ALBUM AMICORUM OF SCHELOMITH FLAUM (1893-1963). Autograph album containing drawings, autograph quotations and signatures from over 47 contributors, India, Europe, America, Israel and elsewhere, 1923-1950.
Folding album in concertina form, 1660 x 60mm fully open, 52 filled pages (60 x 146mm each), entries on recto and verso, ruled in silver, yellow, red & blue, the entries often accompanied by printed photographs of the contributors. Painted covers (closed: 150 x 60 x 13mm). Provenance: Schelomith F. Flaum (1893-1963), Jerusalem, 1923, her ex-libris and photograph pasted onto inner board.
In English, Hindi, Bengali, Urdu, Italian, German, Hebrew, Latin, French, Arabic and other languages, the c.47 contributors include:
Mohandas Karamchand GANDHI (1869-1948). Autograph quotation signed (‘M K Gandhi’), 25 March 1924, ‘Truth ... non-violence = love/ two faces of the same coin – a coin that buys you all you need for the soul. I commend it to my Jewish friends’;
Rabindranath TAGORE (1861-1941). Autograph quotation signed (‘Rabindranath Tagore’), Santiniketan, 25 September 1923, from poem 42 of Crossing (published 1918), opening ‘Free me, as free are the birds of the wilds’, showing divergence from the published version;
Albert EINSTEIN (1879-1955). Signature (‘A. Einstein’), 14 July 1930, beside a pen portrait, perhaps drawn by Schelomith Flaum.
Dhondo Keshav Karve (1858-1962; social reformer and women’s welfare pioneer); Dinendranath Tagore (1882-1935; musician); Pratima Devi (1893-1969; painter); Abanindranath Tagore (1871-1951; artist), signed watercolour of a fly; Gaganendranath Tagore (1867-1938; painter and cartoonist); Maria Montessori (1870-1952; educator), autograph quotation signed, ‘A Voi’; Sarojini Naidu (1879-1949; political activist and poet); Josiah Wedgwood, 1st Baron Wedgwood (1872-1943; politician), ‘All I want is Justice’, 23 January 1934; Swarnakumari Devi (1855-1932; writer, musician, social worker), a poem, ‘To Santi’ [Flaum]; Francesco Randone (1864-1935, ceramicist), drawing signed (‘il Maestro delle Mura’), Rome, 2 June 1928; Guido Calori (1885-1960, sculptor), drawing signed; Marie Butts (1870-1953; educato, author); Moriz Winternitz (1863-1937; scholar); Hayim Nahman Bialik (1873-1934; poet); Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931; writer); Uday Shankar (1900-1977, dancer); René Shapshak (1899-1985; artist), drawing and quotation signed, Johannesburg, 5 June 1937; Lin Yutang (writer, translator); Shimon Dubnow (1860-1941; historian); Edmond Fleg (1874-1963; writer) and others.
The album amicorum of Schelomith Flaum: an extraordinary testament to the existence of an international community of social reformers, writers, artists, and educators that spanned continents in the first half of the 20th century. Opening with contributions from Rabindranath Tagore and members of his extended family, the album accompanies its compiler on her travels through India – characterised by encounters with artists, poets and voices for independence and social reform including Gandhi, who inscribes a sentiment ‘to my Jewish friends’ – and Europe, where she meets many writers and intellectuals, including Albert Einstein. As a young woman, the Lithuanian-born Schelomith Flaum (1893-1963) settled first in Palestine, where she founded the kindergarten for the Zionist Organisation, before spending the rest of her life travelling widely, in search of new educational philosophies and engaged in promoting the Zionist cause outside Israel. She studied at Columbia University after training in the Montessori method in Rome – where she met Maria Montessori – and joined the newly-formed community at Visva Bharati, Tagore’s educational foundation in Santiniketan, in 1922. Flaum spent two years teaching at Santiniketan; as well as coming to know the Tagore family, she was introduced there to leaders of the Indian independence movement including as Gandhi, Sarojini Naidu and Annie Bessant. She went on to publish two books and more than twenty articles on her time in India.