Stanley Young

I recently found quite a lot of information regarding the sitter in John Steuart Curry’s painting titled “Portrait of Stanley Young.”  While searching the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, I found a letter, dated January 17, 1946, from Young to Curry in which Young says, “By the way, what ever happened to that portrait of mine that you did?  Was it printed in the biography of your work [Schmeckebier, John Steuart Curry’s Pageant of America, American Artist Group, New York, 1943]?”  Also, I found a copy of Curry’s response.  Young’s typed letter bears a letterhead from the Farrar, Straus and Company, Inc.  Through the use of this company name, I was able to find more information on Stanley Young.  Additionally, I found the painting listed in several inventories, taken at various times.

Stanley Young was a playwright, author and a literary critic for the New York Times, ca. 1940’s – 1950’s.  Two plays written by Young are:  “Laurette” & “Mr. Pickwick.”  Additionally, Young, after having served on the board of Farrar, Straus Publishing Company in New York for several years, acquired a partnership in the publishing company, and in 1951, the company was renamed  FARRAR, STRAUS, YOUNG PUBLISHING COMPANY, INC.  It is likely that if one were to pursue finding more biographical information on Stanley Young, it might be found through contact with Farrar, Straus & Giroux, among many other sources.

Interestingly, as I best remember, Thomas Hart Benton made statements to the effect that the Northeast Coast, and specifically New York City, didn’t really exemplify “America” in its’ real sense.  Could Stanley Young, in his letter to Curry, be referring to Benton’s comments when he says”...because you live in America.”  Keep in mind, the New York art critics brutalized the mid-western regionalists in their reviews, especially during the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s.

As far as I know, up until now, information had been lost over time about Stanley Young other than that he was an aspiring writer who sat and had his portrait painted in 1932 by one of the most important American artists of the 20th century.


Jim Williams
Williams American Art Galleries
6 September 2008