Edward Mortimer Morris Warburg (1908-1992)

Edward M.M. Warburg, of New York & Wilton, Conn., "Father of American Ballet"

Associated Houses

Felix Warburg House



Hartsdale, near White Plains

He was born at the Woodlands near White Plains, New York. He grew up predominantly in New York City at the Felix Warburg House on Fifth Avenue (now the Jewish Museum). He was educated at Middlesex School, Concord, Massachusetts, and Harvard (1930) where he formed the Harvard Society of Contemporary Art with Lincoln Kirstein and John Walker, exhibiting the works of Edward Hopper, Georgia O'Keeffe, Alexander Calder, Bauhaus design etc. He briefly taught Modern Art at Bryn Mawr College before co-founding the American Ballet (precursor of the New York City Ballet) with Lincoln Kirstein, and with him was responsible for bringing George Balanchine from the U.S.S.R. to America. Warburg is viewed as "the father of American Ballet," giving the American public at large its first widely viewed look at that art form.

Before the war, he was an active collector of art by the likes of Picasso, Matisse, Hopper, O'Keeffe, Lachaise, Klee, Miro, Brancusi, Calder etc., many pieces of which he later donated to the Museum of Modern Art (of which he was a co-founder) and other museums. During the war, he was among those who landed on the beaches of Normandy shortly after D-Day and was awarded the Bronze Star. For his work finding homes for the displaced after the war, he was decorated by the governments of Belgium and Italy. He was co-Chairman of the Joint Distribution Committee; Chairman of the United Jewish Appeal (1905-55); President of the United Jewish Appeal of Greater New York; Member of the New York State Board of Regents (1958-1975); and, an Honorary Trustee and Vice-Director for Public Affairs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1983-1992).

In 1939, he married Mrs Mary Whelen (Prue) Currier and had a son, David, and a daughter, Daphne, who married Michael Ramon Langhorne Astor, great-grandson of William Waldorf Astor. They lived between New York City and Wilton, Connecticut.
Contributed by Mark Meredith on 12/07/2021 and last updated on 16/07/2021.