Issue #151  10/29/2008
Collector Herb Mitchell Passes Away; Collection Goes to NY Met

By Alex Novak

I was sad to see that The New York Times reported that Rives Herbert Mitchell, a noted collector of early photography and ephemera, had passed away on October 25th. I actually counted Herb as one of my own clients. I remember him as a gentle soul, whose interest and good taste in beauty and 19th-century images was exemplified in his collecting. He once bought a wonderful hand-colored daguerreotype of "Danae", a female nude with a shower of gold coins, probably made by Bruno-Auguste Braquehais. In the past, before real art and photography criticism went out of favor as it seems today, we might have called Mitchell a sensitive and true connoisseur. He just loved and found pleasure in interesting and beautiful things.

According to his attorney, Mitchell died from complications of Parkinson's disease. He was 83 at the time of his death. Mitchell was born in Bangor, ME, on November 18, 1924.

At the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia, where he worked from 1960 to 1991, and in his apartment, he assembled an extremely eclectic collection--most of which will now go to the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Met had already added to its photography collection 3,866 stereographic views of New York City that Mitchell had donated in 2007. Most of these stereos are early images of Central Park. Some of them were published in the Winter 2008 issue of the Museum Bulletin, "Creating Central Park," by Morrison H. Heckscher.

Mitchell often referred to his collections as his children. He is survived only by his sister, Dorothy Mitchell of Seattle, WA, and that collection of his "children".