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Dorothy Brett Pictorial Collection

Identifier: PICT-000-494

Scope and Content

The collection consists of photos of Dorothy Brett, her family and friends taken in Europe and New Mexico, principally in the Taos area. Included are photos of well-known personalities of the New Mexican art community, such as Georgia O'Keefe, Mabel Dodge Lujan, Millicent Rogers, D. H. Lawrence, Frank Waters, and others. The collection contains many reproductions of Brett's paintings of Indian ceremonials. Boxes 3 - 6 include two additions to the collection (contained in folders 18 - 53). Boxes 8-14 (contained in folders 1-55) include the third addition to the collection which contains photographs, slides, transparencies, photograph albums and postcards. The majority of the addition is related to D. E. Brett, John Manchester and other friends or associates of the two in Taos, NM. The majority of the photographs of Brett documents Brett's life after she moved to Taos, and as an older woman. This section contains a number of series of photographs of Brett by various photographers including David Donoho and Carl Van Vechten. The collection also has a large number of photographs and slides of Brett's paintings, some with negatives, and postcards and photographs used as models for Brett's paintings. The second section of the addition is related to John Manchester, Brett's business partner in the Manchester Gallery, and her close companion as she grew older. In 1977, Manchester left Brett and Taos to move to Las Vegas. The addition includes photos of both Manchester's time in Taos with Brett and his time in Vegas, including photos of close friends, among them Frank Waters. This section also contains photos of Manchester's designs from his gallery, Manchester-Pierce Gallery, in the early 1950s; and a number of trips he took in the 1940s and 1960s. The collection also contains two photograph albums, one of a trip John Manchester took in the Southwest and the other of Manchester-Pierce designs. The last section of the addition is related to friends and associates of Brett and Manchester, among them famous New Mexican personalities like Frieda and D.H. Lawrence, Tony and Mabel Dodge Luhan, Frank Waters, Albert Espinosa, and R. C. Gorman. Also includes photographs by Laura Gilpin and Mildred Tolbert.

The forth addition includes material from various and undocumented sources. It includes photographic prints, photo-mechanical reproductions, 35mm and "superslide" slides, 2-1/4 transparencies and negatives, glass plate negatives and nitrate negatives. The glass plates and nitrate negatives have been scanned for researcher use. Items in this addition may duplicate items in other areas of the collection, with subjects including portraits of Brett alone and with others, reproductions of her paintings in color and black and white, and reproductions of other artists' work, including a significant collection of photographs of R.C. Gorman and his art.


  • 1880-1970


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research. Access to glass plates and nitrate negatives is restricted, with research access granted to digital copies.

Copy Restrictions

Duplication of print and photographic material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for copyright compliance. For more information see the Photographs and Images Research Guide and contact the Pictorial Archivist.


Dorothy Eugenie Brett was born 1883 in London, England to Reginald and Eleanor Brett, Viscount and Viscountess of Esher. Serious studies at the Slade School of Art in London during the first decade of the twentieth century acquainted her with famous members of the Bloomsbury circle such as Dora Carrington, Katherine Mansfield, John Middleton Murry, Aldous Huxley and David Herbert Lawrence.

Despite plans by some members of the Bloomsbury group to settle together in Taos, NM, only Brett eventually joined D. H. and Frieda Lawrence in Taos, New Mexico, and in Oaxaca, Mexico as well. Although well known as a member of the triumvirate (with Frieda and Mabel Dodge Luhan) surrounding D. H. Lawrence and "of late [as] an historical character in the cast of a literary drama assiduously pursued, quoted, misquoted, and paraphrased in a thousand volumes" (Frank Waters, "A Tribute To Brett"), Brett is equally famous as a painter of international reputation. After moving to Taos and being stimulated by its natural beauties and wealth of subjects, she quickly became interested in painting the Taos Indians and their native dances.

Brett's work was influential in the building of Taos as an art colony. In his book Masked Gods, Frank Waters claims that there is something ineffable and compelling about Brett's Indian paintings. She is the only painter I have known who has blindly, intuitively caught the valid mystical component of Pueblo character. She paints their native religious rites, ceremonies, and dances in universal terms that are unmistakable (p. 275).

Together with others interested in the arts, most prominently Mabel Dodge Luhan, she was instrumental in attracting to Taos talented people who gave (and still give) Taos its nationwide reputation as an artists' colony. Dorothy Eugenie Brett died 24 August, 1977, almost 94 years of age.


2994 plus items (16 boxes) : 2462 photographic prints, 21 contact sheets, 420 slides, 44 photographic transparencies, 35 postcards, 12 glass plate negatives, 4 nitrate negatives, photograph albums

Language of Materials



Photos of Dorothy Brett, her family and friends taken in Europe and New Mexico, principally in the Taos area. Includes other well-known personalities of the New Mexican art community.

Physical Location

B2. Shelved by Pictorial Number. Oversize Box shelved in Big Box location by Pictorial Number.

Separated Material

Pictorial material separated from the Dorothy Brett Papers.
Finding Aid of the Dorothy Brett Pictorial Collection, 1880-1970
Pictorial Collections Staff
© 2007, 2023
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Finding aid is in English

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131