Fig. 1. Richard Morris Hunt, Tenth Street Studio Building, 51 West Tenth Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, New York, ca. 1870. Albumen photographic print, 404 x 323 mm. Collection of AIA/ AAF, Library of Congress, Washington, DC

From Center to Periphery: The Lifespan of New York City’s Tenth Street Studio Building and the Canon of American Art


PDF: Okin-Mitchard, From Center to Periphery

Editors’ Note: This article is the second of three digital art history projects generously funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art. The third and final installment of this project will appear in our Fall 2023 issue (number 9.2). 

The problem with buildings is that they look desperately static. It seems almost impossible to grasp them as movement, as flight, as a series of transformations. Everybody knows—and especially architects, of course—that a building is not a static object but a moving project, and that even once it is has been built, it ages, it is transformed by its users, modified by all of what happens inside and outside, and that it will pass or be renovated, adulterated and transformed beyond recognition. We know this, but . . . when we picture a building, it is always as a fixed, stolid structure.

—Bruno Latour and Albena Yaneva

Black-and-white historic photograph of building with large, arched windows
Fig. 1. Richard Morris Hunt, Tenth Street Studio Building, 51 West Tenth Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, New York, ca. 1870. Albumen photographic print, 404 x 323 mm. Collection of AIA/ AAF, Library of Congress, Washington, DC

The Tenth Street Studio Building (fig. 1), constructed at 51 West Tenth Street in Greenwich Village in 1857 and demolished in 1956, was the first American building specifically designed to house artist studios. In histories of American architecture, it is situated as a model for the emergence of high-class apartment buildings and as the site where Richard Morris Hunt (1827–1895), fresh from his training in Paris, established an architectural atelier and taught a cohort of young men the skills required to become leaders of their profession.1 The Studio Building is also considered foundational to histories of American art. In the nineteenth century, it operated one of the first galleries for contemporary art, and its studios housed a who’s who of Hudson River School and American impressionism–era painters: Frederic Edwin Church, Albert Bierstadt, John La Farge, and later Winslow Homer, William Merritt Chase, and many others. Asked about his tenancy in the Studio Building in 1896, the Canadian painter Horatio Walker (1858–1938) described it as an “anchorage of the ancient patriarchs of art,” which is to say, a leading nineteenth-century creative space primarily defined by important male artists.2

Walker’s description aligns well with how the Studio Building’s significance to American art history tends to be understood. The focus on its nineteenth-century patriarchs, based in part on a lack of easy access to twentieth-century data, obscures much of the building’s story. In 1920, seven years after John G. Brown (1831–1913), the final member of the building’s first generation of tenants, left his studio for the last time, a key moment of transformation occurred.3 The eminent journalist Ernest Harvier reported that although “nothing goes backward in New York,” the Studio Building was taking “on a new lease on life as a co-operative building for artists” and contributing to a larger movement of resettlement that signaled Greenwich Village’s reemergence as New York City’s “art centre.”4 Indeed, between 1920 and the early 1950s, the resettlement Harvier describes grew exponentially around the aging structure—but vibrant community—of the Studio Building, connected through spatial and social proximity to other historically significant creative spaces in the neighborhood.

Greenwich Village and the Studio Building would eventually become home to the postwar period’s influential “New York School,” vanguard artists and groups who, with the support of a small group of critics, aimed to redefine American art after the traumas of World War II. Rejecting representational art, which had established the Studio Building’s reputation in the nineteenth century, they controversially argued that advances in abstraction should be understood as the only legitimate way forward for creating American art of international and historical significance. To some extent, their controversial claims proved true. Postwar “New York School” artists, among them tenants of the Studio Building, did become internationally famous, globally influential, and commercially successful in ways that American nineteenth- and twentieth-century representational artists had not. However, while the art world debated and selected what work seemed most influential and representative of the innovative and enterprising spirit of the twentieth century, the Studio Building remained a fertile home and place of record for more diverse practices and creative exchanges.

Together, the Studio Building’s tenants, which included both members of the postwar avant-garde and their detractors, contributed and bore witness to Greenwich Village’s and the art world’s transformations, captured in interviews with tenants who occupied the building close to its demolition. In 1952, Gustave Cimiotti (1875–1969), a representational landscape painter who had exhibited at the 1913 Armory Show and was friendly with some of the building’s more famous nineteenth-century tenants (including Winslow Homer and John La Farge), talked to a reporter about the impending tragedy of the Studio Building’s demolition from the perspective of his forty-nine years of tenancy.5 One of his younger neighbors was “a modernist,” he said, adding “I don’t call those fellows artists.”6 In the same article, another of his modernist neighbors, the painter Albert Kresch (1922–2022), called plans to demolish and replace Hunt’s Studio Building with modern apartment architecture a “crime” because “[artist studio] buildings like this will not be built again.”7 This kind of multigenerational community—a community that includes opportunities for both collaboration and productive rebellion among younger members—is an example of what Keith Moxey calls “heterochronic coexistence,” or multiple times associated with diverse forms of creative activity that exist simultaneously.8

Indeed, new data about its twentieth-century history provides evidence that the aging Tenth Street Studio Building accommodated the coexistence of a fuller spectrum of developments in American art practice than current scholarship tends to acknowledge. Between 1900 and its demolition in 1956, the Studio Building housed, in addition to Cimiotti and Kresch, the Lebanese-born poet and painter Kahlil Gibran; the Tonalist painter Thomas Wilmer Dewing; the neoclassicist sculptors Alexander Stirling Calder and Leo Lentelli; abstract painters Maurice Sterne, Max Weber, Leon Polk Smith, Yun Gee, Philip Guston (later representational), Miriam Schapiro, and Joan Mitchell; and a large group of representational painters who established national reputations as commercial illustrators, including Albert Beck Wenzell, Earl Stetson Crawford, Percy V. E. Ivory, and Leslie Thrasher. Together, they make for a fascinating study in heterochrony, canon formation, and creative clustering.

Creative Clustering

A creative cluster is typically defined as a creative space, social network, or district that includes identifiable geospatial collectives of individuals, groups, and institutions that generate innovation through creative exchange. Many creative clusters form organically when makers of products gravitate to one another and begin clustering; that is, living, working, and collaborating together within a particular industry. Prominent examples of creative clusters today include Hollywood, or the Southern California entertainment industry centered in Los Angeles, and Silicon Valley, the critical mass of high-tech corporate headquarters in the San Francisco Bay area, and their respective affiliated individuals, auxiliary organizations, and groups.9 Creative clusters evolve and age relative to their market success and typically grow through recruitment or chain migration as younger or new talent settles in near proximity to the center of a creative industry with the intention of contributing to its market for products, labor, and ideas.

The recent state-of-the-field publication Creative Cluster Development: Governance, Place-Making and Entrepreneurship defines key characteristics by which creative clusters are identified, including four that apply to the Studio Building.10 The Studio Building can be understood as a “specialized area” for clustering, focused on the fine arts industry.11 The building’s physical structure, and its patrons and prominent tenants, can be understood as “attracting enablers,” or resources attracting participation by providing useful amenities and access to a powerful social network.12 The Studio Building is also an example of “real estate” clustering, or a creative cluster formed through access to optimal space in a geographic location likely to generate financial profit (newly built studios specifically designed for professional artists by wealthy patrons and previously unavailable in New York City or any other American urban center).13 And finally, the collaborative work patrons undertook to ensure the Studio Building’s economic success and national reputation embodies a “pooling initiative,” or creative clustering facilitated by targeted “policy, funding mechanisms, and direct management.”14

As this article will make clear, each of these defining characteristics describes the socioeconomic ties and priorities of two members of the New York family that built and owned the Studio Building until 1893, as well as other members of the patron class in their immediate social orbit who served as their collaborators in cultivating the fine art industry and affiliated institutions in New York City. Collectively, they represent a privileged group that nineteenth-century writers dubbed “knickerbockers,” a nickname for wealthy Dutch settlers and their descendants used to describe men with inherited wealth.15 As enterprising patrons, they deliberately attracted well-established talent, who in turn attracted younger professionals aspiring to commercial success and fame, all of whom made the Studio Building an extraordinary community to inhabit and visit. The cluster and its reputation also grew through the tenants’ professional and social ties to other arts institutions, including, initially, New York University and the National Academy of Design, and over time the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Students League, and the Whitney Studio School (later the Whitney Museum of American Art), among many others.16 Designed to aid New York City’s rise as a center for American art and culture within the greater creative district of Greenwich Village, the Studio Building and its tenants formed an exceptional creative cluster that made significant contributions to American fine arts locally and nationally.

Analyzing the Studio Building through the lens of how creative clusters operate at the macro level of an industry, this article uses the term creative cluster to describe the Studio Building and its tenants as a series of relationships and as a socioeconomic unit active in larger interconnected histories of New York City’s rise as a center of American culture and capitalism. The accompanying data visualizations track the hallmarks of creative clustering by means intended to enable further analysis and interrogation of networked relationships among diverse Studio Building tenants, New York City’s power brokers and institutions, and the history of the discipline of American art. For example, qualitative and quantitative analysis examines the strong statistical correlation between tenancy, commercial success, and inclusion into American art’s metanarrative for male tenants of the nineteenth century. The article also sketches the Studio Building’s largely unexplored twentieth-century history. It tracks the steep decline in reputation that accompanied “knickerbocker” patrons losing interest, the structure being sold to tenants, and the creative cluster as a whole fading from the pages of art history in the decades when New York City began its steady climb to dominance as an international art center. These approaches are intended to capture what Bruno Latour and Albena Yaneva define in the epigraph as a building’s movement, or the ongoing transformations caused by human activity and environmental conditions taking shape within and beyond the Studio Building’s walls.17

Mining @ Tenth Street Data, Datasets, and Methods

Page from a handwritten notebook showing names on the left and a series of categories with checkmarks on the right.
Fig. 2. Annette Blaugrund, Tenth Street Studio Building roster research notes. Permission of Annette Blaugrund

Analyzing the Studio Building as a creative cluster rather than a “fixed, stolid structure” lends itself well to Action Network Theory—which Latour and others developed to study environments, objects, and human activity as shifting, complex, and interwoven relationships—and to digital humanities projects such as Mining @ Tenth Street: Visualizing New York City’s Tenth Street Studio Building, from which this article draws its data and data visualizations. By virtue of the methods of data collection and analysis used, the article’s datasets, quantitative visualizations, and qualitative case studies break new ground about the Studio Building and the history of American art in several ways. As explained in the Data Appendix, the project developed from two very simple research questions: Can recently digitized primary sources validate preexisting Studio Building data compilations? Or do they complicate the building’s foundational place in histories of American art? Research began with straightforward data validation. Simple searches for the building’s address were used and the results compared with the dataset of Studio Building tenants compiled by Annette Blaugrund in the 1980s.18 Working by hand and by largely analog methods (fig. 2), Blaugrund created a series of influential and twice-updated rosters that remain authoritative and widely cited. The final version of her roster, published in 1997, identifies one hundred and fifty-nine Studio Building tenants, primarily tenants who rented studios during the building’s nineteenth-century heyday. An example of data-driven American art history prior to the digital turn, Blaugrund’s dataset continues to provide the scholarly community with a thoroughly researched list of names for the majority of the Studio Building’s nineteenth-century artist-tenants, as well as their lifespans and years of occupancy.19

Chart in the shape of a circle, showing that information from 152 artists derives from "Blaugrund 1857-1893," 124 artists from "Mining @ Tenth (1921-1956)," 80 from "Mining @ Tenth (1894-1920," 57 from "Mining @ Tenth (1857-1893)," and 7 from "Blaugrund (1894-1920)."
Fig. 3. Sources of Mining @ Tenth Street tenant data (419 tenants total) organized according to three eras of ownership: James Boorman Johnston and John Taylor Johnston (1857-1893), their descendant, John Herbert Johnston (1894-1920), and Tenth Street Studios, Incorporated (1921-1956) © Mining @ Tenth Street: Visualizing New York City’s Tenth Street Studio Building, 2022

For Mining @ Tenth Street and this article, our aim has been to expand on existing knowledge of the Studio Building’s already well-known nineteenth-century history and to initiate more extensive documentation of its twentieth-century owners and tenants and their activities and affiliations over time. New data presented in this article are extracted from an extensive survey of published municipal and art industry records, primarily digitized annual directories and periodicals now available in searchable form, as well as oral history interviews conducted in the last four years. This data is transcribed, collated, and made legible to computational software in a form that can be easily shared with other scholars and digital humanists. Since 2018 the Mining @ Tenth Street project has identified more than 250 additional tenants, from the building’s first year of full capacity in 1858 to its demolition in 1956. We have also identified which tenants rented from which landlord initially and captured a breakdown between Blaugrund’s dataset and new Mining @ Tenth Street data in these categories (fig. 3), which enables analysis of the Studio Building’s three eras of ownership: the first two owners (1857–1893), their successor (1894–1920), and cooperative ownership until demolition (1921–1956). This provides a clearer view of where the Mining @ Tenth Street Project team has contributed the most data (the latter two eras of ownership) and indicates where Blaugrund made the bulk of her contributions (primarily in the first era of ownership).

Black and white photograph of a male artist in front of a large canvas, painting the woman who stands to the left.
Fig. 4. Photograph of Feodor Rimsky painting a portrait in his studio at 51 West Tenth Street, late 1940s. Courtesy of Dimitri Rimsky

The Mining @ Tenth Street project team is now in the process of transcribing more than one hundred years of Studio Building publicity, as well as obituaries for all known tenants, in order to further validate tenant residency and add more granular detail to the new data shared in this article. The team has also conducted oral history interviews with the building’s former tenants and their descendants, including artist Elizabeth Kresch, the daughter of Albert Kresch (mentioned above), and Perii and Pamela Barkentin and Dimitri Rimsky, who spent part of their childhood in the building, as well as Woody Glenn, the grandson of Zillah Taylor, who was the Studio Building’s front office attendant and rent collector in the early 1950s.20 From these interviews, the project team recovered important memories and images, among them photographs of the painter and commercial illustrator Feodor Rimsky working in one of the building’s large studios (fig. 4) within years of escaping Nazi Germany and Nazi-occupied France with his American wife, and Taylor in front of the Studio Building’s front door (fig. 5). The photo of Rimsky’s studio gives a sense of the tall ceilings and northern-facing light that continued to attract new tenants into the 1950s, while the photo of Taylor gives a sense of how the building’s exterior looked near demolition and of the scale of its front door, through which both famous and obscure artists and artworks circulated.

Purple-tinged photograph of a woman in a dress and hat standing in front of a large door, above which is the word "STUDIOS." A lantern in the upper left has the number "51."
Fig. 5. Photograph of the Tenth Street Studio Building entrance and its front office manager, Zillah Taylor, in the late 1940s. Courtesy of Dimitri Rimsky

Scholarly Intervention: Toward a More Inclusive Digital Art History

In terms of qualitative contributions to debates in art history, this project approaches the Studio Building’s creative cluster as an ecosystem defined by the overall productivity that networked relationships, patronage, and geospatial proximity create. This approach is based on what Anna Brzyski, in “Making Art in the Age of Art History, or How to Become a Canonical Artist,” defines as the process by which canon formation takes place in real time and over the course of time. Brzyski’s essay, published in her edited volume Partisan Canons (2009), defines art history as a metanarrative, or an evolving conversation among art historians about conversations in art practice, art criticism, and art theory.21 She argues that writing about art history (and about contemporary art in the present) operates in “the age of art history,” an era in which artists, critics, historians, and other art-world members consciously cater to a bourgeois audience and market interested in understanding the significance of contemporary art to history. She identifies the dawn of this age as the mid-nineteenth century, around the time that the Studio Building was established with the aim of supporting and cultivating historically significant art in New York City.22 For Brzyski, the process of real-time historicization has economic ramifications, as it provides some artists and their patrons with greater status than others. Understanding canon formation requires acknowledging that participants in the art world—practicing artists, art critics, theorists, art historians, and others—strive to be perceived and actively position themselves as historically significant.23 As this article demonstrates, being a member of the creative cluster occupying the Studio Building during its heyday from 1857 to 1893 significantly increased the likelihood of an artist achieving canonical status. However, once patron-class sponsorship of the Studio Building failed to be renewed in the early decades of the twentieth century, the likelihood that important conversations about innovations in art practice or shifts in the art world would include the Studio Building significantly decreased. This article considers how, as a result, we are left with a building and conversations about it that occurred at both the center and the periphery of American art history: a case study in how privileged status in the art world is achieved and lost through patronage and the writing of art history.

In terms of quantitative contributions to debates in digital art history, this article advances a counter-argument to Claire Bishop’s claims in “Against Digital Art History,” that scholars run the risk of “subordinating art to history” by setting aside analog monographic methods grounded in qualitative analysis and close looking.24 In her view, such scholarship can “perpetuat[e] uncritical assumptions about the intrinsic value of statistics.”25 This article seeks to demonstrate that assembling a bird’s-eye view of the Studio Building’s creative cluster rather than exploring in depth the aesthetic qualities of particular objects created within it can elucidate the construction of an exclusionary canon of American art that analog methods focused on its most famous artists can perpetuate. By assembling and mining datasets that incorporate historically marginal, obscure, and non-artist figures, we intend to show that digital art history grounded in statistical analysis has intrinsic value, particularly if the statistical analysis acknowledges its limitations and provides qualitative examples of how such statistical analysis can be used.

For this article, the vast majority of statistical analysis is informed by data extracted from annual directories, a valuable conveyor of the Studio Building’s “movement,” or shifts in tenancy and aggregate economic activity over time. That said, we acknowledge that annual directories are also flawed and that the sources of the statistical data that we have gathered and the macro analysis presented in this article as a result are by no means conclusive. Annual directories capture a yearly snapshot that relies on voluntary registration of tenants’ names, addresses, and/or professions, which means that the aggregate data used to analyze understudied facets of the Studio Building’s history is necessarily incomplete and superficial. It fails, at least in this initial stage of research, to capture a more nuanced understanding of how the Studio Building’s tenants lived and worked over time. However, macro analysis of this data also expands the contours of what we know about this creative cluster well beyond its extensively documented heyday, providing new and useful information that complicates an institution central and foundational to the metanarrative of nineteenth-century American art. For example, such analysis can help us discover the Studio Building as home to a growing number of previously unidentified women tenants in the twentieth century and to consider what the largely unremarked-on absence of communities of color from this canonical space indicates about the writing of American art history. For these reasons, this article balances preliminary conclusions derived from statistical analysis of novel Mining @ Tenth Street data with qualitative case studies that explore the project’s data and that data’s limitations in greater depth, as detailed in the Data Appendix.

Divided into three sections and proceeding chronologically, the rest of this article presents a socioeconomic history of the Studio Building from its establishment as an exceptional, male-dominated creative cluster to its transformation into a much more diverse and forgotten community. The first section details how the socioeconomic identities and relationships of the Studio Building’s first owner, James Boorman Johnston (1822–1887), his powerful family, and wealthy tenants and friends furthered their collective ambition of establishing New York City as an internationally significant art center and themselves as historically significant patrons. The second section sketches the history of the Studio Building at its height in reputation until the death of John Taylor Johnston (1820–1893), its second owner, with some reflections on the presence and absence of women tenants during the building’s heyday. The third section concerns what transpired after the sale of the building by the Johnston family to a new corporation formed by artist-tenants in 1920 and the eventual corporate takeover that forced the building’s sale to a real estate developer and, soon thereafter, its demolition. This section provides extensive quantitative and qualitative analysis of the creative cluster’s shifts in gender demographics and documentation of its contributions to avant-garde art movements and other forms of diversity in the field of art practice.  The conclusion reflects on the Studio Building’s afterlife and what lessons the creative cluster’s history offers for practicing artists and art historians today. Finally, the Data Appendix provides the reader with links to the article’s datasets and explanations of their content, organizing principles, margins of error, and limitations.

Establishing the Cluster: Patronage as a Family Business

Just as provenance can inform an art object’s value and meaning, one family’s ownership of the Tenth Street Studio Building and their patronage of its artists informs its place in American art. From 1857 until 1920, the Studio Building was owned and operated by the American-born sons and grandson of John Johnston (1781–1851), a Scottish patriarch and wealthy New York merchant. Johnston arrived in the city a young man with family connections and rose to prominence through trade with India, Scotland, England, and Sweden, specializing particularly in tobacco exports and imports of Dundee linen, spices, iron, and Madeira wine.26 His sons were, in many respects, raised to become innovative and prominent patrons. Johnston ensured they received an excellent education by helping to establish New York University, an institution near their family home where his sons and their peers studied with the likes of Samuel F. B. Morse (1791–1872), New York University’s first “Professor of the Literature and Arts of Design” and the first president of the National Academy of Design, an arts organization with which the Studio Building’s history is closely intertwined.27 He also furthered their education in the arts through travel abroad to visit historic sites, important art collections, and communities of practicing artists.28 As they matured to adulthood, he served as a model for how to develop business acumen, cultivate a good reputation, generate profit, and signal status through collecting art and sponsoring public works, particularly in Greenwich Village, where the family’s homes and affiliated institutions congregated.29 That congregation is clear from a dynamic timeline mapping the homes of three generations of the family who made substantial contributions to histories of American art and architecture, and to the preservation of their history (fig. 6).

Fig. 6. Mining @ Tenth Street, “Johnston Family Owned and Patronized Sites in Greenwich Village over Three Generations,” a StoryMap showing Johnston family holdings in close proximity to the Tenth Street Studio Building. © Mining @ Tenth Street: Visualizing New York City’s Tenth Street Studio Building, 2022. For the full experience of the StoryMaps, click  “StoryMap” below to open map in new window.

Raised to be second-generation patrons of the arts, John Taylor Johnston and James Boorman Johnston, as well as J. T. Johnston’s oldest daughter, Emily Johnston de Forest (1851–1942), founded important institutions crucial to the development of American art history.30 As a chart showing their patronage indicates, among their family’s contributions were the Tenth Street Studio Building, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MMA), and its American Wing (fig. 7). The institutions they founded had a close relationship to their private lives in Greenwich Village: the Tenth Street Studio Building was built across the street from J. B. Johnston’s private residence on Tenth Street in 1857, and J. T. Johnston, an important American art collector, founded the MMA at his mansion home several blocks away on Fifth Avenue in 1870, and was the Met’s first president.31 For both projects the Johnstons served as anchor investors, driving interest and providing space in which both artists and other patrons collaboratively enabled and sustained New York City’s rise as a cultural capital, setting Greenwich Village on the path to becoming the postwar period’s center of contemporary art shortly before the Studio Building’s untimely demise.

Family tree color coded represent the following individuals and initiatives: John Johnston's projects in Greenwich Village (purple); Responsible for Tenth Street Studio Building and its annex (green); President of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (blue); Emily Johnston de Forest, family historian (pink); and Johnston spouses (orange).
Fig. 7. Mining @ Tenth Street, “Partial Johnston Family Tree and Timeline of Patronage Projects in New York City, 1833–1922.” © Mining @ Tenth Street: Visualizing New York City’s Tenth Street Studio Building, 2022
Black and white reproduction of a crayon portrait of a young man in a suit and cravat.
Fig. 8. William Morris Hunt, James Boorman Johnston, crayon drawing reproduced in Emily Weeks Johnston Deforest, John Johnston of New York, Merchant (New York: Privately published, 1909). Collection of author

From the outset, the building’s owner, J. B. Johnston, modeled for other wealthy New Yorkers how to build a reputation for both innovative investment and art patronage. During the family’s European travels, the Johnston brothers had met Richard Morris Hunt, the man they would choose to construct the Tenth Street Studio Building. Born, like them, to the patron class, Hunt was studying architecture in Paris, where his older brother, the painter William Morris Hunt (1824–1879), created a pastel sketch of J. B. Johnston in 1853 (fig. 8).32 Commissioned shortly after his move from Paris to New York, the Studio Building was one of the younger Hunt’s first projects in the American Beaux-Arts style, a stark contrast in terms of design and function to the Gothic Revival University Building, an older structure patronized by the Johnstons where Richard Morris Hunt rented studio space and likely drew up plans for the Tenth Street Studio Building.33 The Studio Building would become an influential contribution to American architecture for which the Johnstons could take partial credit. It was emulated in New York and other cities, and studied along with other innovative structures in the atelier Hunt established for aspiring architects in one of its studios.34

Among its innovations was an interesting blend of strictly professional and private space; some artists rented studios just to work, and others rented workspace that included sleeping quarters. The comforts and options that such a well-designed, mixed-use space provided to upper and middle-class tenants was of great interest to the city’s journalists, one of whom dubbed the Studio Building a “First-Class Tenement-House,” well-designed shared housing for “respectable” communities (a luxury apartment building).35 Its amenities and their popularity offered a successful model for how to accommodate New York’s swelling urban population in a city quickly running out of space for single-family homes.

Journalists were also interested in the fact that it was such a profitable enterprise. As the Vermont Chronicler noted in March of 1860, “The Artists’ Studio Building, in Tenth street, which was regarded as a wild speculation when it was built, has not a vacant apartment in it; and the liberal proprietor who built it, without any anticipation of profit, is now receiving ten per cent on the capital invested.”36 Johnston further modeled how such lucrative profit could be coupled with benevolence and patriotism. In the early 1860s, for example, he allowed artists to keep their studios, rent free, while they were serving in the Civil War on behalf of the Union.37 Created before the full flowering of privately owned apartment buildings, contemporary art museums, and artist residencies in New York City, this Johnston experiment in art patronage and venture capitalism became foundational to histories of the real estate business, to American architecture, and to their relationship to the art market and other important art institutions in New York.38

Black-and-white wood engraving of the same building seen in fig. 1.
Fig. 9. “Artists‘ Studio Buildings, Tenth Street, New York,” Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, April 13, 1867, 53. Collection of author

Newspaper accounts provide glimpses of the distinctive blend of commerce and art-making that Johnston commissioned. A decade into the building and its creative cluster’s history, an article illustrated with a woodblock print captures a view of its façade and next-door annex with northern-facing windows that created roomy interiors awash with sunlight each day (fig. 9).39 According to the article, a “Studios” marker at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Tenth Street, “a shield attached to a tree,” pointed pedestrians halfway down the block to “No. 51 . . . a large, plain, three-story structure of red brick more remarkable for the size of its windows than for any architectural display.”40 For warmth, there was a basement with storage space that accommodated deliveries of coal, used to heat each studio’s stove into the 1950s.41 For art exhibitions, there was a two-story central gallery on the first floor (eventually converted into the building’s largest studio), where works of art could be shown with the aid of gas lamps as part of New York City’s nightlife. As professional buildings continue to do, signage guided visitors to various artists’ locations within the building; tenant nameplates were placed above the appropriate studio doors, and a sizable “direction board” on the first floor indicated their current whereabouts.42 As tenants moved into the Studio Building, a noticeable shift occurred in the number of important artists registering their names and the building’s address in the city directory, indicating that the Johnstons’ experiment was clearly drawing ambitious artists to Greenwich Village and also encouraging them to make their professional presence in the city publicly known.43

Among the most exciting names on the directory in the building’s early years was Frederic Edwin Church (1826–1900), already an esteemed artist, who pioneered new modes of exhibition and self-promotion within the building’s first years in operation. Church used its first-floor gallery to debut his painting Heart of the Andes (1859; Metropolitan Museum of Art), a tribute to the naturalist Alexander von Humboldt. In just nine weeks, the exhibition drew more than twelve thousand visitors willing to purchase a twenty-five-cent ticket sold at the door by the Studio Building’s domestic staff, who also managed tickets for viewing private art collections.44 The promotional campaign and excitement in the press accompanying this and other important social events in the 1860s—including auctions of work by the Artists’ Fund Society, an organization later managed within the building—charted new territory through which well-established and wealthy artists like Church, in collaboration with the Johnston family, co-created their creative cluster’s reputation as an ideal home and social network in which to create and display innovative American art.45 Church benefited from the Studio Building’s good design and opportunities for creative exchange. Like many who could afford to do so, he remained a tenant for decades, enjoying the kind of fame to which younger artists aspired and thus acting as one of the creative cluster’s attracting enablers.

As a merchant, J. B. Johnston also used the Studio Building to experiment with other commercial ventures that complemented the building’s primary function of housing practicing artists and architects. Johnston, along with a group of wealthy associates, four of them artist-tenants at the time, submitted “An Act to incorporate the Studio Building Association in the city of New York,” which was passed into law on February 27, 1865. Currently overlooked in histories of the Studio Building, this document presents Johnston’s and his corporation’s mission, which was established:

. . . for the purpose of furnishing to artists of the city of New York, studio accommodations, and other facilities for the advancement of professional intercourse, and the promotion of fine arts; to maintain a library, reading room, exhibition rooms, and gallery of art, and also a place of storage and deposit for the safekeeping of pictures, statuary, drawings, engravings and etchings, artists’ materials and other personal effects or chattels, used by artists in the practice of their profession, upon such terms and conditions as may be agreed upon between the said corporation and the persons dealing with them; and said corporation shall have power to advance moneys or credits to artists upon the pledge of works of art, upon such terms as may be agreed upon between artists and said corporation, not exceeding seven per centum per annum, and to sell such works of art on commission or otherwise, as may be so agreed.46

The capital stock of the corporation was one hundred thousand dollars, “with power to increase the same to an amount not exceeding five hundred thousand dollars, whenever, and from time to time, as a majority of the trustees shall determine.”47 Ownership of the corporation was divided into fifty-dollar shares (equivalent to more than nine hundred dollars per share in 2022), and by 1867 the corporation increased its capital to five hundred thousand, as documented through New York City directories, where the corporation remained listed annually until 1875.48 The corporation provided Johnston and his associates with the ability to lend money to artist-tenants in exchange for works of art and to sell loaned works as needed to bolster American art’s fledgling market and his tenants’ reputations. Although additional research is needed to flesh out the interconnections of the eminent New York society figures listed in the incorporation document, a cursory qualitative analysis of the organizational structure (fig. 10) indicates that most investors on the board were close in age and longtime residents of the city. A majority were also affiliated with the founding of other prominent New York institutions significant to histories of American art and architecture, such as the MMA, Columbia University’s Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, and the New York Public Library’s Print Collection. In listing their names, the incorporation document identifies who had an interest in guiding the future direction of the Studio Building’s creative cluster, the capital to invest in its upkeep, and an interest in related arts institutions that currently preserve the building’s and such patrons’ significance to art history.

Info graphic showing details about three categories of people related to the Studio Building: "Merchant, Banker"; "Art Critic, Art Dealer"; and "Artist, Architect."
Fig. 10. Mining @ Tenth Street, “Studio Building Association of the City of New-York Organization Leadership in 1865 Chart.” © Mining @ Tenth Street: Visualizing New York City’s Tenth Street Studio Building, 2022

Among the Studio Building Association board members who were also tenants of the Studio Building, Henry T. Tuckerman (1813–1871) represents an important voice for the activities and interests of New York City art patrons in the 1850s and 1860s. Writing just at the cusp of “the age of art history,” his essays and books are addressed to his wealthy peers and capture their shared aims and ambitions for American art and for New York City. In 1856, for example, the year before Johnston hired Hunt to design the Tenth Street Studio Building, Tuckerman published “New-York Artists”—a kind of how-to guide from the son of one wealthy New Yorker family to the sons and fathers of others—in the Knickerbocker, a prominent literary magazine aimed at the city’s elite. Tuckerman takes his cultured-class readers, including the Johnstons and other members of their social set, on a gossipy frolic through antebellum New York City and suggests to them that the city’s artist studios offer a novel adventure, “quite out of conceit of the prescriptive formalities of Upper-Tendon,” and thus a refreshing antidote to the “stony, haggard or frivolous countenances of the throng” and the city’s “artificial and turbid phase of mundane existence.”49 Associating with practicing artists, Tuckerman claims, is a beneficial and exciting addition to one’s social life, a mechanism for cultivating aesthetic sophistication, and a means of engaging in idea exchange in a community of ambitious men separated from Europe by an ocean. The following year, J. B. Johnston commissioned the first American building specifically designed to house practicing artists right across the street from his home on Tenth Street, endorsing Tuckerman’s view that wealthy men of New York City ought to take a personal interest in the lives of practicing artists and to help select which of them would become most important to art history.

Once the Studio Building was constructed and occupied by artists, Tuckerman joined its tenant roster. There he spent the next decade writing Book of the Artists: American Artist Life, Comprising Biographical and Critical Sketches of American Artists: Preceded by an Historical Account of the Rise and Progress of Art in America (1867), a landmark in American art history and in Tuckerman’s career as an American art critic that built on past publications.50 Notably, Book of the Artists was published the same year he served, alongside Samuel P. Avery and J. T. Johnston, on the advisory committee of the American art exhibition at Paris’s Exposition Universelle, the most prominent exhibition of American art abroad since the Civil War. The exhibition, like the sections of Book of the Artists devoted to contemporary art, placed an emphasis on American landscape painting and the leading artist-tenants of the Studio Building, whom Tuckerman and his peers selected to represent the United States in Paris.51 Tenants Albert Bierstadt (1830–1902) and Church, both favored in Tuckerman’s writing and collected by Avery and Johnston, made a particularly strong showing; Church received the only cash prize awarded to an American artist, for Niagara (1857; loaned for this exhibition by J. T. Johnston, now at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC).52 These accomplishments of the Studio Building, facilitated and curated by its patron-class owners and board members, contributed directly to the creative cluster’s rise in reputation in the 1860s and ultimately to its artist-tenants’ place in American art history. In a bid to establish their city’s reputation for important art production, members of the patron class contributed their own enterprising form of creativity to broker the Studio Building’s national and international reputation and to ensure that their sponsored cluster became exceptional.

New data about the Studio Building found through annual directories reveals that enterprising investors like the Johnstons, Tuckerman, Avery, and others did more than collect artwork and help to broker tenants’ reputations by writing histories or organizing major exhibitions of American art. In July of 1865, shortly after the Studio Building Association was incorporated, a safe deposit company opened for business in the Tenth Street Studio Building’s basement, presumably under the auspices of the Studio Building Association.53 Appearing in newspaper advertisements throughout the 1860s and listed in city directories as the New York Bond Deposit company in 1872 and 1874, this business venture and its activities, rather than the building’s practicing artists, were likely why there was a “policeman detailed for special duty on the premises” in 1867.54 A chatty description of an “accidental” tour, perhaps written to advertise these facilities, illustrates how much value was given to American art at the time. The bonds, deeds, silver, and other treasures, including private art collections, stored in the Studio Building’s subterranean coffers were worth much more than the art being created in its sunlit rooms: “The building overhead might be consumed [by a fire], but the contents of these vaults would be exhumed in a state of perfect preservation.”55

Even a well-sponsored creative cluster, like the one occupying Johnston’s Studio Building, was in an economically precarious position. At this early moment for the American art market, Johnston’s provision of rentable rooms for incubating and strengthening American art production represented a pooling initiative that helped lay the foundation for the future commercial success of a local fine art industry. The safe deposit business in the Studio Building’s basement supplemented the fledgling sales of its creative cluster’s work and the Association’s earning potential, while also providing fellow men of the patron class with a safe place to store valuables.

Chart indicating the presence of known Studio Building Tenants in Tuckerman's Book of the Artists: "Tenants included in Book of the Artists" (37); "Excluded Artist-tenants" (14); "Excluded Architects" (7); "Excluded Other Professionals" (6); "Excluded Staff" (3).
Fig. 11. Mining @ Tenth Street, “Comparative Analysis of Tuckerman’s Book of the Artists (1867) vs. Studio Building Lifespan Data (1857-1867)” (including Tuckerman). © Mining @ Tenth Street: Visualizing New York City’s Tenth Street Studio Building, 2022

Given this context, we can complicate how the history of this era of American painting became rehearsed. Analyzed through a dataset spanning from 1857 to 1867, which cross-references the Mining @ Tenth Street Studio Building Lifespan dataset, Tuckerman’s Book of the Artists includes the majority of his Studio Building neighbors. As the pie chart “Comparative Analysis of Tuckerman’s Book of the Artists (1867) vs. Studio Building Lifespan Data (1857–1867)” shows (fig. 11), of the sixty-seven tenants who are registered in annual directories as living or working in the Studio Building on or before 1867, thirty-seven artist-tenants (including Tuckerman) are mentioned in the text, almost all of them practicing painters. The excluded tenants are the building’s staff, merchants, architects (likely studying at the Beaux-Arts–style atelier Hunt began hosting in 1859), lesser-known artists, and a fellow writer. Book of the Artists thus chronicles the development of the history of American art as the history of painting particularly and introduces the Studio Building’s role in shaping that history. However, it does not disclose, as would have been patently obvious to those in the know, Tuckerman’s personal connections and financial stake in the high density of contemporary American landscape painters that he helped to historicize in Book of the Artists and at the World’s Fair in Paris.56 Without such disclosure, his landmark tome on the history of American art obscures the clear connections between American capitalism and American cultural production. That obscurity advances the ideology that the so-called cream of every generation of painters naturally rises to historical significance out of sheer merit rather than moneyed interests or promotional intervention, such as the Johnstons’ and Tuckerman’s involvement in organizing pooling initiatives, real estate clustering, exhibitions, and publications. In truth, the cream of American art in the 1860s was created by artists of the Studio Building in collaboration with Johnston, Tuckerman, and their larger Knickerbocker cluster of cultural production sponsors, who actively and creatively worked together to foment the conversations about art practice that later scholars used to assemble and rehearse a canon of American art.

These enterprising efforts to promote the Studio Building impacted the degree to which male artists who rented space in the building from the Johnstons and were favored by the city’s patrons rose to prominence in their contemporary moment. Sales to prominent collectors and inclusion in international exhibitions of American art increased their market share and reputation substantially. But in the context of reputation-building and securing market share in the age of art history, real-time historicization by important critics like Tuckerman also established a discourse and market conditions that secured such artists’ historical significance to the exclusion of others in their contemporary moment and over time. These male artist-tenants became, unsurprisingly, what Horatio Walker described as “ancient patriarchs”: among the most important and studied artists in mid-nineteenth-century American art. That the status of American art after the Civil War is bound to the reputations of such artists indexes the labor of the patrons backing this venture, who rallied and capitalized on the talent they sponsored at the Studio Building to foment New York City’s rise as an American Paris or Rome, a city they envisioned with an international reputation for innovative art-making and important art patronage. It is no accident that they and the artists and institutions they sponsored became arbiters and foundational elements for a national narrative about American art.

The Cluster at Its Height: An Anchorage of Patriarchs

A stereoscope photograph of Worthington Whittredge’s studio in 1866 (fig. 12) illustrates the tight-knit camaraderie and critical mass of well-known painters among the Studio Building’s male artist-tenants in its first several decades of flourishing. Labeled with the names of artist-tenants who pepper Tuckerman’s account of contemporary painting in Book of the Artists, the photograph captures how the building and its cluster became an exclusive social club for men whose affiliations and connections with other male-only social spaces created an art world that largely excluded enterprising women. At its height of commercial success, from its founding in 1857 by J. B. Johnston to the death of J. T. Johnston, his older art-collecting brother, in 1893, the building housed the fewest women publicly documented as official tenants, a marker of the creative cluster’s status as an anchorage of patriarchs.

Black-and-white stereoview of a group of well-dressed men engaged in conversation in a high-ceilinged room filled with paintings.
Fig. 12. S. Beer, Worthington Whittredge’s Tenth St. studio, 1866. Miscellaneous photographs collection, ca. 1845–1980, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Listed on the image are Thomas LeClear, J. Casilear, W. Beard, E. Henry, R. Hubbard, S. Gifford, and J. G. Brown.

Contemporaneous conversations via print, including Tuckerman’s Book of the Artists, establish the prominence of the building’s male tenants. They indicate that the vast majority of the Studio Building’s women artists were understood as worthy, at best, only of passing mention. One prominent exception is Margaret Winter (dates unknown), who likely joined the Studio Building’s creative cluster during its initial establishment with her husband, Philip, the same year as Anna Mary Freeman (1825–1874), the building’s first woman artist, who was in residence for less than two years.57 Winter’s husband registered the Studio Building as his address in city directories from 1858 to 1860, but little is known about his life and his death, which likely occurred in 1861. Following his death, Winter appears in annual city directories as the Studio Building’s “janitress” or “housekeeper,” often with “wid Philip” (widow of Philip) denoting her marital status, from 1862 until 1886. Although most women artist-tenants and other women of the Studio Building receive only passing mention in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, newspapers capture the warmth of the male artists and the art world toward Winter, whose talent for homemaking, and her “happy faculty of serving choice lunches” and providing “sumptuous entertainments” in the form of affordable and on-site meals, aided the productivity of the building’s overwhelmingly male artists, architects, and other professionals throughout most of the building’s heyday.58

Notably, one of the longer accounts of Winter’s life in the Studio Building—the longest public account, in fact, of any nineteenth-century female tenant—specifically concerns domestic service rather than art practice. In 1871, her kitchen area abutted a partitioned room being used as a “photographic laboratory” by Edward Bierstadt (1824–1906), the landscape painter’s older brother.59 In February of that year, the older Bierstadt’s laboratory exploded, tragically destroying his negatives and Winter’s cooking area, leading a journalist to record an account of her workspace and her day-to-day role in the Studio Building’s creative cluster:

A huge sideboard, groaning under the weight of Mrs. Winter’s treasures, stood against the partition, and when the explosion came it was thrown violently over, breaking to small fragments all the crockery, glassware, cruets, and what-not, it contained. Nothing was left unbroken, and the floor of the kitchen presented, with its debris of fractured dishes, glasses, pickles, oil, pepper, salt, fragments of wood and piles of mortar, a sight well calculated to pull the very heart strings of a good housewife who beholds her household gods so wretchedly crushed and destroyed. Mrs. Winter’s loss is many hundred dollars; that to the building is not so serious. Mr. Bierstadt’s loss is also considerable, the precise extent not yet being known. Fortunately, the fire was promptly extinguished, else the loss would have been very heavy, as there are many pictures and other works of art in the building of immense value that could hardly have been saved if the fire had once fairly gotten underway.60

The prominent notice of Winter’s workspace suggests the premium placed on domestic service and the private sphere as a measure of women’s accomplishments at the building’s height in reputation, rather than serious attention being paid to their producing paintings, illustrations, or sculptures. This description of Winter’s professional life, violently disrupted by the tragedy that befell a man in the course of his professional labor, bears witness to how the art press viewed women’s contributions to this exceptionally well-sponsored and prominent community. Winter’s long tenancy serves as a foil to the brief tenure of most other nineteenth- and twentieth-century women artists attempting to break into the male-dominated ranks of the fine art industry and this creative cluster in New York City. In a space so closely associated with advances in American art-making, women participants of the nineteenth century, especially, are relegated to the margins, hidden beneath the overwhelming shadow of their male colleagues’ reputations and even Margaret Winter’s reputation for domestic service.

Although the Johnstons primarily rented rooms to practicing male artists and architects, and the occasional writer, they also welcomed merchants and other non-artist professionals as tenants, revealed in digitized city directories rather than records of the art world. One of the more interesting discoveries by the Mining @ Tenth Street project team is the decade-long tenancy of Joseph J. Asch, later one of the owners of the infamously “fireproof” Asch Building (1900–1) at 23–29 Washington Place in Greenwich Village—the location of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911, which killed 146 garment workers, the majority young women, and spurred both the labor and women’s suffrage movements.61 Living among leading artists and architects with personal and business connections to the upper echelons of New York society for approximately twelve years certainly would have benefited Asch’s business interests in leather and furs and his later real estate development ventures in Greenwich Village.62 Another nineteenth-century tenant of note, also new to documentation of the Studio Building’s history, is Llewellyn Solomon Haskell (1815–1872), the druggist and landscape architect who founded Llewellyn Park, America’s first luxury suburb, in West Orange, New Jersey, which he later managed with his son Llewellyn Frost Haskell (1842–1929).63 The Haskells’ business interests within and beyond Greenwich Village are interesting to consider, given that Llewellyn Park became a home to the wealthy, filled with interesting architecture and art collections.64 Asch and Haskell comprise but a small sample of the diversity of professionals that the Mining @ Tenth Street project recovers.

In 1887, with the Studio Building still at its height in reputation, J. B. Johnston died, and his commercial properties passed to his older brother, J. T. Johnston, who already had a stake in the building’s activities, given his personal interest in collecting artworks produced by the building’s tenants.65 J. T. Johnston was also involved in incorporating major arts organizations, among them the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His presidency of the MMA, which overlaps with his ownership of the Studio Building, was supported by a large group of founding trustees, including Studio Building Association board members Avery, Church, Robert Gordon, and Richard Morris Hunt. Under his management the Studio Building thrived, hosting new organizations, businesses, artists, and important events affiliated with New York City’s growing art world. In the mid-1870s, for instance, shortly after J. B. Johnston’s Studio Building Association and the New York Bond Deposit Company disappear from city directories, the Artists’ Fund Society (AFS) appears with the Studio Building listed as its address and tenants of the building listed as its officers.66 The AFS was already an important charitable organization that managed funds to support artists in need within and beyond the Studio Building and also aided the market for American art by exhibiting and auctioning members’ work (in and beyond the Studio Building’s gallery).67 It is a marker of the Studio Building’s importance to the broader New York art community that the AFS would remain managed by tenants at 51 West Tenth Street for thirty-five years. The Studio Building also became the official address of the Artists’ Aid Society (AAS), which was managed by tenants of the Studio Building from 1890 to 1910, a period of great change in the creative cluster.68

Oil painting of a dark-haired woman in an ornate dress dancing, with castanets in her fingers.
Fig. 13. William Merritt Chase, Carmencita, 1890. Oil on canvas, 69 7/8 x 40 7/8 in. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Sir William Van Horne, 1906

During J. T. Johnston’s ownership of the Studio Building, it also maintained very close ties to the National Academy of Design through a critical mass of members and teachers, including renting studios to several National Academy presidents and to the founders and members of the rebellious Art Students League.69 Among the latter was William Merritt Chase (1849–1916), the charismatic leader of the exciting new style of American Impressionism. He rented and transformed the Studio Building’s two-story first-floor gallery into a high-end tourist destination, where from 1879 to 1895 polite society could view his innovative paintings and extensive bric-a-brac collection—and, on one occasion, even see the famed Spanish performer Carmencita (Carmen Dauset Moreno, 1868–1910) dance (fig. 13).70

The success of the Studio Building in becoming an exceptional creative cluster under J. B. Johnston’s and J. T. Johnston’s leadership from 1857 to 1893 is reflected in the substantial presence of their artist-tenants within the canon of American art (fig. 14). This is evident from preliminary analysis of the collections of the MMA and the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM), summarized in terms of percentages of Studio Building tenants whose works have been accessioned into their collections. The MMA and SAAM were chosen as logical starting places for assembling a representative sample of national American art museum data given their prominence, their age, and their encyclopedic collections of American art, both of which include works by famous tenants of the Studio Building. Out of the 419 total Studio Building tenants confirmed thus far by the Mining @ Tenth Street project team, the MMA and SAAM collections of American art include works by 117 tenants (approximately 28 percent of all identified Studio Building tenants). Of these 117 tenants with works accessioned into either the MMA or SAAM, seventy-two tenants (or 61.5 percent) rented studios from either J. B. or J. T. Johnston between 1857 and 1893. In terms of each collection, the MMA houses works by ninety-five Studio Building tenants, and of these sixty-one tenants (approximately 77 percent) rented studios from either J. B. or J. T. Johnston. The same pattern is also reflected in the SAAM collection, which has works by eighty Studio Building tenants, fifty-two of whom (approximately 65 percent) rented space from J. B. or J. T. Johnston. As described in the next section, these statistics differ markedly from the accession of works into these collections by Studio Building tenants who rented workspace after J. T. Johnston’s death, when ownership of the building passed beyond the generation of patrons who created it.

Info graphic with header "Heyday: 1857-1893"; below are squares that read "61.5% of TOTAL Accessions"; "77% of MMA Accessions"; and "65% of SAAM Accessions."
Fig. 14. Mining @ Tenth Street, “Rates of Accession for 117 Tenants with works in MMA and SAAM Collections.” © Mining @ Tenth Street: Visualizing New York City’s Tenth Street Studio Building, 2022

Shuffling off this mortal coil in 1893, the formidable J. T. Johnston handed responsibility for the Tenth Street Studio Building and his generation’s reputation for building arts infrastructure in New York City to his children, perhaps without formal specifications for how the Studio Building as a rental property and experiment in art patronage should be cared for, managed, or preserved. As tends to be the case for family-owned businesses, traditions or standards of the past do not necessarily survive transfer of ownership and responsibility from one generation to the next. J. T. Johnston’s daughter, Emily Johnston de Forest (1851–1942), and her husband, Robert Weeks de Forest (1848–1931), seem to have been more concerned with preserving the family’s legacy than with furthering its involvement with contemporary art. They helped to organize the Hudson Fulton Celebration in 1909, the same year she began to publish book-length histories of her family’s patriarchs, documenting their contributions to the city.71 In 1922, she and her husband, who served as general counsel for her father’s railroad company and who followed in her father’s footsteps to become the fifth president of the MMA in 1913, donated funds to construct the Met’s American Wing and its first period room.72 This institution within the institution her father founded houses one of the largest repositories of works by artists of the Tenth Street Studio Building. Clearly, the de Forests wanted to continue the legacy that J. T. Johnston began with his presidency of the MMA by providing an institutional home for historically significant, rather than contemporary, American art, which the Studio Building as a patron pooling initiative and experiment in real estate development and sponsored creative clustering had accomplished. Rather than experimenting with art patronage to that degree, the de Forests led the MMA to establish a permanent space devoted to collecting and teaching the general public about American art that the museum’s staff, perhaps with input from such trustees and donors, determined to be important to art history. The American Wing remains a Johnston family legacy at the intersection of capitalism and culture, one that will celebrate a centennial in 2024 that the Studio Building, already without prominent patrons in 1922, did not survive to enjoy.73 As the Studio Building Patrons (fig. 15) dynamic timeline visualizes, the patronage activities of the Johnstons and their social circle contributed to key moments of transformation for the Studio Building, the market for American art in New York, and the institutions still in the business of preserving these histories.

Fig. 15. Mining @ Tenth Street, “Patrons of the Tenth Street Studio Building” StoryMap. © Mining @ Tenth Street: Visualizing New York City’s Tenth Street Studio Building, 2022. For the full experience of the StoryMaps, click “StoryMap” below to open map in new window.

The Cluster’s Wane: Cooperative Owners, Women Artists, and Modernists

As mentioned in the introduction, a key moment of transformation occurred at the Studio Building and in Greenwich Village in 1920, when a journalist writing for the New York Times reported that although “nothing goes backward in New York,” the Studio Building was taking “on a new lease on life as a co-operative building for artists,” participating in a curious pattern of resettlement that appeared to signal the reemergence of Greenwich Village as New York City’s art center. Indeed, between 1920 and the mid-1950s a resettlement of artists and their affiliated haunts and institutions grew exponentially around the venerable community of the Studio Building, which remained spatially and socially proximal to other important creative spaces in the neighborhood.74 This phenomenon did not, however, as it had in the mid-nineteenth century, reflect concerted efforts by the Johnstons to sponsor contemporary art. It was just the opposite in the case of the Studio Building, as in 1920 the latest Johnston owner decided to divest rather than financially support the multigenerational Tenth Street Studio Building and its creative cluster.

Novel data about the Studio Building’s twentieth-century history helps to reconstruct what happened from J. T. Johnston’s death in 1893 to the building’s demolition in 1956. Unlike the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which continued to grow and sustain prestige and patronage, the Studio Building, as an experiment in art patronage and real estate development, appears to have been treated more like a rental property than a contemporary art institution. Emily de Forest, the Johnston family’s historian, and her husband were not involved in managing the Studio Building. At J. T. Johnston’s death, 51 and 55 West Tenth Street (the Tenth Street Studio Building and its annex) became the property and financial responsibility of her younger brother, John Herbert Johnston (1855–1931). Unlike his father and his brother-in-law, Robert Weeks de Forest⎯both presidents of the MMA⎯or his uncle J. B. Johnston, who founded the Studio Building, J. H. Johnston kept a low public profile and was not, from newspaper accounts at least, a prominent collector of contemporary American art nor a prominent leader of an influential arts organization.75 While his tenure as owner of the Studio Building was substantial—a total of twenty-seven years (from his father’s death in 1893 to the sale in 1920)—it coincided with a noticeable drop in artists with works accessioned into prominent collections of American art. The artists who began renting studios under his tenure as landlord have only twenty-four works accessioned into the collections of the MMA and SAAM combined, less than half of the seventy-two artists with accessioned works who rented studios from his uncle and father while they served as landlords between 1857 and 1893 (the Studio Building’s first era of Johnston family ownership). Under J. H. Johnston’s watch, many of the aging and quite famous tenants who had begun renting space under his uncle’s and his father’s management of the building left the creative cluster, marking a period of decline in the building’s prestigious reputation.76 For example, in 1895 Chase’s charismatic presence disappeared from the halls after a series of financial losses forced the artist to sell his art collection and vacate the building’s largest studio, which for a long time had been a social gathering place for wealthy New Yorkers and an unofficial school where a number of young artists, many of them women, studied drawing and painting with Chase.77 No patron stepped in to help preserve Chase’s famous bric-a-brac and art collection nor help him to weather the financial downturn he experienced. Instead, several other artists came to occupy Chase’s former studio and the building’s former gallery for contemporary art—among them the sculptor Alexander Stirling Calder (1870–1945) and the restorer William Barkentin (1874–1962)—but their studios would not command the same attention that Chase’s treasure-filled rooms and receptions once had.78

By the 1910s, the AFS and the AAS, which for decades had tied the Studio Building’s creative cluster to other artists and institutions in New York, vacated the building’s aging studios as well. After 1920, when J. H. Johnston relinquished ownership of the building to a cooperative of artist-tenants, only two of its illustrious nineteenth-century tenants remained, and thus its ties to a heyday of high-profile patronage and art market glory continued to weaken, although some artist-tenants did receive notice in local newspapers. This is the start of the building’s largely forgotten history, a time in its life that is revealing of both changes in the art world and its new identity as a cultural periphery. Importantly, although the Studio Building was no longer widely acknowledged as an important center for producing contemporary American art, its close geospatial proximity to avant-garde clusters in Greenwich Village in the 1920s and 1930s did draw a few early modernists.79 In the 1940s and 1950s, the affordability of its old-fashioned but well-designed amenities continued to attract ambitious young artists, linking the aging creative cluster to the development of New York City’s first home-grown international style: Abstract Expressionism.

Black-and-white historic photograph of the interior of a high-ceilinged domestic space hung with paintings and a tapestry.
Fig. 16. Family photograph of William and Marjorie Barkentin’s studio at 51 West Tenth Street, 1940s-1950s. Courtesy of Pamela Barkentin

The tenants who cooperatively purchased 51 and 55 West Tenth Street in 1920 formed a new corporation called Tenth Street Studios, Incorporated (TSS). Records of the corporation and creative cluster between 1920 and 1956 are limited, and the chain of management for the corporation remains obscure. We do know, however, that the portrait painter Leonebel Jacobs (1883–1967)—whom newspapers and city directories place in the Studio Building in the 1920s and who is among the handful of twentieth-century women tenants with works accessioned into important collections of American art—appears to have been party to the building’s transformation into a cooperatively owned space.80 According to an Oregon newspaper, in 1920 Jacobs and her husband “were instrumental in persuading a group of friends to incorporate and buy a block on West Tenth street, New York City”— that is, the Studio Building and its annex.81 Other accounts of the formation of TSS note the leadership of the commercial illustrator Percy V. E. Ivory (1883–1960); his wife, Elizabeth; and the Barkentin family, who continue to preserve records of the cooperative.82 The other name associated with TSS in the corporation’s early years is the first president of the “purchasing corporation,” H. A. Hammond Smith, the period’s “recognized expert in the cleaning and restoration of paintings,” who offers a potential link to the Johnstons after the building’s sale to TSS.83 Smith registers the Studio Building as his address in the 1910s and 1920s. Publications suggest that he spent a substantial amount of time during these years restoring the Met’s art collection, including during the time that Robert Weeks de Forest served as the museum’s fifth president (1913–1931).84 Joining Hammond in the art of restoration in 1920 were Eleanor W. Kotz (1890–?), William Barkentin (1874–1962), and his wife, Marjorie Barkentin (1891–1974). The latter were tenants of the Studio Building off and on into the 1950s, became the last occupants of the two-story gallery once occupied by Chase (fig. 16), and shared the experience of tenancy in the Studio Building with their photographer son, fashion model daughter-in-law, and future fashion model granddaughters.85

Color photography of an urban apartment building.
Fig. 17. 45 West Tenth Street (formerly 51 West Tenth Street), New York, July 2022. Image: Google Street View

Further year-to-year details about TSS shareholders, operations, profits, and losses between 1920 and the mid-1950s remain to be recovered, as does documentation of the 1950s corporate takeover, including the terms of the sale to developers and the fight to preserve it from demolition.86 What we do know is that the Studio Building fell into rubble for the same reason that it was created a century earlier by the enterprising Johnstons. Savvy businessmen in the late 1940s coveted ownership of the Studio Building’s lot and prime location in Greenwich Village, which they recognized as a lucrative opportunity to capitalize on New York City’s real estate market. Sadly, their idea of meeting the demand for apartment buildings did not include serving as art patrons committed to ensuring and expanding appreciation for historic and contemporary American art. The results were the destruction of an anchor institution that was foundational to histories of American art and architecture and the construction of a homely residential building (fig. 17) that has none of the innovations or historical significance of Hunt’s Studio Building.87

Perhaps part of the explanation for this loss concerns the waning historical significance attributed to the Studio Building’s tenants after 1893, which quantitative data analysis demonstrates. As previously mentioned, the year-to-year directory data that the Mining @ Tenth Street project team has assembled helps to identify the landlord of each tenant in their first year of occupancy, which in turn enables a clearer view of the stages of the building’s life. Of the 419 tenants total that the Mining @ Tenth Street project team has either validated or newly identified, 209 began renting from J. B. and J. T. Johnston, eighty-seven from J. H. Johnston, and 124 from TSS. As visualized in a comparative chart showing percentage rates for works accessioned into the MMA and SAAM under all three landlord eras (fig. 18), the rates of accessions are much higher for tenants renting from J. B. and J. T. Johnston than tenants renting from either J. H. Johnston or TSS. As the chart “Studio Building Tenants in the MMA and SAAM by Gender and Landlord” visualizes (fig. 19), the disparities in accession among the tenants renting from various landlords are clear. If inclusion into the MMA and SAAM is an indication of status and historical significance, which we believe it is, then clearly the period that J. B. and J. T. Johnston served as landlords (1857–1893) represents the most effective era of patron-class sponsorship, noticeable from accession rates and from the fact that little is known about what transpired within the building after 1900.

Infographic repeating the information from fig. 14 and adding two new eras of Studio Building ownership: J. H. Johnston (1894-1920) (20.5% of total accessions; 6% of MMA accessions; 17.5% of SAAM accessions) and Tenth Street Studios, Inc. (1820-1956) (18% of total accessions; 17% of MMA accessions; 17.5% of SAAM accessions).
Fig. 18. Mining @ Tenth Street, “Distribution of 117 Studio Building tenants by landlord & by MMA and SAAM accession rates.” © Mining @ Tenth Street: Visualizing New York City’s Tenth Street Studio Building, 2022
Bar graph showing the decreasing majority of male tenants at the Studio Building in three eras: 1857-1893, 1894-1920, and 1921-1956.
Fig. 19. Mining @ Tenth Street, “Studio Building Tenants in the MMA and SAAM by Gender and Landlord.” © Mining @ Tenth Street: Visualizing New York City’s Tenth Street Studio Building, 2022

Also interesting to consider is the steep margin between men and women artists accessioned into these collections, which the chart demonstrates particularly during Johnston-era ownership from 1893 to 1920. Eight women rented space from J. B. and J. T. Johnston (including Winter, the janitress) and eleven women rented from J. H. Johnston. In both cases, two women artists from each landlord, approximately 3.4 percent of the total artists with works accessioned into these collections, have a place in these collections. During the TSS era of ownership, thirty-six women tenants were identified, and of these seven have works accessioned into the MMA and SAAM, approximately 6 percent of the total number of tenants with works accessioned. Although the number of nineteenth-century women who rented studios from the Johnstons is substantially lower than women who rented from TSS, the rate of accession is still higher for the few women who did rent studios from J. B. and J. T. Johnston. This chart demonstrates that the number of collected women artists begins to increase under TSS ownership, but it is also clear that an overwhelming preference for work by male artists continues. Further research may prove that such a preference is also evident in other American art collections. To date, the preliminary findings suggest a statistically significant correlation between J. B. and J. T. Johnston patronage, contemporary historicization, and inclusion into prominent collections of American art, particularly for the “patriarchs” favored by J. B. Johnston, J. T. Johnston, and their peers. However, the chart also indicates that throughout the dimming of the Studio Building’s once prominent reputation, evident in the lower numbers of artists considered to have achieved enough commercial and critical success to be deemed worthy of nationally prominent American art collections, it was also transforming into a more diverse community. When studied closely and quantitatively, the Studio Building’s largely forgotten twentieth-century tenants enable us to see the individuals left in the margins. They help reveal the timeline by which the Studio Building’s historical significance begins to wane while also helping to create a more inclusive history of art.

Greater diversity in the Studio Building throughout its twentieth-century life is evident in new tenant data that reveals changes in the number of official women tenants, which began to grow prior to 1920 and continued to expand into the 1950s. The Tenth Street Studio Building Women Dataset, described and made available in the Data Appendix, documents an additional fifty women as living or working in the Studio Building, bringing the total number of known women tenants to fifty-five, the vast majority of them practicing twentieth-century artists.88 Analysis of the cluster’s gender dynamics overall, garnered from the total number of tenants recovered thus far in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, shows that the fifty-five official female tenants between 1858 and 1956 represent approximately 13 percent of the creative cluster as a whole. This vast disparity in gender ratio between officially registered male and female tenants throughout the Studio Building’s lifespan is in many ways to be expected. Professionalization of women and greater opportunity for financial independence in the arts overall were more likely after the turn of the century.

These statistics are complicated by the fact that official tenancy is merely an indication rather than a definitive measure of women’s growing participation in this community. As diaries and letters written by the Studio Building’s tenants attest (and as any renter or landlord knows), residents do not necessarily do what directories register. In the case of artists, they swap studios. They sublet. They teach students. They employ models and perhaps other domestic staff. They have families. Thus, directories capture only a fraction of the women who inhabited this space and how they inhabited it over time (the names Perii and Pamela Barkentin and Dimitri Rimsky, for example, do not appear in postwar city or professional directories, although all of them lived in the Studio Building as children in the 1940s and 1950s). We already know that some of the better-known official male artist-tenants of the Studio Building in the nineteenth century were married, some to women artists who likely participated in the creative cluster without officially registering studio space in annual directories. This is true for the twentieth century also.89 For example, Thomas Wilmer Dewing (1851–1938), a Paris-trained figure painter and follower of James McNeill Whistler, registered at 51 West Tenth Street from 1902 to 1919. He was married to Maria Oakey Dewing (1845–1927), also an important artist of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, who was a founding member of the Art Students League and a student of John La Farge (1835–1910), another of the Studio Building’s more famous tenants.90 Her name does not appear in searches for 51 West Tenth Street, although it is likely that she spent time at the Studio Building while studying with La Farge and during the seventeen years that her husband rented studio space there. Another example is Alice Preble Tucker DeHaas (1859–1920), a noted watercolorist who studied with Chase as well Maurits Frederik Hendrik de Haas (1832–1895), a tenant at 51 West Tenth Street for thirty years, whom she married just prior to his death in 1895.91 Until she rented studio space in 1902, however, her networked relationships to such prominent members of the Studio Building’s creative cluster, including her schooling with De Haas and Chase, likely over a period of years, are not readily available from the limited sources about her life as a professional artist. She is among a handful of women who registered the Studio Building as their address and identified as students of male artist-tenants, such as Chase and La Farge, which points to a likely area of growth for identifying additional female members of the creative cluster, who are likely to appear in private rather than public records of the Studio Building’s unofficial role as a place of study.92

The duration of women’s tenancy is also important to consider. As the Tenth Street Studio Building Women Dataset reveals, most of the fifty women tenants who registered their address as 51 West Tenth Street in annual directories did so for no more than one year. Of these women, only five officially registered as either working or living in the Studio Building for more than five years. For nineteenth-century aspiring women artists, several factors made it likely that their duration of tenancy would be short or only briefly registered. At a time when American artists, regardless of gender, had a hard time selling work, the tensions between professional ambition and the need to preserve modesty or secure sufficient funds severely limited women’s access to this well-sponsored center for the fine art industry in New York City. Despite inconsistently available twentieth-century annual directories in digitized form, the general trend from the number of women tenants in the late 1910s and early 1920s to the 1940s shows that the ranks of officially registered women tenants steadily increased, although official tenancy remained brief for most women. Directory and rent receipt data for the years 1920, 1933, 1942–46, 1948–49, and 1953 demonstrate that more women were joining the community. A similar growth in efforts to document and historicize such women artists’ labor, however, did not take shape. Further, rather than any woman artist, among the fifty-five female tenants validated and identified by the Mining @ Tenth Street project team to date, Margaret Winter, the janitress during J. B. and J. T. Johnston’s ownership of the Studio Building for twenty-six years (1862–1888) and registered in the city directory for twenty-four of them (1862–1886), holds the record for the longest period of official tenancy.

The pattern of brief tenancy for most Studio Building women suggests a lack of access to market share, perhaps, and is mirrored in the fewer number of works by these women accessioned into the MMA and SAAM. Of the 419 Studio Building tenants confirmed thus far, only eleven women tenants (approximately 20 percent of the Studio Building’s women tenants) have a collective total of approximately fifty-seven works in the MAA and SAAM collections combined (twenty-two works at the MMA and thirty-five works at SAAM).93 By contrast, and illustrating the disparity along gender lines, the MMA alone has more than one hundred items associated with Albert Bierstadt, one of the nineteenth century’s more famous Studio Building patriarchs, and both museums combined have more than five hundred items created by Winslow Homer. As the pie chart “Studio Building Women Artists in the MMA and SAAM Collections” visualizes (fig. 20), works by women artists of the Studio Building represent 2.9 percent of the total works collected. The less significant representation of works by women artists of the Studio Building in two of the most prominent and influential collections of American art suggests the likelihood of a similarly uneven representation in other collections. In fact, this article, which mines a superficial view of the Studio Building’s creative cluster culled from annual directory snapshots, brings some of their names into discussions of the canon of American art for the first time.

Pie chart showing numbers of male and female artists in the collections of the MMA and SAAM: 776 SAAM men; 35 SAAM women; 1158 MMA men; 22 MMA women.
Fig. 20. Mining @ Tenth Street, “Studio Building Women Artists in the MMA and SAAM Collections.” © Mining @ Tenth Street: Visualizing New York City’s Tenth Street Studio Building, 2022
Green-tinged reproduction of a book page featuring two portraits: on top, a man in round glasses wearing a beanie-like cap; on bottom a woman with an elaborate flower headdress. Text to the right reads "China's last Emperor Pu-Yi and his Empress."
Fig. 21. Leonebel Jacobs, portraits of China’s last emperor, Puyi, and his wife, Empress Wanrong, c. 1920s, reproduced in Leonebel Jacobs, My China (privately published, 1960s). Collection of the University of Oregon Library

While many women of the Studio Building are obscure and truly on the margins of history and nationally prominent collections of American art, their enterprise makes them worthy of our attention. For example, among the new artist-tenants uncovered by Mining @ Tenth Street, the painter Alice Hirsh (1888–1935) represents the first break with a well-established pattern of short-term official tenancy for women artists. City and professional directories document that she took up residence in 1917 and became the first officially registered woman artist to live in the building for more than five years, remaining in residence until at least 1933, or possibly until her death in 1935. During this time, she sculpted, painted impressionist landscapes, illustrated children’s books, and supplemented her income with commercial work, advertising in Vanity Fair, for example, her ability to create “Unusual Gifts” in the form of decorative boxes of various shapes.94 Leonebel Jacobs (mentioned above as a shareholder in TSS) was another industrious and largely forgotten woman artist of the 1920s and 1930s with a national rather than regional reputation. Her talent for portraiture led Jacobs to travel abroad. At the Washington Naval Conference in 1922, organized to discuss world peace, she painted a portrait of Madame Wellington Koo, wife of the Chinese ambassador to Great Britain and the United States.95 Very pleased with the portrait, the Koos invited Jacobs to visit Beijing and gave her letters of introduction to prominent members of Chinese society.96 The popularity and success of her portraits resulted in an invitation to visit the Forbidden City, where Jacobs became the first American woman artist to be granted an audience with a Chinese emperor and to receive a commission to create portraits of Emperor Puyi and his wife, Empress Wanrong (fig. 21).97 The portraits were created in Tianjin, after the emperor and empress were expelled from the Forbidden City, and exhibited in New York City in 1927 after Jacobs returned to the United States and took up residence again at the Studio Building.98

On the one hand, the growing number of such professional women artists between 1900 and the Studio Building’s demolition in 1956 indicates greater inclusion and transformation in the art world of New York City. On the other hand, the transformation, when unaccompanied by lasting fame, ongoing scholarly interest, and pride of place in important American art collections, renders them unremarkable to art history and virtually invisible in the metanarrative of American art. From the standpoint of market share and the conversations about art practice deemed most important to art history’s metanarrative, the growing numbers of women who transformed the Studio Building into a more inclusive community may have simultaneously lessened interest in the historic significance of their work and the building’s aging creative cluster in general. As published histories and accessions into museum collections indicate, those who historicized twentieth-century American art and artists in real time tended to exclude and perpetuate the exclusion of women artists, especially women artists working in representational styles.

For example, neither Jacobs nor Hirsch, whose enterprising careers illustrate the professional inroads that American women artists were making in the early decades of the twentieth century, has received much notice in studies of this period. As Janet Wolff argues concerning women of the Whitney Studio School (a younger creative cluster established several blocks away from the Studio Building by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney), the obscurity of Hirsh and Jacobs may be attributable to their “nonmodernist” styles, or representational painting concerned with “progressive aspects of realism” and distinct from more radical forms of experimentation with abstraction and expressionism.99 Particularly after the 1950s and 1960s, when Abstract Expressionism and its early modernist progenitors became dominant measures for excellence in twentieth-century American art, representational painters in general, and such women artists in particular, were actively excluded from important American art exhibitions and publications. While their work is clearly less radical than that of a painter like Georgia O’Keeffe, the industrious Studio Building women in the first several decades of the twentieth century challenge American art historians to consider how the metanarrative that includes O’Keeffe and excludes Hirsh and Jacobs is constructed.100

Women like Hirsh and Jacobs, the latter directly involved in transforming the Studio Building into an artist-owned and more affordable creative space, made room in the building and in the art world for later professional women artists who surpassed them in market share and reputation. Indeed, following in their wake, two women significant to major innovations in global postwar art briefly joined the creative cluster: Miriam Schapiro (1923–2015), a founding figure in American postwar, second-wave feminist art, and her friend Joan Mitchell (1925–1992), a leading Abstract Expressionist painter. Like very few men or women in prior generations of the Studio Building’s history, Schapiro and Mitchell came to represent globally influential movements in art that intersect with the history of the Studio Building in interesting ways. As young artists renting aging studios in a building designed to anchor innovative American art production in Greenwich Village, they embodied the possibilities that the Studio Building still offered, and would have continued to offer if not for its untimely end in the mid-1950s.

Indeed, by the 1940s the Studio Building was becoming home to both a growing number of women and culturally diverse avant-gardists who shifted its culture further away from being an exclusive anchorage for Euro-American male identity. Prior to 1940, only a few artists are known to have been immigrants from non-European countries, including Jingal Yamagishi (a tenant in 1901) and Kahlil Gibran (1883–1931), the Lebanese-born modern poet and painter (a tenant from 1911 to 1931 but only registered in city directories for three of those years).101 In the late 1940s, representation of other communities among the building’s younger tenants, many of them friends, increased. In 1947, the Chinese American painter Yun Gee (1906–1963) registered at 51 West Tenth Street. He was a former practitioner of Social Realism, concerned with leftist causes, and is considered the inventor of “Diamonism.”102 Paul Brach (1924–2007), Schapiro’s husband, registered their tenancy in 1952, when Philip Guston (1913–1980), registered from 1951–53, was also in residence. The Schapiros and Guston represent the Jewish immigrant community, and, through Guston, the intersections of radical leftist politics with representational and abstract art.103 Leon Polk Smith (1906–1996), born in Chickasha, Indian Territory (a year before it became the state of Oklahoma), registered in 1952–53.104 To Greenwich Village’s hothouse of innovation, Smith contributed a Hard-edge geometric style that reflects the importance of Indigenous cultural traditions to developments in postwar modernist painting. In such an adverse time and place as McCarthy-era New York City, when being gay, as Smith was, was criminalized, and entrapment campaigns actively targeted members of the LGBTQ+ community as well as the radical Left, the presence of such diverse and politically engaged artist-tenants signifies the Studio Building’s potential transformation into a stronghold for the vanguard. Unfortunately, any further development was cut short by the Studio Building’s sale and subsequent demolition.

Although brief, the tenancy of a handful of postwar avant-gardists, who were welcomed by TSS along with more conservative commercial artists, painters, and sculptors, demonstrates the value of gathering lifespan data for creative clusters and discovering the role that peripheries can play in facilitating innovation and revealing complex and shifting relationships. To date, publications on Schapiro, Brach, Guston, Gee, and Smith tend to omit their tenancy in the Studio Building. Without them—and without much attention paid to their less experimental twentieth-century neighbors and predecessors, some of whom were important teachers and leaders of art organizations—the Studio Building remains excluded from postwar art history, and its innovation is largely perceived as that of the Hudson River School, American Impressionism, and American Beaux-Arts architecture in the nineteenth century. Contrary to the building’ role as an anchor institution for the fine art industry, a catalyst for innovation, and an actant foundational to Greenwich Village’s rise as a postwar contemporary art center, studies of twentieth-century art history tend to remember the Studio Building, if at all, as an aging, increasingly irrelevant relic of the Gilded Age.

The presence of Schapiro, Mitchell, Brach, Guston, Gee, and Smith, however, recovers the Studio Building’s ties to influential postwar institutions minutes from the Studio Building’s front door that they likely attended while tenants: the Cedar Street Tavern at 24 University Place, where leading artists and critics mingled over drinks and argued over modern art’s future, or the Tanager Gallery and other artist-run cooperative galleries on East Tenth Street, where the New York School artists showed their work. These institutions and the local artists who participated in them created a watershed moment in American art and Greenwich Village in the 1950s, part of a collective striving toward the radical and new and an enthusiasm for abandoning the past that the Studio Building, as a physical structure associated with nineteenth-century innovations, represented. They embodied the aesthetic and ideological breaks with tradition that left the Studio Building’s legacy and its aging creative cluster vulnerable to erasure, particularly without powerful patrons and allies to protect that legacy. As a result, just as the “anchorage of the ancient patriarchs of art” matured into a home for diverse interests and identities and was clearly poised to welcome new talent into historically significant, roomy, and sunlit rooms, the Studio Building fell helplessly into rubble. Notably, it fell despite the allied efforts of traditional landscape painters and recently arrived Abstract Expressionist tenants fighting together to save it. It would take another decade before historic preservation laws were enacted to prevent such losses in New York and nationally. Without such legal protections, the Studio Building became a victim of the ambitious enterprises that its patron-class founders had initiated and promoted in the 1850s and 1860s: a still-booming real estate market for apartment buildings in New York City and a market for American art guided by a narrative that privileges white male artists.

Conclusion: The Afterlife of the Tenth Street Studio Building and Its Creative Cluster

The previous sections sketched a history of the rise and fall of the Tenth Street Studio Building as a physical structure and an active, geospatially tied social network whose vibrancy existed well beyond its nineteenth-century heyday, albeit beyond the radar of New York City’s cultural gatekeepers. The dynamic timelines and qualitative micro-histories documenting the Studio Building as a community give us a sense of its life and the lived experiences of tenants and patrons, but what relevance does that history have for American art today, or for fostering a more inclusive digital art history?

While most women artists of the Studio Building failed to achieve a level of commercial success that many of their male contemporaries managed, the overwhelming absence of acknowledgment of their labor, relative to that of men working in similar styles, suggests a dogmatic rehearsal of systems of exclusion that digital humanities projects and new institutional initiatives can work to overcome. If art market trends, sale prices, prominent exhibitions, publications, and access to important collections of American art are measures for whether an artist, the building they live in, or the creative cluster they inhabit is deemed important to art history, then inferior access to mechanisms for reputation-building persists in defining American art to the exclusion of ambitious women artists and their communities. Into the present, it is not atypical for women artists to be excluded from influential conversations about art practice and thus from the intellectual context for understanding contemporary art, which, if history is any indication, subsequently means that they are likely to be excluded from important collections of American art, from higher sales of work, and ultimately from the writing of American art history.105

Similarly, Abstract Expressionism remains a measure for dismissing, on the grounds of lack of aesthetic risk, work by figurative painters and sculptors, particularly women. As a multigenerational creative cluster in which experimentation contributing to Abstract Expressionism coexisted with a variety of other styles, the Tenth Street Studio Building’s creative cluster is not easy to order, either chronologically or stylistically. Nor can the Studio Building be easily dismissed on the basis of a lack of affiliation to interwar or postwar modernism. In these ways, the Studio Building allows us to consider new approaches to writing American art history. What if, for example, Alexander Calder’s contributions to American modernist sculpture are seen as an extension of his time in his father’s studio at 51 West Tenth Street, which used to be the studio of William Merritt Chase, and before that one of the first galleries devoted to contemporary American art in New York? What if Church’s Heart of the Andes is compared to Leon Polk Smith’s Hard-edge abstraction? Or what if we follow the lives of the Studio Building’s last occupants to discover, for example, the stunning photographs that George Barkentin took of his daughter Pamela posing before the Piazza San Marco in Venice, one of the most iconic public spaces and subjects in the history of art (fig. 22), which many of the Studio Building’s most famous patrons and tenants traveled to see? The expected lineages and the metanarrative would by no means be as neatly ordered, but American art history would certainly gain greater dimension.

Color photograph of a woman in a diaphanous minidress and matching scarf in front of a flock of pigeons, with the facade of St. Mark's cathedral in Venice in the background.
Fig. 22. George Barkentin, Pamela Barkentin in the Piazza San Marco, 1966, for Mademoiselle, February 1, 1966. Condé Nast

In exploring the Studio Building’s lifespan by compiling as many sources of public information as possible about tenant registration and translating them into datasets to which additional data, such as accessions into prominent collections of American art, can be added, we demonstrate a new approach to studying a site and social network familiar to scholars and institutions devoted to preserving histories of American art, and histories of the nineteenth-century especially. Rendered visible through the assembly of data and data mining that explores the Studio Building into the 1950s through both quantitative analysis and qualitative case studies, the margins of the Studio Building’s creative cluster become an important place of record. In the margins that city and professional directories preserve, we discover the creativity of its patron-class sponsors, little-known women artists, art restorers, a fur dealer, a designer of luxury suburbs, and others who complicate and unsettle long-held assumptions about the Studio Building and who among its creative cluster matter most to developments in American art. We also learn how such determinations are guided by the intersection of culture and capitalism, which prompts questions about the structure of the metanarrative of American art itself. This article’s data mining and the Mining @ Tenth Street project in general seek to demonstrate that by looking to such margins—to periphery in addition to center, to non-artist participants in artist clusters, to heterochronic coexistence in terms of passé and avant-garde styles being created at the same time and in the same place by multigenerational communities that in and of themselves represent diversity—we can write a more inclusive history of American art.

Appendix: Tenth Street Studio Building Data

In the interest of transparency, a core tenet of digital humanities scholarship, this appendix offers a guide for other researchers interested in developing digital humanities projects and working with the open-access datasets and data visualizations explored in this article. It provides definitions and explanations for how to understand Mining @ Tenth Street data sources, datasets, and data visualizations, as well as the specific choices guiding their assembly, annotation, and analysis thus far.

The research conducted for this article involves creating large collections of data, creating metadata, and organizing these into datasets that continue to expand. By Studio Building data, we mean factual details about the building and its social networks recovered from primary sources, additional secondary source research, and/or oral history interviews. By metadata, we mean the collection of data about Mining @ Tenth Street data, such as bibliographic information identifying where and/or when data was acquired (the directory title and year of publication, Annette Blaugrund’s roster, or the date of an oral history interview, for example). By dataset, we mean discrete sets of data and metadata assembled together, typically within a spreadsheet devoted to a particular aspect of the building’s life that provides either a holistic or thematic view of the physical structure, its creative cluster, and/or the cluster’s public presence and reputation as documented through exhibitions and publications over time. In this article, for example, we present datasets, digital images, charts, dynamic timelines, and maps. These were created or modified using Google suite applications, ESRI ArcGIS Online and StoryMaps, Microsoft Excel, and Adobe Creative Suite. The visualizations excerpt and explore content from the novel tenant and patron data that the Mining @ Tenth Street project team has assembled thus far.

As part of Panorama’s “Toward a More Inclusive Digital Art History” initiative, which aims to model how digital humanities scholarship can help to create a more inclusive history of American art, this article, through the assembly and mining of big data, responds to a number of pioneering scholars who take a quantitative approach to the study of American cultural history. In terms of recent scholarship in digital American art history, the article responds directly to Diana Seave Greenwald’s work at the intersection of art history, economics, and digital humanities, particularly her essay, with Allan McLeod, “Colleague Collectors: A Statistical Analysis of Artists’ Collecting Networks in New York” and her recent book Painting by Numbers: Data-Driven Histories of Nineteenth-Century Art (2021), which demonstrate how computational and data-driven approaches to art history can help our field test and challenge established answers to larger questions using data samples that reflect the size of the question(s) being asked.106 In the case of this article, the big question we are pursuing, which requires assembling a much larger dataset inclusive of the Studio Building’s twentieth-century history, is: What is the place of the Studio Building in histories of American art? With input from Greenwald, who is Panorama’s Digital Art History Editor, and Johnathan Hardy, Project Manager for Panorama’s “Toward a More Inclusive Digital Art History” initiative, the Mining @ Tenth Street project team expanded data collection and preliminary analysis for this article to begin to try to answer this question through statistical analysis and digital art history. On their advice, the scope and structural organization of the project’s datasets and the article’s data visualizations were modified and expanded. For example, we began to track and analyze relationships between tenants’ production and prominent collections of American art by assembling data about accession of artworks. Such guidance from Greenwald and Hardy enabled the project team to test the theory that prominent patronage bolstered the chances for canonical status for nineteenth-century tenants of the Studio Building in particular.107 As the project continues to grow and its datasets to expand, the project team will release open-access data through GitHub, where the datasets used in this article are currently published and where updated versions will be made available, under the username TenthStreetStudios.

Tenth Street Studio Building Lifespan Dataset

The most extensive contribution of new data presented in this article is an updated year-to-year list of Tenth Street Studio Building tenants, which significantly expands existing knowledge of this creative cluster. The structure of the Lifespan dataset follows the format of data organization within the New York City annual directory. Data points are separated by columns according to the information that the directory provides, such as first name, last name, and affiliated addresses. Tenant data is transcribed as printed except in cases of misspelled names or typographical errors in the address. In years when multiple digitized annual directories are available, a tenant may be listed multiple times within a single year. In rare cases, an indication of gender (“Mrs.” or “Wid,” for example) is indicated. To this transcribed directory data, metadata in the form of documentation of data sources, such as the year and title of the directory, is added. Generally, directories are listed in the spreadsheet according to the year provided in the title rather than the year of publication. In some cases, the annual directory is listed according to the date range provided in the directory’s title rather than an individual year.

The Tenth Street Studio Building Lifespan dataset was assembled from simple searches for the building’s address. The Tenth Street Studio Building had two addresses: 15 Tenth Street (1857–66) and, after the streets of New York City were renumbered, 51 West Tenth Street (1867–1956). In the column Professional Address, either the Studio Building or another address is indicated. If another address is indicated, this means that the tenant lived in the Studio Building and worked elsewhere. This dataset does not include data for tenants who registered at 55 West Tenth Street (the Studio Building’s next-door annex), nor does it include additional home addresses noted in the directory, which will be subject of future publications and an updated Lifespan dataset next year. The majority of this data remains validated only at the level of annual directories, which are likely to contain margins of error resulting from both initial transcription (the process of assembling a city directory) and further transcription errors by the Mining @ Tenth Street project team (the process used to extract directory data and assemble the Lifespan dataset), both of which are vulnerable to human error given the volume of data processed.

As mentioned in the article, the Lifespan dataset currently provides a snapshot of the Studio Building, which registers only the general presence of tenancy rather than specific information about its duration or other qualitative information that much more detailed archival research into individual artists’ papers will reveal. As a result, one of the issues with annual directory datasets (the published directories and our reproduction of excerpts from them) is that they register only a static estimate of the Studio Building in any given year. From the assembly of this dataset thus far, it is clear that directories do not capture every tenant of the Studio Building from year to year, which comparisons between the Tenth Street Studio Building Lifespan dataset and Annette Blaugrund’s more thoroughly validated tenant rosters clearly indicate, as do other qualitative examples discussed in the article. In the Lifespan dataset, the duration of tenancy data points for all known tenants that Blaugrund’s Tenth Street Studio Building roster captures is only partially validated by the assembly of annual city and professional directory data, in which not every artist Blaugrund enumerates is registered in every year that her research confirmed, showing years of missing registration at the level of the city directory, for example. Conversely, the Tenth Street Studio Building Lifespan dataset includes non-artist tenants that Blaugrund’s research, conducted prior to the availability of digitized and searchable directories, missed, and offers a sometimes surprising view of who occupied the Studio Building in addition to artists and architects, such as Joseph J. Asch and Llewellyn Solomon Haskell. Using the Lifespan dataset to identify and transcribe obituaries for all known tenants, the Mining @ Tenth Street project team is now in the process of conducting more thorough archival research to generate a richer view of the Studio Building’s community that directories only superficially reveal.

For the twentieth-century half of the Lifespan dataset, reconstruction of the annual snapshot is further complicated by much less complete and less diverse tenant data. The city directory is inconsistently available in digitized and searchable form after 1920, and there is a particular lacuna of digitized annual directory data for the 1930s, which means that even more superficial views of the fluctuations in the creative cluster during the Great Depression, a time of great change in the American art world, are only partially documented. Furthermore, the majority of sources capturing tenant data after 1920 are professional directories, such as the American Art Annual, the Whitney Museum’s biennial exhibition catalogue, and other fine art industry publications. The problem with industry-specific sources of data is that they only concern themselves with affiliated members and have no need to document less established and non-artist members, which obscures the fuller view and the greater diversity that municipal directories capture in documenting tenants of the Studio Building.

Tenth Street Studio Building Gender, Landlord, and Museum Collections Dataset

A subset of the Lifespan dataset collapses year-to-year tenant data into one entry per tenant to create a full list of tenant names. Each tenant is then coded with a binary gender label (1 for women, 0 for men). Every tenant is further coded by their first Studio Building landlord (0 for TSS, 1 for J. B. and J. T. Johnston, and 2 for J. H. Johnston) and with binary labels indicating whether their work is part of the Met’s or SAAM’s collections according to the museums’ websites (1 for yes, 0 for no for each museum, and for the museums combined). For tenants with works in these collections, the number of objects per tenant that each museum contains is recorded in separate columns. Each of these data points reflects specific data-collection choices made by the project team, which may include the following margins of error.

In the case of gender identification, with the exception of the occasional appearance of “Mrs.” or “Wid.,” annual directory entries do not indicate tenants’ gender. To be able to calculate demographics and the degree to which the creative cluster “moved” and became more inclusive over time, the project team assigned binary gender labels through biographical information searches using secondary sources and, in some cases, on the basis of first name. Binary labels were chosen because they reflect how gender was discussed throughout the Studio Building’s lifespan. Limited by available data and the requirements of computational systems, we fully acknowledge and regret that the method of assigning binary gender labels necessarily collapses the nuances of gender identity and gender expression as these existed throughout the Studio Building’s lifespan.108 It is worth noting that issues related to assigning cisgender labels to datasets do not involve just historical data collection and analysis. In her recent talk “Homegoing: The Technology of Living Data and Public Mourning in the Age of COVID-19,” Kim Gallon described the difficulties of collecting more nuanced gender identity data for a dataset informing COVID Black and its powerful memorial, “Homegoing,” a digital humanities project constructed at “the intersection of health data, information, the humanities, race and social justice . . . to redefine statistics and information into living data and stories about Black Health.”109 As Gallon relates, attempting to assemble nuanced data about gender and how people self-identify from published obituaries and government documents continues to prove challenging into the twenty-first century.110

For museum data, the project team searched each museum’s website collection database during the winter of 2021–22. This dataset has not been updated since, and the data has not been confirmed by each museum. These data points are intended to provide a preliminary overview of general trends, rather than more conclusive collections analysis, which will be the subject of future research.

Tuckerman’s Book of the Artists Dataset

Another subset of the Tenth Street Studio Building Lifespan Dataset measures the degree to which Tuckerman historicizes tenants of the Studio Building in his Book of the Artists, published in 1867. Notably, Book of the Artists is a revision of an earlier publication Tuckerman wrote titled Artist-Life; or, Sketches of American Painters (1847) and it includes updated data about American artists in the form of new names and biographical sketches, many of them Tuckerman’s neighbors in the Studio Building. Using the first ten years of the Studio Building Lifespan data, this subset adds more granular detail about tenants’ registered occupations, including an unfiltered view of how they registered in the city directory and assigning each of them a code with a more general category of labor (1 painter or sculptor, 2 architect, 3 other profession, 0 building staff). The dataset then identifies if a tenant is included in Book of the Artists (0 for no, 1 for yes). Through this coding the dataset documents that Tuckerman’s book includes approximately 55 percent of tenants who lived in the Studio Building from 1857 to 1867, indicates painters’ general tendency to register occupation in the city directory as “artist,” and records Tuckerman’s preference for defining American “artists” as painters. Of the thirty-seven Studio Building tenants Book of the Artists includes, only one artist registered in the city directory, and is primarily known to art history, as a sculptor. Tuckerman’s role within the Studio Building, seen through this dataset⎯a subset of the total number of names Book of the Artists includes⎯ offers a glimpse into how his influential and shifting perspectives on contemporary art circa 1867 shaped a narrative privileging male nineteenth-century landscape painters particularly. This data and analysis is useful given that Book of the Artists remains an often-cited reference for museums, collectors, dealers, and scholars of American art.

Tenth Street Studio Building Women Dataset

A subset of the Gender, Landlord, and Museum Collections Dataset dataset, the Tenth Street Studio Building Women Dataset expands information for just the identified women of the Studio Building, a portion of which is further expanded on in the Women of the Studio Building dynamic timeline (fig. 23). Expanding the minimal information provided by annual directory data, the Tenth Street Studio Building Women Dataset captures birthdate and death date information, if available; identifies any connections to other tenants of the Studio Building; and compiles a list of years that each woman registered the Studio Building as her address in city or professional directories. The dataset also elucidates how women tenants are particularly prone to missing data at the level of the annual, year-to-year city or professional directory snapshot. From preliminary research conducted thus far, a majority of the fifty women tenants discovered by the Mining @ Tenth Street project team are affiliated with the Studio Building and its history only by virtue of registering as tenants in an annual city or professional directory. Typically, they are not the subject of scholarly research and do not appear in museum collections. Relative to male tenants, preliminary searches have indicated that the art press appears to have paid very little attention to their lives on the whole, and thus evidence of their participation in the creative cluster is minimal. For many of these tenants, there are few or no other published sources documenting their participation in this creative cluster and the art world more broadly. Women affiliated with the creative cluster who were not officially related to male tenants of the Studio Building are particularly difficult to find in the historical record. The lack of primary sources is reflected in the lack of secondary sources about women as well. Such missing data raises a number of problems for scholars but also helps to illustrate how data losses document conditions for professional and socioeconomic exclusion that women of these eras faced as aspiring professionals, and how these patterns of exclusion become rehearsed in histories of American art and perpetuated in today’s contemporary art market.

Fig. 23. Mining @ Tenth Street, “Women of the Studio Building.” © Mining @ Tenth Street: Visualizing New York City’s Tenth Street Studio Building, 2022. For the full experience of the StoryMaps click “StoryMap” below to open map in new window.

In the case of understudied women artists, missing tenant data also complicates efforts to reconstruct the duration of twentieth-century tenancy, especially, and the process of recovering specific women’s involvement in this creative cluster over time. For example, highlighted in the Women of the Studio Building dynamic timeline is the little-known Ethel Parsons Paullin (1887–1971), a noted textile designer, muralist, painter, commercial illustrator, and engraver, and the widow of a better-known muralist. Paullin offers a good example of the challenges involved in reconstructing the Studio Building’s latter life and the greater presence of women artists in the creative cluster. She received public notice as one of the Studio Building’s last tenants and was registered as both living and working at 51 West Tenth Street in various annual directories for the years 1942–44, 1946, 1948–49, and 1952–53.111 The missing years represent gaps in knowledge regarding her whereabouts at the level of an annual snapshot; these gaps can reasonably be estimated as a consistent period of tenancy where no other evidence survives. In Paullin’s case, such an estimation is confirmed and expanded by a journalist reporting news of the Studio Building’s sale and impending demolition in 1952. The article confirms that Paullin had been living and working in the Studio Building for sixteen years, or since 1936 (during the Depression-era lacuna of directory data), rather than 1942, when available city directories associate her name with the Studio Building’s address for the first time.112 Such inconsistencies pose issues in general about tracking duration of tenancy for all known members of the creative cluster, particularly in the twentieth century.

Further documentation of tenancy duration requires decisions that the Mining @ Tenth Street project team has yet to make. Does the public record provided by the journalist, or do city and professional directories (without access to certain years), or do private letters or journals (if available) conclusively determine how long Paullin worked on church and military murals and portraits in her third-floor studio? Such complexities are even better captured by Marjorie Barkentin, one of the Studio Building’s final tenants. Although Barkentin moved into the building with her husband when the building and its annex were purchased by TSS in 1920, and surviving records documenting her husband’s tenancy and oral history interviews with her family indicate that she lived in the Studio Building off and on since at least 1920, she appears in annual directories only in 1953 and 1956. An obituary indicates that in addition to working as an artist’s model and a restorer, Barkentin became a founding member of the Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers in 1928, served as one of two official American representatives of touring Russian theater companies in 1933, and began writing the award-winning play Ulysses in Nighttown (1958) during her final years in the Studio Building—details that potentially expand the Studio Building creative cluster’s network into the worlds of American theater and likely the Popular Front during the interwar period.113 A lack of documentation for Barkentin’s tenancy in directories illustrates their failure to capture more than a superficial and, in this case, gendered view of tenancy, and the need to research and identify wives and life partners of male tenants to garner a better sense of women’s lives and their contributions to the Studio Building. Further data about such women tenants is crucial for documenting shifts in women’s greater market share and opportunity as arts professionals in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s as well, which are otherwise obscured in the rank-and-file status to which missing data and a general lack of scholarly interest have relegated most Studio Building women artists. The Women of the Studio Building dynamic timeline highlights some of their accomplishments (a few discussed in greater detail in the main article) and suggests what kinds of contributions other women made to this creative cluster that have yet to be considered at length by historians of American art.

Mining @ Tenth Street Future Data-Gathering Goals

There are two other areas of missing data that the main article mentions but does not explain in detail. Whereas there is quite a bit of data available about the founding of the Studio Building, there is, conversely, limited data about the end of the Studio Building’s life. Few records about TSS and its chain of ownership survive. Gathering information about TSS board members and the details of the building’s and annex’s sales is an active area of the project’s current research agenda, which includes connecting with historic preservation community members in New York City and searching for legal records concerning transfer of ownership and lawsuits related to the building’s demolition.

Collection for other data points, including tenant education, travel, military service, birthplace, and other personal and professional history categories, is underway through transcription of obituaries and other sources of more granular and qualitative tenant data. Preliminary findings for these data points are not included in this article but will be published on the Mining @ Tenth Street website in the future. While analysis of the birthplace of tenants in the Studio Building is being carried out, the project team is still determining whether it is feasible to identify and analyze the ethnic makeup of the Studio Building’s creative cluster as a whole, and what methods of data collection and assembly might best accomplish such an aim. Preliminary research into tenant ethnicity is culled from an incomplete survey of biographical data found through tenant obituaries and other primary sources.

Watercolor portrait head of a middle-aged African American woman
Fig. 24. Feodor Rimsky, Untitled (Study of Artist’s Model), ca. late 1940s or early 1950s. Watercolor on paper, 17 x 13 inches. Collection of Dimitri Rimsky

As already indicated, extensive data about tenants’ private lives tends to end in the early decades of the twentieth century, when the very well-documented “ancient patriarchs” are no longer tenants and more obscure figures take up residence. Cursory analysis of tenant ethnicity thus far, however, does suggest that while the Studio Building was occupied by a number of immigrants from Europe, and while the creative cluster became more inclusive with respect to women throughout its twentieth-century history, communities of color remain overwhelmingly unrepresented in the year-to-year official tenant data we collected. Of course, it is important to note that officially registered tenancy does not account for all people who participated within this creative cluster, including artist models, domestic staff, family, and friends. Private papers and other data sources about individual tenants may reveal further information. For example, oral history interviews with Dimitri Rimsky about his father’s painting practice within the Studio Building revealed a watercolor study of an African American female model (fig. 24) who posed for Feodor Rimsky in the 1940s.114 More research is needed to identify her name and the names of many other people of color who visited, lived in, or worked in the Studio Building over time. While it is not the focus of this article, reading the Studio Building as a case study in the construction of the canon of American art and the construction of whiteness will be the subject of future work.

Mining @ Tenth Street StoryMaps

Johnston Family Owned and Patronized Sites StoryMap
Studio Building Patrons StoryMap
Women of the Studio Building StoryMap

Finally, the article features three StoryMap data visualizations, which allow the reader to browse through more granular and geolocated data about the Tenth Street Studio Building’s patrons and tenants. These are broad overviews of preliminary geolocated data and chronologies that are meant to provide a further way of seeing the Studio Building anew. It is important to note, however, that geolocation documenting the Studio Building’s connections to places on the East Coast, or patrons’ and tenants’ travel and other activities beyond the United States, is presented within maps showing current national boundaries, city plans, street names, and addresses. For these preliminary visualizations, we have used the template maps that ESRI’s StoryMaps offers, rather than geolocating data on historic maps appropriate to each era of the Studio Building’s life from 1857 to 1956, a century in which war, revolution, colonialism, and urban growth radically transformed how world maps and geographic boundaries look. For example, the Johnstons crossed very different borders during their first grand tour of Europe in the 1830s. In the future, the project team will map data using period-appropriate maps, but for the moment the StoryMaps give the reader a further glimpse of the Studio Building’s lifespan and place in the histories of the Johnston family, New York City, the broader art world, and transnational exchange. These StoryMaps are also samples rather than exhaustive views of the creative cluster, and we encourage the reader to browse the much more thorough Lifespan datasets linked in this appendix to discover additional figures and places of interest.

In sharing new data about the Tenth Street Studio Building and making some of the project’s datasets available to the scholarly community—with a series of disclosures about the limitations of the data presented in this publication—we aim to encourage further research into this canonical space and its creative cluster. As the project and its research continue to unfold, we look forward to collaborating with other scholars and institutional partners and to establishing a permanent institutional home for the project so that it can remain an open-access resource for scholars and the general public interested in exploring the Studio Building’s rich history and writing a more inclusive history of American art.

Cite this article: Mary Okin with Celie Mitchard, “From Center to Periphery: The Lifespan of New York City’s Tenth Street Studio Building and the Canon of American Art,” Panorama: Journal of the Association of Historians of American Art 8, no. 2 (Fall 2022),


This article owes a great debt of gratitude to Celie Mitchard, who has been instrumental to the Mining @ Tenth Street project since January of 2020. The project’s origins are indebted to Annette Blaugrund’s pioneering work and to an initial project proposal created in collaboration with Melina Gooray (PhD Student, Northwestern University) in a winter of 2018 digital humanities seminar offered by Todd Presner and Chris Johanson at UCLA, who provided invaluable feedback on how to develop this project further. Since the summer of 2018, the project has evolved independently with advice from Margaretta M. Lovell and the Berkeley Americanist Group, Bruce Robertson, Annette Blaugrund, and oral history interviewees Pamela and Perii Barkentin, Woody Glenn, Elizabeth Kresch, Dimitri Rimsky, and Edith Beal Tuttle. Acceptance into Panorama’s “Toward a More Inclusive Digital Art History” initiative, which brings together like-minded emerging scholars and digital humanities experts, strengthened the project’s aims and ambitions by providing training in digital humanities tools and methods, best practices, and innovative models to consider. The opportunity to write this article and share preliminary findings has been guided and supported at Panorama by Diana Seave Greenwald, Johnathan Hardy, Jacqueline Francis, and Jessica Skwire Routhier, who have been instrumental to every stage of this article’s preparation and development and to imagining future directions for the Mining @ Tenth Street project as well. Finally, through the difficult and tragic years of COVID-19, the project grew unexpectedly thanks to the generosity of academic institutions that chose to provide digital access to their research collections. The unprecedented emergency access to digitized primary sources in 2020 and 2021 expanded Mining @ Tenth Street datasets exponentially and enabled a much more thorough glimpse into the Studio Building’s twentieth-century history, its most neglected and diverse era of creative clustering.

—Mary Okin, founder, Mining @ Tenth Street: Visualizing
New York City’s Tenth Street Studio Building

  1. Hunt, the first American graduate of France’s prestigious Académie des Beaux-Arts program of study in architecture and a founding member of the American Institute of Architects (1857), went on to professionalize the field of architecture in the United States, beginning with the atelier he hosted in the Studio Building. For more on Hunt, see Alan Burnham, “The New York Architecture of Richard Morris Hunt,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 11, no. 2 (1952): 9–14, Burnham, it is worth noting, is the architect who measured and drew the only surviving floor plans for the Tenth Street Studio Building prior to its demolition, one of his many acts as a leader of New York City’s historic preservation movement in the 1950s and 1960s.
  2. “Gossip of Gotham. American Painters Are Sending Their Pictures Abroad and Selling Them. Sculptures’ Great Boom. Their Plan for the Biggest Statuary Show on Earth—New Candidate for Literary Honors,” Galveston Daily News, April 21, 1896.
  3. Brown was a British-born painter of genre scenes, specializing in humanizing depictions of “street urchins,” or impoverished children who worked by day as newsboys, bootblacks, and so on. Brown lived in the Studio Building from 1861 to 1913 and was elected to the National Academy of Design. In addition to being well regarded for his accomplishments in genre painting, Brown was important for his teaching and his administration of arts organizations. While living at the Studio Building, he served as president of the American Water-Color Society (1888–89) and the Artists’ Fund Society (1898–1908) and vice president of the National Academy of Design (1899–1904), where he also taught painting for many years. “Painter of Children Dies,” Sunday Herald, February 9, 1913.
  4. Ernest Harvier, “Art Centre Back to Its Old Home. Washington Square Attracts Painters Again after Lapse of Half a Century. Truth about ‘The Village.’ It Exists Only on Paper, and Its ‘Bohemians’ Are of the Pseudo Variety,” New York Times, November 14, 1920.
  5. Gustave Cimiotti, a New York–born painter and teacher, was among the longest occupants of the Studio Building, residing at 51 West Tenth Street for more than fifty years in the twentieth century. Like many of his generation, he studied at the Art Students League, where some tenants of the Studio Building worked as teachers, before traveling for study abroad in Paris at the progressive Académie Julian, also an institution with strong ties to tenants at the Studio Building. Among his accomplishments after his return were securing space in the Studio Building, exhibiting work at the Armory Show in 1913, and beginning his career in art education, eventually becoming director of the Newark School of Fine Arts. Who’s Who in New York City and State, s.v. “Gustave Cimiotti” (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1947), 183; Peter F. Falk, Who Was Who in American Art, 1564-1975: Four Hundred Years of Artists in America  vol. A-F, s.v. “Gustave Cimiotti” (Madison: Sound View Press, 1999), 648.
  6. “1857 Studios Here May Soon Be Razed: Apartments Due to Supplant Greenwich Village Quarters of Many Noted Artists,” New York Times, August 24, 1952.
  7. “1857 Studios Here May Soon Be Razed.” According to this article, Kresch lived in the Studio Building twice: once in 1946 and again in the early 1950s after his return from teaching at the Hampton Institute in Hampton Roads, Virginia (now Hampton University). In the earlier period of his tenancy, Kresch was affiliated with the Jane Street Gallery, founded in 1943 by a group of modernist artists, which was a progenitor of the cooperative artist-galleries that flourished on or near East Tenth Street in Greenwich Village in the 1950s.
  8. “Heterochrony” is discussed at some length in Keith Moxey’s introduction to Visual Time: The Image in History (Durham: Duke University Press, 2013), 1–8. Moxey argues, “The history of art has traditionally spent much of its time attempting to lend order to the chronological location of objects it calls its own. . . . As a modernist enterprise, art history is inextricably linked to a notion of teleology and is therefore irreconcilable with an idea of heterochrony (many times existing at the same time). . . . Contemporary thinking about the work of art and about the study of its history challenges the discipline as it struggles to find ways to translate the significance of alternative temporalities that intersect with the universalizing aspirations of its narratives, as well as to negotiate its awareness of the life of images beyond the moment of their creation.”
  9. For a study of Hollywood as a creative cluster, see Philip Cooke, Lisa De Propris, and Laura Hypponen, “Creative Clusters and Governance: The Dominance of the Hollywood Film Cluster,” in Creative Cities, Cultural Clusters and Local Economic Development (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2013), 258–86. For a study of Silicon Valley, see Martin Neil Baily and Nicholas Montalbano, “Clusters and Innovation Districts: Lessons from the United States Experience,” Brookings (March 9, 2022), Although not described as such, creative clusters have also become the subject of digital humanities projects concerning the arts. Two examples of projects that share some of the aims of our study of the Tenth Street Studio Building are Artists in Paris, organized by Hannah Williams in collaboration with Chris Sparks and hosted by Queen Mary University of London, and The Vault at Pfaff’s. organized by Edward Whitley and hosted by Lehigh University ( and, respectively). The former maps the emergence of artists’ communities in Paris in the eighteenth century, while the latter is an archive of materials related to the histories and customers at Pfaff’s, an antebellum New York City beer cellar that operated as “part German beer cellar, part American saloon, and part French Salon” from 1849 to 1887 and was frequented by the first generation of self-described Bohemians (Pfaffians), including tenants of the Studio Building and important writers and journalists. Both projects track the geospatial relationships of individuals affiliated with the arts in major cities, but unlike this article they are not primarily concerned with sponsorship of creative individuals serving a specific market for artistic output.
  10. For a review of creative cluster literature and theory, see Marlen Komorowski and Ike Picone, Creative Cluster Development: Governance, Place-Making and Entrepreneurship (London: Routledge, 2021), 1–14. This state-of-the-field publication demonstrates that literature on creative clustering is diverse and interdisciplinary, spanning the humanities and social sciences, including the fields of economics, sociology, geography, urban studies, business, and many other fields. According to one of the latest publications on the field, the concept of clustering became popular and more developed in scholarly literature in the 1990s, focused primarily on what the field identifies as cultural and creative industries (CCIs), although it had earlier origins in the work of British economist Alfred Marshall and his book Principles of Economics (1890), which introduced the idea of an industrial district. Creative clustering in this article addresses what literature in this field describes as the tendency of creative clusters to agglomerate, or collect or form into a group or mass, sometimes referred to as a hub. Through agglomeration, a creative cluster drives local industry, in this case primarily but not exclusively the industry of fine art in New York City. This approach to the Studio Building’s history complicates how the Studio Building is typically defined, namely as an important hub for the production, teaching, and exhibition of architecture, painting, and sculpture. As this article points out, the presence of other professions and a closer look at the activities of its patrons suggests that the cluster was more heterogeneous and tied to broader socioeconomic and cultural histories.
  11. Picone, Creative Cluster Development, 10–11. To get a better sense of why this location was geographically optimal for real estate clustering, see The Vault at Pffaff’s digital archive, “Bohemian New York,” The Vault at Pffaff’s project’s data visualizations and qualitative descriptions of historically significant figures, groups, and spaces provide a broader view of the creative activity of downtown New York City during the early years of the Studio Building’s establishment, including data visualizations that map the agglomeration of contributors to the broader creative district, such as writers, publishers, musicians and others who lived, worked, and socialized in close proximity to where the Studio Building was constructed.
  12. Picone, Creative Cluster Development, 11.
  13. Picone, Creative Cluster Development, 11.
  14. Picone, Creative Cluster Development, 11. The co-operative purchase of the Studio Building by its artist-tenants in 1920 was also a kind of pooling initiative and an example of attracting enablers, given that some of the new owners brought with them new industries that thrived within the building, such as art restoration (e.g., H. A. Hammond Smith, described later in this article).
  15. Today this term is used as a nickname for natives or residents of the state or city of New York, but in the nineteenth century it specifically referenced descendants of early Dutch settlers in New York City, or old wealth, popularized by the nineteenth-century author Washington Irving (1783–1859), who published A History of New York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty (1809) under the pen name Diedrich Knickerbocker. The Knickerbocker (1833–65), a monthly literary journal devoted to the fine arts, featured essays by a group of authors known as the “Knickerbockers,” among them William Cullen Bryant, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Henry T. Tuckerman, an art critic important to the Studio Building’s history. The nickname has also been used for a private men’s club that remains among the most exclusive in the world, the Knickerbocker Club (1871), and for the city’s basketball team, the New York Knickerbockers (1946), more commonly referred to as the Knicks. In this article, the term refers to the patron class of New York or men born to wealthy families whose career successes are enabled by inherited wealth, including the Johnstons and other wealthy sponsors (including some tenants) of the Studio Building.
  16. The Studio Building had many other institutional affiliations within New York and well beyond the city, in art centers in the United States such as Philadelphia, Boston, and Chicago as well as abroad, including art academies and communities in Düsseldorf, Munich, Paris, and Rome.
  17. Bruno Latour and Albena Yaneva, “’Give Me a Gun and I Will Make All Buildings Move’: An ANT’s View of Architecture,” in Explorations in Architecture: Teaching, Design, Research, ed. Reto Geiser (Basel: Birkhäuser Verlag, 2008), 80–89. Latour is a philosopher and one of the founders of Action Network Theory (ANT), which argues that human history and activity and the natural world are best understood as a set of networked relationships. The Mining @ Tenth Street: Visualizing New York City’s Tenth Street Studio Building digital humanities project, and this inaugural article, are an effort to center the Studio Building as a dynamic rather than passive host for relationships with the humans who owned and/or inhabited it, from the most influential to the most obscure. The reconstruction of their ties through temporal, geographic, and social affiliations using digital tools enables reading the Studio Building not only as an important physical structure but as a series of networked relationships. It is worth noting that philosopher Graham Harman proposes a dissenting view written from the perspective of object-oriented ontology; see Graham Harman, “Buildings Are Not Processes” Ardeth, 1 (2017): 117,
  18. Annette Blaugrund published two versions of her dataset in “The Tenth Street Studio Building: A Roster, 1857–1895,” American Art Journal 14, no. 2 (1982): 64–71; “Tenth Street Studios: Roster Update,” American Art Journal 17, no. 1 (1985): 84–86; and the final roster in the exhibition catalogue The Tenth Street Studio Building: Artist-Entrepreneurs from the Hudson River School to American Impressionism (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1997).
  19. Blaugrund, Tenth Street Studio Building, 133–34. Jules Prown, another pioneering scholar in the generation before Blaugrund, wrote a dissertation and later his landmark two-volume publication John Singleton Copley (1966) using computational technology. As Diana Seave Greenwald and others have noted, Prown’s use of quantitative analysis was striking and ahead of its time, as he catalogued Copley’s portraits and the socioeconomic identities of his patrons and sitters in order to conduct a macro-history of American art informed by statistical analysis in addition to close looking. Among the other scholars whose data-driven methods have moved the field forward in exciting directions is Kevin M. Murphy, whose dissertation on the history of the American nineteenth-century art market demonstrates the value of understanding how economics has affected prices, reputations, and ultimately the history of American art. See Kevin Michael Murphy, “Economics of Style: The Business Practices of American Artists and the Structure of the Market, 1850–1910” (PhD diss., University of California, Santa Barbara, 2005). Finally, Greenwald’s data-driven work has added substantially to this lineage of inquiry at the intersection of American art, economic, and canon formation history. See Diana Seave Greenwald, with Allan McLeod, “Colleague Collectors: A Statistical Analysis of Artists’ Collecting Networks in Nineteenth-Century New York,” Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide 17, no. 1 (Spring 2018),; and Diana Seave Greenwald, Painting by Numbers: Data-Driven Histories of Nineteenth-Century Art (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2021).
  20. Interviews with the Barkentins and Rimsky in March of 2021, with Elizabeth Kresch in February of 2022, and Woody Glenn in March of 2022.
  21. Anna Brzyski, “Making Art in the Age of Art History, or How to Become a Canonical Artist,” in Partisan Canons, ed. Anna Brzyski (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007), 245–65.
  22. Brzyski, “Making Art in the Age of Art History.” Brzyski identifies and explains this phenomenon using a group of Polish avant-garde artists as a case study that demonstrates how artists and affiliated critics work to historicize their own production and establish a market and reputation for their work in real time.
  23. Brzyski, “Making Art in the Age of Art History.”
  24. Claire Bishop, “Against Digital Art History,” International Journal for Digital Art History, no. 3 (July 2018),
  25. Bishop, “Against Digital Art History.”
  26. John Johnston’s connections included an uncle who worked as a lawyer and offered a softer landing in New York City when John arrived at age twenty-three. He fell in with a prominent group of Scottish merchants, making his first substantial wealth managing the cargo of a ship owned by James Lenox and William Maitland, sailing to India with tar and returning with pepper and drugs: “castor oil, gum arabic, olibanum, etc.” The Lenox family, of the Lenox Library, remained close family friends. After trips to India for Lenox, Maitland and Company, Johnston went into business for himself with James Boorman, forming Boorman, Johnston and Company, which specialized in Scottish goods, particularly “bagging from Dundee”; sold tobacco from Virginia in New York and Scotland; and imported iron from England and Sweden as well as Madeira wine. Significantly for American history, iron was a commodity crucial for Northern industrialism, such as the railroad construction that J. T. Johnston, John Johnston’s eldest son, managed. As scholarship on Scottish textile production in Dundee makes clear, cheap linen for export (“bagging”) was a source of great wealth in Dundee and in the transatlantic trade and cash crop economies of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Dundee linen, particularly linen that was rougher in quality, was sold in great volume and exported through ships owned by wealthy merchants like John Johnston to the Americas, where it was used to store goods and clothe enslaved people forced into brutal labor conditions on plantations. For more on the Johnston family’s businesses, see Emily Johnston de Forest, John Johnston of New York, Merchant (New York: Privately printed, 1909), 49–71, 115–16. For more on John Johnston’s wealth relative to other New York families, see Moses Yale Beach, The Wealth and Biography of the Wealthy Citizens of the City of New York (New York: Sun Office, 1845), 41, a publication with multiple editions that lists his fortune as five hundred thousand dollars in the 1840s and 1850s. For more on the colonial origins of the Dundee linen industry and its connection to slavery in the American South, see Alastair J. Durie, “The Markets for Scottish Linen, 1730–1775,” Scottish Historical Review 52, no. 153 (1973): 30–49. In the last several years, the subject of Dundee’s connection to the history of transatlantic slavery has been the theme of lectures at the V&A Dundee, whose Scottish Design Galleries have hosted talks addressing this history by Michael Morris (University of Dundee) and Lisa Williams (Edinburgh Caribbean Association).
  27. New York University, which John Johnston helped to create as part of the university’s founding board of trustees in 1831, is particularly significant to the history of the Tenth Street Studio Building. The university was an older sponsored creative cluster in Greenwich Village, although primarily concerned with supporting the establishment of an academic rather than a fine art community. Important for the Studio Building’s design history, Johnston, along with his fellow trustees, helped to found and construct its “English Collegiate” or “Collegiate Gothic” University Building, whose imposing façade defined views of Greenwich Village from 1836 until the building’s demolition in 1894, and whose interior provided studio space for leading artists and architects. For a full description of the University Building’s construction, a description of the building, and a list of its initial trustees, see Classified Directory for the Cities of New York and Brooklyn (New York: J. Disturnell, 1837), 21, 51. Between 1836 and 1894, the University Building housed a number of important artists, architects, and inventors: early on, Samuel F. B. Morse and Samuel Colt, Studio Building tenants Aaron R. W. Hubbard and Anna Mary Freeman, and later Winslow Homer prior to his move to the Studio Building, among others. For more on Samuel F. B. Morse’s many accomplishments as an artist, instructor, and inventor, see Paul J. Staiti, Samuel F. B. Morse (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989); and Peter John Brownlee, Samuel F. B. Morse’s Gallery of the Louvre and the Art of Invention (Chicago: Terra Foundation for American Art, 2014). As discussed at much greater length by Blaugrund and indicated in her roster with the abbreviations “A.N.A.” (Associate National Academician) or “N.A.” (National Academician), the National Academy of Design had strong connections to the Studio Building’s social network, whose male tenants from 1857 to 1900 tended to be academy members, former or current students at the academy, and/or members of its faculty. See Blaugrund, Tenth Street Studio Building, 133–34. The Arts Students League, which was founded as a rebellion against the National Academy, is similarly intertwined and closely allied with the Studio Building’s nineteenth- and twentieth-century social network.
  28. The Johnston brothers’ travels to Europe and education through New York University are explored at some length in a recent study of J. T. Johnston by Thomas Busciglio-Ritter, “‘Covetable Pictures’: John Taylor Johnston (1820–1893), Collecting Art between New York and Europe,” Journal of the History of Collections 32, no. 1 (March 2020): 73–90.
  29. Among his important contributions to New York City architecture, John Johnston, in collaboration with his associates—among them his business partner James Boorman and other trustees and benefactors of New York University—established the family’s innovatively constructed home in Greenwich Village in 1833. “The Row” was one blockfront architectural project, split into independently owned units by the Johnston family and their business associates, but the land on which the buildings stood was cooperatively leased from the trustees of the Sailors of Snug Harbor, splitting the difference between private and cooperative ownership. Like the University Building, this blockfront was a notable improvement within the city, a marker that Johnston was among the wealthy New Yorkers interested in cultivating sophistication and critical infrastructure supportive of the arts and culture in Greenwich Village, within and around which artists and intellectuals of the city were beginning to assemble en masse.  For background history of this project, see de Forest, John Johnston, 123–27 and Landmarks Preservation Commission, “Greenwich Village Historic District Designation Report” (New York, NY: Landmarks Preservation Commission, 1969), 52–59. According to the latter, this project is “the most important and imposing block front of early Nineteenth Century town houses in the City,” are interesting as examples of early voluntary efforts to deal with problems which were later incorporated into municipal fire and zoning laws, and the leases, which constituted an innovative combination of private and cooperative ownership, were “indirect forerunners of the leases for many of the City’s Twentieth Century cooperative apartment houses” (what the Studio Building became after its transfer from private to cooperative ownership in 1920); “Greenwich Village Historic Designation Report,” 52–53. The Sailors Snug Harbor trustees also built a series of important Greek Revival–style structures in Staten Island that were later designated a historic landmark.
  30. Depending on the published source and institution, the last name is spelled De Forest, DeForest, and de Forest. For the sake of consistency with how the family used the last name, including Robert Weeks de Forest’s younger brother, Lockwood de Forest (1850–1932), an artist-tenant of the Studio Building, this article uses de Forest.
  31. It should be noted that although the building’s commission has generally been attributed to James Boorman Johnston, the three-hundred-page biographical account of Hunt’s life, prepared by his wife, Catherine Howland Hunt, and excerpted in Burnham, “New York Architecture of Richard Morris Hunt,” indicates that the commission may also have involved Johnston’s older brother, J. T. Johnston. See also Roxanne Williamson, American Architects and the Mechanics of Fame (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2011). For more on the history of collecting, see Malcolm Goldstein, Landscape with Figures: A History of Art Dealing in the United States (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000). For more on J. T. Johnston’s collecting and involvement in founding the Met, see Busciglio-Ritter, “Covetable Pictures,” 73–90.
  32. All four of them the sons of wealthy fathers, the Johnstons and Hunts were peers, and as Busciglio-Ritter documents, J. T. Johnston and William Morris Hunt were known to have attended the same social functions while living in Rome in 1845, suggesting that the families were familiar with one another long before the Studio Building commission in 1857. See Busciglio-Ritter, “Covetable Pictures,” 83.
  33. For proof of Hunt’s tenancy in the University Building, see John F. Trow, Trow’s New York City Directory (New York: John F. Trow, 1858), 344. For more on the University Building and its less-than-optimal living conditions, see Celeste Brewer, “Archivist’s Angle: Life in the Old University Building,” NYU Alumni Connect, January 15, 2016,; and Elon Danziger, “A University Building for New York,” Burlington Magazine 150, no. 1264 (2008): 444–51.
  34. From a memorial address by Henry Van Brunt delivered at the Twenty-Ninth Convention of the American Institute of Architects in 1895, we know that three architectural aspirants, George B. Post, Charles D. Gambrill, and Henry Van Brunt, convinced Hunt to take one the studios in the building himself and that the atelier he set up in the Studio Building “was hung with cartoons in colors, and furnished with casts of architectural and decorative detail”; Henry Van Brunt, “Richard Morris Hunt,” American Architect and Building News, November 2, 1895, 54. The collegial social relations within the building were significant to the young architectural aspirants, as they “lived in the midst of a congenial and sympathetic brotherhood of painters and sculptors from the neighboring studios, happy Bohemians, free to come and go as we pleased” (54). The curriculum was modeled on Hunt’s experience in Paris: “Our system of study and practice was based upon that of the École des Beaux-Arts, and under the powerful stimulus of the master’s criticisms and under the inspiration of the atmosphere which he had created for us, our work was carried on with enthusiastic loyalty” (54). Hunt’s occupancy of studio space at the Tenth Street Studio Building lasted from 1859 to 1871. Regarding Hunt founding the AIA, Van Brunt states, “The formation of the American Institute of Architects was not intentionally but practically a new Declaration of Independence, in which the ardor of Hunt, crowned as he was with the approval of the highest architectural authority in the Old World, played the part of the big signature of John Hancock. . . . Under this vigorous and wholesome influence, his children in art and his children’s children, who in prolific generation have multiplied so as to constitute, I verily believe, the representative majority of this Institution, ceased to be provincial and became national” (55). Among the other tenants registered as architects during Hunt’s time at the Studio Building were Henry White, Emlen Littell, Edmund Quincy, Henry H. Holly, Maurice Fornisher (perhaps an Americanized spelling of Maurice Fornachon), Edward D. Lindsey, and James W. Robinson. After Hunt’s tenancy, the architects in the creative cluster included G. Vaux, George L. Heins, and Charles Pennoyer.
  35. “First-Class Tenement Houses,” Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, March 10, 1860.
  36. “Miscellany,” Vermont Chronicle, March 13, 1860.
  37. According to “Letter from St. Louis,” Sacramento Daily Union, May 21, 1861, “The proprietor of the Tenth street Studio Building, J. B. Johnston, has informed the volunteers that he will take care of their studios, and will charge no rent to them, until the return of the occupants.”
  38. As a measure of what art history typically considers the foremost marker of a work’s significance, the Studio Building’s commercial success, evident through its well-documented activities and popularity, quickly inspired similar buildings devoted to housing practicing artists in New York City and other American cities, built in exponential numbers after the Civil War and into the twentieth century. See Annette Blaugrund, “The Tenth Street Studio Building” (PhD diss., Columbia University, 1987), 13–20.
  39. “The Studio Building,” Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, April 13, 1867, 54. The Studio Building’s next-door annex was a four-story structure that J. B. Johnston purchased, renovated, and began renting to tenants in 1873 in order to accommodate the overflow of demand for studios at 51 West Tenth Street. Tenants of the annex sometimes listed their address as the Studio Building. See Blaugrund, “Tenth Street Studio Building,” 83.
  40. “The Studio Building,” 54.
  41. Interview with Dimitri Rimsky, March 22, 2021.
  42. “The Studio Building,” 54.
  43. Of the forty-five male tenants (including domestic staff) whose names appear in New York City directories with the address 15 Tenth Street in the years 1858 and 1859 (the creative cluster’s first two years of formation), only eleven appear in the 1857 New York City directory, but after the building opened it seems that registering the Studio Building as one’s official address became useful to artists. From 1858 to 1955, artists’ names are enumerated next to 15 Tenth and 51 West Tenth Street by the dozens for every available digitized directory until the mid-1950s.
  44. Church’s exhibition of Niagara in 1857 is understood to be the first blockbuster exhibition of American art, followed by a similarly impressive showing of Heart of the Andes at the Studio Building, which raised more than three thousand dollars in profit (when adjusted for inflation, more than one hundred thousand in 2022). See Sarah Cash, ed., Corcoran Gallery of Art: American Paintings to 1945 (Washington, DC: Corcoran Gallery of Art, 2011), 112–15; and Kevin J. Avery, Church’s Great Picture: The Heart of the Andes (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993), 31–37. Early on in the Studio Building’s history, it served as a ticket office for viewing prominent private collections of art in New York City, such as the Aspinall, Wright, and Benton collections. See “Fine Arts,” Evening Post, March 25, 1859; and “Art Items,” Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, February 11, 1860, 163.
  45. For more on the AFS, see Greenwald with McLeod, “Colleague Collectors.” The activities of Tuckerman, Johnston, and others, including their fathers’ generation of patrons, helped to popularize heightened interest and investment in the arts, noted—although not with their names—in an 1860 article about the city’s art scene; see “Art and Our City Artists,” Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, February 25, 1860, 197.
  46. “Chapter 46: An Act to incorporate the Studio Building Association in the city of New York,” Laws of the State of New York Passed at the Eighty-Eighth Session of the Legislature (Albany: William Gould, 1865), 70.
  47. “An Act to incorporate the Studio Building Association in the city of New York.” It is worth noting that a bill to form a similar corporation under a different name was introduced by J. B. Johnston and two other Studio Building Association board members to the state legislature the previous year, in January of 1864, with a similar starting capital amount. A New York Times article from 1864 relates, “Mr. Benedict introduced a bill, section 1 of which provides that Jas. W. Beekman, Daniel Huntington, O. DeForest Grant, Henry T. Tuckerman, Jno. A Weeks, Albert Bierstadt, J. F. D. Lanier, Vincenzo Botta, and James Boorman Johnston, and such other people as are now associated or may hereafter be associated with them, are hereby constituted a body corporate by the above name for the purpose of promoting the advancement of Literature and Art by establishing and maintaining a library, reading room, gallery of art, and any other means deemed proper. Section 3 provides that they shall have power to hold real estate to the value of $100,000”; “National Club in the City of New-York,” New York Times, January 14, 1864. Among the names are three men listed in the 1865 act: Johnston, John A. Weeks, and Henry T. Tuckerman. Quite interestingly, however, this bill does not include Richard Morris Hunt or Frederic Edwin Church and instead includes the Hudson River School painters Daniel Huntington and Albert Bierstadt, the latter a Studio Building tenant in 1864.
  48. John F. Trow, Trow’s New York City Directory (New York: John F. Trow, 1868), 205.
  49. Henry T. Tuckerman, “New-York Artists,” Knickerbocker 48, no. 1 (July 1856): 26–42, 26–27.
  50. Henry T. Tuckerman, Book of the Artists: American Artist Life, Comprising Biographical and Critical Sketches of American Artists: Preceded by an Historical Account of the Rise and Progress of Art in America (New York: G. P. Putnam & Son, 1867), 624. This publication builds on a prior book-length study from 1847, Artist-Life: or Sketches of American Painters (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1847). In addition to expanded biographical and critical sketches, Tuckerman’s 1867 Book of the Artists includes a section on landscape painting, featuring many of his Studio Building neighbors, and an appendix that enumerates works in the collections of prominent patrons, among them J. T. Johnston. Of the thirty-three American painters in Johnston’s art collection in 1867, twelve were Tuckerman’s neighbors at the Studio Building in 1865. According to Tuckerman’s appendix, Johnston’s collection included works by William H. Beard (2), John G. Brown (2), Frederic Edwin Church (3), Maurits F. H. De Haas (1), Sanford Robinson Gifford (1), Regis Gignoux (1), William Hart (1), William S. Haseltine (2), William J. Hays (3), Emanuel Leutze (3), Jervis McEntee (1), and Aaron D. Shattuck (2). Church’s Niagara was the most important among these. See Tuckerman, Book of the Artists, 624.
  51. Lucia Colombari, “Lesson Learned: American Art at the Paris World’s Fair of 1867,” MDCCC 1800 6 (July 2017): 107–18. An appendix in Carol Troyen, “Innocents Abroad: American Painters at the 1867 Exposition Universelle, Paris,” American Art Journal 16, no. 4 (Autumn 1994): 2–19, 24–27, lists the American artists participating in the art exhibition who submitted work in three classes of the exhibition: Class 1: Oil Paintings; Class 2: Miscellaneous Paintings and Drawings; and Class 3: Sculpture and Engraving. Of the forty-nine artists selected to participate and listed in Troyen’s appendix, approximately 39 percent (nineteen artists) are Studio Building tenants, specifically William Holbrook Beard, Bierstadt, George Henry Boughton, John William Casilear, Church, Charles Temple Dix, Gifford, Gignoux, Homer, Richard William Hubbard, George Cochran Lambdin, La Farge, Emanuel Leutze, Jervis McEntee, Louis Rémy Mignot, John Ferguson Weir, Worthington Whittredge, Samuel W. Rowse,  and Launt Thompson.
  52. Colombari, “Lesson Learned,” 110.
  53. “Miscellaneous Advertisements,” Evening Post, June 17, 1867.
  54. “The Studio Building,” 54.
  55. “Local and Other Items,” Bangor Daily Whig and Courier, July 11, 1865. This article also appears in other newspapers.
  56. For more on Tuckerman’s magnum opus, see James Thomas Flexner, “Tuckerman’s ‘Book of the Artists,’” American Art Journal 1, no. 2 (1969): 53–57, For more on historicization, see Brzyski, Partisan Canons, 249.
  57. Freeman’s spatial and professional ties to the Studio Building’s creative cluster were very brief. In 1859, she married Robert Goldbeck, a local composer and performer, and shortly thereafter disappeared from public notice after brief mentions of her work “as a graceful poetical reader” at his well-attended concerts. Her brief tenure set a pattern for other women artists in the building’s nineteenth-century history who similarly remained tenants for less than two years. For more on Freeman’s tenancy and career in New York, see “Lyrical Recitals,” New York Evening Post, November 14, 1859, 2; “The Artists’ Reception,” New York Evening Post, February 4, 1859, 2; “Robert Goldbeck,” New York Evening Post, December 9, 1858, 2; “Domestic and Foreign Art Gossip,” New York Evening Post, January 11, 1858, 2. See also the longer study by Shauna Martineau Robertson, “Anna Mary Freeman’s Room: Women and Art in Antebellum America” (master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 2004).
  58. S. G. W. Benjamin, “New York Artists. S. G. W. Benjamin Describes Some Members of the Hudson River School—Thomas Moran, the Most Famous Representative of a Famous Family. —Famous Former Tenants of the Old Tenth Street Studio Building,” Sunday Inter Ocean, February 3, 1889; and “An Explosion in the Studio Building—Narrow Escape from Death—Destruction of Property—Excitement among the Artists,” New York Times, February 8, 1871.
  59. “Explosion in the Studio Building.”
  60. “Explosion in the Studio Building.”
  61. The Asch Building, now the Brown Building at 23–29 Washington Square East, is owned by New York University and was constructed in very close proximity to the Johnstons’ enclave of homes. With brief interruptions, likely indicating a failure to file information or pay the fee to the city directory publisher rather than an interruption in occupancy during a period in which studios at 51 West Tenth were in high demand, Asch registered the Studio Building as his residence (not place of business) in annual directories from 1872 to 1884. During this period he registered his work as a broker (1872–73), in leather (1876–78), in furs (1880–83), and in hatter’s fur (1884). If Asch brought his work home with him, the well-lit rooms of the Studio Building or its annex would have been an accommodating setting for showing off animal fur and fine leather in a community frequented by wealthy patrons. For more on the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, see Ellen Wiley Todd, “Remembering the Unknowns: The Longman Memorial and the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire,” American Art 23, no. 3 (2009): 60–81.
  62. Fur and leather were both raw material commodities that would have been ideally displayed in rooms with ample natural light and used for manufacturing luxury clothing and home decor during this period. They appear frequently in paintings from the 1870s and 1880s and in photographs of artists’ studios as well as patrons’ homes. It would be interesting to see if any evidence of purchases from Asch’s furrier business survives in artists’ or patrons’ papers from this period.
  63.  Llewellyn Solomon Haskell registered the Studio Building as his professional address in 1864–65, with a home address in New Jersey. While Haskell’s name also appears in 1871–72, it is more likely his son, Llewellyn Frost Haskell (1842–1929), who occupied the studio in the early 1870s. Through Haskell’s tenancy and that of his son, Llewellyn Park is clearly affiliated with the Studio Building’s creative cluster. In 1864 and 1865, when Llewellyn Solomon Haskell rented space in the Studio Building, plans for the Studio Building Association and its Board of Directors were taking shape, and articles of incorporation were submitted to the New York State Legislature. It was also the heyday of Hunt’s architectural atelier, and the community was likely useful for developing Llewellyn Park. The younger Haskell was a former officer in the Union Army who worked as a “broker” in Manhattan into the mid-1870s, following the period when he helped his father develop Llewellyn Park after the Civil War. See Richard Guy Wilson, “Idealism and the Origin of the First American Suburb: Llewellyn Park, New Jersey,” American Art Journal 11, no. 4 (1979): 79–90, 80. Brief biographical sketches detailing the lives of Llewellyn Solomon Haskell and his son Llewellyn Frost Haskell are available in Thomas William Herringshaw, Herrington’s National Library of American Biography (Chicago: American Publishers Association, 1914), 88.
  64. Similarly, it would be interesting to track any connections that exist between Llewellyn Park and the Studio Building’s patrons, artists, and architect tenants. From scholarship on Llewellyn Park, it is not clear who designed the landscape architecture. Llewellyn Haskell, the proprietor, and Alexander Jackson Davis, Howard Daniels, Eugen Baumann, and James MacGall are all mentioned as possible contributors to the park’s landscape architecture. See Philip Pregill and Nancy Volkman, Landscapes in History: Design and Planning in Eastern and Western Traditions (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1999), 534.
  65. According to J. B. Johnston’s will of 1870, which was upheld in probate in 1887, his real estate was divided in equal thirds between his wife, son, and daughter (the latter third administered as a trust by his wife; his brother, John Taylor Johnston; and his trustees). The Tenth Street Studio Building is not mentioned specifically in this will. Given that the Tenth Street Studio Building was inherited by John H. Johnston, J. T. Johnston’s son, it is possible that J. B. Johnston sold or otherwise transferred ownership of this rental property to his brother prior to his death. Busciglio-Ritter, citing J. M. Mancini’s Pre-Modernism: Art-World Change and American Culture from the Civil War to the Armory Show (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005), advances the year 1879 as a possible date for transfer of ownership in “Covetable Pictures,” 83.
  66. Greenwald with McLeod, “Colleague Collectors.”
  67. The Artists’ Fund Society first appeared at 51 West Tenth Street within the 1874 city directory, with Richard W. Hubbard, a tenant, as its president. In the thirty-five years that the organization continued to be publicly listed within the Studio Building, it was managed by a series of other tenants or former tenants who lived in the Studio Building when it was owned by the Johnstons, including Horace Wolcott Robbins, James C. Nicoll, George H. Yewell, John G. Brown, and Lockwood de Forest (brother-in-law of Emily Johnston de Forest).
  68. The Artists’ Aid Society was organized in 1890 to assist needy professional artists and their families and was supported by members’ contributions. The organization appears with the Studio Building listed as its address in the 1890, 1894–96, 1898–99, 1901, 1903, 1905, 1907–10 city directories, presumably occupying that site continuously from 1890 to 1910. During these twenty years, James C. Nicoll served as the organization’s secretary. According to “Artists’ Aid Society: To Swell Its Fund, the Tiffany Glass Company Will Keep Open Chapel,” New York Times, February 18, 1894, “The society has no annual dues, but there is an entrance fee of $10. It controls a bed in a hospital and helps members in sickness and distress. When a member dies, the entire fund, composed of ten-dollar entrance fees, is turned over to the family of the deceased, and members are required to pay in another $10 each to replenish the fund. Any professional or amateur artist in good health and standing is eligible.”
  69. The Art Students League was founded in 1875 as a rival art school committed to life drawing and exploring the latest developments in European art, such as Impressionism.
  70. William Merritt Chase’s studio at 51 West Tenth Street is among the most extensively documented rooms in the Studio Building, described at length in primary and secondary sources on the building’s history and pictured in paintings and photographs. The first scholarly article written about the Studio Building includes a description of Chase’s studio. See Garnett McCoy, “Visits, Parties, and Cats in the Hall: ‘The Tenth Street Studio Building and Its Inmates in the Nineteenth Century,’” Archives of American Art Journal 6, no. 1 (1966): 1–8, which is expanded on and complicated by Blaugrund’s Tenth Street Studio Building dissertation and related publications (see n. 18). See also Ronald G. Pisano, A Leading Spirit in American Art: William Merritt Chase, 1849–1916 (Seattle: Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, 1983); and Elsa Smithgall et al., William Merritt Chase: A Modern Master (Washington, DC: Phillips Collection, 2016). For an analysis of Chase’s studio that incorporates innovative use of digital humanities tools, see Isabel L. Taube, “William Merritt Chase’s Cosmopolitan Eclecticism,” Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide 15, no. 3 (Autumn 2016), About Chase’s painting of Carmencita in the collection of the Met, the museum provides the following description of her and this event in Chase’s studio: “Carmencita, the dancer known as the ‘Pearl of Seville,’ was born in 1868 in Almería, on the southeastern coast of Spain, and became famous in her home country and in France during the 1880s. After she made her New York debut in 1889 at Niblo’s Garden, she was besieged with requests for private performances. John Singer Sargent arranged for her to perform in Chase’s studio on the evening of April 1, 1890. Afterward, Chase painted this lively portrait of the dancer, in which he suggested the audience’s enthusiasm by including the gold bracelet and flowers they had tossed at her feet. Sargent’s own portrait of Carmencita (also 1890) is in the Musée d’Orsay, Paris.” See “Carmencita,” Metropolitan Museum of Art website, accessed July 19, 2022,
  71. The Hudson-Fulton Celebration was a major municipal event hosted in 1909 to commemorate the three hundredth anniversary of the beginning of European settlement along the Hudson River following its “discovery” by Henry Hudson, and the one hundredth anniversary of Robert Fulton’s invention of the steamboat, which enabled New York City’s merchants in particular to rise in stature and wealth. The art and historical exhibitions, which included works by many of the Studio Building’s artists, are important to American art history because they were major exhibitions of American-made objects, including furniture and design. The exhibition was chaired by J. P. Morgan, then president of the Met, and his successor as MMA president, Robert Weeks de Forest, who had a particular interest in commercial design. See Jane A. Stewart, “The Hudson-Fulton Celebration,” Journal of Education 70, no. 14 (1909).
  72. Robert Weeks de Forest served as the Met’s president from 1913 to 1931. For a history of his philanthropy, see James A. Hijiya, “Four Ways of Looking at a Philanthropist: A Study of Robert Weeks de Forest,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 124, no. 6 (1980): 404–18. His brother was Lockwood de Forest, one of the Studio Building’s more famous nineteenth-century artists. For notice of the American Wing gift, see Edward Robinson, “A Wing Devoted to American Art.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 17, no. 11 (1922): 1–35. For more on the connections between the de Forests, the Hudson-Fulton celebration, and the American Wing, see Morrison H. Heckscher, “The American Wing Rooms in the Metropolitan Museum of Art,” Winterthur Portfolio 46, no. 2/3 (2012): 163.
  73. While the American Wing was established to provide a home for historic American art, its mandate early on was primarily the collection and display of pre-Civil War–era objects, and the museum was not interested in collecting contemporary work, evidenced by the fact that museum staff rejected Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s collection in 1929, which prompted her to found the Whitney Museum of American Art. See Patricia Hills and Roberta K. Tarbell, The Figurative Tradition and the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1980), 7.
  74. Prominent among these were institutions and events patronized by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, who developed the Whitney Studio Club in the 1910s and 1920s and eventually created the Whitney Museum of American art, initially one of the largest collections of works by nineteenth- and twentieth-century tenants of the Studio Building, in 1930.
  75. J. H. Johnston was a graduate of Yale University, active in fraternity life while in college, a member of the University Club in New York City, a member of the Automobile Club of France (1908), and a Fellow in Perpetuity at the Met, succeeded in that role by his grandson, Noel Johnston Appleton. His daughter’s descendant, Noel Johnston Appleton King, and other members of the family donated the John Taylor Johnston Papers and other art objects, including a portrait of the family’s American patriarch, John Johnston, by Rembrandt Peale, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the 1970s and 1980s.
  76. John G. Brown, a genre painter and one of the most ancient “patriarchs of art” at 51 West Tenth Street, died in 1913, having rented a studio in the building for fifty-two years (1861–1913), including a decade of service as president of the Artists’ Fund Society (1898–1908). Five years later, in 1918, James C. Nicoll, one of the founders of the American Watercolor Society and an artist involved in service to many other artists’ societies, including the Artists’ Aid Society, also passed, after living in the building for forty-eight years (1870–1918).
  77. Smithgall et al., William Merritt Chase, 12.
  78. For a notice and description of Alexander Stirling Calder’s studio, see “Stirling Calder, American Sculptor,” New York Tribune, May 4, 1919.
  79. Maurice Sterne, an early modernist painter and sculptor, registered the Studio Building as his address in 1917, and Max Weber, one of the first American Cubist painters, registered the Studio Building as his address from 1929 to 1932.
  80. A native of Oregon, Jacobs rose to national notice as a portrait painter in the 1920s, earning commissions to paint future president Calvin Coolidge and his wife, Grace Goodhue Coolidge, for example, while married to an educator and writer, Henry Downing Jacobs, who was warmly supportive of her work. A detailed account of her early life appears in an Oregonian newspaper; see “Ex-Eugene Girl Wins Fame as Artist and Gets Call to Teach Chinese Empress in City of Pekin,” Portland Sunday Oregonian, December 28, 1924. Henry Downing Jacobs was a lecturer and worked in publishing. He also wrote one of the articles published about the sale of the Studio Building to its tenants in 1920: Henry Downing Jacobs, “Cooperative Purchase Keeps Tenth Street Studios as Shrine to Art,” Sun and New York Herald, June 20, 1920.
  81. “Ex-Eugene Girl.”
  82. See “Artist Tenants Buy Studio Structure,” New York Tribune, April 11, 1920; “Own Your Own Apartment Movement Is Sweeping City,” Sun and New York Herald, May 9, 1920; Jacobs, “Cooperative Purchase”; and “Artists Buy More Property,” New York Herald, June 25, 1920.
  83. New-York Historical Society, Chapter, By-Laws, Officers, Members, Report of Executive Committee (New York: New-York Historical Society, 1918), 22: “The care of our Gallery of Art is in the hands of Mr. H. A. Hammond Smith, the recognized expert in the cleaning and restoration of paintings, who beside having charge of the restoration of work in the Art Galleries of the New York Public Library, Museum of Art and private collections in this city, is also called to many institutions in the West for advice.”
  84. According to an obituary written about him in the Amherst Graduate Quarterly, Hammond “was acknowledged to be the foremost restorer in this country”; see Walter Taylor Field, “H. A. Hammond Smith,” Amherst Graduate Quarterly 17, no. 1 (November 1927): 27. In addition to his work on the Met’s collection, he “was called upon for advice and for the restoration of the more valuable canvases of the Chicago Art Institute, the Art Museums of Cleveland, Minneapolis and Worcester, the New-York Historical Society, the private collections of J. J. Hill and H. C. Frick estate, and other notable collections. He was officially connected with the Harvard Art Museum, as adviser and had a place on the faculty of the University; he also was called upon for advice at Yale, Amherst, and many other colleges in the restoration of valuable portraits.” See also Joyce Hill Stoner and Rebecca Anne Rushfield, Conservation of Easel Paintings (London: Routledge, 2013), 283; “Conservation Timeline,” Art Institute of Chicago, 2018,;  Jacobs, “Cooperative Purchase”; and “Gilbert Stuart Painting Found: Portrait of Washington Bought as a Copy Believed to Be an Original,” New York Times, January 20, 1922. At Smith’s death in 1927, the New-York Historical Society noted that he had worked on restoration of its collection for almost thirty years; see Annual Report and List of Members of the New-York Historical Society for the Year 1927 (New York: New-York Historical Society, 1927), 12. An obituary also appeared in the New York Times, noting his association with MMA curator Bryson Burroughs; see “H. A. H. Smith’s Work At Museum Praised,” New York Times, August 28, 1927.
  85. Eleanor W. Kotz is listed in one of the receipts for the Studio Building rents. According to a New York Times obituary, William Barkentin was a graduate of the Yale Art School, the National Academy of Design, and the Académie Julian in Paris. He began his career in restoration working for the architect Stanford White. His restoration work included the collections of Henry C. Frick, Whitelaw Reid, John Ringling North, and Thomas J. Watson. See “William Barkentin, Restored Paintings,” New York Times, February 12, 1962, 23. See also “Marjorie Barkentin, Adaptor of ‘Ulysses in Nighttown,’ Dead,” New York Times, February 28, 1974, 40, according to which her restoration work included a Maxfield Parrish mural in the St. Regis Hotel. Details of her career were confirmed by her granddaughters Perii and Pamela Barkentin in an interview conducted March 15, 2021. The Barkentins’ son, George Barkentin, was a noted fashion photographer, his wife, Jessica Patton Barkentin, modeled for Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, and other fashion magazines in the 1940s, and their daughters also became fashion models, with Pamela Barkentin appearing in Mademoiselle in iconic fashion spreads in the 1960s.
  86. About the details of the sale of the building, see “Real Estate Group Buys Old Village Landmark: Suites to Replace W. Tenth St. Studios,” New York Herald Tribune, November 3, 1955. For coverage of the sale, efforts to save the building, and demolition, see “Action Held Blow to Ownership: Famous Greenwich Village Studios Change Hands,” New York Times, May 26, 1952. This article relays that “William Alfred White, broker, announced yesterday that control of the noted studio building at 51 W. Tenth St. . . . has been acquired through a stock transaction by S. Tarlow and Julius Vinik, whose future plans for the structure are uncertain, although several builders have recently shown great interest in the property as the site for a new, modern apartment building.”
  87. The Peter Warren Building’s great claim to fame since the 1950s is that the actress Julia Roberts purchased and lived in the building’s penthouse apartment after the building was renumbered 45 West Tenth Street.
  88. Blaugrund’s research previously identified the painters Anna Mary Freeman, Ellen Bell Miller, Lottie Kellogg, Dora Wheeler, and Rosina Emmet Sherwood, as well as Margaret Winter, as tenants.
  89. The presence of unregistered women is also marked by the occasional appearance of women tenants who are listed as wives or widows of the building’s male tenants. Examples include Mrs. Marjorie Barkentin, Mrs. Fredrick Dielman, Mrs. Frances Chesno, and Mrs. Frank Carew.
  90. For more on Maria Oakey Dewing’s relationship with her husband and with La Farge, see Kirsten Swinth, Painting Professionals: Women Artists and the Development of Modern American Art, 1870–1930 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001), 94–95. Swinth documents that while La Farge taught women students, he also made professionalizing, in terms of membership into prominent organizations, difficult for women artists.
  91. “Contest by Mrs. DeHaas: The Artist’s Widow Trying to Break His Will,” New York Times, February 18, 1896, 14. Analysis currently underway of the granular data the Mining @ Tenth Street project team has gathered about tenants’ educational and pedagogical histories is likely to reveal further connections among artist-tenants of both genders who were students or teachers in the Studio Building.
  92. This is indicated also by other female students, such as Rosina Emmet Sherwood (1854–1948) and Dora Wheeler (1856–1940), previously identified by Blaugrund, and Rosalie Gill (1867–1898), an American impressionist painter who also studied with Chase and whose tenancy the Mining @ Tenth Street project team’s data validation process uncovered. Although there may not be additional documentation of other female students officially renting studios, it is very likely that these five women are merely a sample rather than the sum of aspiring women artists who spent time learning directly from well-known male artists or from one another in the Studio Building. For more on the rise in professional women artists in the United States and the women artists who studied with Chase, see Swinth, Painting Professionals.
  93. Collectively, the women have twenty-two works at the MMA and thirty-five works at SAAM.
  94. See “Shoppers and Buyers Guide,” Vanity Fair, November 1923, 23; and “Shoppers and Buyers Guide,” Vanity Fair, December 1923. Her “Unusual Gift” offerings included “Painted Peasant Articles” such as “Boxes of all kinds. Orders taken for trays, tea tables and book ends in brilliant colors.”
  95. For images of the portraits and descriptions of her experiences in Washington in 1922, see Leonebel Jacobs, “Seeing Things with a Pencil,” Delineator (June 1922): 16–17. According to this article and its accompanying images and captions, her portraits from this event included President Warren G. Harding, Mr. and Mrs. Calvin Coolidge, Henry Cabot Lodge, “Uncle” Joe Cannon, Madame Wellington Koo, and Alice Roosevelt Longworth, among others.
  96. In her self-published booklet My China (1960s), preserved in the Leonebel Jacobs Papers of the University of Oregon Library and Archives, many of these portraits are reproduced. In My China, Jacobs details her experiences at the Foreign Colony in Beijing, her interactions with members of the old court, and her friendship with the young emperor and his wife. She also cautions the historian that some of the nationally distributed sources of information about her trip to China (and particularly her meetings with the emperor) contain falsified information, such as an article from 1924 that claims she taught the emperor to ride a bicycle; she did not. This was a story distributed by the International Feature Service, “A Yankee Girl in China’s Sacred Forbidden City: Weird Experiences of a Young American Artist behind Sealed Walls Where She ‘Tomboyed’ with the Youthful ‘Heaven Born’ and Taught Him to Ride a ‘Bike,’” which was reproduced in a number of newspapers nationally, including New Orleans States, September 14, 1924.
  97. “American Paints Chinese Royalty,” New York Times, January 2, 1927. Jacobs also describes this in My China.
  98. “American Paints Chinese Royalty.” Tianjin was the city where Emperor Puyi escaped after being forced from the Forbidden City on November 5, 1924.
  99. Janet Wolff, AngloModern: Painting and Modernity in Britain and the United States (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2003), 11–12. The degree to which it is worth exploring twentieth-century artists who have been historically excluded through twentieth-century art history’s focus on radical abstraction is clearly argued in Wolff’s book, from which we borrow the term “nonmodernist modern art,” meaning the “progressive aspects of realism” and novel but moderate syntheses of representation and abstraction adopted by many early twentieth-century women artists. Wolff traces how the specific effects of the rise of more radical forms of abstraction and art history’s preference for such twentieth-century art came to bear on the reputations and exclusion of twentieth-century women artists practicing nonmodernist modern art, and the issues of canon formation and implied bias that their exclusion reveals: “Internationally, nonmodernist American art barely registers in the art-historical community (with one or two exceptions, like Edward Hopper), and the same is true within the United States among those whose area of interest is not specifically the history of American art” (33). In addressing the ideology that underpins exclusion, she maps an area of research where greater inroads for formulating a more inclusive history of twentieth-century American art need to be made, which the Mining @ Tenth Street project and the nonmodernist modern women artists it recovers seeks to address.
  100. As Wolff notes, for American artists of the early twentieth century, “prestige has accrued mainly to artists in the Alfred Stieglitz circle,” among them Georgia O’Keeffe and other artists who trained in Paris or Berlin or were inspired by European modernists, such as Max Weber, a twentieth-century tenant of the Studio Building. See Wolff, AngloModern, 5. Clement Greenberg and his influential essay “Avant-Garde and Kitsch” have become emblematic of the war and postwar era’s criticism of nineteenth-century art-making and the homegrown tradition of representational painting made popular in New York City, in part through the Studio Building; Clement Greenberg, “Avant-Garde and Kitsch” in Partisan Review 5, no. 5 (1939), 34–49. His rejection of representational artmaking, or perhaps more accurately his support of the views of practicing artists who sought to eliminate representation from painting, created a dichotomy that pitted members of the avant-garde against those he considered to be practitioners of kitsch (most forms of representational painting that he described as derivative of European traditions). Among the casualties of Greenberg’s influential opinions, as other feminist scholars like Wolff have noted, were women artists who practiced a nonmodernist modern style in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s and whose progress and notice as professionals underwent a period of erasure as their contemporary styles of painting and sculpture were deemed inferior by critics and subsequent art historians. Like Tuckerman, his counterpart a century prior, Greenberg and other postwar critics who tended to privilege male creators worked against the economic and professional gains of women artists. Notably, among those women artists who did break through to substantive fame and are recognized for their postwar modernist achievements internationally, such as Joan Mitchell, recognition for their contributions came much later than it did for postwar modernist peers who were men. See Joan M. Marter and Gwen Finkel Chanzit, Women of Abstract Expressionism (Denver: Denver Art Museum, 2016); Mary Gabriel, Ninth Street Women: Lee Krasner, Elaine De Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler: Five Painters and the Movement That Changed Modern Art (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 2019); Sarah Rehm Roberts and Katy Siegel, Joan Mitchell (San Francisco: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2020); and Thalia Gouma-Peterson, Miriam Schapiro (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1999), among others.
  101. Kahlil Gibran’s tenancy in the Tenth Street Studio Building is well documented and was well remembered into the 1950s, as Perii and Pamela Barkentin and Dimitri Rimsky, children of the building’s tenants in the late 1940s and early 1950s, who never met him, recall. In his studio, Gibran created both poetry and paintings. For references to his tenancy, see “Kahlil Gibran Dead; Noted Syrian Poet,” New York Times, April 11, 1931; and Robin Waterfield, Prophet: The Life and Times of Kahlil Gibran (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998), 153, 188, 204, 284. The latter confirms dates throughout his tenancy, as well as noting his friendship with Leonebel Jacobs. 
  102. For more on Yun Gee, see Anthony M. Lee, ed., Yun Gee: Poetry, Writings, Art, Memories (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2003).
  103. The other notable Jewish modernists, mentioned in n. 78, are Maurice Sterne and Max Weber, who rented space in 1917 and 1929–1932, respectively. For more on Schapiro and Brach, see Gouma-Peterson, Miriam Schapiro. For more on Philip Guston, see Robert Storr, Philip Guston: A Life Spent Painting (London: Laurence King, 2020); and Ellen G. Landau, “Double Consciousness in Mexico: How Philip Guston and Reuben Kadish Painted a Morelian Mural,” American Art 21, no. 1 (2007): 74–97.
  104. For more on Polk, see Randolph Lewis, “The Native Roots of Modern Art: Rereading the Paintings of Leon Polk Smith,” American Indian Quarterly 25, no. 1 (2001): 93–113.
  105. Julia Halperin and Charlotte Burns. “Female Artists Represent Just 2 Percent of the Market. Here’s Why—and How That Can Change,” Artnet News, October 28, 2019,; Taylor Whitten Brown, “Why Is Work by Female Artists Still Valued Less than Work by Male Artists?,” Artsy, March 8, 2019, According to the National Endowment for the Arts Office of Research and Analysis, between 2012 and 2016 women artists on average earned $0.77 per every dollar earned by a male artist. See Sunil Iyengar et al., Artists and Other Cultural Workers: A Statistical Portrait, (Washington, DC: National Endowment for the Arts, 2019), See also Julia Halperin and Charlotte Burns, “Museums Claim They’re Paying More Attention to Female Artists. That’s an Illusion,” Artnet News, October 28, 2019,; and Anny Shaw, “Gallery Representation Dwindles for ‘Established’ Female Artists, New Research Finds,” Art Newspaper, September 28, 2021, For ongoing campaigns to promote greater equity for women artists, see the National Museum for Women in the Arts #5WomenArtists campaign and related graphics, which clearly and succinctly document the underrepresentation and inequality that women artists, and especially women artists of color in the United States, experience through American museums, galleries, auction houses, and other venues for reputation-building that continue to perpetuate the absence and erasure of women artists and their accomplishments. See National Museum of Women Artists, “#FiveWomenArtists,” accessed October 30, 2022,
  106. Greenwald, Painting by Numbers, specifically chapters 1, 2, and 4; and Greenwald with McLeod, “Colleague Collectors.”
  107. Greenwald and Jonathan Hardy have helped to guide how the datasets have been reformatted to reveal statistically significant data and clarify data visualizations.
  108. For more on the ways in which cisgender labels have been assigned in digital art history based on data available about nineteenth-century women artists, see Greenwald, Painting by Numbers, 86–87.
  109. See COVID Black homepage, accessed February 25, 2022,
  110. Kim Gallon, “Kim Gallon—Homegoing: The Technology of Living Data and Black Public Mourning in the Age of COVID-19,” lecture presented at UCLA, December 10, 2020, video, 56:03, esp. 18:00–20:30,
  111. Documentation of Paullin’s tenancy is partial, but given that gaps are no more than a year or two, registration suggests that her tenure in the building actually included 1945, 1947, 1950, and 1951, or totaled twelve rather than eight years. Paullin is known particularly for her church murals, which survive in churches in New York City, some created in collaboration with her husband, Telford Paullin, and for the triptychs she created during World War II, photographs of which survive at the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art and one of which is extant and in the collection of the Mariner’s Museum in Newport News, Virginia. See “God Is Our Guide and Stay,” Mariner’s Museum website, accessed October 25, 2022, For a description of her church murals, see “Art & Artists,” St. Bartholomew’s Conservancy, accessed February 1, 2021, For more on her life, see “Mrs. Ethel Paullin, Painter-Decorator,” New York Times, June 12, 1971.
  112. 1857 Studios Here May Soon Be Razed,” New York Times, August 24, 1952.
  113. “Marjorie Barkentin, Adaptor of ‘Ulysses in Nighttown,’ Dead.”
  114. Interview with Dimitri Rimsky, March 22, 2021.

About the Author(s): Mary Okin is the founder of Mining @ Tenth Street: Visualizing New York City’s Tenth Street Studio Building and a PhD Candidate in the History of Art and Architecture at UC Santa Barbara. Celie Mitchard is the Mining @ Tenth Street research assistant and a museum educator at the San Diego Model Railroad Museum.