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Carl Bohnen papers, 1892-1974

Bohnen, Carl A., 1872-1951

Painter, Portrait painter

Collection Information

Size: 3.7 linear feet.

Summary: Found within the papers are biographical materials; correspondence among family, clients, and colleagues; scattered business records; a sketchbook and loose sketches; miscellaneous notes and writings; three scrapbooks of clippings and additional printed materials. Photographs are of Bohnen, family members, colleagues, views of Paris in the late 1920s, Native American models, portrait clients, and artwork.
Biographical material includes miscellaneous Bohnen family histories and chronologies of Bohnen's career, Bohnen's marriage certificate, school transcripts, and copies of his burial certificate.
Family correspondence consists of letters exchanged between Bohnen, his wife, siblings, and children. General correspondence is with colleagues including Carl Von Marr, and portrait clients including Constance Collier, John Erskine, Edna Ferber, and Frank B. Kellogg. The letters are often emotional and illustrate occasionally volatile relationships between Bohnen, his clients, and his children. Also included are condolence letters received by the family following Bohnen's death.
Business records include a contract for financial backing of artistic activities, insurance records, miscellaneous receipts, and a file concerning the elderly Bohnen's injuries on an American Airlines flight bringing him from California to live with his son in Chicago.
Artwork found within the papers consists of a sketchbook, miscellaneous sketches, hand-lettered signs for Bohnen's portrait business, etchings by Bohnen and others, a bronze plaque displaying a self-portrait of Bohnen, and etching plates. Scattered notes and writings include typescripts of speeches, plays, and poems.
Three scrapbooks of clippings and additional printed material consisting of loose clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, and reproductions of artwork offer a good overview of Bohnen's career.
Photographs are primarily of Bohnen's artwork and protrait clients. Two photograph albums contain scattered photographs of Bohnen, family members, colleagues, and artwork. Other photographs are of Bohnen at his easel, family members, colleagues including sculptor Paul Dubois working in his studio, artist Grace Neal, and views of Paris. There are also photographs of Native American models in ceremonial headdresses. Photographs of clients include Sarah Bernhardt, William Jennings Bryan, Enrico Caruso, Fritz Feld, Mary Garden, and Helen Hayes, among others.

Biographical/Historical Note

Painter and engraver; Minneapolis, Minn.


Donated 1978 by Mrs. Arthur Bohnen and Blythe Bohnen, daughter-in-law and granddaughter of Carl Bohnen.