Born in 1911 in Pelham, New York, art collector, dealer, and connoisseur Robert O. Muller assembled a collection of nearly 4,500 late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Japanese prints throughout his life. As a history student at Harvard University, Mr. Muller's world renowned print collection began to take shape with the purchase of the print 'Kiyosu Bridge" by Kawase Hasui for $5.00 from the Shima Art Company in 1931. Mr. Muller married Ingeborg Lee in 1940 and their honeymoon in Japan played a critical role in Mr. Muller's development as an art dealer and collector. They spent five months there and met with many important artists and dealers and purchased thousands of prints for both their personal art collection and for commerce. Upon their return to the States, Mr. Muller purchased the Shima Art Company's assets and started the Robert Lee Gallery with his partner William Lee Comerford in 1940. With the attack on Pearl Harbor, Muller and Comerford closed the Robert Lee Gallery and later reopened it in a different Manhattan location. The Mullers moved to Newton, Connecticut, in 1946 and reestablished the Robert Lee Gallery there. In 1962, Muller purchased a frame shop, Merwin's Art Shop, in New Haven, Connecticut. Although primarily a framing shop, Muller not only befriended many scholars and academics from nearby Yale University but sold Japanese prints from the back room. From that initial purchase of 'Kiyosu Bridge' in 1931 up until his death in 2003, Robert Muller amassed what many art historians, collectors, and curators regarded as the finest collection of its type in the world. Muller bequeathed his Japanese print collection, archival materials, and library to the Sackler Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Organized by style and arranged by alphabetical and chronological order, usually in the original manner
Personal papers created by Robert O. Muller (1911-2003), a Connecticut-based collector who over the course of seventy years had assembled one of the world's finest collections of Japanese prints from the late 1860s through the 1940s.The papers include Muller's correspondence, subject files, business transactions, and research pertaining to Japanese woodblock prints.
Robert O. Muller Papers. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Bequest of Robert O. Muller, 2003
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 20560