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Martin Birnbaum papers, 1862-1967, bulk 1920-1967

Biographical Note

New York art dealer, critic, and author Martin Birmbaum (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 & Fowles. He spent the later part of his career building the Grenville Lindall Winthrop Collection, now at the Fogg Museum.
Birnbaum immigrated to the United States from Hungary as a child. He was an accomplished violinist who studied at City College of New York, and graduated with a law degree from Columbia University in 1901, but developed a life-long interest in art during visits to Europe. As manager of the Berlin Photographic Company he had great success in staging art exhibitions at the company's New York galleries, which led him to a junior partnership in the Fifth Avenue firm of art dealers, Scott & Fowles. Birnbaum traveled widely and built relationships with many of the prominent artists and art collectors of his day and, in addition to the Grenville Lindall Winthrop collection, was influential in developing other important art collections including those of Edward Davis, Reginald Davis, and Henry P. McIlhenny.
Birnbaum wrote widely about his experiences and encounters in the world of wealthy socialites, literary salons, artists, art patrons, and collectors in publications such as Aubrey Vincent Beardsley (Berlin Photographic Co., 1911), Oscar Wilde: Fragments and Memories (J.F. Drake, Incorporated, 1914) , Vanishing Eden:Wanderings in the Tropics (New York: William E. Rudge's Sons, 1942), Angkor and the Mandarin Road (Vantage Press, 1952), and The Last Romantic (Twayne Publishers, 1961). He died in 1970 at the age of 92.