M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives


Finding Aid for the
Eugen Spiro
PAPERS, 1940-1972


For reference queries contact Grenander Department Reference staff or (518)-437-3935

Finding Aid Compiled by
Sandra Hunt Hawrylchak
May 9, 2007


M. E. Grenander Department of Special Collections & Archives 
University Libraries / University at Albany / State University of New York 
1400 Washington Avenue / Albany, New York 12222 / (518) 437-3935

VOLUME: 3 cubic ft.

ACQUISITION: All items in this manuscript collection were transferred to the University Libraries, M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, in June 1986.

ACCESS: Access to this record group is unrestricted.

COPYRIGHT: The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of copyright. Whenever possible, the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives will provide information about copyright owners and other restrictions, but the legal determination ultimately rests with the researcher. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the Head of Special Collections and Archives.


Biographical Sketch

Chronology of Events

Scope and Content Note

Series Descriptions

Box and Folder List:

Eugen Spiro Papers
Biographical Note

Eugen(e) Spiro, portrait and landscape painter, graphic artist and illustrator, is best known for his portraits of European personalities (incl. Thomas Mann, Theodor Heuss, Albert Bassermann, Fritz von Unruh, and his first wife Tilla Durieux), American personalities (incl. Archbishop Edward Cardinal Mooney, Judge M. J. Proskauer and George N. Shuster), and famous musicians (incl. Richard Strauss, Bruno Walter, Arturo Toscanini, Bronislaw Hubermann and Gregor Piatigorsky). Perhaps his most well-known portrait is his 1941 rendering of the émigré physicist Albert Einstein. His paintings hang in many museums worldwide including the National Galerie in Berlin, the Musée Nationale d’Art Moderne in Paris, the Bezelle Museum in Jerusalem and the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Spiro was born in Breslau, Germany, on April 18, 1874, the son of a cantor and one of nine children. He studied art in Breslau under Albrecht Bräuer and later became a master student of Franz von Stuck in Munich. His early portraits of women appeared frequently in, as well as on the covers of, the Jugendstil magazine, Der Jugend. After a brief marriage to the actress Tilla Durieux (1904-1906), Spiro relocated to Paris where he studied the French masters and impressionists, became a Professor at the Académie Moderne, co-founded the Salon d’Automne, and belonged to the circle of artists and writers of the Parisian Café du Dôme.

In 1914, Spiro returned to Berlin where he became Chairman of the Berliner Sezession and a Professor at the Berlin Academy of Arts. He remained in Berlin until Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, when he was forbidden to work because of his Jewish background. He voluntarily resigned from his posts in 1934, secured a visa, and was allowed to immigrate to Paris in 1935. Spiro remained in Paris for the next five years, operating as a freelance artist, painting portraits and giving private lessons, participating in exhibits in Amsterdam and London. Together with other immigrants he founded, became co-director and first chairman of the Union des Artistes libres in Paris.

With the spread of the Hitler’s influence to France in 1940, Spiro was again forced to flee, this time via Spain and Portugal, arriving in the United States in 1941 at the age of 67, a relatively unknown artist in America. Spiro, a well-known artist in Europe, had asked Albert Einstein years earlier to sit for a portrait. At the time, Einstein had replied that he would sit only for unknown artists. After Spiro’s arrival in the U.S. in 1941, he once again approached Einstein to sit for a portrait, this time as a newly arrived émigré and an unknown artist in his newly adopted homeland. This time Einstein agreed and Spiro painted his well-known portrait of the physicist.

Eugen Spiro was married three times: first to actress Tilla Durieux (1904-1906), second to Elisabeth Saenger-Sethe in 1917, with whom he had one son, Peter, and lastly to Lilly Jacoby, whom he met in the French internment camp of Gurs in 1940 and married a year later. The couple settled in New York in 1941. Spiro lived to the age of 98 and died in New York City on September 26, 1972.

Eugen Spiro Papers
Chronology of Events

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1874Born on April 18, in Breslau, Germany, one of nine children of the Jewish cantor, Abraham Beer and his wife, Fanny Form Spiro.
1880-1892Attended the Elisabeth-Gymnasium, Breslau.
1892Apprenticeship in fashion design with a ladies garment firm.
1892-1894Attended Royal School of Arts, Breslau; studied under Albrecht Bräuer.
1894-1897Attended the Academy of Arts in Munich, studied under Franz von Stuck.
1897-1898Study trip to Italy with the Saxon school.
1899-1904Teacher and portrait painter in Breslau; contributed to Jugendstil journal Jugend; first series of portraits of musicians.
1900Became member of Münchner Sezession.
1904Moved to Berlin.
1904-1906Married to actress Tilla Durieux.
1906Became a member of Berliner Sezession; participated in exhibits, including Wiener Sezession; moved to Paris.
1906-1914Professor at the Académie Moderne and co-founder of the Salon d’Automne, Paris; belonged to circle of artists and writers of the Café du Dôme; copied French masters and impressionists.
1914Returned to Berlin.
1914-1933Member of the executive board, and President of the Berliner Sezession. Professor at the Academy of Arts, Berlin.
1915-1917Served in the cartographic department of the German general staff.
1917Married Elisabeth Saenger-Sethe, with whom he had one son, Peter. Professor at the Staatliche Kunstschule in Berlin.
1921Study trip to Italy.
1924-1933Chairman of the United Artists’ Corporation (Kartell der Vereinigten Bildenden Künstler Berlins).
1927-1933Member of the Experts’ and Purchase Committees of the Nationalgalerie Berlin and other German museums.
1929First trip to United States; exhibited his work at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, PA.
1933Prohibited from working by Hitler; voluntary resignation from all honorary posts.
1935Left Germany in September and immigrated to Paris (with visa).
1935-1940Freelance artist in Paris, painting portraits and giving private lessons; participated in exhibits in Amsterdam, London; co-director and first chairman of Union des Artistes libres.
1936Resigned his German citizenship.
1940Not interned because of age; fled with family to Marseilles via Nantes, Biarritz and Pau; met future third wife, Lilly Jacoby in French concentration camp Gurs.
1940-1941Emigration to the United States via Spain and Portugal.
1941Arrived in the U.S. in Baltimore, MD on May 18; moved to New York in May; married Lilly Jacoby on September 30.
1943First individual exhibit at the Galerie St. Etienne, New York, where he would exhibit seven times, the last exhibit on the occasion of his 90th birthday in 1964.
1948-1952Teacher at the Wayman Adams School, Elizabethtown, NY.
1952First post-war visit to the Federal Republic of Germany.
1957First post-war exhibit in the Federal Republic of Germany at the Gallerie Wolfgang Gurlitt in Munich.
1964Awarded Das Grosse Verdienstkreuz from the Federal Republic of Germany.
1969Retrospective exhibit in honor of Spiro’s 95th birthday at the Berlin Museum.
1972Died in New York City on September 26 at the age of 98.

Eugen Spiro Papers
Scope and Content Note

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The Eugen Spiro Papers consist of 3 cubic feet of materials, 1903-1985, and include 1 cu. ft. of correspondence of Eugen Spiro and his wife, Lilly. Although there is some correspondence with friends, most of the correspondence relates to Spiro’s artwork, including letters from many of the individuals he sketched (Thomas Mann, Albert Einstein, Theodor Heuss, and numerous prominent musicians). The collection also contains photographs of Spiro’s artwork, either in private ownership or in museums, as well as catalogs of his exhibitions, especially with the Galerie St. Etienne in New York City.

Eugen Spiro Papers
Series Description

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Series 1: Correspondence, 1903-1913, 1941-1985. 120 file folders, arranged alphabetically.

The series is arranged in three sub-series: general correspondence of Eugen Spiro, 1903-1913 and 1941-1972; correspondence with owners and subjects of Spiro paintings; and correspondence of Lilly Spiro, primarily dating from the years after Eugen’s death, 1972-1985. Among the noteworthy correspondents are: Tilla Durieux, Albert Einstein, George Grosz, Theodor Heuss, Otto Loewi, Thomas Mann, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Albert Schweitzer and Gottfried Reinhard Treviranus.

Series 2: Biographical materials and documents. 4 file folders.

This series consists primarily of texts prepared by Eugen Spiro, including versions of curriculum vitae, short biographies, and lists of paintings for exhibits.

Series 3: Writings of Eugen Spiro, 1932-1964 and undated. 8 file folders, arranged chronologically.

This series consists of typescripts of essays as well as several early stories by Spiro.

Series 4: Newspaper clippings pertaining to Spiro and his artwork; catalogs of exhibits, 1903-1978. 16 file folders, arranged chronologically.

This series consists of articles in newspapers and magazines about Spiro, reviews of exhibits of his work, as well as catalogs of exhibits.

Series 5: Reproductions and photographs of Eugen Spiro’s artwork, 1905-1979. 8 file folders, arranged chronologically.

This series contains printed reproductions of Spiro’s paintings in magazines and newspapers, as well as copies of early magazine covers illustrated by Spiro. In addition, the series contains photographs (mostly dated) of Spiro’s portraits, landscape paintings and sketches of prominent musicians. Additional photographs of Spiro’s artwork are located in the correspondence files of their owners (Series 1).

Series 6: Photographs of Eugen Spiro, Spiro family and friends, 1941-1978 and undated. 20 file folders, arranged chronologically.

This series consists primarily of snapshot photographs of Eugen and Lilly Spiro, their friends and family members, including vacation photos and candid photos of Spiro’s summer teaching classes.

Series 7: Miscellaneous materials. 8 file folders.

This series contains copies of original Spiro holiday cards, memorabilia, and materials concerning subjects of interest.

Eugen Spiro Papers
Box and Folder List

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Series 1: Correspondence, 1903-1913, 1941-1985.

Box 1

Folders 1-82: General correspondence of Eugen Spiro (after 1972, with Lilly Spiro).

1. Adler, Karl, 1960-1962.
2. Alexander, Eugen, 1943.
3. Amt für Kunst Zehlendorf, 1963.
4. Artist Publishing Co Ltd., 1961.
5. Artist Research Project, The City College, 1955.
6. Artists Equity Association (AEA), 1954.
7. Berlin Museum (Irmgard Wirth), 1969-1985.
8. Bertram, Else, 1965.
9. The Bezalel National Museum, Jerusalem, 1959.
10. Bezirksamt Tiergarten zu Berlin, 1965.
11. Brüning, Heinrich, 1945 (photocopy).
12. Bülow-Galerie, Berlin, 1965.
13. The Busoni Society, 1965.
14. Colm, Gerhard, 1944.
15. Columbia Artists Management, Inc., 1953.
16. Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, Inc. / Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, 1966-1984.
17. Corinth, Thomas, 1969, 1979.
18. Deutsche Generalkonsul, 1964-1980.
19. Deutsche Museen (German museums, general), 1963-1969.
20. Deutsches Museum, München, 1955-1957.
21. Dodd, Mead & Company, 1952.
22. Durieux, Tilla, 1954, 1956 (photocopies).
23. Einstein, Albert, 1941-1942 (photocopies).
24. Entschädigungsamt Berlin, 1966-1985.
25. Fürst, Gerhard, 1955-1960.
26. Galerie St. Etienne, 1964, 1979.
27. George, Manfred (Aufbau), 1953.
28. Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nürnberg, 1966-1969.
29. Gesundheit, Betty Rosenthal, 1960.
30. Goethe House, New York, 1971.
31. Grosz, George, 1943 (photocopy).
32. Heuss, Theodor, 1954-1963.
33. Higgins, Mary B., 1953.
34. Hoffmann, Eva, 1967.
35. Holde, Artur, 1950.
36. Horkheimer, Max, 1943 (photocopy).
37. Hubermann, Bronislaw, n.d.
38. Hutschnecker, Arnold, 1955-1961, 1979.
39. The Jewish Museum, Hebrew Union College, 1954-1955.
40. Knudson, Hans, 1955.
41. Kunsthalle Bremen (Günter Busch), 1960, 1962.
42. Lucks, Kai, 1971.
43. Mann, Golo, 1971 (photocopy).
44. Mann, Thomas, 1941, 1950 (photocopies), 1951; photos.
45. Max Beckmann Gesellschaft, 1967.
46. Mayer, Hans-Otto, 1970.
47. The Metropolitan Opera Guild, 1951.
48. Meyer, Hermann, 1967-1968.
49. Mitropoulos, Dimitri, 1951.
50. Musician lithographs (general), 1946-1971.
51. Musikhaus Au Concert, 1967-1968.
52. Picard, Jacob, 1964.
53. Radio Corporation of America (R.C.A.), 1950, 1953.
54. Redslob, Edwin, 1965, n.d.
55. Reinhardt, Max, 1933 (photocopy).
56. Rembrandt Verlag, Berlin, 1970-1971.
57. Revenaugh, Daniel, 1965.
58. Sachs, Charlotte Cramer, 1951.
59. Scheyer, Ernst, 1959-1978.
60. Schiller Nationalmuseum, Marbach, 1968-1969.
61. Seaman, Julian, 1944.
62. Shuster, George N., 1945, 1960.
63. Spencker, Joachim (Carl Hanser Verlag), 1970.
64. Spiro, Peter, 1969, 1985.
65. Süddeutscher Verlag (Ludwig Kusche), 1964-1965.
66. Swarzenski, George, 1942.
67. Treviranus, G. R., 1945, 1957-1958.
68. Unruh, Fritz von, 1960.
69. U.S. Treasury Department (re: War Bonds campaign), 1943.
70. Weltsch, Robert, 1963-1964.
71. Wilhelm-Lehmbruck-Museum der Stadt Duisburg, 1964-1969.
72. Zaudmer, Ursula, 1949.
73. Zucker, Paul, 1943.
74. Early letters, 1903-1913 (photocopies).
75. Miscellaneous letters, 1946-1970.
76. 75th birthday, 1949.
77. 80th birthday, 1954.
78. 85th birthday, 1959.
79. 90th birthday, A-K, 1964.
80. 90th birthday, L-Z, 1964.
81. 90th birthday, ORT, 1964.
82. 95th birthday, 1969.

Folders 83-105: Correspondence with owners and subjects of paintings, 1943-1985.

83. A. von Bethmann-Hollweg Antiquitäten, 1981; photo.
84. American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science (Siegfried Ullmann), 1955, 1958, 1963.
American Council for Emigrés in the Professions (ACEP), 1968.
Archives of American Art, 1977.
85. Assmann, Leo Robert, 1962.
Buzalski, Ulrich, 1964; photo.
Carnegie Institute of Technology, Department of Fine Arts, 1948.
86. Consistoire Israelite de Paris (Baron Guy de Rothschild), 1956.
87. Engel, Max, 1955.
Erkens, August, 1964; photo.
Fenton, Betty & Morris, 1970; photos.
88. Firkusny, Rudolf, 1946.
Firle, Tomas, 1969; photo.
89. Fischbeck, Walter, 1969-1971; photo.
Florian Karsch Galerie Nierendorf, n.d.
90. Fraenkel, Ernst, 1955-1956.
Friedlaender, Eugen, 1949.
Grosche, Hildegard, 1965; photo.
Grunfeld, Ernst, 1969.
Guttstadt, Riwa & John, n.d.; photo.
91. Hempe, Fritz, 1959-1960.
Hesse, R., 1958.
Heyden, Gunter, 1972; photo.
Hirschel, Hans, 1964; photos.
92. Hochschild, Mauricio, 1961.
Horowitz, Wanda T., 1943.
Hussarek, F., 1969; photo.
Jacobson, Gunther, 1943.
Jessner, Elsa, 1958.
93. Kaiser, J., 1970.
Kempinski, Melanie, n.d.
Klein, Anni, 1966.
Knittl, Andreas, 1960-1961; photo.
94. Koussevitzky, Serge, 1948.
Kreisler, Fritz, 1945.
Kultusministerium Baden-Württemberg, 1966-1967.
95. Lamm, Curt & Elena, 1960.
Leo Baeck Institute, 1975.
Levy, Erna, 1960; photo.
96. Lewin, Lola, 1969-1973.
97. Loewi, Otto, 1954.
Marsh, Elizabeth, 1953.
Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris, 1954.
Museum der Stadt Karlsruhe, 1959.
98. Nissen, Rudolph, 1949-1950.
Oppenheimer, Chanan, 1958; photo.
Peerce, Jan, 1944, 1949.
Pinza, Ezio, 1946.
Popper, Kurt S., 1962.
99. Rosenfeld, I., 1961; photo.
Rosenthal, Theo, 1960.
Scherman, Bernadette, 1956.
Schnabel, Artur, 1945.
100. Schonwald-Pringsheim, Isolde, 1964; photos.
Schweitzer, Albert, 1957 (photocopy).
Seelig, Arthur, 1953; photos.
Serkin, Rudolf, 1946.
101. Seydel, Gerhard, 1957-1958, 1970.
102. Siepi, Cesare, 1953.
Skaupy, Walther, 1964; photos.
Sonnenschein, Paul, n.d.; photo.
Stefansson, Vilhjalmur, 1954.
Stolzenberg, Ilse, 1960.
Szell, George, 1952.
103. Tel Aviv Museum, Jerusalem, 1969-1985; photos.
104. Veit, Suse Abramczyk, 1964; photo.
Vincenz, Hubert, 1972.
Walker, Betty, 1970.
Walter, Bruno, 1943.
105. Weber, Alfred, 1968, 1970.
Württemberg, Odo von, 1944.

Folders 106-120: Correspondence of Lilly Spiro, 1969-1985.

106. Abercron, Wilko von (Galerei von Abercron), 1978-1985.
107. Berlinische Galerie, 1983.
108. Deutsches Literaturarchiv, Marbach, 1978.
Galerie Wolfgang Ketterer, 1972.
Grether, Aloys, 1969, 1977-1979.
109. Gruber, Gerd, 1978-1979.
110. Interdisciplinary Science Reviews (Anthony R. Michaelis re: Einstein photos), 1977-1978.
111. Jüdisches Museum, Ost-Berlin (Hermann Simon), 1983.
112. Die Künstlergilde e.V. (Schremmer), 1969-1977.
113. Liebrecht, Vera, 1985.
114. Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, 1970-1971.
Mount Sinai Hospital, 1977.
Nathorff, Hertha, n.d.
115. Ostdeutsche Galerie Regensburg, 1973-1974.
Pfalzgalerie Kaiserslautern (Wilhelm Weber), 1973.
116. Rauter, Herbert (Consul), 1977-1978.
Schocken, Wolfgang A., 1982-1983.
Sieger, Henry, C.P.A., 1979-1983.
117. Smith, Dawn, 1974.
Smithsonian Institution, 1979.
Starck-Pauly, Ilse, 1985.
118. Stern, Isaac, 1976.
Three Lions Inc., Publishers (Max G. Lowenherz), 1975, 1977.
Universitätsbibliothek Düsseldorf (Thomas Mann Sammlung), 1977, 1980; photos.
119. Condolence letters, 1972.
120. Miscellaneous correspondence.

Eugen Spiro Papers
Box and Folder List

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Series 2: Biographical materials and documents

Box 2

1. Biographical statements, incl. curriculum vitae, lists of portraits painted and exhibited, short biographical statements, lexicon entries.
2. Biographical statements about Spiro by others, incl. Ernst Freund, Max Osborn, Ernst Scheyer, Margarethe Steinberg.
3. Documents, including death certificate, Grosse Verdienstkreuz (1964).
4. Awards – newspaper clippings.

Eugen Spiro Papers
Box and Folder List

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Series 3: Writings of Eugen Spiro, 1932-1964 and undated.

Box 2 Continued

5. “Tante Rosie.”Clipping, n.d.
6. “Ein neuer Spiegel, der kein Spiegelbild zeigt.” Clipping, 1932. “The double-mirror.” Typescript of English text, ca. 1954.
7. “Als ich Albert Einstein malte.” Typescript; newspaper clipping (May 9, 1955); also related correspondence.
8. “Die Vier (Ein fragmentarische Pessacherzählung).” Unpublished typescript, dated 1. April 1961.
9. “Weg der Menschlichkeit.” Unpublished typescript, dated 18. April 1962.
10. “Wie ich den Raub der Mona Lisa entdeckte.” Typescript; newspaper clipping (Feb. 15, 1963).
11. “Selbstbetrachtung (Selbstportrait?).” Typescript, ca. 1964. English version, entitled “Looking at Myself …” Typescript.
12. “Edouard Manet’s first ‘plein air’ painting.” Typescript, unpub., n.d.

Eugen Spiro Papers
Box and Folder List

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Series 4 – Newspaper clippings pertaining to Spiro and his artwork; catalogs of exhibits, 1903-1978

Box 2 Continued

13. Clippings, 1903-1978. Includes clippings about his arrival in the U.S.
14. Catalogs, clippings concerning Spiro exhibit at the Galerie St. Etienne, Feb. – March 1943.
15. Catalogs of Spiro exhibit, Galerie St. Etienne, Jan. – Feb. 1945.
16. Clippings of Spiro exhibits, 1952-1973.
17. Clippings concerning Spiro’s teaching, 1952-1956.
18. Catalogs of Spiro / James N. Rosenberg exhibit, Galerie St. Etienne, May 1954.
19. Clippings, catalog of Spiro exhibit, Galerie Gurlit, Aug. 1957.
20. Clippings, 85th birthday, 1959.
21. Catalogs, clippings of Spiro exhibit, Galerie St. Etienne, Feb. 6, 1960.
22. Catalogs, materials concerning Spiro exhibit, Galerie St. Etienne, April 1964.
23. Clippings, articles concerning Spiro’s 90th birthday, 1964.
24. Copies of Self-portrait (1964) and facsimile thank you note sent to friends, 1964.
25. Catalogs of Berlin Museum exhibit, 1969.
26. Clippings, articles concerning Spiro’s 95th birthday, 1969.
27. Obituaries, memorial addresses, clippings, 1972.
28. Catalogs, materials concerning posthumous Spiro exhibits, Galerie von Abercron, Jan. 28 and Sept. 13, 1978.

Eugen Spiro Papers
Box and Folder List

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Series 5 – Reproductions and photographs of Eugen Spiro’s artwork, 1905-1979

Box 3

1. Reproductions of early artwork in magazines, magazine covers, etc., 1916-1930.
2. Photographs of Albert Einstein portraits.
3. Reproductions of Einstein portraits, 1943-1979.
4. Reproductions of Spiro sketch entitled “Round trip,” 1949-1950.
5. Reproductions of artwork in magazines, 1953-1967.
6. Photographs of Spiro’s prophet series, newspaper clippings, 1960-1961.
7. Reproductions of Spiro’s prophet series in magazines, etc., 1960-1961.
8. Photographs of Spiro’s artwork, 1905-1962 and undated.

Eugen Spiro Papers
Box and Folder List

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Series 6 – Photographs of Eugen Spiro, Spiro family and friends, 1941-1978 and undated

Box 3, continued

9. Early photos and ca. 1941-1943.
10. Old passport photos, Eugen and Lilly Spiro.
11. Callicoon, 1948.
12. Lawrence Painting Group, 1948/49 to 1956/57.
13. Postcards, Summers 1947, 1954, 1959.
14. Teaching, Elizabethtown, 1949-1952, 1955; Hanover, NH, 1953.
15. Summer 1954.
16. Kennebunkport, ME, Summer 1955.
17. Europe, June 1956.
18. South America, October 1956.
19. Orta, Italy, 1958.
20. 85th birthday, 1959.
21. Denmark, 1960.
22. June 1965.
23. Snapshots, 1968.
24. Slides, ca. 1970.
25. Friends: G. R. Treviranus & family.
26. Friends, undated.
27. Friends, 1961-1970.
28. Exhibition openings 1954, 1960, 1978.

Eugen Spiro Papers
Box and Folder List

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Series 7 – Miscellaneous materials

Box 3, continued

29. Original Spiro Christmas cards, 1950-1965.
30. Balthus. Magazine articles about.
31. Loewi, Otto. Publications.
32. Memorabilia.
33. Polgar, Alfred. “Cera.” Typescript. 3p.
34. Scheyer, Ernst. Publications.
35-36. Miscellaneous materials.

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Last updated June 29, 2007