Margaret Lefranc and Max Weber

Max Weber drew a joyful Dancing Figure in 1912–13 [1] after a discouraging review. At the same time Margaret Lefranc shared her parents’ life (Abraham and Sophie Frankel) in Brooklyn and in their summer home in Hunter, New York. At the age of six, the young girl finished her first work of art ---- a bas-relief formed from plasticine of an Indian head which she saw on a nickel. Margaret stated: “From then on, all I ever wanted to be was an artist. And so I did.” [2]

Margaret was chauffeured to the Art Students League where Max Weber instructed her for that year.  At thirteen she accompanied her parents to Berlin and Paris, and immediately became sick with rheumatic fever. They hired instructors and models to enable her to draw in charcoal from her bed for a year. Once recovered she studied extensively with the Academie des Grand Chaumiere, Atelier d’Andre Lhote, Basil Tchoukaieff, Academie Russe, Charles Bissiere, the Universite des Sorbonne, and independently. Like Weber, she exhibited at the Salon d’Automne and the Salon des Independents, as well as Salon des Tuileries, Salon des Artistes Francais, the Cercle des Gobelins et des Beaux-Arts and the Galerie Cardo.

Young Woman in Blue along with MMe M. en Pyjama and others were included in the Cercle des Gobelins in 1929 with a glowing review in La Revue Moderne. Much later, an American reviewer wrote, “With the genre of portrait painting, her instincts for color, space, and form seemed right on the mark, and she was able to incorporate many of the ‘isms’ of the day and yet arrive at her own substantive unity between the paint, the canvas and the subtle nature and moods of the subject (most notably herself), all at a remarkably young age." [3]

Eventually the twenty-five-year-old artist returned to New York with her new artistic name. In 1935–1937 she funded, owned, and co-directed the Guild Art Gallery on 57th Street, which hosted many of New York's artists during its lifetime [4].  The Archives of American Art currently store some of the Guild’s papers.

Max Weber was invited to exhibit in group shows at the Guild. The Guild received recognition in 1936: “The All-American Graphic Art Show is at the Guild Art Gallery. This is an exhibition sponsored by the American Artists’ Congress and consisting of 100 prints carefully selected from many times…by a jury composed of Weber…" [5]  In return, as National Chairman and Honorary National Chairman of American Artists’ Congress, Weber invited Margaret to exhibit in the 1937 and 1938 Annual Exhibitions. The 1938 catalogue published Lefranc’s oil, Mid-Summer. Lefranc and Weber had much in common—having different experiences with Stieglitz and exhibiting in various venues including the Corcoran Gallery and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts before Lefranc moved west for ten years.

In addition, Sandra McKenzie, president of the Margaret Lefranc Art Foundation, and Joy Weber, the artist’s daughter, became friends in Santa Fe. Lefranc and Weber continue to exhibit at the Gerald Peters Gallery.

[1] Max Weber, Gerald Peters Gallery Exhibition, May 4 June 2000, pg. 21. Watercolor on paper on board 19 x 12 ½ “.

[2] Lefranc telling her own story, A Lifetime of Imaging:  The Art of Margaret Lefranc. 44-minute DVD, producer, McKenzie.

[3] See Diane Armitage review in THE magazine, December 1993, p. 55 for the complete review.

[4] Margaret Lefranc interview with Diane Armitage of THE magazine, September 22, 1994.

[5] New York World Telegram, Saturday, December 12, 1936.