Original Samuel J. Woolf drawings are getting much harder to find, since so many museums and major collections have been purchasing them. This particular drawing's subject is Mary Harriman Rumsey (November 17, 1881 – December 18, 1934). She was the founder of The Junior League for the Promotion of Settlement Movements, later known as the Junior League of the City of New York of the Association of Junior Leagues International Inc. Mary was the daughter of railroad magnate E.H. Harriman and sister to W. Averell Harriman, former New York State Governor and United States Diplomat. In 2015 she was posthumously inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.
Inspired by a lecture on the settlement movement, Mary, along with several friends, began volunteering at the College Settlement on Rivington Street in New York City's Lower East Side, a large immigrant enclave. Through her work at the College Settlement, Mary became convinced that there was more she could do to help others. Subsequently, Mary and a group of 80 debutantes established the Junior League for the Promotion of Settlement Movements in 1901, while she was still a student at Barnard College. The purpose of the Junior League would be to unite interested debutantes in joining the Settlement Movement in New York City.
Realizing their lack of experience in dealing with the issues that faced people seeking help at the settlement house, Mary and League leaders brought together experts on the Settlement Movement to provide lectures and instruction to Junior League members. With better preparation came greater engagement leading to increased interest in membership by women notable in New York society; members would come to include Eleanor Roosevelt, Dorothy Whitney Straight and Ruth Draper.
As word of the work of the young Junior League women in New York spread, women throughout the country and beyond formed Junior Leagues in their communities. In time, Leagues would expand their efforts beyond settlement house work to respond to the social, health and educational issues of their respective communities. In 1921, approximately 30 Leagues banded together to form the Association of Junior Leagues of America to provide support to one another. With the creation of the Association, it was Mary that insisted that although it was important for all Leagues to learn from one another and share best practices, each League was ultimately beholden to its respective community and should thus function to serve that community’s needs.
As the 20th century progressed, more Junior Leagues were formed throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom. Now known as the Association of Junior Leagues International Inc. (AJLI), the organization encompasses 292 member Leagues, with over 160,000 members committed to continuing the legacy established by its founder.
In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Mary to chair the Consumer Advisory Board (CAB) of the National Recovery Administration (NRA), the first government consumer rights group.
Despite her inexperience, Mary's work with farming cooperatives and belief in the power of cooperation would come to be her greatest assets. Mary would promote the formation of consumer groups across the nation and encourage these groups to report their grievances to her office.
Mary Rumsey's legacy to New Deal reforms would be continued by her younger brother, W. Averell Harriman. Averell was encouraged by his older sister to leave his finance job and join her and their friends, the Roosevelts, to advance the goals of the New Deal. Averell joined the NRA, marking the beginning of his political career.
Country of Origin: United States.
Medium: Charcoal With White Heightener.
Size: Mat 27 inches by 20 inches.
Signed: Lower Left: "S. J. Woolf" - Signed Center, beneath the drawing, "Mary H. Rumsey."
Condition: Some fraying of the margins. Some Age yellowing. Good to Very Good overall Vintage Conditon.
Artist biography: Painter, lithographer, illustrator Samuel Johnson Woolf, 1880-1948, was born in New York City. He studied with Kenyon Cox and George de Forest Brush at the Art Students League and National Academy of Design, both in New York City. Woolf was a frontline artist-correspondent for Time Magazine in Europe with the American Army during World War One, painting portraits of General John C. Pershing, commanding general of the U.S. forces, and General Joffre, of the French. Woolf was employed at the New York Times before going to Time. From 1924-1935, Woolf produced two hundred charcoal portraits for Time, including those of Charles Lindbergh, Walter P. Chrysler, John L. Lewis (United Mine Workers President), and Pope Pius XI. Woolf executed a pencil portrait of President Calvin Coolidge, in 1923, and a lithographic portrait of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during World War Two. In 1906, Woolf painted a portrait of Mark Twain, then seventy years old. Upon completion, the portrait was exhibited at the Society of American Artists, but Twain didn't like it. The painting is now in the collection of the Mark Twain House, Hartford, Connecticut. It was essentially forgotten until Mrs. Stiles Burpee conducted a search for it, based on finding a color lithograph of the portrait in her attic. Well-known art collector Thomas B. Clarke had purchased it for the collection of the Brook Club. Woolf exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Academy of Design, and New York Public Library, all in New York City; the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia; and the Corcoran Gallery, Washington, DC. Woolf's awards include the St. Louis Exposition, 1904; Hallgarten Prize, National Academy of Design, 1904; Appalachian Exposition, 1910; and the Paris Salon Medal, France, 1937
Literature: Woolf, S.J. DRAWN FROM LIFE. New York & London: Whittlesey House, 1932. p.305.
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