A.W. Bahr Papers
FSA.A2001.14

Summary
Collection ID:
FSA.A2001.14
Creators:
Bahr, A. W.
Dates:
1919-1957
bulk 1947-1957
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
1.25 Linear feet
Repository:
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
Abel William Bahr was a coal merchant and general importer born in China who became an important collector of Chinese art. Several books and catalogues have been published about his collection. His papers include numerous drafts and notes about his memoirs as a collector, correspondence with other collectors and photographs of Chinese art objects, from jade to pottery to paintings.

Scope and Content Note
Scope and Content Note
This collection contains manuscript drafts and notes for Bahr's memoir, written by Bahr himself and C.R. Cammell, who was also the editor of
The Connoisseur
magazine. Other papers include correspondence with collectors of Chinese art or other figures in the art world, such as Lord Kitchener, the King and Queen of Sweden, Walter Muir Whitehill, Kenjiro Matsumoto and Senator Theodore Francis Green, among others. The bulk of the collection contains approximately 300 photographs of different Chinese art objects, from jade figurines to pottery to paintings. Most of these photographs are unidentified, but some of them include marginalia that indicate that they were of Bahr's own art objects for publication in books or articles. Photographs which are identified point to art objects also belonging to Bahr. The photographs have been organized based on the object type in the photograph, such as painting, statue or figurine.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged into 7 series:
Series 1
Memoirs, [1944-1956]
Series 2
Correspondence, 1919-1957 [bulk 1947-1957]
Series 3
Clippings, 1948, no date [bulk no date]
Series 4
Other Writings, no date
Series 5
Images, no date
Series 6
Catalog Images, 1935, no date
Series 7
Art Object Photographs, no date

Biographical Note
Biographical Note
1877
Born in Shanghai to German father and Chinese mother
Circa 1880s
Educated at St. Xavier's School in Shanghai
Circa 1894
Work as a clerk at a wholesale and retail coal merchant's office, left solely in charge during the first Sino-Japanese war, encouraged by backers to start his own business
1898
Goes into business with shipping friend, started the Central Trading Company
1900
Marries Miss Helen Marion Southey (daughter of Mr. T.S. Southey, in Hong Kong. Working at firm of Hopkins Dunn and Company. Begins construction on his first house, Fairview, outside the settlement on North Honan Road Extension, first son born[?]
1901
Recipient of Victoria Medal for his role as a gunner during the Boxer Rebellion (had joined the Shanghai Volunteers)
1908
Shanghai Exhibition of Chinese Art, which he helped to organize and which he loaned many pieces from his own collection. Secretary of the Royal Asiatic Society. Publishes a catalogue of the exhibit in 1911, "Old Chinese Porcelains and Works of Art in China: Being Description and Illustrations of Articles selected from an Exhibition held in Shanghai, November 1908"
1909
Begins his association with Lord Kitchener; travels with him through China
1910
Leaves permanent residence in China, moves to London, England
1911
Catalogue of an Exhibition of Early Chinese Paintings from the Collection of A.W. Bahr, published by the Fine Art Society
1915
Applies to Foreign Office in London to go to America. (Involved in the art business; the war had stopped all such activities in London)
1927
Private printing of the catalogue, "Archaic Chinese Jades collected in China by A.W. Bahr, now in Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, described by Berthold Laufer"
1938
"Early Chinese Paintings from the A.W. Bahr Collection" by Osvald Siren, published by the Chiswick Press
1946
Leaves England, with his wife, daughter Edna, two sons and their wives and two granddaughters for Canada
1947
Metropolitan Museum of Art purchases Chinese paintings from Bahr, collection of archaic jades exhibited in the Royal Ontario Museum. The Met also publishes a portfolio of the painting, 'Ching Ming Shang Ho, Spring Festival on the River' which Bahr had donated to the museum
1948
The Met exhibits Bahr's Chinese paintings. Several Chinese art objects on loan to the Art Association of Montreal and exhibited in the new Far East gallery
1949
Tang figurine, paint cakes and Han pottery vase on display at the Royal Ontario Museum of Archaeology
1950
Donates Chinese ceramics to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
1951
Begins writing his memoir[?]
1952
Last visit to London
1954
Gets typed draft of memoir. Living in Ridgefield, CT, working with C.R. Cammell
1959
Dies

Administration
Processing Information
Processed by intern Evelyn Khoo, with the assistance of archivists Rachael Cristine Woody and David Hogge. Encoded by Rebecca Morgan, Summer 2012.
Author
Finding aid prepared by Evelyn Khoo
Immediate Source of Acquisition note
Gift of Penelope Bahr.

Using the Collection
Restrictions on Access
Access is by appointment only, Monday through Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please contact the Archives to make an appointment.
Preferred Citation
A.W. Bahr Papers. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Gift of Penelope Jane Bahr, November 12th, 2001.
Use Note
Permission to reproduce and publish an item from the Archives is coordinated through the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery's Rights and Reproductions department. Please contact the Archives in order to initiate this process.

Related Material
There are no known related materials at any other institution or historical society.

Provenance
Provenance
Penelope Jane Bahr donated her grandfather's papers to the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives on November 12th, 2001.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Bahr, A. W. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Cammell, Charles Richard Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art, Chinese Subject Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art, Japanese Subject Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
China Geographical Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
China--Description and travel Subject Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Connecticut Geographical Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
England Geographical Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Japan Geographical Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Japan--Description and travel Subject Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Letters Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Manuscripts Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
Washington, D.C., 20013
Phone: 202-633-0533
AVRreference@si.edu