Max Loehr: Renowned Asian Art Scholar | October 11, 2023

Max Loehr spent his life working with Asian works of art. A respected art historian and noted authority on Chinese art, Max Loehr would eventually accept the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Chair position in East Asian Art at Harvard University. Max developed an interest in the arts at a young age, a result of his father’s work as a textile merchant. Max’s initial ambition was to become a painter, however, the death of his father dictated he work at a bank for seven years and compelled him to find a more lucrative career. Keeping with his interest in art, Max entered the University of Munich in 1931, where he studied Far Eastern art and obtained his PhD in 1936.

Following his graduation, Max Loehr worked at the Museum Five Continents in Munich, Germany in their Asiatic collections department. In 1940, Max traveled to Beijing in order to study at the Sino-German Center for Research Promotion. He would remain in the country for a further nine years, taking a position as director of the institute and as an assistant professor at Tsinghua University. In 1949, he returned to Munich and the Museum Five Continents.

In 1951, Max Loehr was offered a professorship at the University of Michigan. He took the position and moved to the United States. Max taught at the University of Michigan until the fall of 1960, when he was presented the opportunity to become the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Chair in East Asian Art at Harvard University. While at Harvard, Max taught several courses and seminars on Asian arts and served as curator of Oriental art at the Fogg Museum. He would retire in 1974.

Throughout his career Max Loehr wrote eight books and multiple articles pertaining to Asian works of art. Notable areas of focus for Max included Chinese bronzes and jades as well as Chinese painting. His book The Great Painters of China accompanies some of the lots in our sale (Lots 51, 52, 81, and 82). Max also amassed a sizable collection of the objects he studied with such intrigue. Brunk is honored to present a selection of these objects in our Asian Art Auction on October 19, 2023.

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