Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Duveen Brothers records
Date (inclusive): 1876-1981 (bulk 1909-1964)
394 Linear Feet
(584 boxes, 18 flat file folders)
The Getty Research Institute
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles 90049-1688
Notable art dealers from the late
nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. The records provide a detailed view of the Duveen
Brothers business activities in London, Paris, and New York. Although the archive extends
from 1876 to 1981, the bulk of the material dates from Joseph Duveen's tenure as president
of the firm, 1909-1939, and the period 1939-1964 when Edward Fowles directed the firm (with
Armand Lowengard until 1943). The mass of documents, such as cables and letters, invoices,
and ledger and stock books, give a day-by-day account of art dealing, business strategy, and
the individuals involved. Included are some records from the Kleinberger Galleries,
1906-1971, and 6 linear feet of Edward Fowles's papers.
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Language: Collection material is in English
Duveen Brothers, notable art dealers in London, Paris, and New York from the late
nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century, brought to America high quality old master
paintings and decorative arts from the great private collections in Europe. Under the
guidance of Joseph Duveen (1869-1939) and assisted by art experts, most notably Bernard
Berenson, the Duveen Brothers monopolized the American art market for five decades. Duveen
Brothers helped to form the art collections of many extremely wealthy Americans. A number of
these collections became the nuclei of U.S. museums such as the Frick Collection, the
Huntington Art Collections and the National Gallery of Art.
The Duveen Brothers business began when Joseph Joel Duveen (1843-1908) and his younger
brother, Henry J. Duveen (1855-1918), left their home in Meppel, Holland for Hull, England.
They specialized in selling delftware from their native Holland and later branched out to
include Chinese porcelain, tapestries, furniture, and old master paintings. The Duveens
opened a London office in 1879; a New York office followed in 1886. In 1897 the firm closed
a temporary shop located on the rue de la Paix in Paris and reopened a grander store on the
Place Vendôme, later referred to as the "Little Palace." By this time Duveen Brothers was
purchasing important paintings, including acquisitions from the Mulgrave Castle sale of 1890
and the Murrieta sale of 1892.
Shortly after Henry J. Duveen arrived in New York to head the office there, his brother
Joseph Joel sent his son Joseph (later Sir Joseph of Millbank, also known as Joe or just
Duveen) to assist his uncle Henry. By the 1880s Henry had developed a clientele of American
millionaires whose wealth in those years was without precedent. Joseph became more active in
the management of the New York house, took over its operations in 1907, and served as
president of the firm between 1909 and 1939. One of the first changes Joseph Duveen made was
to move the New York house to a more highly visible location on Fifth Avenue. He transformed
the Duveen show rooms, displaying art with dramatic lighting in lavish surroundings. He made
grand gestures to persuade prospective clients, as, for example, when he had an elaborate
plaster model of Senator Clark's Fifth Avenue mansion constructed (at the cost of $20,000)
to entice the Senator to hire Duveen Brothers to furnish it.
While in New York Joseph made a number of bold purchases on behalf of Duveen Brothers. In
1906 he acquired three large collections: the Rodolfe Kann collection, the Maurice Kann
collection, and the Hainauer collection. In 1927 he bought the Robert H. Benson collection
of 114 Italian paintings in England and three years later he purchased the Dreyfus
collection of Italian paintings and sculpture in Paris. Joseph sold selections from the
Dreyfus collection to Andrew Mellon and Samuel H. Kress; these items formed the core of the
National Gallery collections in Washington, D.C. As late as 1939, the year of his death,
Joseph was still selling paintings and sculpture from these purchases.
As president of Duveen Brothers, Joseph developed with a number of clients extremely close
ties that went beyond influencing their art-buying habits. He arranged travel plans for his
important clients, designed their table settings, and stored their preferred cigars in the
Duveen Brothers' vaults. Joseph Duveen was actively involved in numerous art organizations
and served as a trustee for the National Gallery, London; the Wallace Collection; and the
Imperial Gallery of Art, London. He was a member of the Council of the British School at
Rome and of the National Art Collections Fund. Joseph founded the British Artists
Exhibitions Organization for the encouragement of lesser known British artists. He provided
for additions to and extensions of London museums, such as the Tate Gallery (a new building
of several galleries for modern foreign art, works by Sargent, and modern foreign
sculpture), the National Gallery (a new building), the National Portrait Gallery (a new
building of several galleries), London University, and the British Museum (a new building
for the housing of the Elgin marbles and Nereid statues). In 1930 he wrote
Years of British Art
The Duveen Brothers' business began to decline after Joseph's death in 1939, at which time
Armand Lowengard (Joseph Duveen's nephew) and Edward Fowles became joint owners of the firm.
When Lowengard died in 1943, Edward Fowles assumed the presidency of Duveen Brothers. The
Nazi occupation of France forced Duveen Brothers to evacuate Paris. The London office closed
shortly thereafter. After the war Duveen Brothers had a number of notable clients, such as
Henry Ford II and Robert Lehman, but the business never regained its former vibrancy. In
1964 Edward Fowles sold Duveen Brothers to Norton Simon, including the East 79th Street
mansion and all remaining stock (excluding the business records). Edward Fowles served as a
consultant to the Norton Simon Foundation and, in 1968, donated his papers and the Duveen
Brothers business records to the Metropolitan Museum of Art where they were housed until
1996. In 1969 the Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute purchased the Duveen library
of books, periodicals, exhibition catalogues, and sales catalogues, along with a portion of
the Duveen Brothers business records that was interfiled with the library and remains at the
Clark. In 1996 the Metropolitan Museum of Art donated the Duveen archive to the Research
Library at the Getty Research Institute.
A microfilm copy (422 reels) of the archive is open for use by qualified researchers. The
original papers are restricted because they are brittle and fragile. Additional microfilm
copies of the archive have been deposited at the Thomas J. Watson Library of the
Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Witt Library of the Courtauld Institute in
London, and at the Institute national d'histoire de l'art in Paris.
Duveen Brothers Records, 1876-1981, bulk 1909-1964, The Getty Research Institute, Los
Angeles, Accession no. 960015.
Acquired from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1996.
The Photography Studio of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (in particular, Arvia Higgins and
Nora Kennedy) cleaned, conserved, re-housed, and indexed the Duveen negatives, 1993-ca.
1996, prior to shipping the archive to the Getty.
At the Getty Research Library, Lynn Tapia and J. Gibbs performed initial unpacking and
re-housing, and made a preliminary box list, May - June 1996.
The following people processed the collection between 1996 and 2002: Julie Rosenberg,
Vladimira Stefura, Teresa Morales, Jenny Vasquez, Trevor Bond, Courtney Booker, Ted Walbye,
Jan Bender and J. Gibbs.
Teresa Morales arranged most of the archive and created a draft finding aid, between
August 1997-July 1998.
The archive was microfilmed by the Microfilm Unit of the Southern Regional Library
Facility, UCLA, between April 1999 and May 2002.
Karen Meyer-Roux edited and revised the finding aid in July and August 2014, February and
Scope and Content of Collection
The Duveen Brothers archive,1876-1981, contains the business records for Duveen Brothers
offices in New York, London, and Paris in ca. 394 linear feet (585 boxes, 18 flat file
folders, ca. 2,000 negatives). It includes ledgers, sales books, stock reports, inventories,
invoices, correspondence (letters and cables), manuscripts, newspaper and magazine
clippings, photographs, X rays of paintings, acetate and glass plate negatives.
Also included in the archive are two related groups of records. The Edward Fowles papers,
1917-1981 (6 linear ft.), primarily date from his period in the Paris office of Duveen, but
include some personal papers, particularly related to his memoir about Duveen Brothers.
Kleinberger & Co., Inc. records, 1906-1971 (9 linear ft.), comprise correspondence with
clients and other dealers, and include a small number of personal papers of Harry G.
Sperling, president of Kleinberger Galleries.
The bulk of the Duveen records dates from Joseph Duveen's tenure as president of the firm,
between 1909-1939, with relatively full coverage through Edward Fowles's tenure until 1964.
The collection extensively documents the Duveen Brothers firm. The mass of detailed records,
such as cables, letters, and invoices, provide a day-by-day account of art dealing, business
strategy, and the individuals involved. The correspondence in particular highlights the
relationships between employees of the Duveen Brothers, (e.g., Henry, Edward, and Joseph
Duveen, Edward Fowles, Armand Lowengard, and Bertram Boggis) and clients, museum directors,
curators, art historians, art dealers, restorers, scouts, and other consultants. The
correspondence between the Duveen branches is voluminous and revealing of the strategies
employed in buying and selling art. Much of the correspondence is in carbon copies with
smaller amounts of original materials.
Extensive correspondence, as well as stock books, sales books, and invoices trace the
movement of paintings, sculpture, and European and Asian decorative arts bought and sold
through the firm. Correspondence with and about owners and collectors concerns offers,
sales, and purchases, predominately of Italian and English old masters, for such clients as
J.S. Bache, H.C. Frick, J.P. Morgan, H.E. Huntington, S.H. Kress, E.T. Stotesbury, and A.
Mellon, to name just a few. Twelve boxes (6 lin.ft.) hold correspondence between Bernard
Berenson and Duveen Brothers staff. Many letters document the correspondence with other
scholars, such as Wilhelm von Bode, Max Friedländer, L. Venturi, Leo Planiscig, George
Swarzenski, W.R. Valentiner, upon whom Duveen Brothers relied for expert opinions. Also
included are records of lawsuits (Hahn vs. Duveen; Hamilton vs. Duveen). Nearly 2,000
negatives, ca. 100 X rays of paintings, and ca. 1,000 photographs (some annotated by
Berenson and other art experts) document stock handled by the firm.
Not included in the archive, but retained by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, are the bound
X book (1910-1927), that documents the paintings authenticated by Bernard Berenson and sold
by Duveen, and 10 client summary books (1894-1959) that record specific sales to clients.
Also at the Metropolitan Museum are some 20 binders of photographs printed from the
negatives in the archive. The Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute holds
approximately 240 cubic feet of Duveen records, along with the Duveen library of books and
catalogues, many of them annotated.
Between 1999 and 2002 the Duveen archive was microfilmed by the SRLF Preservation
Microfilming Service at UCLA for the Research Library at the Getty Research Institute. Also
microfilmed were the X book and client summary notebooks owned by the Metropolitan Museum of
Art. Microfilm reel numbers are noted in the Container list, below.
The collection is organized in 5 series:
Series I. Business records, 1876-1964;
Series II. Papers and correspondence, 1901-1981;
Series III. Photographs,
indices, negatives, and X rays;
Series IV. Double oversize materials from Series II;
Series V. Duveen records at the
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Subjects - Names
Widener, Joseph E. (Joseph Early)
Van Dyck, Anthony, Sir
Stotesbury, Edward Townsend
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn
Reynolds, Joshua, Sir
Raeburn, Henry, Sir
Morgan, J. P. (John Pierpont)
Mellon, Andrew W. (Andrew William)
Kress, Samuel H. (Samuel Henry)
Bache, Jules S. (Jules Semon)
Huntington, Henry Edwards
Houdon, Jean Antoine
Kahn, Otto Hermann
Gulbenkian, Calouste Sarkis
Frick, Henry Clay
Getty, J. Paul (Jean Paul), 1892-1976
Subjects - Corporate Bodies
Wildenstein and Company (New York, N.Y.)
F. Kleinberger Galleries (New York, N.Y.)
Subjects - Topics
Art dealers -- France
Art dealers -- United States
Art -- Private collections
Collectors and collecting
Tapestry -- Collectors and collecting
Art -- Exhibitions
Art -- Expertising
Art dealers -- Great Britain
Sculpture, European -- Collectors and collecting
Rugs -- Collectors and collecting
Drawing, European -- Collectors and collecting
Decorative arts -- Collectors and collecting
Porcelain -- Collectors and collecting
Painting, European -- Collectors and collecting
Genres and Forms of Material
Ledgers (account books)
Valentiner, Wilhelm Reinhold
Thos. Agnew and Sons Ltd.
F. Kleinberger Galleries (New York, N.Y.)
Friedländer, Max J.
Douglas, R. Langton (Robert Langton)
Duveen, Joseph Duveen, Baron
Duveen, Henry J.
Bode, Wilhelm von
Brockwell, Maurice Walter