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Finding aid for the Max Raphael papers, 1931-1990
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical/Historical Note
  • Administrative Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Max Raphael papers
    Date (inclusive): 1931-1990
    Number: 920050
    Creator/Collector: Raphael, Max, 1889-1952
    Physical Description: 9.5 linear feet (18 boxes)
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: Modernist art historian, born in Poland (1889), died in the United States (1952). Papers contain approximately 6 linear feet of manuscripts (many unpublished) on philosophy, artists and art (ancient, medieval and modern), the sociology of art, architects and architecture, as well as the natural sciences, literature and Marxism. Correspondence among his disciple Ilse Hirschfeld, his wife, Emma Raphael, Claude Schaefer, his literary executor and disciple, and publishers, editors, students, and scholars documents the efforts to translate, interpret, and publish his writings after his death. These letters, many of which are copies transcribed by Hirschfeld, primarily date between 1952-1989 and number over 2,000. In addition there are ca. 50 postcards, telegrams and letters from Max Raphael to Ilse Hirschfeld, 1932 and 1952. Forty-four reels of microfilm contain copies of the Raphael papers in the Germanishes Nationalmuseum, Nuremburg.
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    Language: Collection material is in German

    Biographical/Historical Note

    Max Raphael, art historian and philosopher, was born August 27, 1889 in Schönlanke (West Prussia), Germany. Beginning in 1900 he studied jurisprudence and political economy with Gustav von Schmoller in Berlin and with Lujo Brentano in Münich. Against his father's wishes he changed his course of study to philosophy (with Georg Simmel) and the history of art (with Heinrich Wölfflin).
    In 1911 he met Picasso, studied the works of the Impressionists and Matisse and Cezanne. He became friendly with Max Pechstein and artists of the Blaue Reiter school. Then in 1913 he published his first book, Von Monet zu Picasso which, as a dissertation, was turned down by Wölfflin. During 1912-1913 he lived in Paris and primarily worked on French medieval art, especially the stained glass of Chartres. Raphael moved to Lake Constance where he studied and wrote on such diverse topics as geology, biology, botany, medieval history and Shakespeare. He was inducted into the German army in 1915, deserted in 1917 and subsequently moved to Switzerland where he published a war diary, Geist wider Macht.
    Raphael returned to Berlin in 1920 and published his second book, Idee and Gestalt, which he later rejected. He published articles in various art newspapers aligning himself with the Secessionist and Expressionist movements. Between 1925-1932 he taught at the Berlin Volkshochschule and it was here that he first confronted the Socialist movement. During this period he published Der dorische Tempel and Zur Kunsttheorie des dialektischen Materialismus.
    In 1932 Raphael left Germany, resigning from the Volkshochschule after his course on dialectical materialism in Greece was rejected. Until 1939 he lived in Paris in very poor circumstances. With the help of friends he was able to publish Proudhon Marx Picasso in 1933 and Zur Erkenntnistheorie der konkreten Dialektik in 1934, with a French edition in 1938. During this time he studied the French Romanesque period, wrote on Flaubert, and wrote Arbeiter, Kunst und Künstler, not published until 1978. He also worked with the architect André Lurçat, in whose studio he gave lectures on modern architecture.
    During World War II, Raphael was interned twice in France at Gurs and Les Milles but was able to immigrate to the United States in 1941. Until his death in 1952 he lived and worked in New York and was engaged with the problem of art history as a science. He wrote on the development of national socialism in Germany and began essays for his book, Kunstgeschichte als Wissenschaft. His essays on Egyptian and prehistoric art were based on his lectures at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and were meant to prove his theories of "empirischen Kunstwissenschaft". He published two books from this material, Prehistoric Cave Pottery in 1945 and Prehistoric Pottery and Civilization in Egypt in 1947. The compilation of his analysis of works by artists such as El Greco, Hals, Tintoretto, Giotto, Picasso and Cézanne, became the manuscript for Wie will ein Kunstwerk gesehen sein?. Two further volumes were planned, one on architecture and one on sculpture, as well as a three volume work, Zur Ikonographie der quaternären Kunst.
    His works reflect his attempt to forge a scientific methodology, on material foundations, for the analysis of artistic creation and the sociology of art.
    Raphael committed suicide on July 14, 1952. Through the efforts of his wife, Emma Raphael, and a disciple, Ilse Hirschfeld, many of Max Raphael's works have been translated and published.

    Administrative Information


    Open for use by qualified researchers.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    Max Raphael papers, 1931-1989, Research Library, The Getty Research Institute, Accession no. 920050

    Acquisition Information

    The Getty purchased the collection in 1992.

    Processing History

    After the 1992 purchase, some of the collection became disorganized when boxes fell in an earthquake. It was organized, arranged and described by Rose Lachman in late 1994.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Max Raphael's manuscripts comprise the bulk of this collection. In his exploration of Marxist art theory and his attempt to establish a scientific methodology for art history he ranged widely in subject matter from prehistoric art to modernism, architecture and natural science, and this is reflected in these manuscripts which date from ca. 1931-1976. Of particular interest are his writings on philosophy, art, architecture, the sociology of art, Marxist theory of art and history as reflected through art. Many of the manuscripts are unpublished and undated, several contain Raphael's annotations and are filed with his notes and assorted printed ephemera. A number of the manuscripts were transcribed by others.
    An extensive correspondence, 1941-1990 (bulk 1950-88), between disciples, publishers, scholars and students documents the attempts to interpret, translate and publish Raphael's work after his death in 1952. Significant correspondents include Raphael's disciple Ilse Hirschfeld, his wife Emma Raphael, Claude Schaffer, Raphael's executor and disciple, and Robert Cohen, editor of Raphael texts. Letters also concern the formation of the International Max Raphael Society. Many of the letters are copies transcribed by Ilse Hirschfeld. Also included are original letters, telegrams and postcards from Raphael to Ilse Hirschfeld, ca. 1932-1951, about his work and personal matters.
    A disciple of Max Raphael, Ilse Hirschfeld sought his acquaintance after reading Von Monet zu Picasso. Beginning in 1928 she attended his guided tours at the Berlin Museum and his lectures at the Berlin, Volkshochschule. After Raphael immigrated she remained in constant touch with him until his death in New York. He made all his works available to her in manuscript form and after his death she committed herself to preparing his works for publication.
    Manuscripts and correspondence includes Raphael's manuscripts, notes and printed ephemera (ca. 5 lin. ft.), as well as his letters to Ilse Hirschfeld (ca. 50 items). Correspondence about Raphael concerns the effort to promote and publish his writings after his death and comprises more than 2,000 letters. Also included are 4 notebooks by Hirschfeld documenting these efforts. Raphael papers on microfilm consists of 44 microfilm reels of the Raphael papers that were deposited with the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, ca. 1970. Included are partial photocopies from the reels and an inventory to the microfilm.

    Arrangement note

    Organized in three series: Series I. Manuscripts and correspondence, 1931-1990; Series II. Correspondence about Raphael, ca. 1945-1990; Series III. Raphael papers on microfilm, ca. 1931-1952

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Names

    Cézanne, Paul, 1839-1906
    Greco, 1541?-1614
    Marx, Karl, 1818-1883
    Matisse, Henri, 1869-1954
    Picasso, Pablo, 1881-1973
    Raphael, Max, 1889-1952

    Subjects - Topics

    Aesthetics and the philosophy of art
    Aesthetics, Modern--19th century
    Aesthetics, Modern--20th century
    Architecture, Romanesque
    Architecture, Romanesque--France
    Art and society
    Art, Prehistoric
    Creation (Literary, artistic, etc.)
    Creation in art
    Knowledge, Theory of
    Painting, Modern
    Painting, Modern--19th century
    Painting, Modern--20th century
    Philosophy, Marxist
    Sculpture, Egyptian
    Sculpture, Greek

    Subjects - Titles

    Arbeiter, kunst und künstler Demands of art Prehistoric cave paintings Proudhon, Marx, Picasso Theorie des geistigen Schaffens auf marxistischer Grundlage Von Monet zu Picasso


    Cohen, R. S. (Robert Sonné)
    Hirschfeld, Ilse
    Perret, Auguste, 1874-1954
    Raphael, Emma
    Schaefer, Claude