Louise “Fibbie” Schoonover Smith and her brother John R. Schoonover are the grandchildren of Frank E. Schoonover, popular Wilmington illustrator and Howard Pyle student. Longtime Members of the Museum, they collaborated with us in 2008 on the very popular Schoonover exhibition. In 2009, they gave the Frank E. Schoonover Catalogue Raisonné Collection to the Museum’s Helen Farr Sloan Library & Archives. This gift augmented the Library’s sizable Schoonover holdings, making it the main repository for the artist’s archival materials. Louise and John are pictured above with Executive Director Danielle Rice and Librarian Rachael DiEleuterio.
Why did you select the Delaware Art Museum for this collection?
Fibbie: We did so much of our research for the Frank E. Schoonover Catalogue Raisonné at the Museum’s library. [A catalogue raisonné is a complete listing of an artist’s work.] Our grandfather’s daybooks are part of the Library’s collection. He would come to the Museum every week, so when I visited him on Sundays, he would almost always take me here. Our stepmother also donated archival materials in 1977.
John: Frank Schoonover was part of the Museum from the very beginning—he was one of the original founders in 1912, following Howard Pyle’s death. So it makes sense to see his archives here. And he had several great exhibitions here, including a major retrospective in 1962.
What’s in the collection?
Fibbie: There are research files from when we were writing the catalogue raisonné, original archival materials, tear sheets, periodicals, exhibition and sales catalogs, and administrative files—invaluable resources for anyone studying Frank Schoonover or American illustration.
John: I’m also donating a separate gift of almost 400 periodicals—the original publications of many of Frank Schoonover’s illustrations that give a broad overview of his contributions to American illustration.
Do you have any suggestions for other researchers interested in Frank E. Schoonover?
Fibbie: The Frank E. Schoonover Fund, Inc., is going to launch an online version of the catalogue raisonné in May. This way, we’ll always be able to add new information. John: And visitors can also come to my grandfather’s studio in Wilmington, where he originally painted. There they’ll find a lot of his ephemera.