazine until December; applies for position to head the Art Department of the New Orleans World's Fair in September


Accepts position offered by the American Art Association; terminates uncongenial relationship in March 1886


Writes catalogues for the sale of the George Seney Collection and for the Watts exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; marries Julia Stephenson (1861-1931), daughter of Dr. A. T. Stephenson of Harrodsburg, Kentucky, on October 1st; the couple has two daughters who survive them: Julia Wilder Kurtz (1889-1977), and Isabella Starkweather Kurtz (1901-1991); another daughter, Elizabeth Stephenson Kurtz (1896-1897), predeceases them


Terminates employment with the American Art Association; daughter, Elizabeth Stephenson Kurtz, born


Manages the circulation of Mihaly Munkacsy's Christ Before Pilot for Charles Sedelmeyer to American venues: New York, Boston, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Nashville, Philadelphia, Indianapolis; tour generates $90,000 in ticket receipts


Appointed art critic ("Art Notes") and book reviewer for New York Daily Star on February 24th; later literary and art editor of the Sunday Star


Writes for the Sunday edition of The Press, a New York paper


Writes for The World; art editor for The New York Recorder; contributes to the New York Truth


Contributes to Chicago Evening Post; writes artist biographies for The Chicago Graphic, a regional magazine; appointed Assistant Chief of the Department of Fine Arts of the World's Columbian Exposition


Contributes column, "Art at the Exposition," to St. Louis Life


Tours Denmark, Scotland, and France during the summer on behalf of the St. Louis Exposition


Appointed Director of the Art Department of the St. Louis Annual Exposition


Elected member of The Japan Society, London


Daughter, Elizabeth (Daisy), dies


Receives a diploma and medal "in recognition of valuable services in connection with the Fine Arts Exhibit" from the directors of the Trans-Mississippi International Exposition, Omaha


Appointed Assistant Director of Fine Arts for the United States Commission to the Paris Exposition of 1900; resigns in July due to ill health


Appointed Assistant Chief of the Department of Art of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in August


Daughter, Isabella Starkweather Kurtz, born


Receives honorary Ph.D. degree from Washington and Jefferson College "in recognition of distinguished ability and services as an art critic and writer"


Receives the cross of the Order of Merit from Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria; appointed Director, Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, in January; exhibits Glasgow paintings at Albright Art Gallery from November until the following April


Edits Academy Notes, a bulletin published by the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy; Father, D.B. Kurtz, dies in Newcastle


Accused of importing German pictures free of duty for exhibition purposes and then selling some for profit


Honorary Doctor of Philosophy degree conferred by Washington and Jefferson College


Dies in Buffalo on March 21st


Sale of the private collection of Charles M. Kurtz at auction, Fifth Avenue Art Galleries, February 24-25th


Widow, Julia Stephenson Kurtz, dies October 30th


Daughter, Julia Wilder Kurtz, dies


Daughter, Isabel Starkweather Kurtz, dies in Buffalo; remaining Charles M. Kurtz Papers bequeathed to the Archives of American Art and the National Academy of Design

-- Chronology written by the Smithsonian Archives of American Art for the finding aid, "Charles M. Kurtz Papers, 1843-1991."

Scope and Content Note

The collection mainly consists of correspondence regarding Albright Art Gallery exhibitions and events, with Albright staff, and those of other galleries and professional organizations.


Arrangement is alphabetical by subject within each year.

[Note: Museums and other institutions are sometimes, but not always, filed alphabetically by geographical location (ex., under Chicago for the Art Institute of Chicago). Researchers are advised to search alphabetically both by institution name and/or by geographic location for any given year.]

Container List



Art Institute of Chicago, 1905; includes correspondence with director, W.M.R. French, regarding exhibition loans.


Escher Davenport [art critic for the Buffalo Evening News], 1905


Society of American Artists, New York, 1905


St. Louis Museum of Fine Arts, 1905; includes correspondence with director, Halsey C. Ives, regarding exhibition loan; material concerns Kurtz' private collection and circuit of exhibition of works by the Glasgow artists, 1905-1908.




Art Societies, 1906; includes Rochester Art Club, American Tissot Society, Society of Illustrators and Artists of Philadelphia.


Art Institute of Chicago, 1906; includes correspondence with director, W.M.R. French regarding Kurtz' plan to bring exhibitions of works by foreign school artists to Buffalo consisting of a "Spanish project" and mention of circuit of German Expressionist exhibition.


M. Knoedler and Company, 1906; includes letters concerning sale of advertising space in Academy Notes.


"M" general file, 1906


"S" general file, 1906


Cornelia B. Sage Quinton, 1906; includes correspondence and Gallery reports. Also contains copy of letter from Kurtz to James L. Gerry, Acting Secretary of the Treasury, Washington, D.C., concerning the history of the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, the Albright Art Gallery, and the scope of the exhibitions held at the Gallery.




Art Societies, 1907; includes National Sculpture Society and its president, Karl Bitter.


Omaha Society of Fine Arts, Nebraska, 1907


William Schaus, art dealer, 1907


General file, 1907; contains various outgoing correspondence, including Kurtz to Joaquín Sorolla with regards to possible circulating exhibition of contemporary Spanish paintings in the United States.




American Art News, 1908


Social correspondence, 1908


Bureau of University Travel, 1908; includes brochure and correspondence regarding possible lectures by Hiram H. Powers and Lorado Taft.


Japanese Imperial National and Private Collections, 1908; includes correspondence and meeting minutes concerning organization of loan exhibition under the auspices of Charles L. Freer.




General file, 1909; including letters regarding lecture for the opening of the Joaquín Sorolla exhibition, and De Alva S. Alexander, House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary.


St. Louis Museum of Fine Arts, 1909; includes correspondence with director, Halsey C. Ives, as well as correspondence after Kurtz' death between Ives and Cornelia B. Sage Quinton.


Search Terms

Kurtz, Charles M. (Charles McMeen), 1855-1909
Ives, Halsey Cooley, 1847-1911
Quinton, Cornelia Bentley (Sage), 1876-1936 

Subject Terms
French, W. R. (William Riley), 1814-1893
Ives, Halsey Cooley, 1847-1911
Quinton, Cornelia Bentley (Sage), 1876-1936
Sorolla, Joaquín, 1863-1923
St. Louis Museum of Fine Arts
Art museum directors--New York (State)--Buffalo
Museum exhibits--New York (State)--Buffalo

Associated Material

Separated Material
Kurtz correspondence with artists are contained in AK2.1, Artists' Letters, 1905-1931. 

Related Resources
Related collections at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery Archives include:

AK1.2.1, Buffalo Fine Arts Academy Records, 1880-1945.

AK2.1, Artists' Letters, 1905-1931.

AK2.3, Cornelia Bentley Sage Quinton Records, 1908-1929. Finding aid available online.

AK6.2, Oral history interview with Isabelle Kurtz, daughter of Charles M. Kurtz, 1985.

N525 .A2, Academy Notes.

Other Repositories:

Accession no. 910163, Charles M. Kurtz Archive, 1870-1910, Getty Research Institute, Research Library

Microfilm, Charles M. Kurtz Papers, 1843-1990, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

Gallery Archives
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, G. Robert Strauss, Jr. Memorial Library 

Contact Information
G. Robert Strauss, Jr. Memorial Library
Albright-Knox Art Gallery
1285 Elmwood Avenue
Buffalo, New York 14222-1096
716.270.8240 TEL
716.882.6213 FAX

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