1856 – 1932.

Art collector, and cultural philanthropist.

Annie Swan was born in Fremont, Illinois in 1856 and moved with her family to Chicago before the Great Fire of 1871. In 1880 she married Lewis Larned Coburn, a patent lawyer and founder of the Union League Club. They resided on South Michigan Avenue. After Lewis Coburn's death in 1910, Mrs. Coburn moved to the Blackstone Hotel, where she remained a hotel guest until her death two decades later. It was in her hotel suite that Coburn would display and store her collection. Reporters and curators from around the world marveled over the huge amount, quality and variety of art Mrs. Coburn contrived to hang, prop, and stash in the Blackstone suite. Photographs of her rooms show paintings obscuring chests of drawers, leaning against the curtains in the window seat, and sitting on every available chair. She used Degas' Uncle and Niece as a fire screen and stored van Gogh's Sunny Midi, Arles under her bed because she thought its brighter color scheme was not in keeping with the sobriety of many of her other pieces.

Coburn was described as quiet and withdrawn, and the life she lived with her paintings was a rather eccentric, reclusive one. Her donation of more than 70 late 19th and early 20th century works to the Art Institute has helped shape the museum's identity, with the "Coburn Renoirs" becoming the core of the museum's Impressionist paintings. Annie Swan Coburn died in 1932 at age 76.

  1. Annie Swan Coburn. 1930.
  2. Interior of Annie Swan Coburn's hotel suite, c.1925.
  3. Annie Swan Coburn in her hotel suite, c.1925.
  4. "Society Leader Taken By Death" Chicago Herald and Examiner. June 1st, 1932.
  5. Daniel Catton Rich, The Mrs. L.L. Coburn Collection – Modern Paintings & Water Colors – Auspices of the Antiquarian Society from April 6 1932 – October 9 1932. Art Institute of Chicago, 1932.
  6. Invoice from Durand-Ruel, for paintings in the Coburn Collection, March 18, 1932.
  7. Interior of Annie Swan Coburn's hotel suite, c.1925.

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