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
(5554 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 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. 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 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
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,
. 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
(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
M. Knoedler & Co. records, approximately 1848-1971, The Getty Research Institute, Los
Angeles, Accession no. 2012.M.54.
Acquired in 2012.
The archive was processed and partially digitized with support from the National Endowment
for the Humanities. Emmabeth Nanol processed Series I, II, and III and Jasmine Larkin
processed Series IV in 2013, under the supervision of Karen Meyer-Roux.
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.
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.
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 Karen
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 under the supervision of
Teresa Soleau and Chris Edwards.
Related Archival Materials
- M. Knoedler & Co. exhibition catalogs, The Metropolitan Museum Art Libraries,
available at: http://libmma.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/p15324coll8
- Winslow Homer letters to M. Knoedler & Company, 1900-1904. Archives of American
- M. Knoedler & Co. letters received, 1890-1920. Getty Research Institute, Accession
- Goupil & Cie and Boussod, Valadon & Co. records, 1846-1919, within Dieterle
family records of French art galleries, 1846-1986. Getty Research Institute, Accession
- Knoedler Kasmin Limited. 1959-2007, bulk 1970-1992. Getty Research Institute, Accession
- Knoedler & Company Papers, Jean Outland Chrysler Library, Chrysler Museum of Art,
- Knoedler Photographs and Negatives from William Collins, 190?-194?, Sterling and Francine
Clark Art Institute Records, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown,
- 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
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
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
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
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.