Collection ID: LMC 1095
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Collection context


The Blair, M.A.I. mss., 1684-1897, consists of letters and documents collected by art collector and benefactor Mary Anne Italia Mitchell Blair, 1855-1940.
4 folios and 1 Box (1 standard)
English .
Preferred citation:

[Item], Blair, M.A.I. mss., Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.


Biographical / Historical:

Mary Anne Italia Mitchell was born on December 18, 1855, in Alton, Cook County, Illinois, to Chicago banker and businessman William Hamilton Mitchell and Mary Anne Kelly. In 1882, she married the banker Chauncey Justis Blair, and they had four children. Mrs. Blair enjoyed traveling to Europe, particularly Italy and Paris, and amassed large collections of books, art, and other antique artifacts. Her acquisitions included Roman silver excavated near Tivoli; Italian needwork and gold dinner service; Gothic statuettes; and medieval and renaissance paintings. She kept an apartment in Paris filled with artwork and fine furniture. Blair also made a major donation of her medieval and renaissance artwork to the Chicago Art Institute, which is detailed in the Catalogue of the Mary Blair Collection of Mediaeval and Renaissance Art. She passed away at the age of 84 on August 5, 1940, in Hollywood, CA.

Scope and Content:

The Blair, M.A.I. mss., 1684-1897, consist of letters and documents collected by Mary Anne Italia Mitchell Blair, 1855-1940, and mounted as extra-illustrations in Washington Irving, The Life of George Washington, G.P. Putnam, New York, 1855-1859, thus extending the set from five volumes to ten. The volumes, prepared about 1894 to 1897 (the mounting paper is watermarked J. Whatman 1894 and 1895) were owned by Blair.

The contents of the collection, built around the life of George Washington and his contemporaries, have a strong emphasis upon the American Revolutionary War period. With the materials are two complete holograph chapters in ink, XXVII and XXVIII, of Irving's Life of George Washington. Individual title pages in watercolor, dated Chicago, 1894, and now preserved in a separate folder, preceded each of the volumes. The letters and documents, removed from the bound set, are described more fully in the Manuscripts Catalog. The collection is accompanied by the binding, which was done by Henry Stikeman, and end paper of Volume One. The maps, paper money, portraits, and views illustrating the volumes, as well as the printed text, were transferred to the Lilly Library Book Department with the exceptions of those engravings bearing the holograph signatures of Samuel Arlent Edwards, Albert Rosenthal, and Max Rosenthal. A printed George Washington invitation for 179- remains with the collection.

Acquisition information:
Gift: 1983-1984

The contents of this collection are arranged chronologically.

Physical location:
Lilly - Folio; ALF (Auxiliary Library Facility)



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[Item], Blair, M.A.I. mss., Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.

Indiana University Bloomington
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