Georgia O’Keeffe’s Collection of Handwritten Recipes Sold to Yale Library
The collection included O’Keeffe’s personal recipes, many of which were handwritten on index cards or scraps of paper.
Everyone wants to cook like Ina or Julia, but what about an artist? Perhaps an iconic Western artist, like Georgia O’Keefe? Sotheby’s recently banked on that desire as it auctioned off O’Keefe’s collection of recipes, written in her own spidery handwriting on notecards, slips of paper, and hotel stationary.
The recipe cards were part of a larger auction of personal items and art belonging to O’Keeffe and her husband, the photographer and artist Alfred Stieglitz, many of which went for above and beyond asking price.
O’Keeffe was a prolific home cook who grew her own vegetables at her home in New Mexico, which she dried, froze, or canned for the winter. According to Margaret Wood, who worked as O’Keeffe’s assistant from 1977-1982, O’Keeffe preferred organic meat and grains, and wrote many of her own recipes. The recipes range from simple applesauce to pecan butterball cookies to tomato aspic.
According to the lot description, “Some recipes were developed by Miss O’Keeffe herself; all were adapted to her taste through her suggestions. Many dishes were contributions from those who worked in the O’Keeffe household. Some were influenced by Adelle Davis, Lelord Kordel, or other health food proponents of the fifties. A few are traditional foods of northern New Mexico.”
The recipe collection was purchased by Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library in a private sale. Though the auction house declined to share the sale price, the recipe cards had been estimated to sell between $6,000-$8,000. The lot’s official description: “A collection of note cards (5 x 8 in.) with recipes in O’Keeffe’s hand and in other hands, many with smaller note cards, clippings, typed recipes, etc., attached with paper clips; laid in are several small recipe booklets, together approximately 300 pieces. Housed in green cardboard file box with lid.”
For those with no immediate plans to visit Yale’s libraries, many of O’Keeffe’s recipes are available in Wood’s book, A Painter’s Kitchen. Recipes from the Kitchen of Georgia O’Keeffe.