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Bernard Childs prints and associated materials

Identifier: MRBC-MS-00247

Scope and Contents

The collection includes prints and printed materials on Childs, as well as many notes and descriptive texts by his wife Judith Childs. There also is original artwork, including WWII-era drawings by Childs.

Dates of Materials

  • 1940 - 2016


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

To the extent that she owns copyright, Bernard Childs has retained copyright in his works donated to Smith College. Copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For those few instances beyond fair use, or which may regard materials in the collection not created by Bernard Childs, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Biographical / Historical

Bernard Childs (1910-1985) was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Russian immigrant parents. Eleven years later they moved to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It was there he began to draw and paint. He attended the University of Pennsylvania for two years and in 1930 moved to New York where he worked by day and studied by night with Kimon Nicolaides at the Art Students League. He also studied with Peer Smed, a Danish silversmith. During the latter 1930s he stopped his artistic endeavors.

During World War II Childs was on a U.S. Navy destroyer escort in the South Pacific when he resumed drawing. He was injured in a kamikaze hit on the destroyer at Okinawa and did not fully recover until 1946. In 1947 back in New York he studied with Amédée Ozenfant. In 1951 he moved to Europe. Following a year in Perugia and Rome, his first solo exhibition took place at Galleria dell'Obelisco.

After settling in Paris in 1952, Childs began his career as both a painter and a printmaker in December 1954 which he spent at Atelier 17. He was in the 1959 exhibition Documenta II and in the same year had an exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. He also worked and exhibited in Asia 1960-1961. Between 1966 and 1977 he commuted between studios in Paris and New York. After a stroke in 1978 Childs made New York his home until his death in 1985 at age 74. During this time he resumed painting fulltime while continuing to issue his annual Christmas prints.

Childs created Noël greetings annually from 1955 through 1984 with the exception of 1957 and 1960. He printed his own cards from 1955-1968. With the exception of the 1973 issue, Harry Bettum, master printer at The Spiral Press, New York, printed the cards from 1969-1984. Prints are unnumbered and were printed in editions of 25 to 800. The 1973 issue was in an edition of 25,000 commissioned by The Art Gallery Magazine for their Dec. 1973 issue. The 1973 issue was printed by Victor Usin at Bill Burton's Press on Washington Street, New York.


4.604 linear feet (5 containers)

0.01 Gigabytes

Language of Materials



Bernard Childs (1910-1985) was a painter and printmaker who resided in Paris and in New York, N.Y. The collection includes prints and printed materials on Childs, as well as many notes and descriptive texts by his wife Judith Childs. There also is original artwork, including WWII-era drawings by Childs.


The Bernard Childs prints and associated materials are arranged by project and/or group categories: I. Biographical materials II. Notebooks, 1965-1976? III. Patent materials IV. Letters V. Noël—Christmas prints, 1966-1984 VI. Sleepwalker Press and Chrysalis, 1971-1980s VII. Bazon Brock VIII. Mozart poster IX. Right on! (dragonfly), 1973 X. Tropical Noon OVERSIZE MATERIALS: XI. Conaissance des arts (cover), 1976 XII. Dolmen Press XIII. Guardian Dragon/The Sign XIV. Miscellaneous materials

Other Finding Aids

A legacy finding aid with more detailed information about this collection is available in this downloadable document: finding aid to the Bernard Childs prints and associated materials.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift; Judith Childs, 2007-2015. Gift (Noël prints); John Bowman, 2006. Gift (Noël prints); Adele Long Hogan

Related Materials

Bernard Childs papers, 1952-1998; Located at; Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.


Box 5 contains unprocessed materials received between 2009 and 2015, with the donor's extensive notes.

Finding aid to Bernard Childs prints and associated materials
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2019-10-22: Updated finding aid and published.
  • 2020-03-02: Imported container inventory
  • 2020-12-04: Added box 5
  • 2022-11-21: Added Accession 2021-M-0062

Repository Details

Part of the Mortimer Rare Book Collection Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063