Jacob Epstein Papers
MS.5

Summary Information

Repository
Archives and Manuscripts Collections
Creator
Epstein, Jacob, 1864-1945
Title
Jacob Epstein Papers
ID
MS.5
Date [inclusive]
1912-1940
Extent
3.5 Linear feet ; 4 boxes
Language
English
Abstract
The Jacob Epstein Papers contain the correspondence, invoices, photographs, clippings, exhibition catalogs, reprints, scrapbooks and sales materials of Jacob Epstein, Baltimore businessman and philanthropist. They document portions of Epstein’s art collection donated to the Baltimore Museum of Art on his death and span the years 1912 – 1940.

Preferred Citation

Jacob Epstein Papers, Archives and Manuscripts Collections, The Baltimore Museum of Art

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Jacob Epstein

Jacob Epstein was born in Tauroggen, Lithuania in 1864. He immigrated to the United States in 1879, first arriving in New York, then making his way to Baltimore where he opened his first store in 1881. Epstein’s store sold wholesale goods to merchants all around the southern U.S. and eventually became known as the Baltimore Bargain House and later the American Wholesale Corporation. It was sold in 1929.

Epstein married Lena Weinberg in 1888. They had two daughters, Ethel in 1889 and Marian in 1890. Ethel married A. Ray Katz in 1909 and Marian married Sidney Lansburgh in 1910. Both men became partners in Epstein’s business, giving him the time to focus on philanthropy and community affairs. Epstein’s served as director for many Baltimore institutions including National Howard Bank, Continental Trust Company, Federated Jewish Charities, Merchants and Manufacturers Association, and the Baltimore Steam Packet Company. He was also vice-president of the Clothiers’ Board of Trade. Epstein was well known for his philanthropy and served on the Board of Supervisors of City Charities and on the board of Eudowood Sanitarium as well as founding the Jewish House for Consumptives (Mount Pleasant).

In 1906, Epstein purchased his first work of art, a painting by Tryon. Other works by well-known European artists such as Jozef Israels and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot soon followed. After the display of his collection at the Inaugural Exhibition of the Baltimore Museum of Art in 1923, Epstein was asked to join the first board of trustees at the new museum, a position he held until his death. Two of the most important pieces in his collection were acquired in 1927: Van Dyck’s Rinaldo and Armida and Raphael’s Portrait of Emilia Pia de Montefeltro. These purchases caused a sensation in the newspapers, as Epstein spent $250,000 on each painting, thus securing his place as a true art collector. The bulk of Epstein’s collection was purchased in the 1920’s and 1930’s and eventually held works by Rembrandt, Gainsborough, Reynolds, Titian, Tiepolo, Barye, Goya, and Rodin. In 1939, Epstein published a catalog of his art collection, The Jacob Epstein Collection in the Baltimore Museum of Art. On his death, his collection was willed to the Baltimore Museum of Art. Epstein died in Palm Beach, Florida in 1945.

The life of Jacob Epstein has been further documented in the following publication:

Levy, Lester S.  Jacob Epstein. Baltimore: Maran Press, 1978.

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Scope and Contents

The Jacob Epstein Papers contain the correspondence, invoices, photographs, clippings, exhibition catalogs, reprints, scrapbooks and sales materials of Jacob Epstein, Baltimore businessman and philanthropist. They document portions of Epstein’s art collection donated to the Baltimore Museum of Art on his death and span the years 1912–1940. Most material dates from the 1920’s.

The Papers consist of two Series, Epstein Collection and Scrapbooks. Within the first series there are materials encompassing twenty nine paintings and sculptures in the Epstein Collection as well as some material created by BMA staff but related to the Epstein Collection. Note that not all works in the Epstein Collection are represented in the Jacob Epstein Papers. The files on each work of art are further arranged by item type into: Correspondence, Clippings, Exhibition Catalogs, Invoices, Photographs, and Sales Materials. Materials are arranged chronologically within each group.

The Series arrangement of the Papers reflects their original order, as the materials were housed in accordion files, each containing material about a single work of art. In the absence of any discernable order to the materials within each file, the arrangement scheme described above was imposed during processing.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Archives and Manuscripts Collections 2009

10 Art Museum Drive
Baltimore, MD, 21032
(443) 573-1778
BMAlibrary@artbma.org

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Legal Status

The Jacob Epstein Papers are the physical property of the Archives and Manuscripts Collections, The Baltimore Museum of Art. Copyright, except in cases where material has passed into the public domain, belongs to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult a Library staff member.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The majority of the Papers were found in the Library collection in 2004. A smaller group of material was filed in the Registration Department object files. These were separated and transferred to the Archives in 2008.

Processing Information

Processed by Emily Rafferty in 2004. Additions were processed in 2008.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Materials

Richard Lansburgh Family Papers, 1891-1973, Jewish Museum of Maryland; Baltimore Bargain House Records, 1897-1980, Maryland Historical Society.

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Controlled Access Headings

Genre(s)

  • Correspondence
  • Financial records
  • Scrapbooks

Subject(s)

  • Art -- Collectors and collecting -- Maryland -- Baltimore
  • Baltimore Museum of Art

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General Note

Registrar's numbers noted on scrapbooks and some photographs and reproductions, R.13184.2-.24.

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Collection Inventory

Epstein Collection 

Scope and Contents

Correspondence includes subjects such as purchasing arrangements, attributions, and loans. The material about, Portrait of Emilio Pia de Montefeltro by Raphael, contains an interesting exchange of correspondence regarding the December 1927 issue of Burlington Magazine in which an article by Mrs. Walter H. Siple about Epstein’s new acquisition labeled the painting “attributed to” Raphael rather than “by” Raphael.

Clippings includes scrapbook pages and loose clippings, possibly created by Epstein, with clippings from newspapers and magazines about works in his collection. Topics include Epstein’s purchase of works, reviews of exhibits, attributions of works, related works and descriptions of Epstein’s collection in general. Notable are the inclusion of clippings from Jewish publications, which provide a decidedly different perspective on Epstein’s purchases from the secular press. Most clippings have any mention of Epstein’s name circled in red.

Exhibition Catalogs include catalogs from exhibitions in which works in the Epstein Collection were shown either before or after he purchased them. Some have been cut apart and only contain the portions relevant to the work Epstein owned.

Invoices include receipts, invoices and other purchase related documents for works in the Epstein Collection. Where invoices were enclosed with correspondence, they have been retained in that order.

Photographs include photographic images of works in the Epstein Collection. For some works, photographs of details of the work and information about attributions are also included.

Several files contain Sales Materials concerning work of arts. The materials consist of pamphlets and booklets advertising the work for sale. They may contain specific information about the subject of the work, the artist and the condition of the work as well as the offering price.

The Baltimore Museum of Art material contains correspondence and notes related to the Epstein Collection after it came to the BMA. Most is addressed to Curator Gertrude Rosenthal or is in her handwriting.

Old Man Wearing a Red Hat by Circle of Rembrandt Van Rijn 

Box Folder

Correspondence. 1924-1925, 1930 

1 1

Clippings. 1928, 1930-1931, 1936 

O1 14

Exhibition Catalogs. 1929  

1 1

Photographs. Undated 


    Box Folder
Graphic materials   O1 13
    Box Folder
Graphic materials   O1 1

Box Folder

Sales Materials. Undated 

1 1

Robert Adair by Thomas Gainsborough 

Box Folder

Invoices. 1924 

1 2

Photographs. Undated 


    Box Folder
Graphic materials   O1 2
    Box Folder
Graphic materials   O1 12

Portrait of a Gentleman by Titian 

Box Folder

Invoices. 1925 

1 3

Clippings. 1928, 1938 

O1 15

Exhibition Catalogs. 1928 

1 3

Photographs. Undated 


    Box Folder
Graphic materials   O1 3
    Box Folder
Graphic materials   O1 13
    Box Item
Graphic materials   O1 1

Box Folder

Sales Materials. 1925 

1 4

Portrait of a Venetian Procurator by Il Giovane 

Box Folder

Correspondence. 1926-1927 

1 5

Invoices. 1928 

1 5

Photographs. 1926-1938, Undated   1 photograph has a copy of a letter from Bernard Berenson pasted to the reverse; 1 photograph has authentication from August L. Mayer on reverse.


    Box Folder
Graphic materials   O1 13
    Box Folder
Graphic materials   O1 4

Mrs. Charles Tudway by Thomas Gainsborough 

Box Folder

Correspondence. 1939 

1 6

Photographs. Undated 

O1 5

Sales Materials. Undated 

1 6

Rinaldo and Armida by Sir Anthony van Dyck 

Box Folder

Correspondence. 1926, 1936, 1938, 1940 

1 7

Clippings. 1927-1928 

O1 16

Invoices. 1926 

1 7

Photographs. Undated 


    Box Folder
Graphic materials   O1 6
    Box Item
Graphic materials   O1 2
    Box Item
Graphic materials   O1 3

Shepherds of Arcadia by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot 

Box Folder

Correspondence. 1921 

1 8

Invoices. 1921 

1 8

Photographs. Undated 

O1 7

Emilia Pia de Montefeltre by Raphael 

Box Folder

Exhibition Catalogs and Reprints. 1925, 1940 

1 10

Correspondence. 1925, 1927-1928, 1940 

1 9

Clippings. 1927-1929, 1931, 1940, 1949, Undated 

O1 17

Photographs. After 1925 


    Box Folder
Graphic materials   O1 13
    Box Folder
Graphic materials   O1 8

Box Folder

Sales Materials. [1925] 

1 11

Sophia, Lady St. Asaph with her Son by Sir Joshua Reynolds 

Box Folder

Correspondence. 1924, 1930, 1937 

2 1

Clippings. 1928 

O1 18

Exhibition Catalogs. 1912, 1928 

2 2

Photographs. Undated 


    Box Folder
Graphic materials   O1 9
    Box Folder
Graphic materials   O1 13

Box Folder

Sales Materials. Undated 

2 2

Portrait of a Young Woman by Frans Hals 

Box Folder

Correspondence. 1924 

2 3

Photographs. Undated 


    Box Folder
Graphic materials   O1 13
    Box Folder
Graphic materials   O1 10

Box Folder

Sales Materials. Undated 

2 3

Portrait of a Nobleman by Justus Sustermans 

Box Folder

Correspondence. 1934, 1936 

2 4

Clippings. 1928, 1934 

O1 19

Don Antonio Raimundo Ibanez by Francisco Goya y Lucientes 

Box Folder

Correspondence. 1927-1928, 1937  

2 5

Clippings. 1928 

O1 20

Exhibition Catalogs. 1928, 1937 

2 6

Photographs. Undated 


    Box Folder
Graphic materials   O1 12
    Box Folder
Graphic materials   O1 11

Separated Materials

One copy of photograph was removed from a letter from Epstein to Wildenstein & Co., December 28, 1927.

Portrait of a Man by Workshop of Peter Paul Rubens 

Box Folder

Sales Materials. Undated 

2 7

Jewish Wedding by Josef Israels 

Box Folder

Photographs. Possibly 1933 

O1 12

Unidentified 

Box Folder

Photographs. Undated 

O1 12

Portrait of a Man by Hans Holbein the Younger 

Box Folder

Photographs. Undated 

O1 13

Untitled (Arabs on Horseback) by A. D. Schreyer 

Box Folder

Photographs. Undated 

O1 13

Holy Family with Saint Barbara and Young Saint John the Baptist by Paolo Veronese 

Box Folder

Photographs. Undated 

O1 13

Madonna and Child with Donor by Workshop of Francesco Francia 

Box Folder

Photographs. Undated 

O1 13

Portrait of Jacob van Hertenstein by Hans Holbein the Younger 

Box Folder

Photographs. Undated 

O1 13

Portrait of a Lady as the Magdalene by Unknown Artist 

Box Folder

Correspondence. 1935 Oct 22 

2 8

Photographs. Undated 

O1 12

Sales Materials. 1928 

2 8

The Thinker by Auguste Rodin 

Box Folder

Correspondence. 1930 Jun 5 

2 9

Clippings. 1930 

2 9

Portrait of a Lady of the Medici Court by Unknown Artist 

Box Folder

Correspondence. 1932 Apr-Jun 

2 10

Les Benedictions by August Rodin 

Box Folder

Invoices. 1928 Jul 7 

2 11

Eve (Reduction B) by Auguste Rodin 

Box Folder

Invoices. 1927, 1928 

2 12

Sales Materials. Undated 

2 12

The Kiss by Auguste Rodin 

Box Folder

Correspondence. 1927 Nov 4 

2 13

Invoices. 1927 Nov 4 

2 13

Lion with Serpent (Tuileries Lion) by Antoine-Louis Barye 

Box Folder

Correspondence. 1928 Sep-Oct 

2 14

Jacob Epstein of Baltimore by Jacob Epstein 

Box Folder

Correspondence. 1933, 1935 

2 15

Invoices. 1925 May-Sep 

2 15

Jacob Epstein by Sir William Orpen 

Box Folder

Invoices. 1927 May-Sep 

2 16

Baltimore Museum of Art 

Box Folder

 1931, 1951, 1953, 1955, 1957, 1977, Undated 

2 17

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Scrapbooks 

Restrictions on Use

The scrapbooks are extrememly fragile and use is restricted.

Location of Associated Material

The scrapbooks are part of a larger group of scrapbooks. Two scrapbooks were donated to the BMA while the others went to the Jewish Museum of Maryland and are part of the Lansburgh Family Papers.

Scope and Contents

Contains two scrapbooks marked, "Jacob Epstein, Duplicate Clipping Book No. 5" and "Jacob Epstein, Main Clipping Book, No. 6." The scrapbooks contain newspaper and magazine clippings, certificates, correspondence, and other ephemera about Epstein. Their contents are not specifically related to his art collection.

Box

Jacob Epstein, Duplicate Clipping Book No. 5. 1910, 1920-1927, 1929, 1940  (Bulk, 1920-1927)

O2

Jacob Epstein, Main Clipping Book, No. 6. 1927-1935 

O2

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