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Robert Koehler letters, 1888-1927, bulk 1888-1890 dates

Koehler, Robert, 1850-1917

Lithographer, Painter, Arts administrator, Illustrator


Collection Information

Size: 36 Items, (on 1 microfilm reel)

Summary: Thirty-four letters (1888-1890) pertain to the Milwaukee Industrial Exposition Association's attempt to raise funds to purchase Koehler's painting "The Strike" for the Layton Art Gallery in Milwaukee. At the time, the painting was on exhibit in the American section of the Exposition Universelle of 1889 in Paris and the letters reflect Koehler's efforts to persuade the officials to permit the painting's removal from the exhibition. One letter (1916) written by George E. Vincent of the University of Minnesota, confirms Koehler's appointment as a lecturer on art history. One letter (1927) written by Marie Koehler to Karl W. Jones, explains why she is sending her husband's correspondence to Mr. Jones.

Biographical/Historical Note

Robert Koehler was born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1850 and settled with his family in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1854. He learned the trade of lithography which he practiced in Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, and New York City. He studied painting for two years in Munich, Germany, until lack of funds forced him to return in 1875 to New York where he continued his studies at the National Academy and the Art Students League. In 1879 Koehler returned to Munich where he taught art and organized the American department of 2 international art exhibitions, held in 1883 and 1888. His most famous work "The Strike" (1886) was based on industrial conflicts in Pittsburgh. He returned to New York in 1892 and served as director of the Minnesota School of Fine Arts from 1893 to 1914. He died Apr. 24, 1917.


The letters were donated to the Minnesota Historical Society by Helen Jones in 1957. Mrs. Jones is the wife of Karl W. Jones, a former student of Koehler. The microfilm was purchased from the Minnesota Historical Society.

Language Note

Three letters are in French.

Location of Originals

  • Originals in the Division of Library and Archives, Minnesota Historical Society.

How to Use This Collection

Alternative Forms Available

35mm microfilm reel 4308 available for use only in the Archives of American Art office in Washington, D. C., through interlibrary loan, and at the Minnesota Historical Society (reel MN 512).

Microfilmed by the Division of Library and Archives, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1986 (1 reel).

Restrictions on Access

The Archives of American art does not own the original papers. Use is limited to the microfilm copy.

Restrictions on Use

Authorization to publish, quote or reproduce requires written permission from the Division of Library and Archives, Minnesota Historical Society. Contact Reference Services for more information.

The Archives of American Art makes its archival collections available for non-commercial, educational and personal use unless restricted by copyright and/or donor restrictions, including but not limited to access and publication restrictions. AAA makes no representations concerning such rights and restrictions and it is the user's responsibility to determine whether rights or restrictions exist and to obtain any necessary permission to access, use, reproduce and publish the collections. Please refer to the Smithsonian's Terms of Use for additional information.

How to Cite This Collection

Robert Koehler letters, 1888-1927, bulk 1888-1890 dates. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.