Related Archival Materials
Scope and Content of Collection
Title: M. Knoedler & Co. records
Date (inclusive): approximately 1848-1971
M. Knoedler & Co.
1300.0 linear feet
The Getty Research Institute
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688
The records of M. Knoedler & Co.
document the business of one of the most important American art dealers for more
than a century, from 1848 to 1971, and trace the development of the once provincial
American art market into one of the world's leading art centers. The archive
includes stock books, sales books and commission books; extensive correspondence
with artists, collectors and other art dealers; photographs of the artworks sold by
the gallery; business records from affiliate offices in Paris and London; department
records; and research files, catalogs and ephemera. At this time the stock books,
sales books, commission books, inventory cards, shipment records, correspondence and
photographs are available for research. The remainder of the archive is unprocessed.
Each series will be opened for use as processing is completed.
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Language: Collection material is in English.
M. Knoedler & Co. was a successor to the New York branch of Goupil & Co., an
extremely dynamic print-publishing house founded in Paris in 1827. Goupil's branches
in London, Berlin, Brussels, and The Hague, as well as New York, expanded the firm's
market in the sale of reproductive prints. The firm's office in New York-an
initiative of Léon Goupil, the son of Adolphe Goupil, Théodore Vibert, and the agent
William Schaus-was established in 1848 at 289 Broadway on the corner of Duane Street
near City Hall.
In 1857, Michael Knoedler, an employee of Goupil and a manager for the firm, bought
out the interests in the firm's New York branch, conducted the business under his
own name, and diversified its activities to include the sale of paintings. The
office was then established in a larger space at 366 Broadway. When Roland Knoedler,
Michael's son, became a partner in the business in 1877, the firm became known from
then on as M. Knoedler & Co. Roland Knoedler took over the firm after the death
of his father in 1878 and with Charles Carstairs opened galleries in Paris and
London. In 1897, the firm opened an office in Pittsburgh and maintained a gallery
there. When Roland Knoedler retired in 1928, the management of the firm passed to
his nephew Charles Henschel, Carmen Messmore, Charles Carstairs and Carstairs' son,
Carroll. In 1956 Henschel died and E. Coe Kerr and Michael Knoedler's grandson,
Roland Balaÿ, took over. After a number of moves, M. Knoedler & Co. occupied its
headquarters at 19 E. 70th Street for many years.
When Michael Knoedler purchased the New York Goupil office in 1857, most American
museums had not yet been formed. The country was also relatively isolated from
Western European centers of art exchange. As the United States witnessed a rise in
personal fortunes from the steel, mining, iron, and railroad industries in the
nineteenth century, more Americans had the financial means to begin forming art
collections. It fueled the art market that M. Knoedler & Co. helped establish
and combined with declining nobilities and changes in tax legislation in Europe, it
accelerated the process of transferring artworks from Europe to the United States.
In 1901, Knoedler sold an important old master, Velázquez,
Don Balthazar Carlos with a Dwarf, to the Boston Museum. In 1907, in
partnership with P. Colnaghi, Knoedler acquired seven portraits of the Cattaneo
family by Anthony van Dyck, of which three now form part of the Widener Collection
at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. In 1911, the firm sold Vermeer's
Officer and Laughing Girl to Henry Clay Frick. By
the early 20th century, the Knoedler gallery had become one of the main suppliers of
old master paintings in the United States and would continue to serve as a major
conduit for the acquisition of masterworks.
Among clients of Knoedler were civic-minded collectors, including John Taylor
Johnston (1820-1893), the son of a banker, who would become the founding president
of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Robert Leighton Stuart (1806-1882), a major donor
to the New York Public Library; and Catharine Lorillard Wolfe (1828-1887), the
daughter of a real estate developer and an heir to the Lorillard Tobacco Company.
Wolfe became the first donor to provide both a collection gift and an endowment to
the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Knoedler developed very close relationships with Henry Clay Frick and Andrew W.
Mellon. A large portion of the paintings in The Frick Collection in New York were
acquired during Frick's lifetime through the Knoedler gallery. In 1900, Charles
Carstairs and Roland Knoedler were present at Mellon's wedding celebrated in
England. The close relationship between Knoedler and Mellon would continue
throughout the collector's life, including his appointment as U.S. Secretary of the
Treasury from 1921 until 1932, culminating in the purchase of twenty-one paintings
from the Hermitage in Saint-Petersburg in 1930-1931. These artworks-including
paintings by van Eyck, Botticelli, Raphael, Titian, and Rembrandt-would form the
nucleus of the National Gallery of Art, which was established and initially funded
in part by Mellon.
Early in its history, M. Knoedler & Co. chose to advocate the work of American
artists. It established an educational division to promote American artists, the
International Art Union, which published a journal to help publicize artists' works
through print reproductions and which offered artists scholarships to study abroad.
Knoedler served as a primary agent for numerous artists, and through an ongoing
exhibition program actively promoted artists such as the American landscape painter
and printmaker Winslow Homer and Frederic Edwin Church, a central figure in the
Hudson River School of American landscape painters. After World War II, the gallery
promoted the work of Willem de Kooning, Barnett Newman, Louise Bourgeois, Eva Hesse
and Arshile Gorky, along with European artists, such as Salvador Dalí, Henry Moore,
and Wassily Kandinsky.
In 1971 the firm was purchased by businessman, philanthropist and collector Armand
Hammer. Since the late 1970s, the firm has focused increasingly on contemporary art.
During the early 2000s the gallery was embroiled in lawsuits regarding allegedly
forged artworks. The Knoedler gallery closed in November 2011.
Note: Regarding the date that M. Knoedler & Co. was created in the nineteenth
century, the firm has traditionally retained 1846 as founding date. This tradition
was given prominence in 1946 in
A catalogue of an exhibition
of paintings and prints of every description, on the occasion of Knoedler, one
hundred years, 1846-1946
. In his foreword to the catalogue, Charles
Henschel, Michael Knoedler's grandson and then the firm's president, associated 1846
with the date of his grandfather's arrival in New York. The 1846 founding date also
appears on some of the firm's labels. This date has been questioned however, in
light that the earliest press announcement of an opening of a shop in New York by
Goupil may date from 1848. See
The Literary World
(1849), Volume 5: 317. DeCourcy McIntosh is credited with first questioning the
founding date of 1846. See his "Merchandising America: American Views Published by
the Maison Goupil," The Magazine Antiques (September 2004): 124-133. Others have
questioned whether in reference to the founding of the Knoedler Gallery the date of
1857 is not in fact more relevant than those of 1846 or 1848.
Series I, II, III, IV, V, VI and VII.A. are open for use by qualified researchers.
The remainder of the collection is unprocessed. Each series will be opened for use
as processing is completed. Boxes 77, 262-264, 1308-1512, 1969-1974, are restricted
due to fragility.
M. Knoedler & Co. records, approximately 1848-1971, The Getty Research Institute,
Los Angeles, Accession no. 2012.M.54.
Acquired in 2012.
Under the supervision of Karen Meyer-Roux, Emmabeth Nanol processed Series I, II, and
III and Jasmine Larkin processed Series IV in 2013. With partial support of the
National Endowment of the Humanities, Series V. Receiving and shipping records and
Series VI. Correspondence were catalogued and processed by Alexis Adkins, Judy Chou,
Jasmine Larkin, and Emmabeth Nanol. Graduate interns Silvia Caporaletti and Sarah
Glover participated in the description and processing of Series VI. Further
processing and cataloging by Natasha Hicks, Isabella Zuralski and Sheila
With partial support of the National Endowment of the Humanities, Series VII.
Photographs was catalogued and processed in 2015 by Alexis Adkins, Judy Chou, Sarah
Glover, Erin Hurley, Jasmine Larkin, and Emmabeth Nanol. Further processing and
cataloging by Chenglin Lee in the summer of 2015.
Related Archival Materials
- M. Knoedler & Co. exhibition catalogs, The Metropolitan Museum Art Libraries,
- Winslow Homer letters to M. Knoedler & Company, 1900-1904. Archives of American
- M. Knoedler & Co. letters received, 1890-1920. Getty Research Institute,
Accession Number 840163
- Goupil & Cie and Boussod, Valadon & Co. records, 1846-1919, within Dieterle
family records of French art galleries, 1846-1986. Getty Research Institute,
Accession Number 900239
- Knoedler Kasmin Limited. 1959-2007, bulk 1970-1992. Getty Research Institute,
Accession Number 2010.M.71.
- Knoedler & Company Papers, Jean Outland Chrysler Library, Chrysler Museum of
Art, Norfolk, VA.
- Knoedler Photographs and Negatives from William Collins, 190?-194?, Sterling and
Francine Clark Art Institute Records, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute,
Auction and exhibition catalogs have been separated to the Getty Research Library's
general and rare book collection. These can be searched in the online catalog under
the provenance search phrase "Knoedler Collection."
Search the Knoedler Collection.
Scope and Content of Collection
The archive of M. Knoedler & Co. consists of the records of one of the most
influential and successful American art dealers. The breadth of the archive spans
over a century, beginning in 1848, when the French parent company Goupil & Cie,
opened an office in New York, to 1971 when the Knoedler gallery was acquired by
The records of the Knoedler gallery brings to the foreground the business side of
dealing as artworks shuttled back and forth among Knoedler, fellow dealers, and
collectors whose names represent the historic elite of American society. It traces
the growth of the American art market, developments in art connoisseurship, shifting
tastes, the changing role of art in American society, and the essential role of
private collectors in the formation of public American art collections. The records
provide insight into broader economic, social and cultural histories and the
nation's evolving sense of place in the world.
Knoedler gallery became one of the main suppliers of European old master and
post-Impressionist paintings in the United States. Its financial records document
the large number of artworks in American museums that were sold by the gallery. The
archive also contains letters written by artists Archipenko, Sarah Bernhardt, Rosa
Bonheur, Alexander Calder, Edgar Degas, Max Ernst, Paul Gauguin, Greta Garbo,
Winslow Homer, Henri Matisse, Irving Penn, Mark Rothko, John Singer Sargent, Joseph
Stella, Edward Steichen, and Louis C. Tiffany.
The archive includes: financial records on purchases and sales, such as stock books
and sales books; records related to commissions of artworks that the dealer made to
artists; inventory cards on clients and artworks; records related to the shipment of
artworks that did not enter the firm's stock; correspondence with collectors,
artists, and other dealers; photographs of the artworks sold by the gallery;
business records from affiliate offices in Paris and London and for the firm's
departments, including the one dedicated to framing and restoration; research files;
catalogs and ephemera.
Arranged in eleven series:
Series I. Stock books;
Series II. Sales
Receiving and shipping records;
Series X. Other
Subjects - Topics
Art dealers--Great Britain
Art dealers--United States
Art--Collectors and collecting
Collectors and collecting
Painting, European--Collectors and collecting
Genres and Forms of Material