Legacy

During his lifetime, Albert Bender had numerous interests, which included membership of such societies as the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland. In addition to the National Museum, Bender also donated collections to Trinity College, Dublin; Mills College, Oakland, California; the Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco; the M.H. DeYoung Museum, San Francisco; the Louvre, Paris; the California School of Fine Arts, and the University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University.

During the 1920s and 30s Albert Bender was the patron of several artists, including Ansel Adams. Bender is perhaps known for his patronage of the Mexican artist Diego Rivera, as Rivera obtained a visa into the United States in 1930 through Albert Bender’s influence at a time when American authorities were suspicious of his communist sympathies. In thanks for this patronage the artist Frida Kahlo (Rivera’s wife) presented Bender with the double-portrait ‘Frieda and Diego Rivera’.

One of the greatest legacies left by Albert Bender, apart from his collecting of literature and Asian art, lies in the collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. His series of donations to that institution (totalling around eight hundred objects) helped form the nucleus of what has emerged as one of the most respected modern art museums in the United States. Of particular Irish interest is a group of illustrations by Henri Matisse in 1935 for a New York publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses.

The ‘Albert M. Bender Memorial Trust’ was set up after Bender’s death in 1941, which allowed for two annual bursaries in the areas of art and literature. It was decided that the San Francisco Art Association administer the memorial fund, as it was U.S. west coast-based artists and writers who had been helped most by Albert Bender during his lifetime

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