Already early in his life James Loeb developed a keen interest in classical antiquity. An interest he fostered during his studies in Harvard (1884-1888) where he also took courses in Classics. When James Loeb decided to leave the family banking business in 1901, he dedicated himself to collecting the art of the ancient world. His collection became one of a kind as Loeb – characteristic for him – focused on smaller artworks instead of large-scale sculptures as one would expect from a wealthy banker. He bought vases, bronzes, terracottas, gold jewelry, gems, glassware and Terra sigillata.
As often the case with collectors Loeb combined taking pleasure in the beauty of the artworks he assembled with a serious scientific pursuit of the subject. The famous art historian and close friend of Loeb Aby Warburg suggested he should go study in Munich with Adolf Furtwängler who was the eminent archaeologist of his time and the director of the Glyptothek. James Loeb saw it as his duty to make his collection known and accessible to the public. Therefore it was not only generous but also consistent that after his death he donated the Loeb collection to the “Museum für Antike Kleinkunst” - the “Antikensammlung München” of today.