The New Yorker‘s first art critic, Murdock Pemberton, was a man of many passions. Besides penning criticism for the magazine and other publications in the 1920s and ’30s, he was also playwright, PR agent and cocktail and food writer for Esquire. His various pursuits are recounted in a wonderful recent book, Portrait of Murdock Pemberton, which was written by his granddaughter Sally Pemberton.
A few years ago, Sally Pemberton was digging around her mother’s house on Long Island when she happened upon a suitcase that belonged to her grandfather, Murdock Pemberton, who had died in 1982 at the age of 94. She popped open the lock and found correspondence with his mistress, letters from artists and gallery brochures that stretched back to before World War II. Intrigued, she continued rummaging and soon found a second suitcase that contained kind letters from Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O’Keeffe.