Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Durlacher Bros. records
Date (inclusive): 1919-1973
Collection number: 950003
16 linear feet
Getty Research Institute
Special Collections and Visual Resources
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles, CA 90049-1688
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.
Language: Collection material in English
Open for use by qualified researchers.
Durlacher Bros. records, 1919-1973, Getty Research Institute, Research Library, Accession no. 950003.
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.
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.
R. Kirk Askew donated some of the gallery's records to the Archives of American Art in 1969-1971.
Most publications found in the archive were separated to the Getty Research Library's general collection.
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
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.
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.
Art—Collectors and collecting
Tchelitchew, Pavel, 1898-1957
Genres and Forms of Material
Abbott, Jere, 1899-1982
Askew, R. Kirk (Ralph Kirk), 1903-1974
Austin, Arthur Everett, 1900-1957
Harris, Tomás, 1908-
Hofer, Philip, 1898-
Perkins, F. Mason
Stettheimer, Florine, 1871-1944