Scope and arrangement
The G. Maillard Kesslère Photographs collection consists of a series of portrait photographs, drawings, and reproductions of drawings of individuals involved in the entertainment arts. These portraits were created by Kesslère from 1925 through 1952, with the bulk of them amassed from 1925 to about 1946. Among Kesslère's subjects are actors, dancers, singers, musicians, composers, conductors, critics, writers, directors, producers, and designers for the theater, dance, ballet, opera, radio, and television. Well over half the subjects in this group are identified, and many of them are well-known personalities.
The collection contains a series of black and white photos of largely unidentified male and female subjects, created 1925-1952, who were likely active in society, business, or the performing arts.
The collection also contains biographies of theatre and entertainment professionals, compiled from 1951-1952, and submitted to the New York Public Library as part of the G. Maillard Kesslère collection of photographs. With a few exceptions, portraits of these biographical subjects are not present in this collection.
The G. Maillard Kesslère photographs are arranged in three series:
39 boxes. Item is a photograph unless otherwise noted.
The largest group in the collection, this series contains approximately 858 portraits in half-length, bust, or head only, formats. Included are approximately 589 black and white photographs, approximately 30 original pastel or charcoal drawings, and some 239 black and white photomechanical reproductions of original drawings. Most of these photographs, reproductions, and drawings measure at least 9 1/2 × 12 in., 10 × 13 in., and 10 1/2 × 13 1/2 in. respectively. Most of the images are mounted on board to approximately 11 1/2 × 15 in.
Depicted in this series are individuals involved in almost every aspect of the entertainment and performing arts. These include theater critics, composers, directors, producers, opera singers, writers, designers and actors and actresses for the stage, film, radio and television. Well over half of the subjects - some 520 - are identified, and many of these are well-known personalities. Among the notable personalities photographed or drawn by Kesslère are: Brooks Atkinson, Fred Astaire, Tallulah Bankhead, Clark Gable, Carol Channing, Russell Crouse, Alfred Drake, Wilbur Evans, Frank Fay, Andre Kostenlanetz, Anita Loos, Queena Mario, Lauritz Melchior, Adolph Menjou, Patrice Munsel, Jarmila Novotná, Sono Osato, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Will Rogers, Babe Ruth, Tito Schipa, Phil Silvers, Simone Simon, Kate Smith, K. T. Stevens, Julia Sze, Arturo Toscanini, Virgil Thomson, Clifton Webb, Mae West, and Paul Whiteman. The series also includes a self portrait of G. Maillard Kesslère.
This series contains approximately 277 8 × 10 in., black and white photographic portraits and two black and white reproductions of drawings. The series is divided into two groups: male subjects and female subjects. By and large, the subjects are not identified. It appears likely however, given Kesslère's choice of subjects during his career, that they were individuals prominent in society, or involved in business or the performing arts. A few of the subjects in this series are also represented in Series I.
This series contains biographies of theatre professionals compiled 1951-1952, and submitted to the New York Public Library as part of the G. Maillard Kesslère collection of photographs. While the subjects of these biographies may have been portrait subjects of Kesslère, their portraits are not, by and large, represented in this collection.