University of Texas at Austin

Enit Kaufman:

An Inventory of Her American Portraits Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Kaufman, Enit, 1908?-1961
Title: Enit Kaufman American Portraits Papers
Dates: 1914-1958
Extent: 1 box (.42 linear feet)
Abstract: The papers consist of letters and manuscripts collected by Enit Kaufman for the publication of American Portraits, a volume of portraits of prominent Americans by Kaufman accompanied by text written by Dorothy Canfield Fisher.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-02244
Languages English, French, and German.
Access Open for research

Administrative Information

Acquisition Purchase, 1962 (R1349)
Processed by Genevieve Buentello, 1997, Laura Gottesman, 1998

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

Enit Zerner Kaufman (1908?-1961) was born near Vienna, where she later studied art. Her primary interest was portraiture, and she soon created a name for herself painting prominent Europeans, including Albert Sarraut and Georges Duhamel, among others. Her work was featured in several successful exhibitions in Paris, where her skillful paintings of women and children also attracted attention. Her life and career were changed dramatically by the onset of World War II, and she fled the turbulence of Europe for an uncertain future in New York City in 1939, along with her husband Edward, a lawyer.
Kaufman worked with great determination in the United States to resume her interrupted career and achieved some success, teaching art and working to rebuild her reputation as a portraitist. As had been the case in Europe, many of her subjects were prominent figures in government, education, and the arts. She had the distinction of painting four American Presidents, including Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Her work was featured in a number of exhibitions in the 1940s and 1950s, including an exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, and another at the New York Historical Society.
Enit Kaufman's participation in the creation of American Portraits (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1946) grew out of her experience both as a painter of the prominent figures of the time, and as a refugee from a region whose leadership had run amok. Dorothy Canfield Fisher wrote the biographical profiles which accompanied Kaufman's portraits of eminent Americans. The authors were interested in the nature of leadership, and asked many of their subjects, often leaders in their fields, to write down their thoughts on the subject. Kaufman and Canfield Fisher initially considered incorporating these responses into American Portraits; instead, these Statements of Leadership were featured in a piece in the Sunday edition of the New York Times in 1951.
Kaufman died in New York City on January 17th, 1961.


Fisher, Dorothy Canfield and Kaufman, Enit, American Portraits. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1946.
New York Times. Obituaries, Friday, January 20, 1961.

Scope and Contents

Letters and manuscripts collected by the artist Enit Kaufman in preparation for the publication of American Portraits make up the bulk of these papers, 1914-1958. The papers are subdivided into two series: Correspondence, 1914-1958, and Statements of Leadership, 1933-1944.
Series I., Correspondence, consists of letters from prominent Americans, many of whom were ultimately featured in the book. The letters are arranged alphabetically by writer, with the exception of those letters written by an assistant or spouse on behalf of someone; these letters are filed under the name of the apparent subject. A number of the letters are addressed to people other than Enit Kaufman, most often to her collaborator Dorothy Canfield Fisher.
Included in the collection are letters from three of the four presidents Kaufman painted, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Other letters come from an eclectic range of correspondents: Walter B. Cannon, Willa Cather, James Bryant Conant, John Dewey, Albert Einstein, Robert Frost, Helen Hayes, Ernest Hemingway, Mordecai Johnson, Rufus Jones, Archibald MacLeish, Reinhold Niebuhr, John D. Rockefeller, Eleanor Roosevelt, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, and Frank Lloyd Wright. Some of these are responses to Kaufman's request to schedule sittings, others are letters of introduction to friends and acquaintances who might be willing to participate in the project. Examples of this include a letter from Harry Scherman of the Book-of-the-Month-Club to the writer John Gunther; there is also a letter in the collection from the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Robert A. Millikan to Walt Disney. Other letters, which are dated after the book's publication in 1946, concern either invitations to exhibits of Kaufman's work or the receipt of a gift copy of the book. Also included is a signed black-and-white photograph of Wendell Wilkie, along with several of his letters to the artist. All correspondents are listed in the Index of Correspondents at the end of this guide.
A group of unidentified correspondence can be found at the end of this series. These letters pre-date or do not appear to relate to American Portraits. Several of the signatures are unclear. Some of these letters are written in French or German, and appear to refer to Kaufman's life in Europe before she immigrated to New York City in 1939.
Series II., Statements of Leadership, consists of a single folder of handwritten and typed reflections and quotations on the nature of leadership by many of the subjects of American Portraits. These statements are arranged alphabetically by source name. Several seem to have been cut from accompanying letters, some are written on note pads and odd scraps of paper or envelopes, while others are presented more formally, within the body of a typed letter.
An Index of Statements of Leadership in this guide contains all names represented in this series.
The Ransom Center Art Collection holds a collection of 68 portrait drawings by Kaufman.

Index Terms


Allen, Florence Ellinwood, 1884-1966
Anderson, Marian, 1897-1993
Beard, Charles
Cannon, Walter B. (Walter Bradford), 1871-1945
Cather, Willa, 1873-1947
Catt, Carrie Chapman, 1859-1947
Conant, James Bryant, 1893-1978
Counts, George S. (George Sylvester), 1889-1974
Dewey, John, 1859-1952
Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955
Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David), 1890-1969
Fisher, Dorothy Canfield, 1879-1958
Frost, Robert, 1874-1963
Harris, Roy, 1898-
Hayes, Helen, 1900-
Hemingway, Ernest, 1899-1961
Johnson, Mordecai W. (Mordecai Wyatt), 1890-1976
Jones, Rufus Matthew, 1863-1948
Langmuir, Irving, 1881-1957
Lewis, John Llewellyn, 1880-1969
MacLeish, Archibald, 1892-
Marin, John, 1870-1953
Niebuhr, Reinhold, 1892-1971
Robeson, Paul, 1898-1976
Rockefeller, John D. (John Davison), 1874-1960
Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945
Sulzberger, Arthur Hays, 1891-1968
Thompson, Dorothy, 1893-1961
Truman, Harry S., 1896-1972
Whipple, George Hoyt, 1878-
Wright, Frank Lloyd, 1867-1959
Wright, Orville, 1871-1948


United States -- Biography -- Portraits

Document Types


Enit Kaufman Papers--Folder List