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Rico Lebrun Collection

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Lebrun, Rico, 1900-1964.
Title: Rico Lebrun Collection
Inclusive Dates: 1932-1983
Bulk Dates: 1932-1964
Quantity: 0.75 linear ft.
Abstract: Italian-born painter and sculptor. Collection includes correspondence, memorabilia, and writings both by Lebrun and related to his life and works.
Language: Collection is primarily in English, with some materials in Italian.
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

Rico (Federico) Lebrun (1900-1964) was an Italian-born American painter, muralist, illustrator and sculptor.

Born in Naples, he was educated at the National Technical School and the National Technical Institute in Italy. Beginning his career as a stained-glass window designer in Naples, the company was eventually purchased by an American company, the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Factory, which offered Lebrun a one-year position in Illinois, prompting his move to the United States. Moving to New York for several years after finishing the job in Illinois, Lebrun worked as a fashion illustrator before returning to Italy to receive a more in-depth art education, focusing on frescoes. Returning then to the United States, he was commissioned for such works as a mural for the New York City Post Office Annex (no longer extant), and worked in 1940 for Walt Disney Studios as a lecturer.

Over the course of his career, Lebrun taught at many universities as a guest lecturer, including at such institutions as Tulane and Yale. In the 1950s, he turned his attention to the subject matter of the Crucifixion, eventually creating a triptych depicting the scene. Continuing the Biblical theme, he created a mural on the theme of Genesis at Pomona College in California, which still exists today. Receiving many honors throughout his career, including the Merit Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Lebrun was nonetheless somewhat obscure throughout his life, due to his unconformity with contemporary movements, such as abstract art. Spending his last years in California, he died in Malibu at the age of 63.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Rico Lebrun Collection consists of correspondence, memorabilia related to Lebrun and his works, and Lebrun's writings.

Correspondence consists of letters sent by Lebrun, primarily to Leonard Rubenstein and to Sheila Hicks, as well as his correspondence with the Pittsburgh International Exhibition.

Memorabilia contains documents relating to Lebrun's life and works, particularly his paintings Genesis and Crucifixion, as well as obituaries and other biographical material.

Writings contains miscellaneous materials by Lebrun regarding specific artists, genres of art, and his own background and art philosophy.

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Arrangement of the Collection

The collection is divided into three series, with each series arranged alphabetically.

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Access Restrictions

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Related Material

Syracuse University Art Galleries owns a number of Lebrun pieces, including his Crucifixion, which is on display in the Heroy Geology building.

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Subject Headings


Lebrun, Rico, 1900-1964.


Illustrators -- United States -- 20th century.
Mural painting and decoration -- United States -- 20th century.
Painters -- United States -- 20th century.
Sculptors -- United States -- 20th century.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Exhibition catalogs.
Notes (documents)
Sound recordings.
Tape reels.



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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Rico Lebrun Collection,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gifts, various, 1967-1979.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: MRC
Date: 13 Apr 2010
Revision history: 3 Jul 2019 - processed (DSA)

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Box 1 To Hicks, Sheila 1962-1966
Box 1 Pittsburgh International Exhibition 1951-1955 - regarding Lebrun serving on the show jury
Box 1 To Rubenstein, Lewis 1932-1963 - some items in Italian (2 folders)
Box 1 Other 1941-1965
Box 1 Clippings 1956-1964 - articles about Lebrun's work and his death
Box 1 College Art Journal, XVII, 1 1957 - includes article about Lebrun's Crucifixion
Box 1 Current Biography, vol. 13, no. 8 1952 - includes Lebrun
Box 1 Drawings brochure 1961 - promoting the book, Rico Lebrun: Drawings
Box 1 Exhibit materials 1967-1983 - postcard (1967) and exhibit book (1983)
Box 1 Genesis mural 1960-1962 - magazines, clippings, and other materials (3 folders)
Box 1 In Memoriam: Rico Lebrun 1964 - program
Box 1 Negatives undated - unidentified Lebrun painting
Box 1 Report on Lebrun fresco 1941
Box 1 A salute to Rico Lebrun 1961 - article by Julio Gonzalez Tejada
Box 1 Sketch undated - with document describing measurements
Box 2 A Talk with Rico Lebrun [The Vision of the Artist with William D. Gorman] May 1963 - Program 34 of more than 1000 done by the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions (CSDI) (1/4 inch audio tape; running time 40:00) (ID#: lebrun_r_001)
Box 1 A Talk with Rico Lebrun, transcript 1962 - transcript of above
Box 1 Fragment undated
Box 1 Notes on artists circa 1936-1937 - some in Italian
Box 1 Notes on frescoes undated
Box 1 "On art" undated - typescript (3 folders)
Box 1 "Statement by the artist" undated - typescript

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