Related Archival Materials
Scope and Content of Collection
Title: M. Knoedler & Co. records
Date (inclusive): approximately 1848-1971
M. Knoedler & Co.
3042.6 Linear Feet
(5555 boxes, 17 flat file folders)
The Getty Research Institute
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles 90049-1688
The records of M. Knoedler &
Co. document the business of the prominent American art dealer from the mid-19th
century to 1971. The archive traces the development of the once provincial American
art market into one of the world's leading art centers and the formation of the
private art collections that would ultimately establish many of the nation's leading
art museums, such as the Frick Collection and the National Gallery of Art. It
contains crucial provenance information on numerous artworks in private and public
collections in the United States. The archive includes stock books, sales books and
commission books; correspondence with collectors, artists, art dealers and other
associates; photographs of the artworks sold by the gallery; records from the firm's
offices in London, Paris and other cities; exhibition files; framing and restoration
records, and records of the firm's Print Department.
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Language: Collection material is in
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. When Roland Knoedler retired in 1928, the management of the firm passed to
his nephew Charles Henschel, Carman 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 & Co., 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
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 late 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.
Open for use by qualified researchers, with the following exceptions. Boxes 77,
262-264, 1308-1512, 1969-1974, 3592-3723 are restricted due to fragility. Box 4468
is restricted until 2075.
M. Knoedler & Co. records, approximately 1848-1971, The Getty Research Institute,
Los Angeles, Accession no. 2012.M.54.
Acquired in 2012.
Emmabeth Nanol processed Series I, II, and III and Jasmine Larkin processed Series IV
in 2013, under the supervision of Karen Meyer-Roux.
With partial support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Series V.
Receiving and shipping records and Series VI. Correspondence were catalogued and
processed from July 2014 to January 2015 by Alexis Adkins, Judy Chou, Jasmine
Larkin, and Emmabeth Nanol under the supervision of Karen Meyer-Roux. Graduate
interns Silvia Caporaletti and Sarah Glover participated in the description and
processing of Series VI. Further processing by Natasha Hicks in July-August 2014 and
by Isabella Zuralski and Sheila Prospero in December 2014.
With partial support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Series VII.
Photographs was catalogued and processed from January 2015 to January 2016 by Alexis
Adkins, Judy Chou, Sarah Glover, Erin Hurley, Jasmine Larkin, and Emmabeth Nanol,
under the supervision of Karen Meyer-Roux. Further processing and cataloging by
Chenglin Lee in June-August 2015.
With partial support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Series VIII and IX
were catalogued by Emmabeth Nanol and Chenglin Lee, Series X. was catalogued by Judy
Chou, Series XI. was catalogued by Jasmine Larkin, Series XII. was catalogued by
Alexis Adkins, Judy Chou, Erin Hurley, Jasmine Larkin, Emmabeth Nanol and Karen
Meyer-Roux, Series XIII and XIV were catalogued by Judy Chou, Emmabeth Nanol and
Auction and exhibition catalogs were cataloged in the online library catalog by Susan
Sundquist. A search on the phrase "Knoedler Collection" in Primo will retrieve these
With partial support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the imaging of the
stock books, commission books, sales books, letter books and inventory cards was
completed by photographers Lyndsey Godwin, Holly McGee and Laura Sokolosky.
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,
- M. Knoedler & Co. materials, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1 folder of
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 records of M. Knoedler & Co. document the business of the prominent American
art dealer from the mid-19th century to 1971, when the Knoedler Gallery was acquired
by Armand Hammer.
The archive traces the development of the once provincial American art market into
one of the world's leading art centers and the formation of the private art
collections that would ultimately establish many of the nation's leading art
museums, such as the Frick Collection and the National Gallery of Art. It brings to
the foreground the business side of dealing as artworks shuttled back and forth
among Knoedler, fellow dealers, and collectors, documenting 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.
The Knoedler Gallery became one of the main suppliers of old master and
post-Impressionist paintings in the United States. Financial records of the firm
provide crucial provenance information on the large number of artworks in American
museums that were sold by the gallery.
The archive includes stock books, sales books and commission books; correspondence
with collectors, artists, art dealers and other associates; photographs of the
artworks sold by the gallery; records from the firm's offices in London, Paris and
other cities; exhibition files; framing and restoration records, and records of the
firm's Print Department.
Arranged in 14 series:
Series I. Stock books;
Series II. Sales
Series III. Commission
Series IV. Inventory
Series V. Receiving and
Series VIII. Exhibition
Series IX. American
Series X. Framing and
Series XI. Print
Series XII. Other financial
Series XIII. Library
cards, scrapbooks, and research materials;
Series XIV. Knoedler
Subjects - Topics
Art -- Collectors and collecting
Art dealers -- France
Art dealers -- United States
Art dealers -- Great Britain
Art -- Private collections
Art -- Provenance
Collectors and collecting
Painting, European -- Collectors and collecting
Genres and Forms of Material
M. Knoedler & Co.