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Finding aid for the Durlacher Bros. records, 1919-1973
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical/Historical Note
  • Administrative Information
  • Related Material
  • Separated Material
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Durlacher Bros. records
    Date (inclusive): 1919-1973
    Number: 950003
    Creator/Collector: Durlacher Bros.
    Physical Description: 16.0 linear feet (42 boxes)
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: Records of the Durlacher Brothers, prominent art dealers in London and New York during the 19th and 20th centuries. The records comprise administrative and financial records, correspondence, and photographs from the New York City branch, ca. 1920s-1960s, the years during which R. Kirk Askew managed, and then owned the firm.
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    Language: Collection material is in English

    Biographical/Historical Note

    Henry Durlacher founded the Durlacher Brothers firm of art dealers in London in 1843, and was later joined by his brother George. The firm dealt principally with porcelain and majolica, eventually adding furniture, tapestries, decorative objects, and paintings to their stock. The brothers Durlacher built a clientele that included such significant collectors as Sir Richard Wallace and J. Pierpont Morgan. R. Kirk Askew joined the firm in the 1920s to manage the newly established New York City branch, which quickly became the more influential of the two branches. George Durlacher, the oldest surviving partner of the originally constituted firm, retired in 1938. Askew became the owner of Durlacher Bros. in 1937 and ran the business from New York until ca. 1969.
    R. Kirk Askew (1903-1974) represented a new generation of scholarly dealers. He trained in art history at Harvard. While there he was a student of Arthur McComb, who in 1929 organized the first exhibition of Italian baroque art in the United States.
    Askew sold important Old Master drawings and paintings to American museums and collectors between the 1920s and 1960s. The New York branch contributed to such significant collections as the Sachs collection, the Widener collection, the Frick, the Fogg, and the Cleveland Museum, among others. After World War II, however, the gallery increasingly exhibited and handled the work of modern and contemporary artists, including that of Peter Blume, Walter Stuempfig, Florine Stettheimer, and the estate of Pavel Tchelitchew.
    Askew and his wife Constance (neé Atwood and the former wife of Arthur McComb) formed part of the New York art scene; friends and colleagues included Julien Levy, Lincoln Kirstein, Peter Blume, Pavel Tchelitchew and Charles Henri Ford, and other artists and dealers. While Levy served in the U.S. Army during World War II, Askew also managed the Julien Levy gallery.

    Administrative Information


    Open for use by qualified researchers.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    Durlacher Bros. records, 1919-1973, Getty Research Institute, Research Library, Accession no. 950003.

    Acquisition Information

    After R. Kirk Askew died in 1974, the remaining records of his firm stayed in the hands of his widow until she died in the 1980s. The records then passed to her daughters (including the art historian Pamela Askew), from whom the Getty Research Library acquired this archive in 1995.

    Processing History

    Lori Saavedra processed and arranged the collection during May-June 1999. A box of books and periodicals acquired with the papers have been separated to the Getty Research Library.

    Related Material

    R. Kirk Askew donated some of the gallery's records to the Archives of American Art in 1969-1971.

    Separated Material

    Most publications found in the archive were separated to the Getty Research Library's general collection.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Durlacher Brothers Records (correspondence, stock books, ledgers and other financial papers, photographs, scrapbooks and a card file in 15 linear feet) are the records of the New York branch - from the early 1920s, when R. Kirk Askew began managing the branch under the supervision of the London office, until around 1969, when Askew closed the firm. One file of letters from F. Mason Perkins dates from 1919; a few papers date as late as 1973.
    So far as is known, the earlier records of the Durlacher Brothers London office do not survive. According to a note in the files at the Metropolitan Museum, they were destroyed by George Durlacher when he sold the firm to Askew in 1937. When Askew retired from the business, he donated some records of the New York branch to the Archives of American Art.
    Included at the end of the archive are some personal papers of R. Kirk and Constance Askew (one linear foot). These consist of financial records relating to their personal art collection, and correspondence, most of it from family members. Two files of letters are addressed to Constance Askew from family and friends.

    Arrangement note

    The records are arranged in 8 series: Series I. Correspondence and appointment books, 1919-1973; Series II. Financial, 1921-1971; Series III. Stock books, 1923-1969; Series IV. Assorted office files, 1923-1964; Series V. Photographs; Series VI. Tchelitchew Estate, 1942-1973; Series VII. Scrapbooks, 1934-1953; Series VIII. Kirk and Constance Askew personal files, 1929-ca.1967

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Names

    Tchelitchew, Pavel, 1898-1957

    Subjects - Topics

    Art dealers
    Art--Collectors and collecting

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Photographic prints
    Stock books


    Abbott , Jere
    Ames, Winslow
    Askew, Constance
    Askew, R. Kirk, (Ralph Kirk), 1903-1974
    Austin, Arthur Everett, 1900-1957
    Bloch, Vitale
    Dix, George
    Durlacher, George
    Harris, Tomás, 1908-1964
    Hofer, Philip, 1898-1984
    Levy, Julien
    Perkins, F. Mason
    Stettheimer, Florine, 1871-1944