Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Finding aid for the M. Knoedler & Co. artist files, approximately 1890-1971
2012.M.54.S7A  
View entire collection guide What's This?
no PDF HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical/Historical Note
  • Administrative Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: M. Knoedler & Co. artist files
    Date (inclusive): approximately 1890-1971
    Number: 2012.M.54.S7A
    Creator/Collector: M. Knoedler & Co.
    Physical Description: 507.7 linear feet (1228 boxes)
    Repository:
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688
    (310) 440-7390
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10020/askref
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: The M. Knoedler & Co. artist files form part of the records of the firm of M. Knoedler & Co. described in the related finding aid for the collection. Due to their size, the artist files are described separately from the rest of the archive. The M. Knoedler & Co. artist files primarily document artworks handled by the New York office of Knoedler & Co. and represent the bulk of the materials in Series VII. Photographs. The photographs, along with research and descriptive information, document artworks purchased and sold by the firm or on consignment at the firm, as well as artworks offered for sale to the firm, but not acquired. In addition to photographs, each artist file typically includes "pedigree" documentation of the artworks, such as ownership history, bibliographies and expertise documentation. The photographs provide a visual record of the condition of the artwork at the time it was in the firm's stock and enable to distinguish works with similar titles or works whose titles have changed over time. Often they are the last record of works whose location is presently unknown. The titles indicated for the works are derived from the titles that Knoedler staff assigned the works in the stock books, the sales books or the inventory cards. When possible, abbreviations of the titles in the archive have been expanded and spelling mistakes corrected, but no attempt has been made to update the titles to current standards of the repositories for these works. When different sources in the archive provided titles that differed considerably, the different versions have been provided, when possible. The main finding aid for the The M. Knoedler & Co. records is available here: http://hdl.handle.net/10020/cifa2012m54.
    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 in English.

    Biographical/Historical Note

    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 Hall.
    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. 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. It fueled the art market that M. Knoedler & Co. helped establish and combined with declining nobilities and changes in tax legislation in Europe, it accelerated the process of transferring artworks from Europe to the United States. In 1901, Knoedler sold an important old master, Velázquez, Don Balthazar Carlos with a Dwarf, to the Boston Museum. In 1907, in partnership with P. Colnaghi & Co., 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 master paintings in the United States and would continue to serve as a major conduit for the acquisition of masterworks.
    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. Wolfe 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. These artworks-including paintings by van Eyck, Botticelli, Raphael, Titian, and Rembrandt-would form the nucleus of the National Gallery of Art, which was established and initially funded in part by Mellon.
    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 late 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, 1846-1946 . 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. The 1846 founding date also appears on some of the firm's labels. This date has been questioned however, in light that the earliest press announcement of an opening of a shop in New York by Goupil may date from 1848. See The Literary World (1849), Volume 5: 317. DeCourcy McIntosh is credited with first questioning the founding date of 1846. See his "Merchandising America: American Views Published by the Maison Goupil," The Magazine Antiques (September 2004): 124-133. Others have questioned whether in reference to the founding of the Knoedler Gallery the date of 1857 is not in fact more relevant than those of 1846 or 1848.

    Administrative Information

    Access

    Open for use by qualified researchers.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    M. Knoedler & Co. artist files, approximately 1890-1971, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession no. 2012.M.54.S7A.
    http://hdl.handle.net/10020/cifa2012m54s7a

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired in 2012.

    Processing History

    With partial support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Series VII. Photographs was catalogued and processed from January 2015 to January 2016 by Alexis Adkins, Judy Chou, Sarah Glover, Erin Hurley, Jasmine Larkin, and Emmabeth Nanol, under the supervision of Karen Meyer-Roux; analysis and review of the titles (ca. 70 0000 titles) in July 2016 by Karen Meyer-Roux, with assistance from volunteer David Woodruff; imaging of the photographs by Laura Sokolosky.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Series VII.A. Artist files forms part of the records of the firm of M. Knoedler & Co. described in the related finding aid   for the collection. Due to its size, Series VII.A. is described separately. The main subseries in Series VII. Photographs, it consists of the files maintained by the firm of M. Knoedler & Co. in New York and primarily represents artworks handled by the New York office. The photographs, along with research and descriptive information, document artworks purchased and sold by the firm or on consignment at the firm, as well as artworks offered for sale to the firm, but not acquired. In addition to photographs, each artist file typically includes "pedigree" documentation of the artworks, such as ownership history, bibliographies and expertise documentation. The photographs provide a visual record of the condition of the artwork at the time it was in the firm's stock and enable to distinguish works with similar titles or works whose titles have changed over time. Often they are the last record of works whose location is presently unknown. The titles indicated for the works are derived from the titles that Knoedler staff assigned the works in the stock books, the sales books or the inventory cards. When possible, abbreviations of the titles in the archive have been expanded and spelling mistakes corrected, but no attempt has been made to update the titles to current standards. When different sources in the archive provided titles that differed considerably, the different versions have been provided, when possible.
    The photographs were listed by inventory numbers, including stock numbers and other numbers:
    1 to 17039*: Knoedler ownership, 1879-December 1927
    A1-A9347: Knoedler ownership, January 1928 through 1971
    AT: Knoedler owned jointly with Jack Tanzer
    JA: Knoedler owned jointly with one or more owners
    C: Consigned to Knoedler, -December 1927
    CA: Consigned to Knoedler: January 1928-
    F: Paris stock number
    L: London stock number
    S: artist on commission
    SCA: work on consignment from the artist
    *It is not always possible to distinguish these numbers from other numbers, such as negative numbers, receiving numbers, or numbers assigned by the London office that are not preceded by the letter L, without consulting the relevant stock books.
    The Getty Research Institute is digitizing a portion of Series VII.A. Artist files through Spring 2018. Please contact the GRI to ensure that the specific boxes you need to consult are available before visiting the Getty Research Library's Reading Room. Portions of Series VII.A. will be unavailable for research during the digitization. Selected portions of the archive have been digitized and made available online. Connect to selected digitized portions of the archive.  

    Arrangement

    Series VII.A. Artist files are arranged by alphabetical order of artist names according to the filing devised by the firm. The spelling used for artist names has been retained, as well as filings such as "American Interest," "American School," "Anonymous," "Bronzes," "Chinese paintings," "Flemish School, Early," "Unknown," and cross-references provided in the artist files. The files maintained by the London and Paris offices were received separately and are described in Series VII.B and Series VII.C. However there are photographs in Series VII.A. that appear to have been removed from the files maintained by the other offices. These have been left in situ. The titles indicated for the works are derived from the titles that Knoedler staff assigned the works in the stock books, the sales books or the inventory cards. When possible, abbreviations of the titles in the archive have been expanded and spelling mistakes corrected, but no attempt has been made to update the titles to current standards. When different sources in the archive provided titles that differed considerably, the different versions have been provided, when possible.

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Topics

    Art--Collectors and collecting
    Art--Private collections
    Art--Provenance
    Collectors and collecting
    Painting, European--Collectors and collecting

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Merchandise inventories

    Contributors

    M. Knoedler & Co.