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G. Cramer Oude Kunst Gallery Records
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical / Historical Note
  • Administrative Information
  • Related Archival Materials
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: G. Cramer Oude Kunst gallery records
    Date (inclusive): 1873-1998, bulk 1938-1998
    Number: 2001.M.5
    Creator/Collector: G. Cramer Oude Kunst
    Physical Description: 409.80 Linear Feet (944 boxes)
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles 90049-1688
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10020/askref
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: The records of G. Cramer Oude Kunst in The Hague in the Netherlands document the gallery's business since the early 1900s until the late 1990s, with the bulk of the collection dating from 1938 to 1998. Of particular research value are Gustav Cramer's WWII correspondence and sales receipts regarding his dealings with Nazi agents for Adolf Hitler's museum in Linz. The archive may be the only uncensored dealer archive documenting the international art market in Nazi-occupied Europe. It comprises over sixty years of the gallery's correspondence and financial records. Also present is a portion of the photographic archive, including circa 500 glass plate negatives, and sales catalogs.
    Request Materials: Request access to the physical materials described in this inventory through the catalog record   for this collection. Click here for the access policy  .
    Language: Collection material is predominantly in Dutch, with some material in English, French, or German.

    Biographical / Historical Note

    The gallery of the art dealers Gustav Cramer (1881-1961) and his son Hans Max Cramer (b. 1920) was one of the most renowned and influential galleries dealing in old master paintings during the 20th century in Europe. The gallery was founded in Kassel in the late 19th century by Gustav Cramer's grandfather, Max Cramer. In 1914 Gustav Cramer inherited the gallery. After World War I Gustav Cramer moved to Berlin where for many years he worked at the renowned Van Diemen gallery, in charge of the old masters section, or Alte Kunst. In 1933 he opened his own gallery in the Lennéstrasse in Berlin. In 1936, he was expelled from the official artists' organization Reichskammer der Bildenden Künste (Reich Chamber of Visual Art). In 1938, in order to escape the Nazi regime, the family moved to the Netherlands and opened the G. Cramer Oude Kunst gallery in Javastraat 38 in The Hague. Under the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands Gustav Cramer's son Hans Max Cramer became the official owner of the gallery. While the son officially represented the gallery, the father continued to be in charge of business. After Gustav Cramer's death in 1961, Hans Max Cramer continued his father's business.
    During World War II Gustav Cramer dealt on consignment in fine and decorative arts, mainly with German dealers in Berlin. He also engaged as an intermediary in transactions between Nazi agents collecting for Adolf Hitler's museum in Linz and Dutch collectors and dealers who wanted their transactions with the Nazis to remain anonymous. After the war he continued to sell decorative arts and old master paintings to a primarily Dutch and German clientele.
    Between 1954 and 1959, the gallery eliminated decorative arts from its stock in order to focus on old master paintings. Records from this period indicate that the firm also began to engage in business more regularly with numerous museums and private collectors in the United States. In 1960 Hans Max Cramer changed the business strategy again and began selling paintings almost exclusively on consignment, a concept for which he was criticized during the early 1960s. This approach turned out to be successful at a time when many private collections were being sold and dispersed. Cramer was able to make substantial business deals by representing some of the most important private collections in the Netherlands, including H.E. ten Cate, the Becker collection, the C.J.K. van Aalst collection, the Sidney van den Bergh collection, and numerous others. The pool of clientele expanded to include the world's most significant old master collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the National Gallery, London, the National Gallery, Washington, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Toledo Art Museum, and the collections of L.H. Gilbert, Armand Hammer, Norton Simon, Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza, and many others.
    Hans Max Cramer studied at the prestigious Dutch school for art history, the Rijksinstituut voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie in The Hague. He was head of the study-room for Dutch and Flemish old masters, and wrote a great number of articles for the Dutch encyclopaedia Winkler Prins. During the 1980s he curated the exhibition Dutch Painting of the Golden Age from the Royal Picture Gallery, Mauritshuis and the Galleries of Hans M. Cramer and John Hoogsteder , held in The Hague in 1986. It was the first publicly sponsored exhibition curated by dealers.

    Administrative Information


    Open for access by qualified researchers.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    G. Cramer Oude Kunst gallery records, 1873-1998, (bulk 1938-1998), The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession no. 2001.M.5

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired in 2001.

    Processing History

    Alan Tomlinson processed the entire collection when it was acquired in 2001. Between 2011 and 2016 Isabella Zuralski-Yeager wrote the finding aid and performed additional processing. Jasmin Larkin helped processing portions of Series II. Financial files. The collection is now fully processed with the exception of additional material acquired in 2015. Name indexes for Series I. are in process, with indexing of material from 1938-1970 completed by Jade Finlinson, who continued the work of Isabella Zuralski-Yeager and Barbara Selwyn.

    Related Archival Materials

    Interview with Hans Cramer, 2004 April 1-2. Special Collections Accession no. 2004.M.26.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The archive of the gallery G. Cramer Oude Kunst in The Hague in the Netherlands is a rich resource for the study of the international market in old master paintings from the late 1930s through the end of the 20th century. It contains the gallery's complete business records from 1938 to 1998. Of particular research value is the documentation of the activities under Nazi occupation during WWII, especially correspondence and receipts regarding the gallery's dealings with Nazi agents for Adolf Hitler's museum in Linz. It may be the only uncensored dealer archive documenting the international art market in Nazi-occupied Europe.
    Series I consists of 347 boxes of correspondence with major art museums all over the world, but mainly in Europe, the United States, and Canada, numerous art dealers, private collectors, auction houses, conservators, editors of art magazines, and renowned art historians, and also with insurance agencies, transport firms, financial institutions, and lawyers. The letters regard predominantly acquisition, shipment, conservation, and sale of paintings. Frequently they provide commentary on current trends in the international art market, prices, aesthetics, and collecting. Also present are personal exchanges between various members of the Cramer family and friends, especially extensive from the late 1930s until the late 1940s. A portion of the correspondence in the postwar period, continuing well into the 1960s, deals with restitution issues and Nazi business dealings for the museum in Linz.
    Series II is the most extensive portion of the archive. It consists of 558 boxes housing the firm's complete financial records dating from the 1920s until 1998. The most substantial portion is comprised of account files and bank statements. Also present are tax records, sales reports, commission books, and insurance records.
    Series III consists of 29 boxes predominantly of photographs of paintings and decorative arts, and photographs of the gallery. Also present are photographs received from clients, and x-rays of paintings. This series comprises only a portion of the gallery's vast photo archive, most of which was donated to the Rijksdienst voor Kunsthistorische Dokumentatie (RKD).
    Series IV consists of 11 boxes with circa 500 glass plate negatives of art that passed through the gallery during the late 1950s and the 1960s.
    Series V. comprises additional prewar and postwar business correspondence of Hugo Cramer, Gustav Cramer, and Hans Max Cramer; personal correspondence and documents concerning the Cramer family; lists of artworks; some financial documents such as invoices, sales agreements, and commission agreements; documents of Hans Max Cramer's dealings with the Association of Art Dealers in the Netherlands, CINOA [International Confederation of Art and Antique Dealers'], and the Rotary Club; and various publications, such as annotated auction catalogs, the gallery's sales catalogs, a collection of newspapers and magazines from the time of World War II, and a collection of press clippings.


    Organized in five series: Series I. Correspondence, 1876-1998; Series II. Financial records, 1920-1998; Series III. Photographs, undated; Series IV. Glass plate negatives, undated; Series V. Miscellaneous papers, 1873-1998.

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Names

    Cramer, Hans M.
    Cramer, Gustav

    Subjects - Corporate Bodies

    G. Cramer Oude Kunst

    Subjects - Topics

    Art dealers -- Correspondence
    Art historians -- Correspondence
    Art treasures in war -- Netherlands
    National socialism and art -- Netherlands
    World War, 1939-1945 -- Art and the war
    Art -- Private collections
    Art dealers -- Archives

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Photographs, Original
    Color photographs
    Black-and-white photographs
    Gelatin dry plate negatives


    Cramer, Hans M.
    Bloch, Vitale
    G. Cramer Oude Kunst
    Cramer, Gustav
    Smith College. Museum of Art
    Cranbrook School (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.)
    Allen Memorial Art Museum
    Toledo Museum of Art
    Wittmann, Otto, 1911-2001
    Detroit Institute of Arts
    Parks, Robert O.
    Held, Julius S. (Julius Samuel), 1905-2002
    Kamphuisen, P. W. (Pieter Wilhelmus), 1897-1961
    Grigaut, Paul L.
    Stechow, Wolfgang, 1896-1974
    Thyssen-Bornemisza, Hans Heinrich, Baron
    Getty, J. Paul (Jean Paul), 1892-1976
    Magriel, Paul, 1906-1990
    Henschel, Oscar Robert
    Henschel, Hildegard, 1909-
    Hackenbroch, Yvonne
    Müller Hofstede, Cornelius
    Grote-Hasenbalg, Werner, 1888-
    Dussler, Luitpold, 1895-1976
    Gelder, J. G. van (Jan Gerrit), 1903-1980
    Planiscig, Leo, 1887-1952
    Pope-Hennessy, John Wyndham, Sir, 1913-1994
    Blunt, Anthony, 1907-1983
    Stichting Nederlands Kunstbezit
    Posse, Hans, 1879-1942
    Göpel, Erhard
    Hartlaub, Gustav Friedrich, 1884-1963
    Haberstock, Karl, 1878-1956
    Cate, H. E. ten
    Gilbert, L. H.
    Erasmus, Kurt, 1880-
    Friedländer, Max J., 1867-1958
    Julius Böhler (Firm)
    Hannema, D. (Dirk), 1895-1984