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Guide to the Kitson Papers
1887-1934
(Bulk 1902-1909, 1920-1931)
  MS 354

New-York Historical Society
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New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


@ 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Processed by Larry Weimer

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on October 26, 2011
Description is in English.

Biographical Note

[1863] Born in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England
1877 Arrived in New York City
1882 -- 1884; 1888 - 1889 Studied and exhibited in Europe
1893 Married Theo Alice Ruggles, a sculptor and former student of his
1900 Completed Minuteman Captain John Parker statue at Lexington, MA
1902 Knighted by the Queen of Rumania
[1905] Completed Roger Conant statue at Salem, MA
1906 Completed Company H, 124th Regiment, NY Volunteer Infantry monument at Walden, NY
[1906] Completed Iowa Memorial at Vicksburg, MS
[1909] In collaboration with Theo, completed Lieut. Gen. Stephen D. Lee memorials at Vicksburg and Columbus, MS
1921 Completed Henry B. Endicott tablet at Boston, MA
[1922] Completed Pilgrim Maiden statue at Plymouth, MA
1931 Completed Sir Richard Saltonstall monument at Watertown, MA
Oct. 29, 1932 Death of Theo Kitson, Boston, MA
June 26, 1947 Death of Henry Kitson, Tyringham, MA

Henry Hudson Kitson (c. 1863 -- 1947) studied and excelled at stone-carving as a youth in Huddersfield, England. At the age of 13, he emigrated to New York City where he worked as a stone-carver in the shop of his older brother, Samuel James Kitson (1848 -- 1906). During the 1880s, Kitson moved to Paris to study his craft, exhibited his work in Europe and in the United States, was honored with awards, and received various prestigious commissions, including one for a bust of Queen Elizabeth of Rumania.

Kitson taught carving to a number of students, among them Theo Alice Ruggles (1871 -- 1932), from Brookline, Massachusetts, who would become his wife in 1893. Ruggles's early career as a sculptor also included further studies, sculpture exhibitions, and awards in Europe.

From the 1890s until their deaths, the Kitsons lived primarily in and around Boston, though they also spent time in New York City. Much of their work is found in New England and the Mid-Atlantic states, but also as far west as Iowa and as far south as Mississippi. They each developed their own reputations as sculptors and pursued their craft as individuals, but they also collaborated on works as well. They have been characterized as "among the most prolific of turn-of-the-century sculptors of public commissions, particularly monuments to public figures and to Civil War heroes." The works cited in the above chronology reflect this and are representative of Henry Kitson's projects: The Parker, Pilgrim Maiden, Conant, and Saltonstall works depict real or figurative individuals from New England's colonial and Revolutionary past; the H Company, Iowa and Lee memorials concern Civil War combatants; and Henry B. Endicott was a state and federal official in Boston during the World War I years. Wendell Endicott, the son of Henry B. Endicott, recommended Kitson for further public commission in Boston in his letter of July 15, 1921: "[E]verything that he has done brings out one particular point and that is, strength, manhood and life. All his work seems to be virile. Another point was the very plain way he approached the subject, and his evident desire to accomplish results that would be satisfactory all around. There was no pose with the man; he talked simply of his work, but talked in thorough confidence of what he could do."

Henry and Theo Kitson had two daughters and one son. After Theo's death, Henry married Maria Louisa Hobron, who died one month before he did.