Marie Norton Harriman
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Marie Norton Harriman
Marie Norton Harriman
Marie Norton Harriman, 1956.jpg
Harriman in 1956
First Lady of New York

January 1, 1955 - December 31, 1958
GovernorW. Averell Harriman
Frances Dewey
Mary Rockefeller
Personal details
Marie Norton

April 12, 1903
New York City, New York, U.S.
Washington D.C., U.S.
Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney
(m. 1923; div. 1929)

EducationMiss Spence's School

Marie Norton Harriman (April 12, 1903 - September 26, 1970) was an American art collector and First Lady of New York from 1955 to 1958. She was the wife of former New York Governor and diplomat Averell Harriman. Harriman operated a prominent New York City art gallery for more than a decade.

Early life

She was born Marie Norton on April 12, 1903, in New York to Sheridan Nook Norton, an attorney, and Beulah Sanfield Einstein, who wed in 1901.[1] Her maternal grandparents were Rosanna Cullen and Benjamin Franklin Einstein, attorney to the New York Times and a shareholder in several advertising companies.[2] She attended Miss Spence's School, graduating in 1922.[3]


From 1930 to 1942, she owned and operated an art gallery on 57th Street in Manhattan, the Marie Harriman Gallery.[4][5] She later said: "It was all Ave's idea. He said I should be doing something."[3]Henri Matisse attended the glittering opening of the gallery on October 3, 1930, which featured important works of Derain, Gauguin, Van Gogh, and Matisse.[6][7] In 1936, she bought and exhibited one of Gauguin's last works, D'où Venons Nous / Que Sommes Nous / Où Allons Nous.[8] The gallery's exhibitions took many forms and included a show dedicated to a single canvas, Henri Rousseau's La Noce;[9] solo shows devoted to such comparatively unknown figures as Josselin Bodley (1893-1974), Sir Francis Rose,[10] and Emile Branchard;[11] group shows of French modernists,[12] the Paris Fauves of 1905,[13] and American primitives ("They Taught Themselves");[14] and others with a particular focus like "Chardin and the Modern Still Life"[15] and 19th-century French primitives.[16]

In the 1930s, she also undertook major projects for her husband's business ventures, designing the interiors of the first streamlined passenger cars for the Union Pacific Railroad and decorating the public rooms and accommodations of a resort he developed in Sun Valley, Idaho.[3]

In 1937, she took on responsibility for raising Peter Duchin, son of bandleader Eddy Duchin and his wife Marjorie Duchin, a close friend of Marie's who had died from complications during childbirth.[3]

During World War II, she worked as a volunteer with the Ship Service Committee that managed welfare and recreation programs for navy personnel of the Allied forces whose ships docked in New York. She also sheltered two English girls sent overseas to escape the London blitz.[3]

First Lady of New York

During her husband's years as Governor of New York from 1955 to 1958, she served as his Albany hostess and redecorated the governor's residence with art that ranged from colonial to contemporary: Gilbert Stuart, Copley, Whistler, and Walter Kuhn.[17]

Personal life

On March 5, 1923, she married Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney (1899-1992) in Paris,[18] the first of his eventual four wives. Whitney was the son of Harry Payne Whitney and Gertrude Vanderbilt. Before their Reno divorce, on grounds of incompatibility, in 1929,[19] they had two children:

  • Harry Payne Whitney II (1924-1985),[20] who married Alexandra Ewing (1927-2014), the daughter of Gifford Cochran Ewing and Frances Riker.[21] and later Andrea R. Whitney[22]
  • Nancy Marie Whitney (1926-2006), who married Edwin Denison Morgan, Jr (1921-2001) in 1958, div. 1959, then Edward Augustus Hurd, Jr. (1918-2001) in 1959, and later Pierre Lutz (1923-1991)[23]

In 1930, she married W. Averell Harriman (1891-1986), a businessman and son of railroad baron Edward H. Harriman and Mary Williamson Averell. He was the brother of E. Roland Harriman and Mary Harriman Rumsey. Harriman's father was a close friend of Hall Roosevelt, the brother of Eleanor Roosevelt.[24] Harriman had previously been married to Kitty Lanier Lawrence until 1929,[25] with whom he had two daughters:[26] (1) Mary Averell Harriman (1917-1996), who married Dr. Shirley C. Fisk[27] and (2) Kathleen Lanier Harriman (1917-2011), who married Stanley Grafton Mortimer Jr. (1913-1999),[28] who had previously been married to socialite Babe Paley (1915-1978)[29]

On their honeymoon in Europe, they purchased oil paintings by Van Gogh, Degas, Cézanne, Picasso, and Renoir.[4] She and her husband later donated many of the works she bought and collected, including those of the artist Walt Kuhn, to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.[30] In 1971, after her death in 1970, Harriman married Pamela Beryl Digby Churchill Hayward, the former wife of Winston Churchill's son Randolph, and widow of Broadway producer Leland Hayward.[31]

Philanthropy and death

In the years before her death, she concentrated her charitable work on the New York Association for the Blind and the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Foundation.[3]

Harriman died of a heart attack on September 26, 1970, at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C.[3]


  1. ^ "A Day's Weddings" (PDF). New York Times. October 3, 1901. Retrieved 2015.
  2. ^ "Einstein Funeral Today" (PDF). New York Times. March 2, 1915. Retrieved 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Mrs. W. Averell Harriman Dies; Former Governor's Wife Was 67". New York Times. September 27, 1970. Retrieved 2015.
  4. ^ a b Isaacson, Walter; Thomas, Evan (1986). The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made. Simon & Schuster. p. 106.
  5. ^ Yeide, Nancy H. (1999). "The Marie Harriman Gallery (1930-1942)". Archives of American Art Journal. Smithsonian Institution. 39 (1/2): 2-11. ISSN 0003-9853. JSTOR 1557865 – via JSTOR.
  6. ^ "Mrs. W.A. Harriman Opens Art Gallery" (PDF). New York Times. October 4, 1930. Retrieved 2015.
  7. ^ "Art: Wall Man". Time. October 13, 1930.
  8. ^ "Gaughin Canvas is Brought Here" (PDF). New York Times. April 14, 1936. Retrieved 2015.
  9. ^ Jewell, Edward Alden (October 27, 1931). "A One-Canvas Exhibition" (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved 2015.
  10. ^ "Marie Harriman's 'Find'" (PDF). New York Times. March 15, 1935. Retrieved 2015.
  11. ^ Jewell, Edward Alden (October 19, 1938). "Art by Branchard is Displayed Here" (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved 2015.
  12. ^ Jewell, Edward Alden (January 9, 1937). "Pictures on View of French Artists" (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved 2015.
  13. ^ Jewell, Edward Alden (October 22, 1941). "Paintings of Paris Fauves of 1905 Shown at Marie Harriman Gallery" (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved 2015.
  14. ^ Jewell, Edward Alden (February 10, 1942). "U.S. Artists Give 'Primitive' Show" (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved 2015.
  15. ^ Jewell, Edward Alden (November 14, 1936). "Works by Chardin on Exhibition Here" (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved 2015.
  16. ^ Jewell, Edward Alden (November 6, 1935). "'Provincial' Art Seen in 2 Shows" (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved 2015.
  17. ^ Knox, Sanka (August 22, 1957). "Art Masterpiece Goes to Harriman" (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved 2015.
  18. ^ "Quiet Whitney Wedding" (PDF). New York Times. March 2, 1923. Retrieved 2015.
  19. ^ "Divorces C.V. Whitney" (PDF). New York Times. September 24, 1929. Retrieved 2015.
  20. ^ Short, Don. "Harry Payne Whitney, II". Retrieved 2016.
  21. ^!alexandra-ewing-whitney/c22j5
  22. ^ Staff (September 26, 1985). "Harry Payne Whitney Is Dead; Yachtsman From Manhattan". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016.
  23. ^ "Deaths LUTZ, NANCY WHITNEY". The New York Times. October 30, 2006. Retrieved 2016.
  24. ^ Kathleen Mortimer, Rich and Adventurous, Dies at 93
  25. ^ Oser, Alan S. (July 27, 1986). "EX-GOV. AVERELL HARRIMAN, ADVISER TO 4 PRESIDENTS, DIES". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016.
  26. ^ "W.A. Harriman Wed to Mrs. C.V. Whitney" (PDF). New York Times. February 22, 1930. Retrieved 2015.
  27. ^ Saxon, Wolfgang (January 10, 1996). "Mary A. Fisk, 78, an Advocate Of Tutoring in Primary Grades". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016.
  28. ^ Fox, Margalit (February 19, 2011). "Kathleen Mortimer, Rich and Adventurous, Dies at 93". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016.
  29. ^ Nemy, Enid (July 7, 1978). "Barbara Cushing Paley Dies at 63; Style Pace-Setter in Three Decades; Symbol of Taste". New York Times. Retrieved . Barbara Cushing Paley, the wife of William S. Paley, the chairman of the board of the Columbia Broadcasting System, died of cancer at their apartment in New York City yesterday after a long illness. She was 63 years old.
  30. ^ "The Marie and Averell Harriman Collection". National Gallery of Art. Retrieved 2015.
  31. ^ "The Secret History of the CIA." Joseph Trento. 2001, Prima Publishing. pp. 334-335.

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