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

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Jean Fitzgerald and Rihoko Ueno
Scope and Contents
The papers of painter Max Bohm measure 5.6 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 Beecher 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.
Professional correspondence consists of scattered letters discussing art-related business with colleagues including Bohm's longtime patron and Christian Science advocate, Mary Beecher 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. There are also 2 copies of a silent, black and white Pathé newsreel titled Six Foot Art, in Which Max Bohm, Member of the National Academy Tells How He Does It on 16mm and 35mm film reels.
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.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Kathryn Esther Locke and Elizabeth Schwarz, the artist's daughters, lent the material on microfilm reels 420-421 and donated papers in 1972.
Separated Materials
The Archives of American Art also holds microfilm of material lent for microfilming (reels 420-421) including biographical material, scattered letters, notes and writings, drawings, clippings, exhibition catalogs, booklets, a scrapbooks, and photographs of Bohm, his family, colleagues, and residences. Loaned materials were returned to the lender and are not described in the collection container inventory.
The original Six Foot Art film was also transferred to 16mm and 35mm film reels in the 1970s, but is not in the collection.
Funding for the digitization of this collection was provided by The Walton Family Foundation and the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Processing Information
The Max Bohm papers were processed in March 2008 by Jean Fitzgerald. The collection was prepared for digitization by Rihoko Ueno in 2016 with funding provided by The Walton Family Foundation and the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Motion picture film reels were inspected and re-housed in 2016-2017 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund.