Bersohn, Matthias

views updated


BERSOHN, MATTHIAS (1823–1908), Polish art collector and historian. Bersohn was active in the Warsaw Jewish community. He assembled an important collection of Jewish and Polish art in his own home and made generous presents to Polish museums. Since all his children converted to Christianity, he presented his collection and library to the Warsaw Jewish community, which established the "Bersohn Museum for Jewish Antiquities" to house it, at the time the only institution of its kind in Poland. In March 1940 the Germans broke into the museum and robbed it of its treasures. Bersohn's general collection was given to Polish museums. One of the earliest researchers of the history of art in Poland, he wrote a study on the wooden-structured synagogues in Poland (Pol., 3 vols., 1895–1903; Ger., in mgjv, 8 (1901), 159ff.). He also wrote a study of Joseph Nasi (mgwj, 18 (1869), 422ff.) and one of Tobias Cohen and other Polish-Jewish doctors (1872). His lexicon of Jewish scholars in Poland, 16th–18th centuries (Pol., 1906), and his collection of documents on Polish Jewish history from 1388 to 1872 (1910, ed. posthumously by his son-inlaw A. Kraushaar) are not too reliable.