Related Archival Materials
Scope and Content of Collection
Title: M. Knoedler & Co. records
Date (inclusive): circa 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 only the stock books, sales books, commission
books and inventory cards 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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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
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, 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. This consequently fueled the art market that the Knoedler gallery was instrumental
in establishing. Later, the rise of American millionaires who were clients of Knoedler, combined with declining European nobilities
further accelerated the process of transferring artworks from Europe to the United States. In 1901, Knoedler sold its first
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 masters
and post-Impressionist 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, who 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, in utmost secrecy
and during the worst years of the Great Depression. These artworks-including paintings by van Eyck, Botticelli, Raphael, Titian,
and Rembrandt-would form the nucleus for the National Gallery of Art, which was established and initially funded in part by
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,
. 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. This is now known to be incorrect.
Series I, II, III and IV 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.
M. Knoedler & Co. records, circa 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. Further processing and cataloging by Natasha Hicks and Sheila Prospero. The preliminary finding aid was created
by Emmabeth Nanol and Karen Meyer-Roux.
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 Art.
- 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.
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."
Scope and Content of Collection
The archive of M. Knoedler & Co. consists of the records of one of the most important 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 Armand Hammer. 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.
Therefore 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 artists, clients and other galleries; 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 twelve series:
Series I. Stock books;
Series II. Sales books;
Series III. Commission books;
Series IV. Inventory cards;
Series V. Receiving and shipping records;
Series VI. Correspondence;
Series VII. Departments;
Series VIII. London and Paris offices;
Series IX. Other financial records;
Series X. Photographs;
Series XI. Research files;
Series XII. Catalogs and ephemera.
Subjects - Topics
Art dealers--Great Britain
Art dealers--United States
Collectors and collecting
Painting, European--Collectors and collecting