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Martha and Maxim Karolik 

An Unlikely Union and a Lasting Legacy

Sunday, September 15


The Board of Trustees of Harmony Grove Cemetery cordially invites you to our Inaugural “Notable Resident” Lecture, “Martha Codman Karolik and Maxim Karolik: An Unlikely Union and a Lasting Legacy

Sloane Stephens Awtrey will be the presenting speaker at the HGC Inaugural “Notable Resident” event, and her lecture will highlight the interesting lives, and collection interests of HGC residents Martha Catherine Codman Karolik (1858-1948), and her husband Maxim (1893 – 1963).

The lecture will be held on Sunday, September 15th @ 2pm in the Blake Chapel at Harmony Grove Cemetery, 30 Grove Street, Salem, Massachusetts.

Martha Catherine Codman Karolik (1858-1948) was buried here at Harmony Grove Cemetery in April 1948. Born in Boston on 24 July 1858, she was descended from Elias Hasket Derby (1739-1799) of Salem. His clipper trade with Russia, China and the East Indies made him one of the richest people in America at the time and perhaps the country’s first millionaire. Coming from this family of riches through her mother, Martha Pickman Rogers, her father, John Amory Codman brought the heritage of those two families. Martha lived with her mother until she was almost 50 years old. Her mother began their odyssey of collecting family heirlooms and records that Martha continued. She helped save the interiors and furnishings of Derby’s daughter home for the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. After her mother’s death in 1905, Martha moved from Boston to Washington DC into a home designed by her famous architect, cousin Ogden Codman, Jr. He designed another home for her in Newport, RI in the next few years. Devoted to music, she hosted many performances including one by her future husband, Maxim Karolik, an émigré Russian tenor. The two married in 1928 in the French Riviera to the chagrin of her family and causing quite the scandal. Karolik was in his 30s, Martha in her 60s and from such different backgrounds. However unlikely a pair they formed an unstoppable art collecting team building off of her family-related endeavors to create the heart of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston’s American decorative arts, paintings, drawing and watercolors collections. Her legacy lives on in these three M and M Karolik Collections.

More about the Lecture:

Martha Codman and Maxim Karolik’s personal stories and their generosity to the MFA make for a spell binding story unmatched to this day. A woman, part of a family of who’s who in America,
marries a man, 30 years younger and an immigrant tenor singer. He was a performer off the stage as well. When Maxim Karolik was in a room he was the center of attention with his booming, accented voice and larger than life personality. Probably anyone who knew Maxim Karolik would say they broke the mold after he was created. Despite a non-traditional union, the combination of her ancestral background and collecting interests and his passionate energy,
they created an amazing art collecting team that left a lasting legacy for the American people:the “trilogy” of American art collections at the MFA. Starting with Martha Codman Karolik’s family heirlooms, they created the M & M Karolik 18th century American arts collection. This led to questions about what was happening in 19th century American paintings and the M. & M. Karolik collection of American Paintings, 1815-1865, and finally to the M. & M. Karolik
collection of American Water Colors & Drawings including sculpture, 1800-1875. Join us for this illustrated presentation to find out how they met, their marriage, their collecting odyssey and what they wanted to share with the American people.

More about Sloane:

Sloane has her Bachelor’s degree in Art History and Sociology/Anthropology from Middlebury College and her Master’s from Boston University’s American & New England Studies. Sloane is a longtime Curatorial Research Intern of Decorative Arts in Art of the Americas at the MFA, Boston specializing in American Folk Art and a Curatorial Research Associate on a project focusing on American Folk Art in the M. and M. Karolik Collection of American Water Colors & Drawings and Sculpture. She has worked as a freelance curatorial researcher with the PEM and was a curator at the Shelburne Museum. She is the founder of Round Hill Resources, specializing in historical research, preservation, and appraisals. Current projects include weather vanes makers in the Boston area and historic buildings research in Barnstable, MA
Space is limited, and reservations are strongly recommended.

For more information & to RSVP: CLICK HERE or call Becky Putnam, Chair, HGC’s Community Relations Committee ay 978-601-8725. .

Suggested Donation: $ 8

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