Gertrude Whitney (Vanderbilt)

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Gertrude Whitney (Vanderbilt)

Birthdate: (67)
Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA
Death: Died in New York, New York, United States
Cause of death: bacterial endocarditis
Place of Burial: Bronx, NY, USA
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt, II; Alice Claypoole Vanderbilt and Alice Claypoole Vanderbilt
Wife of <private> Whitney and Harry Payne Whitney
Mother of Flora Payne Whitney; Flora Payne Whitney; Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney and Barbara Whitney
Sister of Alice Gwynne Vanderbilt; William Henry Vanderbilt; Cornelius Vanderbilt III; Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt (RMS Lusitania victim); Reginald Vanderbilt and 2 others

Occupation: Sculptor, Patron of American art, sculptor, Philanthropist
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Gertrude Whitney (Vanderbilt)

Gertrude Vanderbilt

Born: 1875

Staten Island, Richmond, New York, USA

Died: 1942

Newport, Newport, Rhode Island, USA

Spouse 1

Harry Henry Whitney

Born: New York-Wealthy Sportsman, [country]

Died: [city], [county], New York, USA

Marriage: 25 Aug 1896 in Breakers, [county], Rhode Island, USA View Info

Children Sex Birth

Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney M 20 Feb 1899 in Roslyn, Long Island, New York, USA

  

Spouse 2

Henry Payne Whitney

Born: 28 Apr 1872 in New York, [county], New York, USA

Died: Oct 1930 in Newport, Newport, Rhode Island, USA

Marriage: 25 Aug 1896 in Breakers, Newport, Rhode Island, USA View Info

Children Sex Birth

Alfred Whitney M

Flora Payne Whitney F 29 Jul 1897 in Newport, Newport, Rhode Island, USA

Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney M 20 Feb 1899 in Roslyn, Long Island, New York, USA

Barbara Whitney F 20 Mar 1903 in [city], [county], New York, USA

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Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney

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Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, in Vogue magazine, 15 January 1917Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (January 9, 1875 – April 18, 1942) was born into the prominent United States Vanderbilt family and married into the prominent Whitney family.

Gertrude was born in New York City. She was the eldest surviving daughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt II (1843-1899) and Alice Claypoole Gwynne (1852-1934) and a great-granddaughter of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt.

Contents

1 Life of wealth

2 Influence in art

3 Public sculpture by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney

4 Patriotism

5 Later life

6 Social Titles

6.1 Titles


Life of wealth

Gertrude Vanderbilt spent her summers in Newport, Rhode Island, at the family's mansion, The Breakers, where she kept up with the boys in all their rigorous sporting activities. Educated by private tutors and at the exclusive Brearley School in New York City, at age 21 she married the extremely wealthy sportsman Harry Payne Whitney (1872–1930).

A banker and investor, Whitney was the son of William C. Whitney, and his mother was the daughter of a Standard Oil Company magnate. Harry Whitney inherited a fortune in oil and tobacco as well as interests in banking. Gertrude and Harry Whitney had three children, Flora, Cornelius, and Barbara.

Influence in art


GertrudeVanderbilt Whitney, 1916, by Robert Henri.While visiting Europe in the early 1900s, Gertrude Whitney discovered the burgeoning art world of Montmartre and Montparnasse in France. What she saw encouraged her to pursue her creativity and become a sculptress.

As such, she studied her craft at the Art Students League in New York City then with Auguste Rodin in Paris. Eventually, she maintained art studios in Greenwich Village and in Passy, a fashionable Parisian suburb. Her works received critical acclaim both in Europe and the United States.

Her great wealth afforded her the opportunity to become a patron of the arts, but she also devoted herself to the advancement of women in art. She was the primary financial backer for the "International Composer's Guild," an organization created to promote the performance of modern music.

In 1914, in one of the many Manhattan properties she and her husband owned, Gertrude Whitney established the 'Whitney Studio Club' at 147 West Fourth St. as a facility where young artists could exhibit their works. The place would evolve to become her greatest legacy, the Whitney Museum of American Art. Founded in 1931, she decided to put the time and money into the museum after the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art turned down her offer to contribute her twenty-five-year collection of modern art works.

Public sculpture by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney

Gertrude Whitney sculpted the Christopher Columbus memorial lighthouse in Huelva, Spain. Her numerous United States works include:

"Fountain of El Dorado" – San Francisco, California (now in Lima, Peru);

"Aztec Fountain" - Washington, D. C.;

"Women's Titanic Memorial" - Washington, D. C.;

"William F. Cody Memorial" - Cody, Wyoming at the entrance to Yellowstone National Park;

"Victory Arch" - Madison Square, New York City

"Three Graces" McGill University lower campus Montreal, Quebec, commonly called the "Three Bares"

A marble replica of the head of the Titanic memorial was purchased by the Government of France for the Musée du Luxembourg.

Patriotism

During World War I, Gertrude Whitney dedicated a great deal of her time and money to various relief efforts, establishing and maintaining a hospital for wounded soldiers in Neuilly in the Seine-et-Marne département in France. Following the end of the War, she was involved in the creation of a number of commemorative sculptures.

Later life

In 1934, she was at the center of a highly publicized court battle with her sister-in-law, Gloria Morgan-Vanderbilt, for custody of her ten-year-old niece, Gloria Vanderbilt.

Gertrude Whitney died in 1942, aged 67, and was interred next to her husband in Woodlawn Cemetery, The Bronx, New York. Her daughter Flora Whitney-Miller assumed her mother's duties as head of the Whitney Museum.

In 1999, Gertrude Whitney's granddaughter, Flora Miller Biddle, published a family memoir titled The Whitney Women and the Museum They Made.

In the 1982 tele-film, Little Gloria...Happy At Last, Whitney was portrayed by actress Angela Lansbury, who earned an Emmy nomination for her performance.

Social Titles

Titles

1875-1896: Miss Gertrude Vanderbilt of the Breakers

1896-1930: Mrs. Harry Payne Whitney

1930-1942: Mrs. Gertrude Whitney

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gertrude_Vanderbilt_Whitney"

Categories: 1875 births | 1942 deaths | Burials at Woodlawn Cemetery (The Bronx) | American art collectors | American philanthropists | American sculptors | American socialites | People from New York City | Vanderbilt family | Whitney family


Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (1875-1942)

Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney was the daughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt II

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Gertrude Vanderbilt was born in 1875 to Cornelius Vanderbilt and his wife Alice Gwynne Vanderbilt. Gertrude was their eldest daughter; her mother's namesake and Gertrude's older sister died at age five the year before Gertrude was born. Gertrude idolized her older brothers William and Cornelius and imitated them. Gertrude longed to be a boy. She grew resentful and rebellious toward her parents when her younger brothers Alfred and Reginald were born.

As a youngster, Gertrude showed the quality of individuality. Her temperament went against the conception of what a young woman was supposed to be like. Gertrude was alert to all sense-data of life, the tiny details of shape, texture, and movement around her. She was exquisitely attuned to her internal sensations and feelings.

Gertrude's parents did not promote creativity or risk. She was pious, industrious, and charitable, but she was also passionate, and there was no room for that in the Vanderbilt household.

Gertrude spent her summers in Newport, Rhode Island, at a mansion called "The Breakers." There she gathered wild blackberries and picked strawberries in the fields. She climbed the rocks along the ocean, played tennis, and swam in the surf at Bailey's Beach.

Gertrude was married to Harry Payne Whitney on August 25, 1896. He was the son of William C. Whitney, a prominent attorney, and his mother was the daughter of a Standard Oil Company magnate. Gertrude and Harry had three children, Flora, Cornelius, and Barbara.

Gertrude had a passion for art, which she rediscovered on a trip to Europe in 1901. She longed to study sculpture from her mature perspective. This trip became a transformation for her, which made her a very different woman. Gertrude gained different feelings from the artwork she saw. She looked at the different aspects of her life and tried to figure out how to approach them. The trip made her become open-minded. She committed herself to sculpture. She became an advocate for art and opened up the way for the advancement of women in art.

Gertrude was a major patron of American artists. She organized an exhibition for the exclusive Colony Club. She founded the Whitney Museum.

Gertrude is also known for the custody battle for her niece, Gloria Laura Vanderbilt. Gloria was the daughter of Gertrude's youngest brother, Reginald. After Reginald's death, Gloria, at age 2 was heir to a trust fund totaling four million dollars. The court battle took place in 1934. Gertrude fought to obtain custody of Gloria on the grounds that Gloria's mother was an unfit guardian. After the trial, an agreement was reached for a year, but litigation continued after that. The court gave custody to Gertrude, but also rights to Gloria's mother. Gertrude won the appeals, but Gloria was growing and becoming independent.

Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney died on April 18, 1942 from bacterial endocarditis.

Further Resources for Studying Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney:

Vanderbilt Mansion Historic Site Museum Website from the National Parks Service

"The Breakers" Vanderbilt summer home

A Brief Chronology of the Whitney Museum from the Whitney Museum Library

Arthur T. Vanderbilt II, Fortune's children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt (New York: Morrow, c1989)

Clarice Stasz, The Vanderbilt Women: Dynasty Wealth, Glamour, and Tragedy (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991)


Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (January 9, 1875 – April 18, 1942) was an American sculptor, art patron and collector, and founder in 1931 of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. She was a prominent social figure and hostess, who was born into the wealthy Vanderbilt family and married into the Whitney family.

Gertrude Vanderbilt was born on January 9, 1875 in New York City, the second daughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt II (1843–1899) and Alice Claypoole Gwynne (1852–1934), and a great-granddaughter of "Commodore" Cornelius Vanderbilt. Her older sister died before Gertrude was born, but she grew up with several brothers and a younger sister. The family's New York City home was an opulent mansion at 742-748 Fifth Avenue. As a young girl, Gertrude spent her summers in Newport, Rhode Island, at the family's summer home, The Breakers, where she kept up with the boys in all their rigorous sporting activities. She was educated by private tutors and at the exclusive Brearley School for women students in New York City.

Education and early work

Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in her studio, ca. 1920 While visiting Europe in the early 1900s, Gertrude Whitney discovered the burgeoning art world of Montmartre and Montparnasse in France. What she saw encouraged her to pursue her creativity and become a sculptor.

She studied at the Art Students League of New York with Hendrik Christian Andersen and James Earle Fraser. Other women students in her classes included Anna Vaughn Hyatt and Malvina Hoffman. In Paris she studied with Andrew O'Connor and also received criticism from Auguste Rodin in Paris. Her training with sculptors of public monuments influenced her later direction. Although her catalogs include numerous smaller sculptures, she is best known today for her monumental works.

Her first public commission was Aspiration, a life-size male nude in plaster, which appeared outside the New York State Building at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, in 1901. Initially she worked under an assumed name, fearing that she would be portrayed as a socialite and her work not taken seriously. Neither her family nor (after her marriage) her husband were supportive of her desire to work seriously as an artist. She once told an artist friend, "Never expect Harry to take your work seriously... It never has made any difference to him that I feel as I do about art and it never will (except as a source of annoyance)." She believed that a man would have been taken more seriously as an artist, and that her wealth put her in a lose-lose situation: criticized if she took commissions because other artists were more needy, but blamed for undercutting the market for other artists if she was not paid.

In 1907, Whitney established an apartment and studio in Greenwich Village. She also set up a studio in Passy, a fashionable Parisian neighborhood in the XVI arrondissement.

By 1910 she was exhibiting her work publicly under her own name. Paganisme Immortel, a statue of a young girl sitting on a rock, with outstretched arms, next to a male figure, was shown at the 1910 National Academy of Design. Spanish Peasant was accepted at the Paris Salon in 1911, and Aztec Fountain was awarded a bronze medal in 1915 at the San Francisco Exhibition. Her first solo show occurred in New York City in 1916.

World War I and its aftermath During World War I, Gertrude Whitney dedicated a great deal of her time and money to various relief efforts, establishing and maintaining a fully operational hospital for wounded soldiers in Juilly, about 22 mi northwest of Paris in France. In 1915, her brother Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt perished in the sinking of the RMS Lusitania.

She completed a series of smaller pieces realistically depicting soldiers in wartime,[8][19] but her smaller works were not seen as particularly significant during her lifetime. Since her death critics have recognized the expert craftsmanship of her smaller works. In addition to participating in shows with other artists, Whitney held a number of one-woman shows during her career. These included a show of her wartime sculptures at her Eighth Street Studio in November 1919; a show at the Art Institute of Chicago, March 1 to April 15, 1923; and one in New York City, March 17–28, 1936. The Whitney museum of American art held a commemorative show of her works in 1943.

Public sculptures Following the end of the War, Whitney was also involved in the creation of a number of commemorative sculptures. During the 1920s her works received critical acclaim both in Europe and the United States, particularly her monumental works. During the 1930s the popularity of monumental pieces declined. Whitney's last pieces of public arts were the Spirit of Flight, created for the New York World's Fair of 1939, and the Peter Stuyvesant Monument in New York City.

Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney's numerous works in the United States include:

Aztec Fountain – Pan American Union Building, Washington, D.C., 1912 Fountain of El Dorado – 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition, San Francisco, California Two reliefs on the Victory Arch – Madison Square, New York City, 1918–19 Washington Heights-Inwood War Memorial (World War I) – Mitchell Square Park, Washington Heights, New York City, erected 1922 Buffalo Bill - The Scout, William F. Cody Memorial – Cody, Wyoming, dedicated 1924 Untermyer Memorial, Woodlawn Cemetery, New York City, 1925 The Founders of the Daughters of the American Revolution, a memorial honoring the four founders – Constitution Hall, Washington, D.C., dedicated 1929; Gertrude was a member of the DAR. Women's Titanic Memorial – Washington, D.C., unveiled 1931 Peter Stuyvesant Monument, New York City, 1936–1939 To the Morrow, vt. Wings, vt. Spirit of Flight, created for the World's Fair in New York, 1939.

Whitney also created works which are now in other countries, including the A.E.F. Memorial in St. Nazaire Harbor in Saint-Nazaire, France, 1924.[28] The Government of France purchased a marble replica of the head of the Titanic memorial which is now housed in the Musée du Luxembourg.

Whitney sculpted the Christopher Columbus memorial, called "Monumento a la Fe Descubridora" (Monument to the Discovery Faith), in Huelva, Spain, 1928–33. With a cubist style, it is one of her biggest works.

In 1931 Whitney presented the Caryatid Fountain to McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada,. The fountain is also referred to as The Good Will Fountain, The Friendship Fountain, The Whitney Fountain, The Three Graces and because it consists of three nude males, The Three Bares.. There is also a bronce version of this fountain in the Washington Square in Lima, Peru

Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, in Vogue magazine, by Adolf de Meyer, January 15, 1917 Her great wealth afforded her the opportunity to become a patron of the arts, but she also devoted herself to the advancement of women in art, supporting an exhibiting in women-only shows and ensuring that women were included in mixed shows. She supported exhibition of artwork both locally and around the country, including the 1913 Armory Show in New York. She actively bought works from new artists including the Ashcan School. In 1922, she financed publication of The Arts magazine, to prevent its closing.[18] She was the primary financial backer for the "International Composer's Guild," an organization created to promote the performance of modern music.

By 1908, Whitney had opened the Whitney Studio Gallery in the same buildings as her own studio on West Eighth Street in Greenwich Village. Artists such as Robert Henri and Jo Davidson were invited to showcase their works there. In 1914, Gertrude Whitney also established the Whitney Studio Club at 147 West 4th Street, as an artists' club where young artists could meet and talk, as well as exhibit their works.[7] The Whitney Studio Club expanded again when its headquarters were moved back from West Fourth Street to West Eighth Street in 1923. Thus, the club expanded both in size and scope of programming. These early galleries would evolve to become Whitney's greatest legacy, the Whitney Museum of American Art, on the site of what is now the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture. Founded in 1931, Whitney decided to create her own museum after the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art turned down her offer to give it her twenty-five-year collection of nearly 700 modern art works.

A colorful recollection of one of her parties celebrating her artist friends was recounted by the artist Jerome Myers:

"Matching it in memory is a party at Mrs. Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney's, on her Long Island estate, the artists there a veritable catalog of celebrities, painters and sculptors. I can hardly visualize, let alone describe, the many shifting scenes of our entertainment: sunken pools and gorgeous white peacocks as line decorations spreading into the gardens; in their swinging cages, brilliant macaws nodding their beaks at George Luks as though they remembered posing for his pictures of them; Robert Chanler showing us his exotic sea pictures, blue-green visions in a marine bathroom; and Mrs. Whitney displaying her studio, the only place on earth in which she could find solitude. Here the artists felt at home, the Whitney hospitality always gracious and sincere."

Her Greenwich Village studio has been named a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, giving it landmark status.

Personal life At age 21, on August 25, 1896, Gertrude married the extremely wealthy sportsman Harry Payne Whitney (1872–1930).[1][8] A banker and investor, Whitney was the son of William Collins Whitney, and his mother, the former Flora Payne, was the daughter of a U.S. Senator and sister of a Standard Oil Company magnate. Harry Whitney inherited a fortune in oil and tobacco as well as interests in banking.[38] In New York, the couple lived in town houses originally belonging to William Whitney, first at 2 East 57th St., across the street from Gertrude's parents, and after William Whitney's death, at 871 Fifth Avenue.[39] They also had a country estate in Westbury, Long Island.[8] Gertrude and Harry Whitney had three children:

Flora Payne Whitney (1897–1986) Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney (1899–1992) Barbara Whitney (1903–1983, m. 1960 George W. Headley). Harry Whitney died of pneumonia in 1930, at age 58, leaving his widow an estate valued at $72 million. In 1934, she was at the center of a highly publicized court battle with her sister-in-law, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, for custody of her ten-year-old niece, Gloria Vanderbilt.

Gertrude Whitney died in 1942, at age 67, and was interred next to her husband in Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York City. Her daughter Flora Whitney Miller assumed her mother's duties as head of the Whitney Museum, and was succeeded by her daughter, Flora Miller Biddle.

Awards and honors Medal of Award at Panama-Pacific Exhibition for Fountain of El Dorado, 1915 Associate member of National Sculpture Society, 1916 Medal from the New York Society of Architects for the Mitchel Square World War I memorial, 1923 Honorary degree, New York University, 1922 Honorary degree, Tufts University, 1924 Bronze medallion at Paris Salon for Buffalo Bill - The Scout, 1924 French Legion of Honor medal, 1926 Honorary degree, Rutgers University, 1934 Elected an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects, 1934 Honorary degree, Russell Sage College, 1940 Associate of National Academy of Design, 1940 Medal of Honor of the National Sculpture Society, 1940

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Gertrude Whitney (Vanderbilt)'s Timeline

1875
January 9, 1875
New York City, New York, USA
1897
July 27, 1897
Age 22
New York, New York, United States
1897
Age 21
1899
February 20, 1899
Age 24
Roslyn, New York, USA
1903
1903
Age 27
1942
April 18, 1942
Age 67
New York, New York, United States
????
Bronx, NY, USA