EINSTEIN, ALBERT, et al.
Guest Album of Theresa Renner, Shanghai, Taiwan, and California, 1922-1981, featuring 79 pp of inscriptions, original watercolors, musical notations, and signatures by ALBERT EINSTEIN, EUGENE O'NEILL, RABINDRANATH TAGORE, FU TIENIAN, ZHAO SHAO'ANG, CARLOTTA MONTEREY, and dozens of others, 12mo, album bound in silk over boards with gilt monogram, shredding to silk, covers chipped, gutters reinforced with tape partially touching Einstein inscription, soiling to some leaves.
WITH: Portrait Photograph of Eugene O'Neill and Carlotta Monterey, 7 1/4 x 9 1/4 inch silver print by Baron de Meyer, with five line inscription by Monterey to Renner.
AND WITH: Autograph Letter Signed ("Elsa Einstein"), January 6, 1923, to Theresa Renner, separated at several folds.
Provenance: Theresa Renner; by descent to present owner.
AUTOGRAPH ALBUM OF AN AMERICAN EX-PAT IN SHANGHAI, INCLUDING INSCRIPTIONS BY EINSTEIN, TAGORE, O'NEILL, AND ORIGINAL WATERCOLORS BY FU TIENIAN AND ZHAO SHAO'ANG. Theresa Renner (1890-1987) studied in Hungary as a concert pianist under Bela Bartok. Following World War I she and her husband, the Austrian physician Alexander Renner, emigrated to Shanghai, where the latter set up a medical practice and the two lived for nearly three decades. The Renners were an integral part of expatriate life in Shanghai, entertaining many influential figures at their home, including Albert and Elsa Einstein, and Carlotta Monterey and Eugene O'Neill, the latter whom Dr. Renner treated for a nervous breakdown in 1928.
The present album features 79 pages of inscriptions, original artwork, and signatures from an international cast of characters. Of great interest is a TEN LINE INSCRIPTION FROM ALBERT EINSTEIN on the first page, made during the Einsteins travels through Asia in the fall of 1922. In translation:
"The conditions for the blossoming of fine human intelligence appear to be truly restricted. Great poverty leads to coarseness, wealth leads to hollowness; a rough, cold climate makes one gloomy, a tropical climate makes one voluptuous and lethargic. That is why there is no enduring flowering of knowledge in one single place and one single nation, and why occurrences such as the Italian renaissance are like islands in the ocean of history. Albert Einstein. 1922. New Year's Eve."
Another inscription comes from Eugene O'Neill, who writes "To Mme. Renner with deep feelings of gratitude and friendship always. Eugene O'Neill Shanghai, Dec. '28." The sentiment is more than perfunctory, as Theresa and Dr. Renner took O'Neill in and helped him recover following a drunken spree in Shanghai that made the papers in the United States (see Sheaffer p 315ff). Theresa Renner and Carlotta Monterey, O'Neill's third wife, became fast friends. According to Renner, "In almost no time we were like sisters, devoted sisters. We went shopping every day ... and she used to pour out her complaints about O'Neill" (Shaeffer p 317). Carlotta also leaves a lengthy inscription in the album "To that charming and real woman" and at some point gifted to Theresa the inscribed portrait photograph of she and Eugene also included in the lot.
In addition to the Einstein and O'Neil inscriptions, the album features a full page watercolor illustration of bamboo by Chinese painter Zhao Shao'ang (1905-1998), a two-page floral watercolor by Chinese painter Fu Tienian (1846-1947), and several other watercolors by unidentified Chinese artists.
Other signers and inscribers of the album include Nobel Laureate RABINDRANATH TAGORE (inscription in Bengali), concert pianist MISCHA LEVITZKI (with a musical quotation), BERNHARD KELLERMANN, FELIX VALYI, ADMIRAL THOMAS C. HART, COLONEL LAURENCE MOORE COSGRAVE and dozens of other Westerners and Easterners. Most of the inscriptions date from the 1920s-40s, but a few date from beyond, after the Renners had settled in Southern California. Several of the inscriptions were gathered in Taiwan, as well as various European localities, evidence of Therese Renner's travels.
We are grateful for the assistance of Dr. Diana Kormos Buchwald, general editor of the Einstein Papers Project, in cataloguing this lot.