Avery Drawings & Archives Collections
 

Louis Henry Sullivan collection, 1873-1910, bulk 1883-1895

Summary Information

Abstract

Louis Henry Sullivan (1856-1924) was an American architect and partner in the Chicago architectural firm Alder & Sullivan. He is also known as a mentor to architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The core of the collection is made up of 122 drawings given to Frank Lloyd Wright by Louis Sullivan before Sullivan's death in 1924. The Avery collection represents the bulk of what remains of Sullivan's drawings. Most of the drawings in this collection are designs for ornament representing different stages of Sullivan's stylistic development. Some drawings are annotated by Wright. The collection also includes additional donations of drawings, objects, and papers collected over the years.

At a Glance

Bib ID 3460588 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Sullivan, Louis H., 1856-1924
Title Louis Henry Sullivan collection, 1873-1910, bulk 1883-1895
Physical Description 147 drawings; 2 items (metal objects); 2 manuscript boxes
Language(s) English .
Access

This collection is available for use by appointment in the Department of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University. For further information and to make an appointment, please email avery-drawings@library.columbia.edu.

Arrangement

Description

Scope and Contents

The bulk of the collection date from the period, circa 1883-1910, when Sullivan was a partner with Dankmar Adler in the architectural firm Adler & Sullivan. Projects represented in the Wright collection include remodeling of McVickar's Theater (Chicago), Auditorium Building (Chicago), Transportation Building (Columbian Exposition, Chicago), Chicago Stock Exchange building, St. Nicholas Hotel (St. Louis), Guaranty Building (Buffalo), remodeling of the Taylor Building (Chicago), National Farmers Bank (Owatonna, Minnesota), and miscellaneous buildings. Additionally, the collection includes fresco designs, ornamental studies and designs, cover designs for magazines, figure studies, and drawings done by Sullivan while at the École des Beaux-Arts. Also included are drawings attributed to other architects, including Sullivan's assistant, George G. Elmslie.

  • Series I: Frank Lloyd Wright collection of Louis Henry Sullivan drawings

    This collection of 122 drawings by Louis Henry Sullivan (1856-1924) were given to Frank Lloyd Wright by Sullivan days before his death. Many of the drawings have been annotated by Wright. The bulk of these drawings date from 1883 to 1910, when Sullivan was a partner with Dankmar Adler in the architectural firm Adler and Sullivan. Avery Library purchased this collection in 1965 from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation with support from the Edgar Kaufmann Charitable Foundation.

    Wright published 39 of the 122 drawings in this collection in the book Genius & Mobocracy (1949). The full collection was published in the 1979 Paul E. Sprague's The drawings of Louis Henry Sullivan: a catalog of the Frank Lloyd Wright Collection at the Avery Architectural Library (Princeton University Press). Sprague, an expert of Sullivan's ornament, dated, attributed and categorized the drawings. Sprague's work is the basis for Avery's description of the drawings.

  • Series II: Additional Donations

    This series includes a small collection of Sullivan drawings, objects, and papers acquired by Avery Library over the years. Photographs includes images of Sullivan and members of his family from circa 1870s-1920s. The drawings date from the 1870s to the 1920s and include landscapes, portraits, and architectural drawings. Drawings done by Sullivan's parents Adrienne and Patrick Sullivan are included. Additionally, two objects are included: a doorknob from the Guaranty Building in Buffalo, New York and a medal designed by Sullivan.

Using the Collection

Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection is available for use by appointment in the Department of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University. For further information and to make an appointment, please email avery-drawings@library.columbia.edu.

Preferred Citation

[Description of item], [Item Number], Louis Henry Sullivan collection, Drawings and Archives, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.

Related Materials

Sprague, Paul E. The drawings of Louis Henry Sullivan : a catalog of the Frank Lloyd Wright Collection at the Avery Architectural Library. Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, 1979

Louis Sullivan Collection at the Art Institute Chicago

[Letter to Charles Harris Whitaker from Louis H. Sullivan, Dated Feb. 1st, 1922]. Drawings and Archives, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.

Sullivan, Louis H. Emotional architecture as compared with classical, [1894?]. Manuscript. Avery Classics, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.

Sullivan, Louis H. Essay on inspiration, [1886]. Manuscript. Avery Classics, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.

Sullivan, Louis H. Kindergarten chats ... , [1901-02]. Manuscript. Avery Classics, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.

Sullivan, Louis H. Democracy, a man search, [1906-08]. Manuscript. Avery Classics, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library

Processing Information

The drawings were cataloged in the 1980s as part of the Project AVIADOR (funded through the National Endowment for the Humanities). Legacy inventories and catalog records were combined and updated by Shelley Hayreh (Avery Archivist) and published as a finding aid in ArchivesSpace in 2020.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.

Genre/Form

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Architects Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architectural drawings Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Drawings (visual works) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Photographic prints Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

Subject

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Adler and Sullivan Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Adler, Dankmar, 1844-1900 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- Illinois -- Chicago Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- Iowa -- Algona Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- Michigan -- Flint Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- Missouri -- Saint Louis Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- New York (State) -- Buffalo Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- United States -- Designs and plans Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- Wisconsin -- Columbia Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Auditoriums -- Illinois -- Chicago Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Bank buildings -- Minnesota -- Owatonna Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Bank buildings -- Wisconsin -- Columbia Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Chicago Auditorium Building (Chicago, Ill.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Chicago Stock Exchange -- Buildings Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Commercial buildings -- Illinois -- Chicago Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Commercial buildings -- Iowa -- Algona Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Commercial buildings -- Minnesota -- Owatonna Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Commercial buildings -- New York (State) -- Buffalo Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Commercial buildings -- Wisconsin -- Columbia Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Decoration and ornament Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Eddy, Arthur J., Mrs Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Elmslie, George Grant, 1871-1952 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts (France) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Farmers and Merchants Union Bank (Columbia, Wis.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Guaranty Building (Buffalo, N.Y.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Hotels -- Missouri -- Saint Louis Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Land and Loan Office (Algona, Iowa) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Magazine covers Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
McVicker's Theatre Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Memorials -- Michigan -- Flint Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Mural painting and decoration Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
National Farmers' Bank (Owatonna, Minn.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Portraits Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Saint Nicholas Hotel (Saint Louis, Mo.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sullivan family Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sullivan, Andrienne Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sullivan, Patrick, 1816?-1884 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Taylor Building (Chicago, Ill.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Theaters -- Illinois -- Chicago Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
World's Columbian Exposition (1893 : Chicago, Ill.). Transportation Building Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Wright, Frank Lloyd, 1867-1959 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

Louis Henry Sullivan was born September 3, 1856 in Boston, Massachusetts. His Swiss-born mother, Andrienne List, and his Irish-born father, Patrick Sullivan, had both emigrated to the United States in the late 1840s.

At the age of 16, Sullivan was briefly enrolled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but left after a year to work for architect Frank Furness in Philadelphia. He was not working long when he was let go by Furness as a result of the economic downturn of 1873.

In 1873, Sullivan followed a wave of architects moving to Chicago in hope of finding work rebuilding the city after the destruction of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Sullivan left Chicago briefly in 1874 for Paris to study at the École des Beaux-Arts. He stayed in Paris for a year, returning to Chicago in June 1875.

Sullivan worked at various firms for a few years until he settled at Dankmar Adler's office in 1879. By 1881, Sullivan became a partner and the firm was renamed Adler and Sullivan, Architects. The partnership lasted for 14 years.

By 1894, Adler and Sullivan dissolved their partnership amid another financial downturn for the country. The years following the split from Adler, Sullivan only secured a few commissions. Prior to his death, Sullivan published two important books: The autobiography of an idea and A System of Architectural Ornament According with a Philosophy of Man's Powers .

Sullivan died in Chicago on April 14, 1924. In 1946, he was posthumously awarded the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal.