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Biographical Note | A Finding Aid to the Max Bohm papers, 1873-1970, bulk 1880-1959 | Digitized Collection

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

Biographical Note

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 Beecher 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.