Max Bohm papers, 1873-1970, bulk 1880-1959

A Finding Aid to the Max Bohm Papers, 1873-1970, bulk 1880-1959, in the Archives of American Art, by Jean Fitzgerald

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Table of Contents:



Biographical Information

Max Bohm was born on January 21, 1868, in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Henry and Emilie Bohm.

Bohm began his study of art in 1887 when he accompanied his aunt, Anna Stuhr, on the first of several voyages to France. He studied in artist communities in Brittany and in Paris at the Académie Julian with Boulanger, Lefebvre, and Benjamin Constant. He also traveled to Belgium, The Netherlands, and Germany.

In 1895, Bohm attended an open school of painting in Etaples on the coast of France, and during the winter months he taught painting at a school in London, England. His painting En Mer was awarded the Gold Medal by the Paris Salon of 1897.

While teaching in Etaples in 1898, Bohm married one of his pupils, Zella Newcomb, an art teacher from Carlton College in Minnesota. In 1900, the Bohms traveled to Italy for several months before returning to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where Bohm established a studio. After trying to find affordable studio and living space in New York City, Bohm moved his family back to France in 1902. Bohm established a studio in Paris for two years and during the summer months his wife and children moved to the less expensive and cooler coastal towns of France. Bohm continued to display his work in the annual Paris Salons.

From 1905 until the summer of 1908, the Bohm family lived primarily in England. In 1909, Bohm entered and won the Cleveland Court House mural competition, prompting the family to return to the United States for several months. They returned to Paris the following year, where Bohm established a studio and worked on the Cleveland Court House mural. Again, Bohm's wife and children would live in French coastal towns, while Bohm was on extended visits to Paris, London, or the United States.

Sometime around 1911, Bohm became acquainted with Mrs. Mary Bucher Longyear, a wealthy follower of Mary Baker Eddy and Christian Science. Over the next decade, Mrs. Longyear commissioned many works by Bohm and supported his career. In May of 1912 Bohm's mural, First New England Town Meeting, was installed in the new Cleveland Court House and arrangements were made with Macbeth Galleries to exhibit Bohm's work. Late in 1913, Bohm became involved with the Pan-Pacific International Exposition where his painting Promenade won the Gold Medal in 1915.

During World War I, the Bohm family fled France and temporarily settled in Tuckahoe, New York, and Bohm made frequent visits to his patron, Mrs. Longyear, in Boston. In 1916, the Knoedler Gallery exhibited Bohm's murals for Mrs. Longyear's music room. Also during this time, the family enjoyed spending summers in Provincetown, where Bohm joined The Beachcombers, an organization of artists.

In 1919, the Bohms built a house in Bronxville, New York, for easy access to New York City, while simultaneously purchasing a cottage in Provincetown. While the house was being constructed, Zella and the children became boarders in the home of painter Spencer Nichols, who also lived in Bronxville. During this year, Max Bohm, Jr., entered Harvard University while Mrs. Longyear continued to provide commissions for Max Bohm's art work.

Between 1922 and 1923, Bohm had exhibitions in Greenwich, Connecticut, Washington, D.C., and at the Grand Central Galleries, with his painting En Mer being exhibited at the National Academy of Design.

Max Bohm died on September 19, 1923 in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

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Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The papers of painter Max Bohm measure 5.4 linear feet and date from 1873-1970, with the bulk of the material dating from 1880-1959. Biographical material includes a file concerning the Provincetown artist's club The Beachcombers. Also found within the papers is detailed family correspondence, as well as general correspondence that includes exchanges with patron Mary Bucher Longyear and dealer William Macbeth. Also found are scattered business records; five diaries written by Bohm's wife Zella; other notes and writings; art work including sketchbooks, loose drawings, and oil paintings; printed material; and photographs of Bohm, his family, and colleagues including artists attending a Salmagundi dinner. There is also a motion picture film Six Foot Art, in Which Max Bohm, Member of the National Academy Tells How He Does It.

Family correspondence consists of letters exchanged between various Bohm family members during their long periods of separation. Decades of almost daily exchanges of letters offer detailed descriptions of Bohm's activities in pursuit of notoriety as an artist including his frequent travels in Europe and the United States, attendance of art-related and other cultural events, and his thoughts about art, philosophy, and his strong opposition to German aggression in World War I. The often affectionate letters from Bohm's wife Zella describe her concerns over finances and raising the children during Bohm's frequent absences, but also include descriptions of their summers in coastal France.

General correspondence consists of scattered letters discussing art-related business with colleagues including Bohm's longtime patron and Christian Science advocate, Mary Bucher Longyear, and Macbeth Gallery owners Robert and William Macbeth. Scattered business records include price lists for art work, banking records, and miscellaneous receipts.

Five diaries and loose diary pages written by Bohm's wife Zella contain detailed descriptions of daily activities and her observations and thoughts, some drawings, notes, and financial notations. Some of the diaries contain annotations by her daughter, Esther.

Notes and writings include notebooks containing original short stories and miscellaneous sketches by Bohm, lists of art work, miscellaneous notes including several written by Esther Bohm, and miscellaneous writings by and about Bohm including his typescript "An Artist's Philosophy."

Art work consists of fifteen sketchbooks, miscellaneous drawings including a self-portrait, and oil paintings on board and on unstretched canvases including Bohm's studies of works by Titian and Van Dyke, and a painting of a young Esther Bohm looking at the sea. Works by others include a batik design on silk by Zella Bohm, a watercolor by Bohm's aunt, Anna Stuhr Weitz, and an oil portrait of Zella by her granddaughter.

Printed material primarily consists of clippings generated by Bohm's participation in the Paris Salons, in addition to several exhibition announcements and catalogs for Bohm and for others, and reproductions of art work by Bohm and others.

Photographs are of Bohm and his family, colleagues including Clyde du Vernet Hunt in his studio and a Salmagundi Club "Get Together" dinner, views of the town of Etaples, France, and of works of art by Bohm and others.

The silent, black and white 16mm motion picture film Six Foot Art, in Which Max Bohm, Member of the National Academy Tells How He Does It shows Max Bohm describing his method of preparing mentally and physically to create a painting. There is also a 35mm (negative) copy of this film.

Arrangement and Series Description

The papers have been organized into 9 series. Each series is arranged chronologically.

Subjects and Names

This collection is indexed in the online catalog of the Archives of American Art under the following terms:

Subjects:

  • Beachcombers --Organization
  • Salmagundi Club

Subjects-Topical:

  • Art -- Philosophy
  • Painting, American -- Massachusetts -- Provincetown
  • Painters --Massachusetts -- Provincetown

Types of Materials:

  • Diaries
  • Motion pictures -- visual works
  • Paintings
  • Photographs
  • Sketchbooks
  • Sketches
  • Writings

Names:

  • Macbeth, William, 1851-1917
  • Locke, Esther Bohm, d. 1913
  • Bohm, Zella Newcomb

Provenance

The Max Bohm papers were donated in two installments in 1972 by Esther Locke and Elizabeth Schwarz, the artist's daughters.

Separated and Related Materials

Biographical material, scattered letters, notes and writings, drawings, clippings, exhibition catalogs, booklets, a scrapbook, and photographs of Bohm, his family, colleagues, and residences were loaned for microfilming in 1972 and returned to the donor. Loaned materials are available on microfilm reels 420-421 and for interlibrary loan, but are not described in the container listing of this finding aid.

How the Collection was Processed

The Max Bohm papers were processed in March 2008 by Jean Fitzgerald.


How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

Use of original papers requires an appointment.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The Max Bohm papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.

How to Cite this Collection

Max Bohm papers, 1873-1970, bulk 1880-1959. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1898-1970
(Box 1, OV 8; 7 folders)

Biographical material consists of calling cards for Max Bohm, biographical accounts, and award certificates from the Société des Artistes Français Salon of 1898, Exposition Universelle de Médaille d'Argent, the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, the Universal Exposition of St. Louis, and the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. A file concerning the art club/association The Beachcombers contains the organization's constitution and by-laws, an etching of a party invitation, a booklet of their history, notes and writings, clippings, miscellaneous printed material, and photographs of members participating in costumed events.

Box Folder
1 1 Calling Cards, Biographical Accounts and Award Certificates, 1898-1915, undated
(Oversized material housed in OV 8)
1 2-5 File Concerning The Beachcombers, 1917-1970, undated
(4 folders)
Box
OV 8 Oversized, Five Award Certificates, 1898-1915, undated
(From Box 1, folder 1)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1880-1955
(Boxes 1-4, 7; 3.3 linear feet)

Family correspondence consists of letters exchanged between various Bohm family members during their long periods of separation. The letters describe Bohm's activities in the studio, his wife's worries about finances and raising the children, and the family's increasing interest in Christian Science. Zella's expressed worries about finances are interspersed with descriptions of the children's idyllic summer days living primarily in French coastal towns, and the family's increasing interest in Christian Science. Several letters have annotations written by Bohm's daughter Esther. Approximately one fourth of the Family Correspondence is written in German, with a few letters in French. General Correspondence consists of letters discussing art-related business with patron and friend Mary Bucher Longyear, and art dealers Robert and William Macbeth, among others.

Box Folder
1 6 Family Correspondence, undated
(oversized materials housed in Box 7)
1 7 Family Correspondence, 1880-1882
1 8 Family Correspondence, 1883
1 9-10 Family Correspondence, 1884
(2 folders)
1 11 Family Correspondence, 1885
1 12 Family Correspondence, 1886
1 13-20 Family Correspondence, 1887
(8 folders)
1 21-27 Family Correspondence, 1888
(7 folders)
1 28-33 Family Correspondence, 1889
(6 folders)
1 34-39 Family Correspondence, 1890
(6 folders)
1 40-43 Family Correspondence, 1891
(4 folders)
1 44 Family Correspondence, 1892-1893
1 45-50 Family Correspondence, 1894
(6 folders)
1 51-56 Family Correspondence, 1895
(6 folders)
1 57-59 Family Correspondence, 1896
(3 folders; oversized material housed in Box 7)
1 60-63 Family Correspondence, 1897
(4 folders; oversized material housed in Box 7)
1 64-70 Family Correspondence, 1898
(7 folders)
1 71-80 Family Correspondence, 1899
(10 folders; oversized material housed in Box 7)
1 81-85 Family Correspondence, 1900
(5 folders)
1 86-91 Family Correspondence, 1901
(6 folders)
1 92-96 Family Correspondence, 1902
(5 folders)
1 97-100 Family Correspondence, 1903
(4 folders)
Box Folder
2 1-2 Family Correspondence, 1904
(2 folders)
2 3-6 Family Correspondence, 1905
(4 folders)
2 7 Family Correspondence, 1906
2 8-14 Family Correspondence, 1907
(7 folders)
2 15-16 Family Correspondence, 1908
(2 folders)
2 17-27 Family Correspondence, 1909
(11 folders)
2 28-36 Family Correspondence, 1910
(9 folders)
2 37-43 Family Correspondence, 1911
(7 folders)
2 44-55 Family Correspondence, 1912
(12 folders)
2 56-57 Family Correspondence, 1913
(2 folders)
2 58-70 Family Correspondence, 1914
(13 folders)
2 71-83 Family Correspondence, 1915
(13 folders)
2 84-89 Family Correspondence, 1916
(6 folders)
Box Folder
3 1-12 Family Correspondence, 1916
(12 folders)
3 13-20 Family Correspondence, 1917
(8 folders)
3 21-33 Family Correspondence, 1918
(13 folders)
3 34-59 Family Correspondence, 1919
(26 folders)
3 60-65 Family Correspondence, 1920
(6 folders)
3 66-77 Family Correspondence, 1921
(12 folders)
Box Folder
4 1-4 Family Correspondence, 1922
(4 folders)
4 5-11 Family Correspondence, 1923
(7 folders)
4 12 Family Correspondence, 1924-1955
4 13 General Correspondence, undated
4 14 General Correspondence, 1895-1909
4 15 General Correspondence, 1910
(Oversized material housed in Box 7)
4 16 General Correspondence, 1911-1912
4 17 General Correspondence, 1913
4 18-19 General Correspondence, 1914
(2 folders)
4 20 General Correspondence, 1915
4 21 General Correspondence, 1916-1919
4 22-23 General Correspondence, 1920
(2 folders)
4 24 General Correspondence, 1921
4 25-26 General Correspondence, 1923
(2 folders)
4 27 General Correspondence, 1924-1929
4 28-29 General Correspondence, 1930
(2 folders)
4 30 General Correspondence, 1931
Box
7 (sol) Seven Oversized Letters, 1896-1899, undated
(from Box 1; folders 57-63, 71-80)
7 (sol) Two Oversized Letters, 1910
(from Box 4, folder 14)

Series 3: Business Records, 1910-1933
(Box 4; 13 folders)

Scattered business records include a statement by Max Bohm granting short-term power of attorney to his brother Gustave, price lists concerning real estate, price lists for art work, and miscellaneous tax and banking records, and receipts.

Box Folder
4 31 Power of Attorney, 1922
4 32 Taxes, 1922
4 33 Real Estate Price Lists, undated
4 34-35 Price Lists for Art Work, 1924-1930, undated
(2 folders)
4 36-37 Check Registers, 1921-1926
(2 folders)
4 38-41 Cancelled Checks, 1915-1933
(4 folders)
4 42-43 Miscellaneous Receipts, 1910-1930, undated
(2 folders)

Series 4: Diaries, 1887-1916
(Box 1; 8 folders)

Five diaries and loose diary entries were written by Zella Bohm and contain detailed descriptions of activities and thoughts, some drawings, notes, and financial notations, as well as annotations by her daughter, Esther. One diary was transcribed prior to donation.

Box Folder
4 44 Loose Diary Pages, undated
4 45 Diary, 1887
4 46 Diary, 1897
4 47 Diary, 1898
4 48 Typescript of Diary, 1905
4 49 Loose Diary Pages, 1905
4 50 Diary, 1905-1915
4 51 Diary, 1916

Series 5: Notes and Writings, 1882-1945
(Boxes 4, 7; 11 folders)

Notes and writings include notebooks containing original short stories and miscellaneous sketches by Bohm, lists of art work, miscellaneous notes including several written by Bohm's daughter Esther, and miscellaneous writings by and about Bohm. Also included is a souvenir map of an Atlantic voyage annotated with the location of the Titanic's sinking.

Box Folder
4 52 Notebook 1, 1882
4 53 Notebook 2, 1884
4 54 Lists of Art Work, 1930, undated
4 55-56 Miscellaneous Notes, 1912, undated
(2 folders; oversized materials housed in box 7)
4 57 Illustrated Manuscript "A Trip to Mt. Marcy" by Max Bohm, undated
4 58 Typescript, "An Artist's Philosophy" by Max Bohm, undated
4 59 Typescript, "A Souvenir of Max Bohm" by Louis K. Anspacher, 1945
4 60 Miscellaneous Writings by Bohm Family Members, 1909, undated
4 61 Miscellaneous Writings about Max Bohm by Others, undated
Box
7 (sol) Oversized Route Map of S. S. Rochambeau Voyage with Annotation about the Titanic, 1912
(from box 4, folders 55-56)

Series 6: Artwork, 1873-1951
(Boxes 4-5, 7, OVs 9-10; 31 folders)

Art work consists of fifteen sketchbooks, drawings including a self-portrait, oil paintings on board and on unstretched canvases, and works by others including a batik design on silk by Zella Bohm, a watercolor by Bohm's aunt, Anna Stuhr Weitz, and an oil portrait of Zella by her granddaughter.

Box Folder
4 62 Sketchbook 1, undated
4 63 Sketchbook 2, undated
4 64 Sketchbook 3, undated
4 65 Sketchbooks 4-5, undated
(oversized; housed in Box 7)
4 66 Sketchbook 6, undated
4 67 Sketchbook 7, 1873
4 68 Sketchbook 8, 1874
4 69 Sketchbook 9, 1876
4 70 Sketchbook 10, 1884
4 71 Sketchbook 11, 1884
4 72 Sketchbook 12, 1889
4 73 Sketchbook 13, 1910
4 74 Sketchbook 14, 1912
4 75 Sketchbook 15, 1914
(oversized material housed in Box 7)
Box Folder
5 (hol) 1-7 Drawings, 1874-1914, undated
(7 folders; oversized materials housed in Box 7)
5 (hol) 8 Drawings by Others, 1879-1916
5 (hol) 9-10 Paintings, 1909, undated
(2 folders; oversized materials housed in Box 7, OVs 9-10)
5 (hol) 11 Painting and Batik Design on Silk by Zella Bohm, undated
(Oversized materials housed in OV 8)
5 (hol) 12 Watercolor by Anna Stuhr Weitz, 1896
5 (hol) 13 Painting of Zella Bohm by Anne Locke, 1951
Box
7 (sol) Oversized Sketchbooks 4, 5, and 15, 1914, undated
(also referenced in Box 4, folders 64-65, 76)
7 (sol) Fourteen Oversized Drawings, 1880-1914, undated
(from Box 5, folders 1-7)
7 (sol) Three Oversized Paintings on Unstretched Canvases, undated
(from Box 5, folders 9-10)
Box
OV 8 Oversized Batik Design on Silk by Zella Bohm, undated
(from Box 5, folder 11)
Box
OV 9 Three Oversized Oil Paintings on Unstretched Canvases, undated
(from Box 5, folders 9-10)
Box
OV 10 Three Oversized Oil Paintings on Unstretched Canvases, undated
(from Box 5, folders 9-10)

Series 7: Printed Material, 1886-1957
(Boxes 5-6; 30 folders)

Printed material includes clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs for Bohm and for others, and reproductions of art work by Bohm and others.

Box Folder
5 (hol) 14-15 Clippings, undated
(2 folders)
5 (hol) 16 Clippings, 1888-1896
(Oversized also in Box 7)
5 (hol) 17 Clippings, 1897
(Oversized also in Box 7)
5 (hol) 18 Clippings, 1898-1899
5 (hol) 19 Clippings, 1900-1909
(Oversized also in Box 7)
5 (hol) 20 Clippings, 1910
(Oversized also in Box 7)
5 (hol) 21 Clippings, 1911
5 (hol) 22-23 Clippings, 1912
(2 folders; oversized also in Box 7)
5 (hol) 24 Clippings, 1913
5 (hol) 25 Clippings, 1914
5 (hol) 26 Clippings, 1915
5 (hol) 27-29 Clippings, 1916
(3 folders)
5 (hol) 30 Clippings, 1917
(Oversized also in Box 7)
Box Folder
6 (hol) 1 Clippings, 1918-1922
(Oversized also in Box 7)
6 (hol) 2 Clippings, 1923
6 (hol) 3 Clippings, 1924
6 (hol) 4 Clippings, 1925
(Oversized also in Box 7)
6 (hol) 5 Clippings, 1926
6 (hol) 6 Clippings, 1927
6 (hol) 7 Clippings, 1928-1957
6 (hol) 8 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1916-1932, undated
6 (hol) 9-10 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs for Others, 1886, undated
(2 folders)
6 (hol) 11 Reproductions of Art Work for YMCA Publications, undated
6 (hol) 12 Miscellaneous Reproductions of Art Work by Others, undated
6 (hol) 13 Miscellaneous Printed Material, 1891, undated
Box
7 (hol) Oversized Clippings, 1891-1925
(from Box 5, folders 16-17, 19, 20, 22-23, 30; Box 6, folders 1, 4)

Series 8: Photographs, 1886-1959
(Boxes 6-7; 7 folders)

Photographs are of Bohm, his family, colleagues including Clyde du Vernet Hunt in his studio and a Salmagundi Club dinner, views of the town of Etaples, France, where Bohm spent his early career, and of works of art by Bohm and others.

Box Folder
6 (hol) 14 Photographs of Max Bohm, 1886-1899
6 (hol) 15 Photographs of the Bohm Family and Colleagues, 1922, undated
(Oversized also in Box 7)
6 (hol) 16 Photographs of Etaples, France, undated
6 (hol) 17 Photographs of Esther Bohm Locke in Pont-Aven, France, 1959
6 (hol) 18 Photographs of Art Work, undated
(Oversized also in Box 7)
6 (hol) 19 Photographs of Art Work by Clyde duVernet Hunt, 1897
Box
7 (sol) Two Oversized Photograph of Bohm's Grandparents and Other Family Members; Oversized Photograph of Clyde du Vernet Hunt in His Studio; Two Oversized Photographs of a Salmagundi Club Dinner; An Oversized Photograph of Art Work, 1922, undated
(from Box 6, folders 15, 18)

Series 9: Motion Picture Film, Circa 1923
(Box 6; 1 folder)

A 16mm (positive) copy of a silent black and white motion picture film Six Foot Art, in Which Max Bohm, Member of the National Academy Tells How He Does It showing Max Bohm describing his method of preparing mentally and physically to create a painting. There is also a 35mm (negative) copy of this film.

Box Folder
6 (hol) 20 Motion Picture Film Six Foot Art, in Which Max Bohm, Member of the National Academy Tells How He Does It, circa 1923