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

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

Bohm, Max, 1868-1923


Collection Information

Size: 5.6 linear feet

Biographical/Historical Note

Max Bohm (1868-1923) was a painter in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Max Bohm was born on January 21, 1868, in Cleveland, Ohio. He began his study of art in 1887 and studied in artist communities in Brittany and in Paris at the Academie Julian with Boulanger, Lefebvre, and Benjamin Constant. He and his family spent the next several decades moving between France, England, and various places in the U.S. Eventually, they settled in Bronxville, N.Y. and had a cottage in Provincetown, Massachussets, where Bohm died on September 19, 1923.


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

Related Materials

Location of Originals

  • Reels 420-421: Originals returned to Kathryn Locke after microfilming.

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. 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.

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 collection is also available on microfilm reels 420 and 421at Archives of American Art offices, and through interlibrary loan. The current arrangement of the papers may not match the arrangement on microfilm.


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