Armand Hammer Collection



A selection of paintings and works on paper from the Armand Hammer Collection and the Armand Hammer Daumier and Contemporaries Collection currently on view provides an impressive overview of the major movements of 19th-century French art, including works by Gustave Moreau, Edgar Degas, Paul Cézanne, and Vincent van Gogh. A small but wide-ranging group of European old master paintings, and works by American artists from the 18th to 20th centuries, are also featured in the selection. 

About armand hammer and his collection

As an art collector, businessman, and philanthropist, Armand Hammer had a far-reaching vision. Born in New York City in 1898 to a Russian mother and a first-generation Russian American father, Hammer traveled to the former Soviet Union after graduating from medical school in the early 1920s. He hoped to practice medicine and to help with the typhus epidemic there. He soon realized that the most immediate need of the Soviet people was actually food and arranged to have grain shipped there from the United States with the agreement that he could fill the ship with Soviet goods to sell back at home. This began a long-term business relationship between Hammer and the Soviets. It was also during this time that he conceived a lifelong passion for collecting art.

Initially Hammer became interested in art when he set out to decorate his home in Moscow. He sought the assistance of his brother Victor, who had studied art history at Princeton University. Hammer continued to collect throughout his time in the Soviet Union. He left Moscow around 1929, having sold his enterprises to the Soviet government. He and Victor brought many of the treasures they had acquired in Moscow to the United States and started a new establishment in New York, Hammer Galleries, which continues to operate today.

Over the years Armand Hammer pursued a multitude of different business ventures, including distilling whiskey, producing livestock feed and raising cattle, and drilling for oil. Art collecting remained a constant activity throughout, and he continually refined his collection by buying and selling. He donated a collection of works by Dutch, Flemish, German, and Italian masters of the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries to the University of Southern California in 1965. From 1965 until his death in 1990 Hammer amassed two additional collections, both of which are permanently housed at the Museum: the Armand Hammer Collection and the Armand Hammer Daumier and Contemporaries Collection.1 More

Text by Cynthia Burlingham, deputy director of collections, and Carolyn Peter, director of the Laband Art Gallery at Loyola Marymount University.

1. Armand Hammer gave a large collection of works on paper to the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., in 1987. See also John Walker, ed., The Armand Hammer Collection (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1980), and Honoré Daumier, 1808-1879: Armand Hammer Daumier Collection (Los Angeles: Armand Hammer Foundation, 1981).


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