Joseph F. McCrindle

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Joseph F. McCrindle
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Joseph Feder McCrindle

(1923-03-07)March 7, 1923
New York City, USA
DiedJuly 11, 2008(2008-07-11) (aged 85)
CitizenshipUnited States of America
Alma materHarvard University
  • Art collector
  • Philanthropist
  • Editor
OrganizationTransatlantic Review
  • Major John Ronald McCrindle (father)
  • Odette Feder (mother)

Joseph Feder McCrindle (March 7, 1923 – July 11, 2008) was an American art collector, philanthropist, and founder and editor of Transatlantic Review.

With homes in London, New York, and Princeton, New Jersey, McCrindle traveled widely and amassed a distinguished collection that ranged from old master drawings and Italian baroque paintings to pre-Columbian sculptures. During his lifetime, he lent or gave artworks to many institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Gallery of Art.[1]

To fund Transatlantic Review, he established the Henfield Foundation (later renamed the Joseph F. McCrindle Foundation),[2] which went on to support a great number of charitable organizations and distributed McCrindle’s art collection to about 30 museums after his death. Over the years, McCrindle bought thousands of pictures without spending lavishly on any single work. “It’s not a plutocrat’s collection," George R. Goldner, chairman of drawing and prints at the Met, told The New York Times. “He did well because he had a good eye.”[3]

Early life and education

McCrindle was born in New York City to Odette Feder, a New York debutante and graduate of Miss Spence’s School, and Major John Ronald McCrindle, a British aviator who had served as a Royal Air Force squadron commander during World War I.[4] Odette filed for divorce before Joe’s first birthday and eventually won child custody.[5] She then married Count Guy du Bourg de Bozas and moved to France, leaving Joe—and later his half-brother, Antoine du Bourg—to be raised by her parents, who lived at 973 Fifth Avenue in an Italian Renaissance palazzo–style townhouse designed by Stanford White.[6]

Joe’s maternal grandfather, Joseph Fuller Feder, was a Wall Street financier. His formidable grandmother, Edith Mosler Feder, daughter of the painter Henry Mosler, was a powerful presence in McCrindle’s life until her death in 1960.[7] While growing up, Joe traveled to Europe every summer on the family’s 171-foot[8] yacht, the Kihna,[9] became fluent in French and proficient in Italian and German, and began collecting rare books, with encouragement and financing from his grandparents.[10]

McCrindle attended St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire,[11] and graduated from Harvard University in 1944. After two years in the U.S. Army, serving mainly in London as a translator in the Office of Strategic Services, he went to Yale Law School. From there, he joined a Wall Street law firm, which he quit within a year, and worked briefly at one London and two New York publishing companies before setting out on his own as a literary agent.[12] On his list of clients were L.P. Hartley and, early in their careers, John McPhee and Philip Roth.[13]

Transatlantic Review and the Henfield Prize

Modest and self-effacing despite his background, McCrindle was the antithesis of an aggressive, high-powered agent. With an eye toward giving exposure to short stories he’d been unable to sell, he founded Transatlantic Review in 1959, reviving the name of the short-lived but influential magazine edited by Ford Maddox Ford in 1924. Published quarterly, at first in Rome and then in London and New York, TR presented fiction and poetry by fledgling writers alongside new works by well-known literary figures such as Samuel Beckett, Paul Bowles, Iris Murdoch, Joyce Carol Oates, William Trevor, and John Updike.[14]

The editorial mix also included an annual erotica contest (Diana Athill and D.M. Thomas were two of its winners) and interviews with theater and film directors, among them Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini. After TR’s 10th anniversary, McCrindle edited two anthologies, Stories From the Transatlantic Review (1970) and Behind the Scenes: Theater and Film Interviews From the Transatlantic Review (1971), both published by Holt Rinehart and Winston.

TR ceased publication in 1977. Three years later, McCrindle introduced the annual Transatlantic Review Awards for fiction by students in MFA writing programs. Quickly renamed the Henfield Prize, the award came with a grant of $1,000 to $3,000. Early works by Ethan Canin, Walter Mosley, Ann Patchett, and Mona Simpson[15] were among the winning stories, as was one by Harriet Doerr that became a chapter in her first novel, Stones for Ibarra, which won the National Book Award.[16]

A third anthology, The Henfield Prize Stories (Warner Books), appeared in 1992. In its foreword, the novelist Allan Gurganus wrote of McCrindle, “No one alive has done more good for more good writers. (And I will endeavor to prevent his blue-penciling away this obvious fact.)”[17]

Art collecting

McCrindle’s art collecting began with “eighteenth- and nineteenth-century political art—the Cruikshanks and James Gillray—which complemented his literary interest,” wrote Frederick A. den Broeder in Old Master Drawings From the Collection of Joseph F. McCrindle, a catalogue that accompanied a 1991 exhibition at the Princeton University Art Museum. Den Broeder, who curated the exhibition, noted that in the 1960s his friend Joe spent much of his time in Italy, “a country whose art increasingly appealed to him,” and London, “the major center of the market in old master drawings.”[18]

That market was only beginning to emerge, and McCrindle bought hundreds of the drawings for a fraction of what they would have fetched two decades later. Not that he viewed this as a financial investment: McCrindle collected what suited his taste—within limits. The most he ever paid for a single artwork was $10,000, noted John T. Rowe in The McCrindle Gift: A Distinguished Collection of Drawings and Watercolors, the catalogue for a 2012 exhibition at the National Gallery.[19]

Rowe wrote that while the “main focus of Joe’s collection of paintings was the Italian school of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries,” he also owned paintings by Dutch, Flemish, French, and British artists, not to mention the American portrait painter John Singer Sargent. His collection spanned five centuries, but McCrindle didn’t have much interest in contemporary art. According to Rowe, Andy Warhol once offered the collector one of his pre-pop shoe drawings and McCrindle turned it down.[20]

The institutions that received bequests of artworks from the McCrindle collection include the Ackland Art Museum[21] at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the British Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Chazen Museum of Art at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Frick Collection, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Morgan Library & Museum, the National Gallery of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Princeton University Art Museum, and the Yale Center for British Art.

The Joseph F. McCrindle Foundation

Although McCrindle established his foundation to finance Transatlantic Review, it went on support arts and social justice organizations ranging from the New York Youth Symphony, which performs The McCrindle Concert annually at Carnegie Hall, to Gay Men’s Health Crisis and the Southern Poverty Law Center.[22]

Following instructions outlined in McCrindle’s will, the board of directors dissolved the Joseph F. McCrindle Foundation in 2013, after spending down its assets in the five years after his death. In addition to providing many grants, the foundation established a number of endowments, including scholarship funds at the Manhattan School of Music and Bennett College,[23] a historically black college for women in Greensboro, North Carolina, and paid internships at the National Gallery and the Princeton University Art Museum.

The foundation also endowed the Henfield Prize—now linked to an annual grant of $10,000 to $15,000[24]—at five universities: the University of California–Irvine, Columbia University, the University of Iowa, the University of Michigan, and the University of Virginia.[25]


Digitized papers at the Archives of American Art document McCrindle’s art collecting, art donations, philanthropy, family affairs, and personal estate.

The Joseph F. McCrindle papers at Columbia University include extensive personal correspondence as well as letters and manuscripts by L.P. Hartley, Philip Roth, and other writers represented by McCrindle when he was a literary agent.

The Transatlantic Review Records at Rutgers University include various correspondence as well as manuscripts by TR contributors such as J.G. Ballard, Ann Beattie, Jorge Luis Borges, Paul Bowles, William Burroughs, Ian McEwan, Joyce Carol Oates, Edna O’Brien, Harold Pinter, Paul Theroux, William Trevor, and Richard Yates.

All issues of Transatlantic Review have been digitized and archived at JSTOR.


  1. "". Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  2. "Joseph F. McCrindle Foundation on JSTOR". Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  3. Grimes, William (2008-07-18). "Joseph McCrindle, 85, Connoisseur of Art, Is Dead". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  4. "ODETTE FEDER WEDS MAJOR J.R. M'CRINDLE; Junior League Girl Marries British Aviator in Church of the Ascension". The New York Times. 1921-12-27. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  5. "Joseph F. McCrindle papers - contents · SOVA". Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  6. Gray, Christopher (2011-07-28). "The Sidekick in the Spotlight". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  7. Rowe, John T. (2012). The McCrindle Gift. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-89468-377-0.
  8. "THV (10) Kihna - Past and Present". Dover Ferry Photos. 2015-07-22. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  9. "Joseph F. McCrindle papers · SOVA". Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  10. "Biographical Note | A Finding Aid to the Joseph F. McCrindle papers, 1877-2013 | Digitized Collection". Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  11. Alumni Horae (Fall 2008). "Deceased (alumni death notices)" (PDF). St. Paul School's Alumni Horae.
  12. "Joseph F. McCrindle Foundation on JSTOR". Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  13. "Joseph McCrindle papers, 1895- 2003, bulk 1928-1985 | Rare Book & Manuscript Library | Columbia University Libraries Finding Aids". Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  14. "The Transatlantic Review on JSTOR". Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  15. "Creative Writing Program to Host Henfield Prize". UVA Today. 2011-04-21. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  16. Martin, Douglas (2002-11-27). "Harriet Doerr Is Dead at 92; Writer of Searing, Sparse Prose". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  17. Gurganus, Allan (1992). Foreword to The Henfield Prize Stories. New York: Warner Books. pp. xvii–xxvii. ISBN 0-446-39304-5.
  18. den Broeder, Frederick A. (1991). Old Master Drawings From the Collection of Joseph F. McCrindle. Princeton, New Jersey: The Art Museum, Princeton University. pp. 11–12. ISBN 0-943012-14-7.
  19. Rowe, John T. (2012). The McCrindle Gift. Washington, D,C.: National Gallery of Art. pp. 1–11. ISBN 978-0-89468-377-0.
  20. Rowe, John T. (2012). The McCrindle Gift. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-89468-377-0.
  21. "Ackland Art Museum celebrates Joseph F. McCrindle : Chapel Hill Recorder". Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  22. Rowe, John T. (2014). An Eye for the Unexpected: Gifts From the Joseph F. McCrindle Collection. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Ackland Art Museum. pp. 1–7. ISBN 978-0-9887416-1-4.
  23. Terry, Esther (December 2012). "Bennett College Receives $625,000 Grant From the Joseph F. McCrindle Foundation". News From Bennett. Retrieved October 5, 2020.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  24. "Resources". Columbia - School of the Arts. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  25. "Creative Writing Program to Host Henfield Prize". UVA Today. 2011-04-21. Retrieved 2020-10-02.

External links

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