Marie Norton Harriman

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Marie Norton)
Jump to: navigation, search
Marie Harriman
First Lady of New York
In office
January 1, 1955 – December 31, 1958
Governor W. Averell Harriman
Preceded by Frances Dewey
Succeeded by Mary Rockefeller
Personal details
Born April 12, 1903
New York City
Died September 26, 1970
Washington D.C.
Spouse(s) W. Averell Harriman (1930–1970; her death)

Marie Norton Harriman (April 12, 1903 - September 26, 1970) was an American art collector and First Lady of New York from 1955 to 1958. She was the wife of former New York Governor and diplomat Averill Harriman. Harriman operated a prominent New York City art gallery for more than a decade.


She was born Marie Norton on April 12, 1903, in New York. Her grandfather was Benjamin F. Einstein,[1] attorney to the New York Times and a shareholder in several advertising companies. Her parents were attorney Sheridan Norton and Beulah Einstein, who wed in 1901.[2] She attended Miss Spence's School, graduating in 1922.[3]

She married Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney in Paris on March 5, 1923,[4] the first of his four wives. They had two children, Harry Payne Whitney II and Nancy Marie Whitney. She obtained a divorce in Reno, Nevada, in 1929 on grounds of incompatibility.[5] In 1930 she married W. Averell Harriman, a businessman and heir to a railroad fortune as well as a divorced father of two.[6] On their homeymoon in Europe, they purchased oil paintings by Van Gogh, Degas, Cézanne, Picasso, and Renoir.[7]

From 1930 to 1942, she owned and operated an art gallery on 57th Street in Manhattan, the Marie Harriman Gallery.[7][8] She later said: "It was all Ave's idea. He said I should be doing something."[3] Henri Matisse attended the glittering opening of the gallery on October 3, 1930, which featured important works of Derain, Gauguin, Van Gogh, and Matisse.[9][10] In 1936, she bought and exhibited one of Gauguin's last works, D'où Venons Nous / Que Sommes Nous / Où Allons Nous.[11] The gallery's exhibitions took many forms and included a show dedicated to a single canvas, Henri Rousseau's La Noce;[12] solo shows devoted to such comparatively unknown figures as Josselin Bodley (1893-1974), Sir Francis Rose,[13] and Emile Branchard;[14] group shows of French modernists,[15] the Paris Fauves of 1905,[16] and American primitives ("They Taught Themselves");[17] and others with a particular focus like "Chardin and the Modern Still Life"[18] and 19th-century French primitives.[19]

She and her husband later donated many of the works she bought and collected, including those of the artist Walt Kuhn, to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.[20]

In the 1930s she also undertook major projects for her husband's business ventures, designing the interiors of the first streamlined passenger cars for the Union Pacific Railroad and decorating the public rooms and accommodations of a resort he developed in Sun Valley, Idaho.[3]

In 1937 she took on responsibility for raising Peter Duchin, son of bandleader Eddy Duchin and his wife Marjorie Duchin, a close friend of Marie's who had died from complications during childbirth.[3]

During World War II, she worked as a volunteer with the Ship Service Committee that managed welfare and recreation programs for navy personnel of the Allied forces whose ships docked in New York. She also sheltered two English girls sent overseas to escape the London blitz.[3]

During her husband's years as governor of New York from 1955 to 1958, she served as his Albany hostess and redecorated the governor's residence with art that ranged from colonial to contemporary: Gilbet Stuart, Copley, Whistler, and Walter Kuhn.[21]

In the years before her death, she concentrated her charitable work on the New York Association for the Blind and the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Foundation.[3]

Harriman died of a heart attack on September 26, 1970, at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C.[3]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Einstein Funeral Today". New York Times. March 2, 1915. Retrieved February 17, 2015. 
  2. ^ "A Day's Weddings". New York Times. October 3, 1901. Retrieved February 17, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Mrs. W. Averell Harriman Dies; Former Governor's Wife Was 67". New York Times. September 27, 1970. Retrieved February 17, 2015. 
  4. ^ "Quiet Whitney Wedding". New York Times. March 2, 1923. Retrieved February 17, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Divorces C.V. Whitney". New York Times. September 24, 1929. Retrieved February 17, 2015. 
  6. ^ "W.A. Harriman Wed to Mrs. C.V. Whitney". New York Times. February 22, 1930. Retrieved February 17, 2015. 
  7. ^ a b Isaacson, Walter; Thomas, Evan (1986). The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made. Simon & Schuster. p. 106. 
  8. ^ Nancy H. Yeide. "The Marie Harriman Gallery (1930-1942)", Archives of American Art Journal, Vol. 39, No. 1/2 (1999), pp. 3-11.
  9. ^ "Mrs. W.A. Harriman Opens Art Gallery". New York Times. October 4, 1930. Retrieved February 17, 2015. 
  10. ^ "Art: Wall Man". Time. October 13, 1930. 
  11. ^ "Gaughin Canvas is Brought Here". New York Times. April 14, 1936. Retrieved February 17, 2015. 
  12. ^ Jewell, Edward Alden (October 27, 1931). "A One-Canvas Exhibition". New York Times. Retrieved February 17, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Marie Harriman's 'Find'". New York Times. March 15, 1935. Retrieved February 17, 2015. 
  14. ^ Jewell, Edward Alden (October 19, 1938). "Art by Branchard is Displayed Here". New York Times. Retrieved February 18, 2015. 
  15. ^ Jewell, Edward Alden (January 9, 1937). "Pictures on View of French Artists". New York Times. Retrieved February 18, 2015. 
  16. ^ Jewell, Edward Alden (October 22, 1941). "Paintings of Paris Fauves of 1905 Shown at Marie Harriman Gallery". New York Times. Retrieved February 18, 2015. 
  17. ^ Jewell, Edward Alden (February 10, 1942). "U.S. Artists Give 'Primitive' Show". New York Times. Retrieved February 18, 2015. 
  18. ^ Jewell, Edward Alden (November 14, 1936). "Works by Chardin on Exhibition Here". New York Times. Retrieved February 18, 2015. 
  19. ^ Jewell, Edward Alden (November 6, 1935). "'Provincial' Art Seen in 2 Shows". New York Times. Retrieved February 18, 2015. 
  20. ^ "The Marie and Averell Harriman Collection". National Gallery of Art. Retrieved February 17, 2015. 
  21. ^ Knox, Sanka (August 22, 1957). "Art Masterpiece Goes to Harriman". New York Times. Retrieved February 17, 2015.