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The Oswald T. Avery Collection

Letter from Edward C. Curnen, Jr. to Joshua Lederberg Annotation pdf (59,567 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter from Edward C. Curnen, Jr. to Joshua Lederberg
This letter accompanied a portrait of Avery when it was returned to Rockefeller University in 1985. In it, Curnen briefly critiques the likeness of the scientist and the Avery family's distaste for the portrait.
Number of Image Pages:
1 (59,567 Bytes)
1985-10-17 (October 17, 1985)
Curnen, Edward C. Jr
Lederberg, Joshua
Reproduced with permission of Mary G. McCrea Curnen.
Exhibit Category:
After the Discovery: The Transforming Principle's Reception by the Scientific Community
Metadata Record [Maclyn McCarty with a portrait of Oswald T. Avery at the Rockefeller University Hospital] [ca. 1985] jpg (24,835 Bytes)
Metadata Record [Oswald T. Avery] (1928) jpg (308,180 Bytes)
Box Number: 5
Folder Number: 9
Unique Identifier:
Document Type:
Letters (correspondence)
Physical Condition:
Series: Photographs, 1923-1985
Folder: Colleagues of O. T. Avery, 1960-1985
October 17, 1985
Dear President Lederberg,
Pursuant to previous discussions with Mac McCarty, I have brought with me today a portrait of Doctor O. T. ("Fess") Avery which I would like to present to The Rockefeller University. At Mac's suggestion, I am leaving it with Ms. Mirsky in the library. It was given to me many years ago by Mrs. Roy Avery, the wife of Fess' brother.
The portrait was commissioned by Fess' colleague and friend, Doctor Ernest Stillman, and was painted in 1928. The artist's signature appears in the right lower corner, but I can't make it out. Perhaps there is better identification and information about him in the Rockefeller archives,
I am not qualified to comment on the artistic merits of this work. Its resemblance to Fess is recognizable but was not pleasing to his family who did not choose to display it.
To those of us who knew Fess in his later years, this portrait of the scientist appears cold and stiff compared to the gentle, warm and sensitive man we remember. There are not many people left who could recall how Fess looked in 1928. It would be interesting to invite Michael Heidelberger's comments.
In any event, I believe this portrait belongs at the University, and I hope that a home for it will be found there.
Cordially yours,
Edward C. Curnen, Jr., MD.
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Annotation by Joshua Lederberg:
Re: gift of portrait of O. T. Avery to Rockefeller University;

jl 12/17/99