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Arthur Wesley Dow Papers

Identifier: MC-013

Scope and Contents

The materials in this collection include a few articles about or relevant to Dow and a small amount of business correspondence by or about him. Bulk dates are 1895-1904.


  • 1895 - 1999
  • Majority of material found within 1895 - 1904


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to the public.

Conditions Governing Use

For permission to publish, contact the Archivist, Pratt Institute Library.

Biographical / Historical

Arthur Wesley Dow was born in Ipswich, Massachusetts, in 1857. After studying painting in Worcester and Boston, where he was influenced by the Barbizon-inspired work of William Morris Hunt, he moved to Paris, where he studied at the Academie Julian with Louis Boulanger and Jules Joseph Lefebvre, both of whom were also to influence Childe Hassam. After his return to Boston, he met Ernest Fenollosa, who introduced him to the Japanese art that would come to play a significant role in his life and work. He often used Japanese compositional techniques in his own paintings, and as an art educator incorporated many of the philosophical principles of Japanese painting. His interest in non-Western art was not limited to Japan, however; he also studied Aztec, Oceanian, African, and Egyptian art. In 1893 he began working under Fenollosa as Assistant Curator of Japanese Art at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. He also had his own school, the Ipswich Summer School of Art, from 1891 until 1907, in which he taught painting, applied arts, and engraving. Although many educators considered Dow’s methods controversial, Frederic Bayley Pratt offered him a position in 1895 as an instructor of composition and design at Pratt Institute, which he accepted. One of his students at the Institute was the Expressionist Max Weber. In 1903 he left Pratt Institute to head the Art Department at Teacher’s College, Columbia University. He also taught at the Art Students’ League. His publications include Composition: A Series of Exercises in Art Structure for the Use of Students and Teachers (1898), a teaching manual that provided the basic principles of the American Arts and Crafts Movement; and Theory and Practice for Teaching Art (1908). Dow, who died in 1922, exerted a strong influence on American art in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, especially in the development of the Arts and Crafts Movement. His work has been exhibited in the United States and Europe, and has been shown in retrospectives.

Source: Benezit Dictionary of Artists (Paris: Grund, 2006), s.v. “Dow, Arthur Wesley.”


0.075 Linear Feet (0.5 box)

Language of Materials



Arthur Wesley Dow (1857-1922) was an artist and educator who was influenced by Japanese art and who in turn exerted a strong influence on American art in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, especially in the development of the Arts and Crafts Movement. He taught at Pratt Institute from 1895 until 1903. The collection consists of several articles about or relevant to him, and a small amount of business correspondence by and about him.


The records are arranged in three series. The arrangement of the records is as follows:

Series 1: Biographical and Historical Information, 1994-1999

Series 2: Outgoing Correspondence, 1895-1904

Series 3: Incoming Correspondence, 1895-1904

Related Materials

Ernest F. Fenollosa Papers (Collection No. 014)

Pratt Institute Monthly, 4-8

Records of the School of Art and Design (PI-010)

Harmful Language Statement

If you encounter any pejorative language (i.e. racist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic) or content in the finding aids or within the content of the collection, please send an email to with the relevant details. For more information about how the Pratt Institute Libraries are addressing offensive language and content across its catalogs and databases, please see the Libraries' Harmful Language Statement:

Guide to the Arthur Wesley Dow Papers
Paul Schlotthauer
January 2007
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Repository Details

Part of the Pratt Institute Archives Repository

200 Willoughby Avenue
Brooklyn NY 11205 United States