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© 1981 Radcliffe College
Call No.: 78-M99--79-M257
Repository: Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
Creator: Florence (Cary) Koehler
Title: Papers, 1880-1951
Quantity: 1 record carton
Abstract: Correspondence, inventory of artwork, articles of Florence Cary Koehler, artist and jeweler.
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. FCK 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 FCK in 1920 at the time of her marriage to Henry Sharpe. Her long association with FCK, during which FCK purchased furniture and materials and decorated her house in Providence, R.I., lasted until FCK's death. MES was the legatee of FCK's estate of paintings and jewelry, and arranged a posthumous exhibition in 1948. She gave a large collection of FCK'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 FCK'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.
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