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Guide to the Gladys Brannigan Papers, 1882-1944

Collection number: MC 61

Size: 2 boxes (0.66 cu.ft.)

About Gladys Brannigan

Gladys Ames Brannigan was born June 14, 1882 in Hingham, MA. When she was seven years old, her family moved to New Hampshire. By 1900 Brannigan was living in Washington D.C., where she attended Georgetown University, earning her B.A. in 1903 and M.A. in 1904, and later studied at the Corcoran College of Art and Design. In 1910 she exhibited at the WCC, and in 1911 with the Society of Washington Artists, of which she was a member. She also worked as an artist on the staff of the Washington Evening Star. By 1921 Gladys had married Robert A. Brannigan, a patent lawyer, and was residing in New York City, where she studied at the Art Students’ League and the National Academy of Design with H.B. Snell.

In 1929 Gladys Brannigan moved to Portsmouth, NH, where she resided until 1941, at 32 Livermore Street. She also resided for a time at 4 Church St. in Dover, NH. During the 1930s she continued to keep a residence in New York City, traveling back and forth between Portsmouth and the city. Her driver’s licenses from this time show her holding both New Hampshire and New York State licenses for the years 1932-1934. She was also known to be the Head of the Art Department at Hollins College in Roanoke, VA at some point during this time, although the exact dates are unknown.

In 1930 Brannigan had two exhibitions, one, from March 4th to 17th in New York City at the Macbeth Gallery located on 15 East 57th St., and the other, from April 9th to the 22nd, in Boston at Doll and Richards, located at 71 Newbury Street. Both exhibits featured her watercolors, which appears to have been her preferred medium.

Gladys Brannigan is best known for her mural work produced during the 1930s as part of the W.P.A. She was among three New Hampshire artists commissioned to paint a series of murals for the University of New Hampshire Library (then located in Hamilton-Smith Hall). The murals were painted under the direction of Omer T. Lassonde, State Supervisor of the New Hampshire WPA Art Project. Brannigan painted the murals for the Newspaper Room (Room 103). The remaining mural is in Room 141.

Others of her murals in NH were in Parker Hall, Keene, the Municipal Building in Dover, and a series mural of “Landmarks of Portsmouth” in the historic Livermore House. Portsmouth Public Library owns sketches for the murals that once adorned the Portsmouth Junior High School (now the Middle School).

Outside of NH her paintings are at George Washington University in Washington D.C.; Wesleyan College in Macon Georgia; the American Museum of Natural History in NYC, and Women’s University College in NYC. She also painted the reredos for St. John’s Church in Massena, NY, and has a lithograph in the collection of the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.

Gladys Ames Brannigan died in New York City on April 27, 1944.

About the Gladys Brannigan papers

The Gladys Brannigan papers consist of a few research notebooks and sketchbooks for the artist’s New Hampshire murals, a small amount of correspondence from and to Brannigan and her husband, some of her poetry, and photographs of the artist and of her work, and miscellaneous other items, such as her driver’s licenses from the early thirties. The bulk of the collection is from the 1930s. Unfinished art work, most of it thought to be the work of Gladys Brannigan, though some is clearly by an artist named M.A. Harris, was added in 2009. This can be found in Box 2.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

This collection is open.

Copyright Notice

Contents of this collection are governed by U.S. copyright law. For questions about publication or reproduction rights, contact Special Collections staff.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Gladys Brannigan Papers, 1924-1939, MC 61, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, NH, USA.

Acquisitions Information

Donation, Nancy Beck, Portsmouth NH, 2005 (Accession number: 2005.13)

Collection Contents

Series I: Papers

Box 1
Box 1, Folder 1 Correspondence from and to Gladys Brannigan and Robert Brannigan, 1924-1939
Box 1, Folder 2 Sketch books: Peabody research and sketches, undated
Box 1, Folder 3 Sketch books: research and sketches for mural for the Dover Municipal Building, N.H., undated
Box 1, Folder 4 Sketch books: mainly human figures, undated
Box 1, Folder 5 Sketch books: research and sketches for mural for Parker, Keene, N.H., 1937
Box 1, Folder 6 Notebooks: background research for “Landmarks at Portsmouth” (?), undated
Box 1, Folder 7 Notebooks: Irish language notes, undated
Box 1, Folder 8 Notes: background notes on Ireland and the Irish, undated
Box 1, Folder 9 Poetry, undated
Box 1, Folder 10 Exhibition announcements, 1930
Box 1, Folder 11 Various licences, registrations, receipts, etc., undated
Box 1, Folder 12 Publications: Purple and Gold, Vol. 4, No. 7, November 1936. Contains a description of the murals at Portsmouth Junior High School, pp.9-10
Box 1, Folder 13 Publications: The Living Church, January 21, 1936. Contains obituary of Rev. William Walter Webb, p. 355. Webb’s relation to Gladys Brannigan is not known, although there are also three photographs of him in the collection (see f.18.
Box 1, Folder 14 Publications: The American Magazine of Art, October 1936
Box 1, Folder 15 Miscellaneous items: papers and wallet, undated
Box 1, Folder 16
Envelope 1-4 Photograph: “Landmarks of Portsmouth”: four sketches for the residence of Rear Admiral Dismukes, USN. Photographer: Willet Art Studios, 115 W. 57th St. NYC. Sepia 7 x 9″, undated
Envelope 5 Photograph: “On White Bluff Road (near Savanah [sic].” Photographer: Peter A. Juley and Son, 219 E. 39th St. NYC, undated
Envelope 6 Photograph: “Pagan Gods.” Part of John Singer Sargent’s “Triumph of Religion” murals located at the Boston Public Library, Copley Square, Boston MA. Photographer unknown Sepia 7 x 9″, undated
Envelope 7 Photograph: “The Witches Hollow, Connemara.” By Marion MacIntosh, Worcester Art Museum, Worcester MA. Photographer unknown. Sepia 8×10″, undated
Box 1, Folder 17
Envelope 1 Photograph: Full length portrait. Photographer: Harris V. Ewing, Washington, D.C. Some discoloration. Matted. Sepia 7.5 x 9.5″, undated
Envelope 2 Photograph: As above, but posed sitting on chaise lounge. Matted, undated
Box 1, Folder 18
Envelope 1 Photograph: Portrait of Gladys. Side view of upper body, face turned towards camera. Photographer unknown. Inscription on back of photograph reads “Gladys Brannigan, Pen + Brush Club.” Sepia 2 x 3″, undated
Envelope 2 Photograph: Gladys Brannigan as an older woman. Photographer unknown. Inscription on back of photograph tells birthday,height, weight, hair color, and eye color. Black and white 2×2″, undated
Envelope 3 Photograph: Kenya: two children, boy and girl standing side by side. Photographer unknown. Black and white 2×2″, November 1936
Envelope 4 Photograph: Kenya: same two children sitting on stoop inside house. Photographer unknown. Black and white 2×2″, November 1936
Envelope 5 Photograph: Kenya: Truck stuck in mud. Inscription on back reads: “N.F.D. Near Ijara, our car stuck in mud.” Photographer unknown. Black and white 2×2″, undated
Envelope 6 Photograph: Kenya: Ruins in forest. Inscription on back reads: “Old Persian ruins found in clearing coast forest.” Photographer unknown. Black and white 2×2″, undated
Envelope 7 Photograph: Kenya: Fort near water. Inscription on back reads: “Fort on Manda Island at entrance to Lamm Harbour.” Photographer unknown. Black and white 2×2″, undated
Envelope 8 Photograph: Kenya: House in front of beach. Inscription on back reads: “Sands in front of house at low tide. Lamm Island” Photographer unknown. Black and white 2×2″, undated
Envelope 9 Photograph: Kenya: House in front of beach. Inscription on back reads: “Sands in front of house at low tide. Lamm Island” Photographer unknown. Black and white 2×2″, undated
Envelope 10 Photograph: Kenya: Street scene with men. Inscription on back reads: “Lamm: Street scene.” Photographer unknown. Black and white 2×2″, undated
Envelope 11 Photograph: Kenya: River. Inscription on back reads: “Tara River.” Photographer unknown. Black and white 2×2″, undated
Envelope 12 Photograph: Kenya: Mount Kilimanjaro in distance. Inscription on back reads: “Mt. Kilimanjaro from Arusha (nearby).” Photographer unknown. Black and white 2×3″, undated
Envelope 13 Photograph: Kenya: Mount Kilimanjaro. Inscription on back reads: “View of Mt. Kilimanjaro from near Arusha.” Photographer unknown. Black and white 2×3″, undated
Envelope 14 Photograph: Oval portrait of Rev. Willam Walter Webb. Photographer Klein A. Guttenstein, Milwaukee, WI. Matted. Sepia 3×4″, undated
Envelope 15 Photograph: Portrait of Rev. Willam Walter Webb. Photographer: Morrison, Haymerket Theatre Bldg., 161 West Madison St., Chicago IL. Matted. Sepia 4×5″, undated
Envelope 16 Photograph: Portrait of Rev. Willam Walter Webb. Photographer Klein A. Guttenstein, Milwaukee, WI. Matted. Sepia 4×6″, undated

Series II: Art Work

Box 2
Box 2, Item 1 Eight oil paintings on canvas, unframed, and two watercolors, unframed, thought to be the work of Gladys Brannigan, undated
Box 2, Item 2 Two watercolors on board, five pencil sketches, and one ink drawing by Gladys Brannigan, undated
Box 2, Item 2 Twenty-nine studies, some watercolors, some pencil drawings, various sizes, thought to be the work of Gladys Brannigan, undated
Box 2, Item 4 Eight pencil sketches by M.A. Harris, 1880-1890
Box 2, Item 5 Fourteen oil paintings on canvas, artist unknown, undated

8 Responses to “Guide to the Gladys Brannigan Papers, 1882-1944”

  1. Joseph Anthony Says:

    I have some kind of print, linoleum or woodcut, 16/20 of “Manoir Lafayette” signed Brannigan. Could it be Gladys?

  2. wer Says:

    Most of what we have are sketchbooks, which are all unsigned. We do have one photograph of a watercolor that is signed in the left hand corner: “G Brannigan”. The signature is in a somewhat elongated cursive.

  3. bill murray Says:

    I have a very small ink and watercolor sketch of a tropical scene which includes cabin, palm trees, boat, island woman and child, ocean in background. It is signed “From my sketchbook – Gladys Brannigan. It is quite charming. Quite small, 2 3/4″ X 4 3/4″. Have never run across another piece of her work.

  4. Jonathan Land Evans Says:

    I recently came across a Bermuda oil painting by her. It looks to date from the early 1900s, and is quite pleasant though by no means a masterpiece. Jonathan Land Evans jonathanevans36@hotmail.com

  5. Jonathan Land Evans Says:

    Further to my note on her Bermuda painting, I have found from old US immigration records that she returned to New York from Bermuda in 1924. I expect the painting dates from then, although stylistically it has a somewhat older feel. Jonathan Land Evans jonathanevans36@hotmail.com

  6. Shona Brannigan Says:

    Could this be a relative of mine…

  7. Nancy Cohen Says:

    I am fortunate to have several of Gladys Brannigan’s works by way of my grandparents, her contemporaries, who resided in Nasha, NH until the early 1970s. The two watercolors are scenes by a stream and, perhaps, a marsh. Another two are oils – one a gypsy encampment, the other cats on a braided rug circling the skirts of seated woman.

    This is the fist time I have successfully located information about her! It’s a pleasure to know that I can view her works elsewhere.

  8. Cherie Droege Says:

    I have an oil painting by Ms Brannigan–it is a still life of irises. It was painted in 1938 and was in the “traveling exhibit from the Dayton Art Institute” of Dayton, Ohio. It is quite large and quite beautiful for it’s age. I would love to know more about this painting. It is titled “In The Window.”