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Martin Birnbaum papers, 1862-1967

Martin Birnbaum papers, 1862-1967

Birnbaum, Martin, 1878-1970

Collector, Dealer

Collection Information

Size: 3.2 linear feet

Summary: The papers of New York art dealer, critic, and author Martin Birnbaum measure 3.2 linear feet and date from 1862-1967, with the bulk of the material dating from 1920-1967. The papers document Birnbaum's association with the firm of Scott and Fowles, the lives and activities of his friends and colleagues, and his literary work, through biographical material, correspondence, writings and notes, business records, printed material, a scrapbook, scattered artwork, and photographs of Birnbaum, friends and colleagues, and artwork.

Correspondence, primarily letters received by Birnbaum in New York, and throughout Europe from 1917-1960s, reflects Birnbaum's association with Scott and Fowles, particularly Stevenson Scott, and includes many details about the lives and activities of his correspondents, among them: artists Edward Bruce, Cecilia Beaux, Beniamino Bufano, Stephen C. Clark, Louise Dillingham, William Hunt Diedrich, Luis Fernandez, Herbert Haseltine, Jan Hoowij, Malvina Hoffman, Leonebel Jacobs, Lenard Kester, Lois Mailou Jones, Paul Manship, Gari Melchers, Maxfield Parrish, Charles S. Ricketts, William Rothenstein, John Singer Sargent, Janet Scudder, Carl Sprinchorn, Maurice Sterne, Albert Sterner, Carl N. Wertz, and Stanley Wilson. Also found is correspondence with art collectors and patrons including Mabel Choate, Edmund Davis, Reginald Davis, Henry P. McIlhenny, James Parmalee, Edith Wetmore, and Grenville Windall Linthrop, and museums including the Fogg Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and then curator Gisela Marie Augusta Richter, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Correspondence with scholars, writers, and publishers including George Coedes, Edmund Dulac, Joseph Francis Charles Rock, Upton Sinclair and others, documents aspects of Birnbaum's literary and scholarly work.

Writings include drafts of The Last Romantic, including Upton Sinclair's revision, and some of Birnbaum's early published and unpublished writings, as well as notes on Aubrey Beardsley.

Business records include financial records such as bills, receipts, canceled checks and statements for sales of artwork, and scattered legal records.

A small amount of printed material primarily consists of programs for musical events which evidence Birnbaum's early success as a violinist, as well as scattered news clippings, 2 exhibition catalogs, and announcements for the publications of Angkor and the Mandarin Road and The Last Romantic. Additional printed material about Birnbaum can be found in the dismantled scrapbook, 1960-1961.

Artwork includes 2 etchings and a sketch by Birnbaum, bookplates by various artists, circa 10 sketches by other and unidentified artists, and 3 cards with original artwork.

Photographs include snapshots and portraits of Birnbaum and artists and friends, among them: Robert Chanler, Charles Despiau, Norman Douglas, Luis Fernandez, Herbert Haseltine, Augustus John, Paul Manship, Gari Melchers, Elie Nadelman, Albert Sterner, Stevenson Scott, and Grenville Lindall Winthrop. Also found is a photo of Birnbaum with Edward Bruce, Alfred Potterton, Leon Stein, and Maurice Sterne, circa 1915-1916, and photographs proposed for use in The Last Romantic, travel snapshots, and photos of artwork.

Biographical/Historical Note

New York art dealer, critic, and author Martin Birnbaum (1878-1970) was the manager of the American branch of the Berlin Photographic Company in New York City from 1910-1916, and a longtime partner in the art firm Scott and Fowles.

Provenance

The collection was donated in an anonymous gift in 1970 and by Martin Birnbaum's great-nephew, Jerome Ziegler, in 1975.

Location of Originals

  • REELS N698-N698A, N698B: Originals returned to lender, Martin Birnbaum, after microfilming.

Microfilm reels N698, N698a, N698b, 108, and 1023-1027 available for use at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D. C. Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.