Archives of American Art

Oral history interview with George S. Abrams

Collection ID:
Abrams, George
Ruby, Louisa Wood, 1959-
2018 Jan. 25- Oct. 25
Physical Description:
6 Items
Sound recording: 6 sound files (5 hr., 5 min.)
digital, wav
133 Pages

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
An interview with George S. Abrams conducted 2018 January 25-26, and October 25 by Louisa Wood Ruby, for the Archives of American Art and the Center for the History of Collecting in America at the Frick Art Reference Library of The Frick Collection, at the Archives of American Art in New York, New York.
Scope and Contents
Mr. Abrams discusses growing up in Boston, his exposure to art at a young age and the stamp and silver collecting pursuits of his two uncles; his early collecting of American historical documents; his wife Maida's interest in art and her collecting of prints as a young teenager; his pursuit of a law degree at Harvard Law School and his work as a managing editor on the Harvard Crimson; his relationship with Paul Sachs and two of his grandsons at Harvard; his work with a Dutch student group after graduation and his first visits to the Netherlands and his visits to art museums there; the beginnings of his deep appreciation for 16th- and 17th-century Dutch drawings; Maida Abrams' work with the Very Special Arts programs for the United States and Massachusetts; their early collecting visits to dealers and auctions in Europe in the early '60s; and their work with Franklin W. Robinson creating a travelling exhibition of their drawings in 1969.
Scope and Contents
Mr. Abrams also describes his work for Sonesta International Hotels in the early '70s helping to build a hotel in Amsterdam, and the time he was able to spend travelling to Europe and visit art dealers and auctions there; his feelings about the development of the collecting of Old Master Dutch drawings in America compared with the field's history in Europe; the differences between collecting Old Master drawings and paintings; the Chatsworth Collection auction at Christie's in 1985 and his purchase there of a Rembrandt; the extent of his involvement with the Center for Netherlandish Art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston; the gift of 330 Dutch and Flemish drawings to the Harvard Art Museums in 2017; and the future of the Maida and George Abrams Collection and his plans for its legacy.
Scope and Contents
Mr. Abrams also recalls Hyman Swetzoff; Alfred Brod; Noel Annesley; John Gere; C. F. Louis de Wild; Peter Schatborn; Winslow Ames; Robert Light; Hans Calmann; Senator Ted Kennedy; Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann; Evert Douwes; Herman Shickman; Eugene Thaw; John Steiner; Lodewijk Houthakker; Emile Wolf; Horst Gerson; Adolphe Stein; Dr. C. R. Rudolf as well as Susan Anderson; Konrad Oberhuber; Jakob Rosenberg; Edouard Kopp; Yvonne Tan Bunzl; Kate de Rothschild; Hans Mielke; William Robinson; Eijk and Rose-Marie Van Otterloo; Susan and Matthew Weatherbie; Austeja Mackelaite, among others.

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
George S. Abrams (1932- ) is a lawyer and art collector in Boston, Massachusetts. Louisa Wood Ruby (1959- ) is an Art Historian at the Frick Art Reference Library, New York, New York.

Funding for this interview was provided by Barbara Fleischman.
Existence and Location of Copies
Transcript is available on the Archives of American Art's website.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.

Digital Content

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
This transcript is open for research. Access to the entire recording is restricted. Contact Reference Services for more information.
System Details
Recorded on Tascam DR-100MKII 0221768.

More Information
Timecode in the second session of this interview transcript is approximate. The auditor was asked to move the timecode to the end of the paragraph and update the timecode accordingly. The timecode was moved, but the time was not updated. Timecodes should be within 30 seconds of where they originally appeared in the transcript.

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Art -- Collectors and collecting -- Massachusetts -- Boston -- Interviews Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art Collectors: A Project in Partnership with the Center for the History of Collecting in America at The Frick Collection Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
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Victor Building, Suite 2200
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