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Max Kuehne Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: ASE
Date: Dec 1993

Biographical History

Max Kuehne (1880-1968) was a German-American artist best remembered for his Impressionist style and vivid rendering of light and color. He practiced open air painting and created many cheerful landscapes.

Kuehne was born in Halle, Germany, in 1880. He moved to Flushing, New York, in 1894, and there grew to love the active, outdoor life, spending the summer months on the Hudson River swimming, rowing and sailing. He began formal art training at age 27 and studied with William Merritt Chase and Robert Henri, two prominent American painters. During this time, he learned the values and techniques of the Impressionist and Realist schools. After finishing his studies, Kuehne traveled Europe, exploring the continent on his bicycle. There, he absorbed the influence of many different artistic styles and techniques, from Fauvism to Cubism to the Old Masters.

After further travels, Kuehne set up a studio in Rockport, Massachusetts, and spent his summers in Cape Ann, Massachusetts. He maintained an active schedule, becoming something of a legend for his energetic pursuits: painting in the morning, swimming or sailing in the afternoon, then a lunch or picnic outside.

Kuehne appears to have been very hard hit by the Depression years. To make ends meet he developed a career creating decorative screens, panels, and furniture in gesso and silver leaf, skills he acquired while making his own frames. His athletic pursuits helped him live a long life and invigorated his painting, infusing his marine and boating subject matter with a dynamic energy.

Adapted from Artists of Cape Ann: A 150 Year Tradition by Kristian Davies

Scope and Contents of the Collection

Spanning 1912 to 1962, the Max Kuehne Papers comprises biographical material, correspondence, artwork, writings, and memorabilia. The bulk of the consists of printed material relating to Kuehne's professional life.

Correspondence consists of eight incoming letters (1921-1923) from Albert C. Barnes pertaining to commissioned frames, chests, and cigarette boxes, as well as details for the construction of the Barnes Foundation picture gallery.

Artwork includes one original pencil sketch, four photographs of Kuehne's gesso work, and miscellaneous reproductions (1923-1937).

Writings contains a single item, a holograph manuscript describing a painting of Gloucester Harbor.

Memorabilia includes exhibition material, photographs of Kuehne and his dog, and printed material.

Printed material consists of articles and reviews (1912-1936), a book about Kuehne and his artwork by A. E. Gallatin, newspaper clippings (1913-1938), and exhibition catalogs and invitations (1918-1961).

Arrangement of the Collection

The collection is arranged alphabetically by type or title.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Barnes, Albert C. (Albert Coombs), 1872-1951.
Gallatin, A. E. (Albert Eugene), 1881-1952.
Kuehne, Max, 1880-1962.


Art, American -- 20th century.
Etchers -- United States.
German Americans.
Painters -- United States.
Painting, American -- 20th century.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Exhibition catalogs.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Max Kuehne Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Max Kuehne.

Table of Contents

Biographical material