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Carlhian Records
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Organizational / Historical Note
  • Administrative Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Carlhian records
    Date (inclusive): 1867-1988
    Number: 930092
    Creator/Collector: Carlhian (Firm)
    Physical Description: 1331.62 Linear Feet (837 boxes, 627 flatfile folders, 86 rolls)
    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: Records of the Paris-based interior design firm, including ledgers, stock books, furniture designs, correspondence, photographs, fabric samples, drawings, and business records for the firms' Paris, London, New York, and Buenos Aires offices.
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    Language: Collection material is in French

    Organizational / Historical Note

    The Carlhian family operated a leading Paris-based interior design firm that specialized in interiors in the French eighteenth-century style. The firm's foundation is traced back to 1867, when Anatole Carlhian and his brother-in-law, Albert Dujardin-Beaumetz, founded the export commission business Carlhian & Beaumetz located in Paris at 30, rue Beaurepaire, close to the place de la République. The firm initially made purchases on behalf of its clients and later specialized in reproductions of period French furniture. The London dealer Duveen Brothers became an important client, using Carlhian & Beaumetz as an intermediary for its dealings in the French market not involving fine art and antique objects. Duveen Brothers also recommended Carlhian & Beaumetz to the future king of England Edward VII as designers for the thrones for his coronation ceremonies.
    Anatole Carlhian and Albert Dujardin-Beaumetz died in 1904 and 1906, respectively, leaving the business to Anatole's sons, Paul, aged 31, and his brother André, 23. The brothers renamed the firm Carlhian & Cie and moved it to 24, rue Mont-Thabor, between the place Vendôme and the rue de Rivoli. The woodworking, painting, and wallpaper workshops were located in avenue Rapp, close to the Eiffel Tower. Spurred by Joseph Duveen, and benefiting from both his orders and his support, Carlhian & Cie entered the trade in architectural salvage from French châteaux and hôtels, making the acquisition and trade of boiseries a specialty.
    In 1914, both Carlhian brothers went off to war. Paul was killed in August 1914, leaving André to run the business alone. During André's absence at the front, the French architect and interior designer René Sergent helped keep the business alive. In 1918, at the end of the war, the firm relocated to 6 bis, avenue Kléber, near the place de l'Étoile, expanding to the nearby rue de Lauriston for its workshops. These large premises housed the business offices, the drawing office, the painting, wallpaper, woodworking, and cabinetmaking workshops, and a photographic laboratory. This is also where the large amount of documentation necessary to the profession was stored, including a library, wood paneling molds, a collection of antique chairs that were kept for reproduction purposes, nineteenth-century wallpaper mural and upholstery fabrics. The premises served as well as a showroom for the period wood paneling that formed the main part of the firm's stock of antiques. Models for entire interior decorations, including boiseries, were built so clients could admire Carlhian's works and collections. The scale models, made of wood, cardboard, and paper, were reproductions of proposed decorations with antique or modern pieces for clients to observe, not from above but at the level of the eye, so as to provide the sensation of a perspective inside the room. At this time, Carlhian employed around thirty craftsmen and office staff. Under André's management, the firm, now called Maison Carlhian, established itself as a respected decorator.
    In 1925, the Société Ateliers Carlhian was created, responsible for managing the painting and wallpaper workshops. It was first located at 3, rue Lauriston in Paris, and then under the name of Société d'études et de décoration at 29, place du Marché Saint-Honoré in Paris. Carlhian Exportation (1925-1961) was formed to handle foreign branches and subsidiaries: Carlhian of Paris in New York (1907-1939, 1947-1953), a branch in Buenos Aires established in association with Frères Block (1909-1916), and a branch in London in association with Wildenstein (1945-1966). During World War II, a branch was created in the south of France in Cannes.
    In 1930, the firm became a S.A.R.L. or Société à responsabilité limitée, that is a private corporation with limited liability, Carlhian S.A.R.L. In 1938, Carlhian moved from the avenue Kléber to large premises on the ground floor and basement of 22, place Vendôme, staying there until 1953. After World War II, the Carlhian firm assisted the United States government with the design and production of furniture pieces for use in many of the still existing Ambassador's residences. In 1953, while André Carlhian continued as an antique dealer, his two sons, Robert and Michel, founded the firm R. & M. Carlhian, located at 73, quai d'Orsay, to pursue their profession of interior design and decoration. In 1975, shortly before the death of Michel Carlhian, the two brothers decided to liquidate their business.

    Administrative Information


    Open for use by qualified researchers.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    Carlhian (Firm) records, 1867-1988, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession no. 930092.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired in 1993.

    Processing History

    Preliminary processing of the archive began in 1993 by several staff members under the supervision of Jocelyn Gibbs. In 1996-1998, Teresa Morales completed the preliminary processing and arrangement under Gibbs' supervision and created a draft finding aid. Included in this work was the cleaning of approximately 14,000 photographs with guidance from Special Collections Lab Conservator Deb Derby and with the assistance of Derby's team: Jim Neal, Leslie Harris, Marva Semet and Bill McGregor.
    Moldy items were isolated and cleaned from 1993 to 2006. Several staff members, including Morales and Julie Rosenberg, prepared for the move of the archive to the new Getty Center in Brentwood in 1997. After preliminary processing of Series VIII by Morales and Rosenberg, Morales further processed the series in 2004-2005. Morales and Michelle Brunnick fitted mylar jackets to volumes with damaged and fragile bindings.
    From 2001-2002, Bette Mesquit devised mylar containers for most of the fabric samples in Series IX. In 2011, Karen Meyer-Roux consulted with Mary Reinsch Sackett and then with Morales regarding the remaining samples housed in custom phase boxes. Sackett facilitated Morales' proposal to transfer the remaining samples to additional mylar containers, which were built by Mark Benson. Morales further arranged the series and identified dates for individual samples.
    Moldy items were cleaned and processed 2006-2009 under the supervision of Sackett by Genevieve Cordova, Jane Mandel, Tom McClintock, Annette Pedrosian, and Katie Taylor. In 2009, Jan Bender assisted with the mylar sleeving of 4000 photographs.
    Meyer-Roux completed the rehousing and arrangement and finished writing the finding aid in 2012.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Carlhian archive represents over a century of the operations of the Paris-based decorating firm and dealer from its foundation in 1867 to 1975, when it ceased its activities. It includes ledgers, stock books, business records, correspondence, photographs, fabric samples, blueprints, and furniture designs that record the firm's operations in Paris, and their branches in Buenos Aires, Cannes, London, and New York. In New York, the Carlhian firm initially worked closely with Duveen, often for the same clients, such as the Wideners. Correspondence with clients, dealers, workshops, and between branches document the day-to-day operations of the business. Photographs and drawings trace the designs for the interiors of houses and offices in the United States, Europe and Latin America, including the cities of Newport, R.I., New York, Havana, Cannes, London, and Paris. They provide a detailed view of entire rooms of paneling, fabrics, and panoramic wallpaper, a speciality of the Carlhian firm.


    Arranged in twelve series: Series I. Photographic documentation, 1894-1964, undated; Series II. Stock books, circa 1901-1975; Series III. Order books, 1908-1976; Series IV. Debit books, 1883-1974; Series V. Other accounting books and papers, 1867-1977; Series VI. Correspondence, 1887-1980; Series VII. Carlhian of Paris (New York), 1910-1963, undated; Series VIII. Plans and drawings, 1893-1980, undated; Series IX. Fabric samples, 1920-1960, undated; Series X. Documentation for boiseries, 1913-1988, undated; Series XI. Documentation for scenic wallpaper, circa 1920-1974, undated; Series XII. Miscellaneous, 1901-1966, undated.

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Names

    Carlhian, Robert
    Carlhian, André
    Carlhian, Michel

    Subjects - Corporate Bodies

    Carlhian (Firm)

    Subjects - Topics

    Interior decoration
    Furniture-Collectors and collecting
    Furniture design-France

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Models (representations)
    Architectural drawings (visual works)
    Design drawings
    Photographic prints
    Photographs, Original


    Carlhian (Firm)