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The legacy of Albert Bender and his collections

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.

Where else did Bender donate?

In addition to the National Museum of Ireland, Bender also donated collections to:

  • Trinity College Dublin;
  • Mills College, Oakland, California;
  • Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco;
  • M.H. DeYoung Museum, San Francisco;
  • Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris;
  • The California School of Fine Arts;
  • The University of California;
  • Berkeley University;
  • Stanford University.

Bender as Patron

During the 1920s and 1930s, 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.

Donations to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

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.

Albert M. Bender Memorial Trust

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 artists and writers based on the west coast of the USA who had been helped most by Albert Bender during his lifetime.

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