Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Max Beerbohm:

An Inventory of His Collection at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Beerbohm, Max, 1872-1956
Title: Max Beerbohm Art Collection
Dates: 1880s-1946, undated
Extent: 5 boxes, 2 oversize folders, 2 framed paintings (154 items)
Abstract: The collection consists of 151 original works by Beerbohm and one reproductive print. The works consist mainly of caricatures of early twentieth century London celebrities and political figures. In addition, there are two drawings of Beerbohm done by Sir Osbert Lancaster and by Frank Richardson.
Access:

Open for research. A minimum of twenty-four hours is required to pull art materials to the Reading Room.




Acquisition:

Purchases (R307, R938, R1901, R2077, R2391, R2683, R2738, R3011, R3318, R3732, R3774, R3890, R4228, R4903, R5180, R5331) 1960-1970

Processed by:

Alice Egan, 1997, and Helen Young, 2002

Repository:

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin


Max Beerbohm, considered by some to be the best essayist, parodist, and cartoonist of his age, was born Henry Maximilian Beerbohm on August 24, 1872, in London, to Julius Ewald Beerbohm and his second wife, Eliza Draper Beerbohm. His early education was at a preparatory school in Orme Square, and then at Charterhouse. He attended Merton College at Oxford, 1890-1894, but did not receive a degree.

While at Oxford, Beerbohm published caricatures and essays in the Strand and other periodicals. In 1893 he became acquainted with Sir William Rothenstein, who introduced him to Aubrey Beardsley and other members of the literary and artistic circle connected with the Bodley Head. Through Beerbohm's half brother, noted actor-manager Herbert Beerbohm Tree, he became acquainted with Oscar Wilde and his friends. By the time Beerbohm left Oxford, he had developed his personality as a dandy and humorist.

In 1895 he traveled with Herbert Beerbohm Tree's theatrical company on a four-month tour of American cities, working as Tree's secretary. After his return to London, he moved in with his sisters and widowed mother. He contributed drawings and essays to various periodicals, including the Yellow Book, the Savoy, and the Daily Mail. His first book of drawings, Caricatures of Twenty-five Gentleman, and his first literary collection, The Works of Max Beerbohm, were both published in 1896. In 1898 he succeeded George Bernard Shaw as drama critic of the Saturday Review, a position he held until 1910.

During the years he wrote for the Saturday Review, he arranged four exhibitions of his drawings. In 1906 he received an assignment from the Daily Mail to write a travel series on Italy, and he became attracted to that country. In 1910 he married the American-born actress Florence Kahn, resigned his position as drama critic, and moved with his wife to Rapallo, Italy, partly as an escape from the social demands and the expense of living in London. Except for the time during the two World Wars when they lived in England, and occasional trips to England to take part in exhibitions of his drawings, Max and Florence Beerbohm lived in Rapallo for the rest of their lives; for a while, Ezra Pound was a neighbor.

Beerbohm published several collections of essays, parodies, and caricatures. In 1911, he published his only novel, Zuleika Dobson. His last volume of essays, A Variety of Things, was published in 1928. His later years were spent in retirement. In 1935 the Beerbohms traveled to England so that Florence could appear in a revival of Peer Gynt at the Old Vic; during this time Max created a successful series of BBC broadcasts, London Revisited. He was knighted in 1939. After Florence's death in 1951, Beerbohm lived with his secretary, Elizabeth Jungmann, whom he married a few weeks before his death. He died May 20, 1956, in Rapallo, Italy.


Cleary, Ann A. "Max Beerbohm." Dictionary of Literary Biography. Vol. 34, British Novelists, 1820-1929: Traditionalists. Ed. Thomas F. Staley. Detroit: Gale Research, 1984.

Dictionary of National Biography, 1951-1960. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971.

Kirkpatrick, John O. Max on View: an Exhibition. Austin, Tex.: Humanities Research Center, 1978.


The Ransom Center's Max Beerbohm Art Collection is organized in two series: I. Works by Max Beerbohm, and II. Works by Other Artists. The Works by Max Beerbohm are arranged by accession number. The Works by Other Artists are arranged by artist. Titles are transcribed from the items; cataloger's titles appear in brackets.

The Works by Max Beerbohm comprise most of the collection with 151 original works and one reproductive print. Most of the works are caricatures of celebrities and political figures who were active in London in the first part of the twentieth century. The collection includes a group of fourteen drawings done while Beerbohm was at school at Charterhouse, and a group of six watercolor drawings of his wife, Frances Kahn Beerbohm. There are two paintings— Edwardian Parade and Literary Figures of the Nineties —that hung in Beerbohm's home in Rapallo, Italy. The subjects of a majority of the works were identified by Rupert Hart-Davis in 1971. An alphabetical index of subjects is included in this finding aid.

The Works by Other Artists consists of two works: a drawing of Beerbohm by Sir Osbert Lancaster, and a drawing of Beerbohm by Frank Richardson.


The Ransom Center's Art Collection also has a group of eleven drawings by Max Beerbohm in its Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Collection, as well as a portrait painting of Beerbohm by Albert Rutherston in its Albert Rutherston Collection, and portrait drawings of Beerbohm and Florence Kahn Beerbohm by Sir William Rothenstein in its William Rothenstein Collection. The Ransom Center also has Max Beerbohm materials in its Manuscripts Collection (including a portfolio of drawings and sketches drawn by Beerbohm while at Charterhouse, a caricature drawing of George Street and Beerbohm bound into a group of manuscripts, and sketches on manuscripts), its Library, and its Photography Collection.