MCNY Blog: New York Stories

Iconic photos of a changing city, and commentary on our Collections & Exhibitions from the crew at MCNY.org

The Sporting Life: A look at Harry T. Peters as huntsman

Unknown photographer. [Harry T. Peters, ca 1940.] Museum of the City of New York, Harry T. Peters Papers

Harry Twyford Peters was born in Greenwich, Connecticut in 1881, and entered the coal business after graduating from Columbia College in 1903. He worked at Williams and Peters, his father’s firm, later becoming a partner and its president. Peters inherited $500,000 dollars upon the death of his father in 1921–the equivalent of over $6 million dollars by today’s standard–making him a very wealthy man. This fortune allowed Peters the leisure time to pursue personal and scholarly interests, in addition to his professional activities.

Peters was an avid collector of American prints and a leading authority on Currier & Ives, a prolific American printmaking firm that was founded by Nathaniel Currier in 1934 in New York City, with James Merrit Ives joining as a partner in 1857. Peters is credited with recognizing the historic and artistic value of American lithographs during an era when they had fallen out of favor, and generating a new wave of interest by collectors and the public.

Print Issued by Currier & Ives. The Water Jump at Jerome Park, ca.1877. Museum of the City of New York, 57.100.83.

Print Issued by Currier & Ives. The Water Jump at Jerome Park, ca.1877. Museum of the City of New York, 57.100.83.

Peters is the author of Currier & Ives: Printmakers to the American People (Doubleday, 1929), a “Chronicle of the Firm, and of the Artists and their Work, with Notes on Collecting,” with reproductions of select works. The two volume set is the accepted catalog raisonné of the firm’s work.

Peters’s estate donated nearly 2,300 Currier & Ives prints to the Museum in the early 1950s.  The Museum also holds a manuscript collection related to Peters’s life, work, and interests, which is believed to have been donated by his heirs around the same time.  The Museum recently completed archival processing of the Peters papers thanks to the generous support of the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.

As Processing Archivist Annie Tummino worked her way through the Peters papers, we discovered that in addition to his interest in American lithography, Peters was an avid sportsman, with a passion for hunting, horses, and dogs.

Freudy Photos, Inc. [Unidentified Hunt, ca. 1930s]. Museum of the City of New York, Harry T. Peters papers.

Freudy Photos, Inc. [Unidentified Hunt, ca. 1930s]. Museum of the City of New York, Harry T. Peters papers.


In 1925 he became Co-Master of Foxhounds of the Meadow Brooke Hunt in Long Island, New York, a position he held into the 1940s.  Though the “e” was dropped off the end of “Brooke” at some point, Meadow Brook Club still occupies a portion of the land on the former Foxhall Parker Keene estate near Jericho, Long Island. The Long Island Expressway now cuts across the southern end of the property, and cars stream by, rather than foxes with dogs and mounted huntsmen in hot pursuit as they did in Peters’s day.  Peters was also a member of the Westminster Kennel Club and often served as an exhibitor and judge at dog shows.

Hunt map, Meadow Brooke Hounds, 1933. Museum of the City of New York, Harry T. Peters papers.

Hunt map, Meadow Brooke Hounds, 1933. Museum of the City of New York, Harry T. Peters papers.

In processing the Peters papers, we found it was often difficult to draw a line between Peters’s work as a scholar and collector of lithography, and his personal interests and hobbies.  Two such examples include a lecture titled “Sport in Art through the Ages,” and his text Just Hunting.

Unknown photographer. ["Sport in Art" at the Metropolitan Museum, 1937]. Museum of the City of New York, Harry T. Peters papers.

Unknown photographer. [“Sport in Art” at the Metropolitan Museum, 1937]. Museum of the City of New York, Harry T. Peters papers.


The Metropolitan Museum of Art sponsored the exhibition of sporting art in March 1937, with paintings and prints dating from the Middle Ages. Building on this event, Peters developed “Sport In Art Through the Ages,” an illustrated lecture which he delivered at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and later at the Grolier Club, an organization devoted to the “study, collecting, and appreciation of books and works on paper, their art, history, production, and commerce.” Shortly thereafter, Peters began a full length work on the same topic that was never published.

Potential titles for "Just Hunting," ca. 1935, in the Harry T. Peters papers. Museum of the City of New York.

Potential titles for “Just Hunting,” ca. 1935, in the Harry T. Peters papers. Museum of the City of New York.

Peters did finish a book titled Just Hunting, which was published in 1935 by Scribner’s (New York), and provides personal and historical perspectives on the subject. The book was illustrated by amateur artist and Long Island resident Betty Babcock.  Ernest R. Gee later published Babcock’s Illustrated Hunting Diary, Recording the Sport of the Season for the Followers of the Meadow Brook Hounds (circa 1945).

Illustration layout for "Just Hunting," 1935, in the Harry T. Peters papers. Museum of the City of New York.

Illustration layout for “Just Hunting,” 1935, in the Harry T. Peters papers. Museum of the City of New York.

Peters described Just Hunting as “the random findings of an American business man who would that he could have been born a sportsman.”  Luckily for Peters, he seems to have had adequate time away from his business to pursue the sporting life he so desired.

 

About Lindsay Turley

As the Museum's Director of Collections, I oversee projects involving the stewardship and access of the Museum's collections objects.

One comment on “The Sporting Life: A look at Harry T. Peters as huntsman

  1. Lynn Turley
    October 13, 2015

    Excellent article!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Museum of the City of New York

%d bloggers like this: