Paul J. Sachs
|Paul J. Sachs|
|Born||Paul Joseph Sachs
November 24, 1878
New York City
|Died||February 18, 1965
|Alma mater||Harvard University|
|Spouse||Meta (née Pollack; m. 1904)|
Celia Sachs Robinson (m. to Charles A. Robinson, Jr.)
Paul Joseph Sachs (November 24, 1878 – February 18, 1965) was an American businessman and museum director. Sachs served as associate director of the Fogg Art Museum and as a partner in the financial firm Goldman Sachs. He is recognized for having developed of one of the earliest museum studies courses in the United States.
Sachs was the eldest son of Samuel Sachs and Louisa Goldman Sachs, the father having been a partner of the investment firm Goldman Sachs and his mother, the daughter of the firm's founder Marcus Goldman. He attended the School for Boys and Collegiate Institution, which was founded by his uncle Julius Sachs. He then continued his education at Harvard University, where he graduated in 1900.
As an undergraduate, Sachs collected prints and drawings with classmate Edward Waldo Forbes, who would eventually become director of Harvard University's Fogg Museum of Art in 1909. After graduating, Sachs went to work in the family business, becoming a partner in 1904. Sachs had been making donations to the Fogg since 1911, then only a small art collection consisting mostly of out-of-fashion American paintings and primitive Italian works. In 1912, Sachs was appointed to the museum's Visiting Committee. Two years later, Forbes persuaded Sachs to leave his family business to become an assistant curator, despite Sachs having no curatorial background. Sachs spent that summer in Italy seeing as much art as possible before his arrival at Harvard in the autumn of 1915.
Sachs began lecturing in art history from 1916-17 at Wellesley College where he had been appointed "Lecturer in Art." He was made an assistant professor in the Fine Arts department at Harvard in 1917. In 1922, he began his innovative course on museum curatorship titled "Fine Arts 15a: Museum Work and Museum Problems." He was appointed full professor in 1927. Sachs set about developing a program of museum education, developing students as what he termed the "connoisseur-scholar." One course was commonly called "the Print Course," which featured a seminar-style analysis of prints and drawings drawn largely from Sach's own personal collection. From 1935 onward, he served regularly as chair of the Fine Arts department.
In 1945, Sachs retired together from Fogg, while he remained Sachs on the teaching faculty until 1948 when he was named a professor emeritus.
In 1961, his wife, Meta (née Pollak), preceded him in death. He would die four years later in 1965.
In 1936, Sachs participated in the infamous "Albertina Affair." Archduke Albrecht, Duke of Teschen, in a bid to gain the title of Emperor of Hungary, attempted a secret negotiation with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston to sell his large print and drawing collection, widely considered one of the greatest one in the world. Sachs and curator Agnes Mongan traveled secretly to Vienna with the MFA curator Henry Rossiter to authenticate hundreds of drawings. Once the Austrian government learned of the on-goings, the potential deal was called off; the collection was seized and nationalized by the government. The collection is now part of the Albertina in Vienna.
Many of Sachs' students would go on to become leading figures in the fields of museum and art including Chick Austin, Alfred H. Barr, Jr., Frederick B. Deknatel, Sydney Joseph Freedberg, George M.A. Hanfmann, Julien Levy, Henry Plumer McIlhenny, Agnes Mongan, Walter Pach, Joseph Pulitzer, Jr., Perry T. Rathbone, and James Rorimer.