Collection of Christmas cards designed by Athos Menaboni for Robert W. Woodruff

Collection of Christmas cards designed by Athos Menaboni for Robert W. Woodruff

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Hargrett Manuscripts
Creator: Menaboni, Athos, 1895-1990
Creator: Woodruff, Robert Winship
Title: Collection of Christmas cards designed by Athos Menaboni for Robert W. Woodruff
Dates: 1941-1984
Quantity: 0.4 Linear feet (1 document box)
Abstract:The collection consists of forty four pieces depicting birds of the Ichauway Plantation and the Te Ranch. The collection is divided into three volumes: v. 1 (1941-1956) contains sixteen pieces (1950 appears to be a reproduction), v. 2 (1957-1971) contains fifteen pieces, v. 3 (1972-1984) contains thirteen pieces. The greeting cards are laid down on album pages in three ringed binders each custom bound in red top grain cowhide with gold lettering. the albums also contain two photographs of Menaboni, each with his separate signature on a card, as well as miscellaneous clippings.
Coll. Number: ms2645

Biographical/Historical Note

Athos Rodolfo Giorgio Alessandro Menaboni was born October 20, 1895 in Livorno, Italy, the son of a ship's chandler. His maternal grandfather, Alessandro Neri, was one of the leaders of Italy's Garabaldi movement for national liberty. At the age of nine, Menaboni began studying painting under private teachers. He later attended the Royal Academy of Art in Florence. During his time of learning in Italy he studied under Ugo Manarisi, Charles Doudelet, and Pietro Gori. After serving for four years in the Italian army during World War I as a sharpshooter, signal corpsman, and pilot, Athos Menaboni came to the United States around 1920, settling in New York where he took a job painting artificial candles. Four years later, he went to Davis Island, a real estate development near Tampa, Florida, to become the Art Director. When the Florida real estate market's bubble burst he moved to Atlanta to accept a free-lance art assignment. Upon completion of this project he took samples of his work around to various architectural firms. Philip Shutze liked Menaboni and his work and hired him to do decorative painting at the Swan House, the residence of Edward Inman and one of Shutze's major projects. During his early days in Atlanta, Menaboni was living in a boarding house in downtown Atlanta. It was here that he met Sara Arnold of Rome, Georgia, niece of the owners of the boardinghouse. They were married within a year. In 1937 they bought a farm in the Atlanta area which the Menabonis' named "Valle Ombrose" ("Shady Valley") after the town, Vall' Ombrosa, located near Florence. This has been the Menaboni homestead ever since. It is here, also, where Athos Menaboni does his painting. The Menaboni land is an unofficial bird sanctuary and inside their home is a glass-enclosed aviary which he uses to house the birds he is painting. In 1940 Sara Menaboni sent thirty-six of his paintings to New York which resulted in a Menaboni showing. His paintings hung in the American Museum of Natural History, Kennedy Galleries, and in nation-wide exhibits by the Audubon Society. It was from a showing in the Kennedy Galleries that Menaboni began his long association with Robert W. Woodruff. A Coca-Cola executive saw his work, discovered the artist lived in Atlanta, and commissioned a painting of doves in a pinetree. From 1941 to 1984, the covers of Woodruff's Christmas cards contained Menaboni bird prints of birds found at the Woodruff's south Georgia plantation, Ichauway. Menaboni's work was published in 1950 in a book entitled Menaboni's Birds. The paintings were by Menaboni with the texts written by his wife, Sara. It was voted one of "Fifty Best Books of the Year" for 1950. This book was revised by Menaboni using the original texts and thirty-two new full-color reproductions of his work. The revised book was published in 1984. Menaboni, often hailed as a second Audubon, is referred to as a scientific ornithological painter because of his methods of painting live subjects. He has painted over l50 different kinds of birds, mostly those seen in the southeast region. Single canvas paintings have not been his only avenue of painting. Murals, such as the ones done for the Citizen's and Southern Bank on Mitchell Street and the Capital City Club, both in Atlanta, and the dinner plates used at the Commerce Club in Atlanta were painted by Menaboni. In addition, he has done covers and illustrations for publications such as The World Book Encyclopedia and Sports Illustrated. Athos Menaboni suffered a stroke in May 1990 and died July 18, 1990 of complications. A memorial service was held at the Ida Cason Calloway Memorial Chapel at Callaway Gardens on July 22nd. Menaboni's body was donated to Emory University. Athos Menaboni Collection, 1940-1985 -- Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University (Retrieved May 5, 2009)

The name Robert Woodruff is synonymous with the Coca-Cola Company. His leadership, which lasted five decades, moved the company, in financial straits when he took control, into the ranks of a world-renowned corporation and made Coca-Cola one of the best-known and most widely distributed products. Woodruff's impact extended beyond the company he led. He practiced a lifetime of civic-minded philanthropy, most of it anonymously, and exerted a powerful influence on Atlanta's business, cultural, and political development in the twentieth century. He left much of his personal wealth to a charitable foundation that today bears his name. Robert Winship Woodruff was born on December 6, 1889, in Columbus to Emily Winship and Ernest Woodruff. He was the first of four sons. Woodruff's father was a flour salesman for the family business in Columbus. In 1893 the family relocated to Atlanta, where Woodruff's father worked for Joel Hurt as vice president and general manager of the Atlanta Consolidated Street Railway Company (later Georgia Power Company). A tough-minded businessman with negotiating skills and an eye for corporate development, Ernest Woodruff by 1904 was president of the Trust Company of Georgia, the predecessor of SunTrust Bank. In Atlanta Robert Woodruff enrolled in Atlanta Boys High School (later Grady High School), about two miles from the family's home on Edgewood Avenue and Waverly Way. He later attended Georgia Military Academy in College Park and after graduation entered Emory College (later Oxford College of Emory University). From an early age Woodruff showed an enthusiasm for sports and the outdoors, and was possessed of a competitive and independent spirit. Not happy in a classroom, Woodruff set out on his own in 1909 and worked for the next few years at odd jobs in Atlanta. In 1912 he married Nell Hodgson of Athens, and that same year he took a position with his father's concern, the Atlantic Ice and Coal Company. During a business trip to New York he caught the attention of Walter White, the president of the Cleveland, Ohio-based White Motor Company, who offered him a sales position. While with White's company, Woodruff traveled frequently from his Atlanta home to New York, Cleveland, and around the Southeast. His astounding sales record earned him a vice presidency in 1921 and election to White's board a year later. The Coca-Cola Company's initial fortunes were less impressive. In 1919 a consortium of businessmen, headed by Woodruff's father and including Woodruff's friend W. C. Bradley, purchased Coca-Cola for $25 million. Soon thereafter, the company's stock value and sales of syrup plunged, in part due to market fluctuations in sugar's price after World War I (1917-18). A "frail bark struggling upon a tempestuous sea" was how the company's attorney described the business. Vigorous leadership was urgently needed, and with the evidence of Woodruff's meteoric rise before the board, chairman Bradley offered him the job of president in 1923. Woodruff accepted it, though his starting salary of $36,000 represented a $50,000 pay cut. He was thirty-three years old. In 1955 Woodruff turned sixty-five. Company rules required him to step down, though he retained his offices in Coke's corporate headquarters, a seat on the board, and chairmanship of its finance committee. He continued, in effect, as the company's unofficial leader until his death. He also divided his time among favored pursuits. He and his wife valued their time at Ichauway Plantation in southwest Georgia, which they had acquired in the late 1920s. It was a home away from the city where they rested and entertained friends, and where Woodruff indulged his lifelong passion for quail hunting, bird dogs, and horses. He continued quietly to advise Atlanta's civic leaders, as he always had done, and was especially valuable to mayors William B. Hartsfield and Ivan Allen Jr. during Atlanta's critical desegregation years--perhaps his least-known and farthest-reaching civic contribution. Sought after because of his superb business judgment, he served on the boards of the Trust Company of Georgia, Southern Railway, and Rich's Department Store, and also exercised a highly regarded national influence as a director of General Electric, American Express, and Metropolitan Life. The Woodruffs had no children. His wife, Nell, died in 1968, and Woodruff died on March 7, 1985. The Robert W. Woodruff Foundation received funds from their estates and continues Woodruff's legacy of philanthropy in the state of Georgia. Robert Woodruff (1889-1985) - New Georgia Encyclopedia (Retrieved July 13, 2009)


Arranged by record type.

Index Terms

Birds in art.
Christmas cards--Specimens.
Christmas cards.
Color prints (prints).
Wildlife art.

General Notes

Related collections held by Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University: Athos Menaboni collection, 1940-1985.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Collection of Christmas cards designed by Athos Menaboni for Robert W. Woodruff, 1941-1984. MS 2645. Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, The University of Georgia Libraries.

Series Descriptions and Folder Listing

2 Birds of Ichauway Plantation by Athos Menaboni Vol. I
3 Birds of Ichauway Plantation by Athos Menaboni Vol. II
4 Birds of Ichauway Plantation by Athos Menaboni Vol. III