Manuscript Collection MS COLL 00750 - The Ronald Peters Gift of the Lester Douglas Personal Archives of Earl Horter, Hans Foy, David Karfunkle and Barbara Shermund

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The Ronald Peters Gift of the Lester Douglas Personal Archives of Earl Horter, Hans Foy, David Karfunkle and Barbara Shermund


  • 1916-1958 (Creation)

Level of description

Manuscript Collection

Extent and medium

6 boxes (2 meters)

Context area

Name of creator

Biographical history

Name of creator


Biographical history

Born 27 July 1893 in New York City to Charles and Jennie Douglas. He grew up in the Bronx, the oldest son in a family of three boys. Early on he held an interest in design and printing and by the age of 23 in 1917 was self-employed as a designer. He took position as an assistant art editor for American Magazine and was a partner in a New York advertising agency before accepting the position of Director of Art and Printing for the Chamber of Commerce of the United States. In this role, he was responsible for the design of all the organization’s publications, including most prominently Nation’s Business.
Douglas also worked as a free-lance typographer and book designer. This included designing two books for the Limited Edition Club: The Travels of Marco Polo (1934) and An Almanac for Moderns (1938). Douglas also designed an edition of the four Gospels – St. Luke (1930, illustrated by Hans Foy), St. John (1931, illustrated by Daniel Lewis), St. Mark (1932, illustrated by Earl Winslow) and St. Matthew (1934, illustrated by Lyle Justis) – published by Judd & Detweiler. He later published an illustrated edition of Ecclesiastes (1958, illustrated by Hans Foy) – published by the American Institute of Graphic Arts. Douglas designed numerous other books, including books of poems or prose, which were gifted to his friends at Christmas. Douglas founded his own private press, LD’s Press of the Bald Eagle in Westmoreland Hills, Maryland in 1960, one year before his death.

Name of creator


Biographical history

Born 8 December 1880 in Ardmore, Pennsylvania and raised in Philadelphia. He was a self-trained artist, printmaker and commercial illustrator. Skilled as a draughtsman, his first work was as a landscape artist, at the age of 19 in 1900, before moving to New York in 1903, where he was employed by the Calkins and Holden advertising agency. Once in New York, he studied engraving and became a member of the Society of Illustrators in 1910. In 1911, he was commissioned, along with other artists, by the New York Edison company to illustrate scenes of New York for the book Glimpses of New York: An Illustrated Handbook of the City. In 1914, he joined the New York Society of Etchers and exhibited for the first time with them. In 1915, he exhibited at the Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco and was awarded the Silver Medal and held his first one-man exhibition at the Keppel and Company Gallery in New York City in 1916. In 1917, Horter returned to Philadelphia to work as an illustrator for the advertising firm N.W Ayer, where he was employed as the art director until 1923. He traveled across the United States and to Europe in 1923, visiting France, Italy, England, Germany, Austria, Spain and Algeria for the Joseph Dixon Crucible Company, using their Eldorado pencil.
Horter developed an interest in art collecting in 1913, when he purchased lithographs by Edouard Vuillard at the New York Armory show. Throughout the 1920s, Horter acquired artworks by modern artists, notably including over thirty works by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) and Georges Braque (1882-1963), as well as paintings by Juan Gris (1887-1927), Henri Matisse (1869-1954) and Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), as well as prints by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901), Maurice Denis (1870-1943) and Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945).
He was prolific during the 1920’s and took on a number of jobs as a freelance artist, including a commission by Lester Douglas, then art director for the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, to create a series of industrial drawings for the magazine Nation’s Business. Horter struggled financially during the Great Depression as commercial work became less available and took up teaching at the Philadelphia Museum School of Art and at the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. His change in finances required him to sell the majority of his art collection. Earl Horter died of a heart attack on March 29, 1940 at the age of 59.
The Whitney Museum gave a retrospective of his work in 1978 and the Philadelphia Museum of Art curated an exhibition of Horter’s works alongside works he had collected, entitled Mad for Modernism: Earl Horter and His Collection in 1999. His artwork is held by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Archival material, including correspondence, of Horter is held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Name of creator


Biographical history

Hans Foy was born in Brooklyn on 10 May 1892 to German immigrant parents. He was apprenticed to a lithographer in 1910 at the age of 17 and was later employed by Stahl & Jager Company as a commercial artist. He was an early member of the American Artists Congress, having joined in 1936. He was a well-known artist in the 1930s, including illustrating The Gospel of St. Luke (1930) for Lester Douglas, and submitting numerous illustrations for Nation’s Business. He also exhibited prominently at the time, including a group exhibition at the Brownell Lambertson Gallery in New York City in 1931, and two solo exhibitions in New York City in 1933 and 1934, as well as exhibiting work at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum and the Guild Art Gallery between 1926 and 1937.
Foy purchased a shop in Queens, New York selling antiquities and Asian artefacts in the late 1930s and stopped producing art for commercial purposes, although he continued to paint and draw. His wife, Ottilie Foy also worked as a commercial artist and illustrator.

Name of creator


Biographical history

Born in Vienna, Austria on 10 June 1880 to Julius and Victoria Karfunkle. Karfunkle came from an artistic family, in which both his father and brother were also painters and his sister was a fashion illustrator. The family immigrated to New York in the early 1890s. Karfunkle returned to Europe and studied with Ludwig von Herterich and Antoine Bourdelle in Germany, before returning to New York and studying at the National Academy of Design, with William Glackens. In 1911, he showed at Salmagundi Club. In 1916, he held a solo exhibition at the galleries of the Berlin Photographic Company in New York, where critics stated his work had a “plastic quality” but was beautiful and had “fair color.” In 1931, he painted murals based on the poems of Omar Khayyam for the dining room of the St. Moritz. Through his participation in the Federal Art Project, which aimed to provide artists with employment during the Great Depression, he was given the commission to paint a mural on the Harlem Courthouse. The result, the Exploitation of Labor and Hoarding of Wealth, painted in 1936, is his most well-known work.

Name of creator


Biographical history

Shermund was born in San Francisco on 26 June 1899, to parents Henry and Frederica Shermund. Her father was an architect and draughtsman. Shermund studied at the California School of Fine Arts before moving to New York City at the age of 26. She worked as a cartoonist and a story illustrator and began working at the newly-found The New Yorker, where she would eventually contribute 597 drawings, including eight cover illustrations. Unlike many cartoonists, Shermund regularly wrote her own captions. She went on to work for Esquire and LIFE beginning in the 1940s. In 1949, Shermund was one of the first three women to be accepted into the National Cartoonists Society.
Shermund regularly exhibited her work in New York galleries, in the company of contemporaries such as James Thurber. A 1931 review referred to her a “modern Daumier.” Shermund died in September 1978.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Gift of Ronald Peters, 2015

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Contains the personal archives of Lester Douglas of four artists: Earl Horter, Hans Foy, David Karfunkle and Barbara Shermund. Douglas was acquainted with these artists through his role as the Director of Art and Printing for the Chamber of Commerce of the United States and through his work as a typographer and book designer. These collections include original artworks from all four artists, including drawings, paintings, etchings and engravings, some of them inscribed with dedications to Douglas. Apart from Horter, the artworks are contained in portfolios created by Douglas. Also included is correspondence from Horter and Foy to Douglas, as well as some ephemera, such as newspaper clippings and exhibition pamphlets for Horter, Foy and Karfunkle.

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No restrictions on access

Material may be requested in person at the Fisher Library Reference Desk, or in advance using our online stack retrieval request form:

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  • English

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