University of Texas, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Tennessee Williams:

An Inventory of His Collection at the Harry Ransom Center



Creator: Williams, Tennessee, 1911-1983
Title: Tennessee Williams Art Collection
Dates: circa 1928-1980
Abstract: The collection consists of paintings, drawings, and prints by and related to Tennessee Williams. Art by Williams includes twenty-five paintings of still lifes, landscapes, and portraits of his friends, including a few paintings from his childhood years.
Extent: 2 boxes, 4 framed paintings, 1 framed print (38 items)
Repository: Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

The playwright Tennessee Williams was born Thomas Lanier Williams, III, on March 26, 1911, in Columbus, Mississippi, to Cornelius Coffin and Edwina Dakin Williams. He spent his early childhood in Mississippi and Tennessee before his family moved to St. Louis, Missouri, in 1918. Williams started writing at an early age, and he showed early artistic ability. He briefly attended the University of Missouri and Washington University in St. Louis before graduating from the University of Iowa in 1938. A few months after graduation, he moved to New Orleans, where he soon became friends with a clarinetist, Jim Parrott. In early 1939, Williams went with Parrott to Los Angeles hoping to find a screenwriting job and briefly worked on Parrott’s uncle’s pigeon farm. During this time he also received art lessons from Parrott’s mother Adelaide, a WPA art instructor, who was impressed by Williams’ artistic talent. After this, Williams sketched and painted often, and he continued to do so for the rest of his life. For subjects, he turned to his mother Edwina, his sister Rose, and friends, including Jim Parrott. As his writing career developed he also painted characters from his plays. Later in life while living in Key West, Florida, Williams received further lessons from Henry Faulkner, with whom he also exhibited works. At this point he also created limited edition portfolios which he sold in New York through Gotham Book Mart.

In March of 1939, Williams won a $100 Group Theatre Prize for five one-act plays later published as American Blues as well as a $1,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation for Battle of Angels. He gained even greater success with The Glass Menagerie in 1944. His plays A Streetcar Named Desire (1947) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955) both won Pulitzer Prizes. Other successful plays included Suddenly Last Summer (1958), Sweet Bird of Youth (1959), and Night of the Iguana (1961). Williams also wrote two novels, film scripts, poetry, essays, short stories, and his autobiography, Memoirs (1975). He died February 25, 1983, in New York City.


Scope and Contents

The Tennessee Williams Art Collection consists of paintings, drawings, and prints by and related to Tennessee Williams. The collection is divided into the following series: I. Works by Tennessee Williams; II. Portraits of Tennessee Williams by Other Artists; and III. Works Related to Tennessee Williams.

Series I. is comprised of twenty-five paintings and drawings of still lifes, landscapes, and portraits Williams made of his friends, including a few paintings from his childhood years. These works are arranged by accession number. Series II. consists of four portraits of Tennessee Williams. Series III., Works Related to Tennessee Williams, includes a portrait of Tennessee Williams' maternal grandfather, Dr. Dakin; a dust jacket design by Cecil Beaton for The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone; a preliminary sketch by Thomas Hart Benton for his painting The Poker Night, which was used on the cover of the Signet paperback edition of Streetcar Named Desire; and a drawing of Tennessee Williams' dog, Buffo, by the actress Anna Magnani, who won an Oscar for her role in the screen version of The Rose Tattoo. These works are arranged alphabetically by artist.


Restrictions

Access:

Open for research. A minimum of twenty-four hours is required to pull art materials to the Reading Room


Related Material

Additional portraits of Tennessee Williams, also held in the Art Collection, include works by Don Bachardy, David Levine, Emanuel Romano, and David Schorr. The Ransom Center also holds extensive Tennessee Williams materials in its Manuscripts Collection, its Library, and its Photography Collection Literary Files.


Administrative Information

Acquisition:

Purchases (R2913, R1963, R5900), 1966-1973; gifts (G12245, G10499), 1966-2003

Processed by:

Alice Egan, 1997, and Helen Young, 2001


Sources:

Leverich, L. Tom, the Unknown Tennessee Williams. New York: W. W. Norton, 1995.

"Tennessee Williams."Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series, vol. 31, ed. J. G. Lewniak. Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1990.


Tennessee Williams Art Collection--Item List

Series I. Works by Tennessee Williams, 1928-1947, undated

Box
1.1 Williams, Tennessee (attributed). [Jim Parrott?]. 1939?
1 painting: watercolor, 45.5 x 30.4 cm.
Box
1.2 Williams, Tennessee. [Tennessee Williams, self-portrait]. 1939.
1 painting: oil on paperboard, 30.4 x 20.7 cm.
Box
1.3 Williams, Tennessee (attributed). [Fred Parrott?]. 1939?
1 painting: oil on paperboard, 35.5 x 22.8 cm.
Box
1.4 Williams, Tennessee? [James Merle or Frank Merlo]. Undated.
1 painting: oil on paperboard, 30.4 x 21 cm.
Box
1.5 Williams, Tennessee. [Frank Merlo]. Undated.
1 painting: oil on canvas board, 50.1 x 40.4 cm.
Box
1.6 Williams, Tennessee. Jim. 1939?
1 painting: oil on paperboard, 30.3 x 20.9 cm.
Box
1.7 Williams, Tennessee. [Jim Parrott?]. Undated.
1 painting: oil on paperboard, 30.5 x 25.5 cm.
Box
1.8 Williams, Tennessee. [Still life]. Undated.
1 painting: oil on board, 20.8 x 30.2 cm.
Box
1.9 Williams, Tennessee. [Prancing horse with vase]. Undated.
1 painting: oil on board, 25.4 x 30.5 cm.
Box
1.10 Williams, Tennessee? [Landscape]. Undated.
1 painting: oil on masonite, 22.8 x 30.1 cm.
Box
1.11 Williams, Tennessee (attributed). [Tropical scene at night]. Circa 1928.
1 painting: oil on linen, 27.9 x 31.2 cm.
Box
1.12 Williams, Tennessee. [Winter landscape]. Before 1939.
1 painting: oil on paper, 9.2 x 12.7 cm.
 
Box
1.12 Williams, Tennessee. [Spring landscape]. Before 1939.
1 painting: oil on paper, 9.9 x 12.2 cm.
 
Box
1.12 Williams, Tennessee. [Summer landscape]. Before 1939.
1 painting: oil on paper, 8.4 x 9.9 cm.
Box
2.1 Williams, Tennessee? [Landscape]. Undated.
1 painting: oil on board, 25.9 x 40.3 cm.
Box
2.2 Williams, Tennessee. Purification [2 female figures, 1 male figure]. Undated.
1 drawing: ink on coated board, 28.3 x 17.8 cm.
Location
Painting storage Williams, Tennessee. [Tennessee Williams, self-portrait]. Undated.
1 painting: oil on canvas, visible image 39.5 x 29.5 cm., in frame 59 x 50 cm.
Box
2.3 Williams, Tennessee. [Unidentified woman]. 1947?
1 painting: oil on canvas board, 40.3 x 30.1 cm.
Location
Painting storage Williams, Tennessee. [Pancho Rodriguez]. Undated.
1 painting: oil on canvas board, visible image 39.5 x 29.5 cm., in frame 59 x 50 cm.
Box
2.4 Williams, Tennessee. [Male dancer]. 1947?
1 painting: oil on canvas board, 50.1 x 40 cm.
Box
2.5 Williams, Tennessee. [Standing jester]. 1947?
1 painting: oil on canvas board, 50.1 x 40 cm.
Location
Painting storage Williams, Tennessee. By the time Summer and Smoke were past. Circa 1947.
1 painting: oil on canvas, visible image 39.5 x 49.5 cm., in frame 42.5 x 53 cm.
Box
2.6 Williams, Tennessee. The Vogue of the Wide Tie [head profile of man facing left]. Undated
1 drawing: pencil, 15.2 x 10.1 cm.
Box
2.7 Williams, Tennessee. Criswell. Undated.
1 drawing: pencil, 27.8 x 21.5 cm.
Location
Painting storage Williams, Tennessee. [Crucifixion]. Undated.
1 painting: oil on canvas, visible image 24.5 x 19.5 cm., in frame 37.5 x 32.5 cm.



Series II. Portraits of Tennessee Williams by Other Artists, 1962, undated

Location
Painting storage Kinstler Everett Raymond. The Violets in the Mountains … [design with face portrait of Williams, with quote from Camino Real; "V/L"]. 1975.
1 print: lithograph, col., visible image 55.7 x 40 cm.
Box
2.8 Safran, Bernard(?). [Tennessee Williams, Time Magazine cover portrait, preliminary drawing]. 1962?
1 drawing: crayon, 24.8 x 21.2 cm.
Box
2.9 Safran, Bernard. Tennessee Williams [Time Magazine cover portrait]. 9 March 1962.
1 reproductive print: col., 25.3 x 20.3 cm.
Box
2.10 Unidentified. [Tennessee Williams, caricature]. Undated.
1 painting: watercolor, 24 x 20.1 cm.



Series III. Works Related to Tennessee Williams, 1948-1980, undated

Box
2.11 Beaton, Cecil, Sir. The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone. 1950s?
1 drawing: ink, crayon, and gouache, col., 36.2 x 28.2 cm.
Box
2.12 Benton, Thomas Hart. The Poker Night. 1948.
1 drawing: pencil and ink, 18.5 x 21 cm.
Box
2.13 Jones, Liza. Snowfall [with poem by Tennessee Williams]. 1980.
1 print: etching, col., 17.5 x 24.7 cm., on sheet 37.5 x 57.5 cm.
Box
2.14 Magnani, Anna. Buffo! [Tennessee Williams' dog]. Undated.
2 drawings: pencil, 21 x 29.5 cm.; 13.5 x 10.2 cm.
Box
2.15 B. A. [Unidentified]. Dr. Dakin [Tennessee Williams' grandfather] Undated.
1 drawing: pencil, 20.7 x 27.9 cm.
Box
2.16 Unidentified. The Trade Winds, Key West, Florida. Undated.
1 print: woodcut, b&w, 8.3 x 13.9 cm.
Box
2.17 Unidentified. The Night of the Iguana. 1961?
1 print: poster, col., 56 x 35.7 cm.
 
Box
2.17 Unidentified. The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore. 1964?
1 print: poster, col., 56.1 x 35.7 cm.