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Burroughs, Bryson

    Image Credit: Wikipedia

    Full Name: Burroughs, Bryson

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1869

    Date Died: 1934

    Place Born: Hyde Park, Boston, Suffolk, MA, USA

    Place Died: New York, NY, USA

    Home Country/ies: United States

    Subject Area(s): painting (visual works)

    Career(s): curators


    Painter and Curator of Paintings, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1909-34. Burroughs was the son of Major George Burroughs and Caroline Bryson (Burroughs). His family moved to Cincinnati after his father’s death. He studied at the Art Students League, NY, between1889-1891, leaving for Paris that year to study at the Academie Julian under Puvis de Chavannes. He married Edith Woodman (1871-1916) in England in 1893. He spent the year 1894 in Florence, returning to the United States in 1895. In 1906 the curator of painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Roger Fry appointed Burroughs his assistant. In 1907 Burroughs and Fry persuaded Edward Robinson, the Assistant Director, to acquire at auction Renoir’s Madame Charpentier and Her Children for $20,000. The price seemed so inflated that the Metropolitan trustees nearly fired Fry and Burroughs. When Fry resigned later the same year, Burroughs was made acting curator and then Associate in 1909. He was responsible for updating the paintings catalog for the museum. After his first wife’s death, he married Louise Guerber (later a curator at the Metropolitan) in 1928. During the 1930s when the Metropolitan and the Museum of Modern Art, NY, had an informal arrangement to work together, Burroughs provided the text for an exhibition catalog for MoMA on Winslow Homer and other American artists. Although he was responsible for purchase of many European paintings for the museum (Brueghel’s Harvesters and a Michelangelo drawing of the Lybian Sybil), he is most noted for adding American artists to the Metropolitan’s collection. He died of tuberculosis at his home at age 65. His son, Alan Burroughs (1897-1964), was a lecturer in art at Harvard University and a research fellow at the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard; Burrough’s daughter, Betty, married the painter Reginald Marsh.Burroughs wrote enthusiastically about the modern French artists Cézanne and the Impressionists, yet his personal painting style was ironically the pallid academic genre of Puvis de Chevannes, his teacher in Paris.

    Selected Bibliography

    and Mather, Frank Jewett, Jr. and Goodrich, Lloyd. Winslow Homer, Albert P. Ryder, Thomas Eakins. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1935; Catalogue of Paintings [of the Metropolitan Museum of Art]. 7-9th eds. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1924-1931; Catalogue of an Exhibition of Spanish Paintings from El Greco to Goya. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1928.


    Tomkins, Calvin. Merchants and Masterpieces: The Story of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2nd. ed. New York: Henry Holt, 1989, pp.107, 168; Saur Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon 15: 276-77; The Paintings of Bryson Burroughs (1869-1934): February 18-March 17, 1984. New York: Hirschl & Adler Galleries, 1984; Owens, Gwendolyn. “Pioneers in American Museums: Bryson Burroughs.” Museum News 58 (May-June 1979): 51; [obituary:] “Bryson Burroughs Dies.” New York Times November 17, 1934, p. 15.


    Contributors: Emily Crockett and Lee Sorensen


    Emily Crockett and Lee Sorensen. "Burroughs, Bryson." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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