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Koehler, Florence Cary, 1861-1944. Papers of Florence Cary Koehler, 1880-1951: A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America


Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Cambridge, Mass.
April 1981

© 1981 President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: 78-M99--79-M257
Repository: Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
Creator: Florence Cary Koehler, 1861-1944
Title: Papers of Florence Cary Koehler, 1880-1951
Quantity: 1 linear foot (1 carton)
Location: Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Correspondence, inventory of artwork, articles of Florence Cary Koehler, artist and jeweler.

Processing Information:

Preliminary inventory: April 1981
By: Jane S. Knowles

Acquisition Information:

Accession numbers: 78-M99, 79-M104, 79-M142 79-M257
This collection was given to the Schlesinger Library by Mrs. Henry Sharpe in 1978 and 1979.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Florence Cary Koehler is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.

Preferred citation for publication:

Florence Cary Koehler Papers, 1880-1951; item description, dates. 78-M99--79-M257, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.


Florence Cary Koehler, artist and jeweler, the daughter of Harriet (Banker) and Benjamin F. Cary, was born in Jackson, Michigan, November 8, 1861, and grew up in Missouri, where her father was in the grain and coal business. She moved to Kansas City in 1881 where she married Frederick Koehler ca. 1882. Her early education and career are unknown, but her correspondence in 1881 refers to her "pictures" and ca. 1893 she was Head of the Ceramics Department at Kansas City Art School. She moved with her husband to Chicago, ca. 1893, where she exhibited ceramics in the Columbian Exposition of 1893. Koehler briefly established an interior decorating business with a recently widowed friend, Mrs. E.W. Sheridan, in the Marshall Fields building in Chicago, and in December 1895 was accepted as a china decorator at the Rookwood Pottery, Cincinnati, Ohio. In March 1898, she went abroad to study enameling and jewelry-making with Alexander Fisher in London. Her husband supported her until his money ran out and her parents financed her return from Paris in October 1898. From 1898-1900 she shared a studio with Miss Waite, a friend from Hull-House, held classes in china painting, and worked in jewelry and metals. Sometime after 1900 she was apparently separated from her husband and gave up her studio. She accompanied Erica (Crane) Chadbourne on a trip around the world and settled in London with her and had a studio in Kensington. Her circle of acquaintances included Augustus John, Lady Ottoline Morrell, Henry James, Roger Quilter, Alice (Stopford) Green, and Arthur B. Davies. In 1910 she exhibited her jewelry with William Rothenstein and was acclaimed by Roger Fry. From 1912 until war forced her to withdraw to the countryside, she settled in Paris at the Place des Vosges. Among her friends in Paris was Henri Matisse and his family. During this period she concentrated on drawing and painting and purchased fine arts and furniture on commission for patrons in America. In the 1930s she moved to Rome, where she died on May 4, 1944.
Mary Elizabeth (Evans) Sharpe, 1884-1985, entrepreneur and patron of the arts (folder #2), met Koehler in 1920 at the time of her marriage to Henry Sharpe. Her long association with Koehler, during which Koehler purchased furniture and materials and decorated her house in Providence, R.I., lasted until Koehler's death. Mary Elizabeth Sharpe was the legatee of Koehler's estate of paintings and jewelry, and arranged a posthumous exhibition in 1948. She gave a large collection of Koehler's jewelry to the Rhode Island School of Design, and a collection of her paintings to the Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse.


The collection contains Florence Cary Koehler's family correspondence, her correspondence with Mary Elizabeth Sharpe reflecting her aesthetic opinions, and her correspondence with contemporary artists and musicians. It includes estate correspondence, articles about her painting and jewelry, and an inventory of her artworks.


Additional catalog entries

The following catalog entries represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. An entry for each appears in the Harvard On Line Library Information System (HOLLIS) and other automated bibliographic databases. THIS IS NOT AN INDEX.
Art patrons
Chadbourne, Erica Crane
Craig, Edward Gordon, 1872-1966
Davies, Arthur B. (Arthur Bowen), 1862-1928
Expatriate artists.
Fry, Roger Eliot, 1866-1934
Grainger, Percy, 1882-1961
Green, Alice Stopford
Interior decoration
James, Henry, 1843-1916
John, Augustus Edwin, 1879-1961
Matisse family
Pritchard, Matthew Sterwart
Quilter, Roger, 1877-1953
Rivera, Diego, 1886-1957
Rookwood Pottery Company
Rothenstein, William, 1872-1945
Sharpe, Mary Elizabeth Evans, 1884-1985
Voyages and travels