Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Schaeffer Galleries Records
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (0.58 Mb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical / Historical Note
  • Administrative Information
  • Related Archival Materials
  • Separated Materials note
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Schaeffer Galleries records
    Date (inclusive): 1907-1988, bulk 1925-1980
    Number: 910148
    Creator/Collector: Schaeffer Galleries (New York, N.Y.)
    Physical Description: 114.5 Linear Feet (217 boxes, 19 oversize 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: Hanns and Kate Schaeffer specialized in Old Master paintings from all European schools. The records of the Schaeffer Galleries document gallery's stock and business dealings from the early 1920s until the late 1980s, both in Berlin and New York. The core of the collection comprises approximately two and a half thousand photographs of art that was handled by the gallery, which are filed along with documents concerning attribution, provenance, acquisition history, and sales. Card catalogs, lists, and ledgers record artworks sold and purchased and detail transactions with clients. These documents of business dealings are amplified by extensive correspondence with art collectors, museum curators, art dealers, art historians, restorers, and storage and shipping companies. Also included are inventories of private collections, lists of artworks shown at exhibitions held at the gallery, and unpublished albums with photographs of gallery stock.
    Request Materials: To access physical materials on site, go to the library catalog record  for this collection and click "Request an Item." Click here for access policy .
    Language: Collection materials are in English and German.

    Biographical / Historical Note

    Hanns Schaeffer (1886-1967) and his wife Kate Born Schaeffer (1898-2000) established the Schaeffer Galleries in Berlin in 1925. Hanns Schaeffer had already operated an art gallery in Berlin since 1921 and later operated galleries in London and San Francisco. Those galleries were also named Schaeffer Galleries. The London and the San Francisco galleries closed before Schaeffer Galleries in Manhattan, New York, was founded after Hanns and Kate Schaeffer moved to the United States permanently in 1933. The gallery in Berlin remained operational until 1939. The New York gallery was first located at 61 East 57th Street and changed venues several times before moving to its final location at 983 Park Avenue where it remained for over fifty years. After Hanns Schaeffer's death in 1967, Kate Schaeffer became the owner and president of the gallery and continued to manage the business until her death in 2000. Schaeffer Galleries closed shortly thereafter.
    The gallery specialized in Old Master paintings, at first concentrating on Flemish and Dutch masters, and later adding paintings and drawings from all European schools. Between 1927 and 1950 Hanns and Kate Schaeffer organized and held at their venues in Berlin and New York approximately twenty exhibitions of artworks from the gallery's stock and published several scholarly exhibition catalogs. Throughout their lives, they were held in high esteem by the international art market community as knowledgeable and distinguished art dealers.
    The paintings and drawings that passed through the Schaeffer's hands included, among many others, Botticelli's Madonna and Child with Singing Angels, now held by the Staatliche Museen in Berlin; a Lucas Cranach in the William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art in Kansas City, Missouri; Correggio's Salvator Mundi in the National Gallery of Art in Washington; Peter Paul Rubens's Cleopatra at the Detroit Institute of Arts; a Frans Hans at the Mauritshuis in The Hague; Leonardo da Vinci's Bear Walking at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and numerous paintings by Rembrandt van Rijn, including Juno at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.
    Throughout the years, the Schaeffers maintained business relationships with numerous well-known European and American art dealers, such as Hermann Abels,Thomas Agnew & Sons, Alfred Bader, Christoph Bernoulli, Kunsthandel P. de Boer, C. G. Boerner, Mortimer Brandt, P. & D. Colnaghi & Co., G. Cramer Oude Kunst, Kunsthandel Gebr. Douwes, Duits Ltd., Galerie Fischer, Walter Feilchenfeld and Marianne Feilchenfeld Breslauer, French & Company, Alexander Gebhardt, Lucien Goldschmidt, Galerie Wilhelm Grosshennig, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Alexandre Jolas, M. Knoedler & Co., Matthiesen Gallery, Bruno Meissner, Kurt Meissner, Ferdinand Möller, Fritz Nathan, Parke-Bernet Galleries, Gustav Rochlitz, Heinz Steinmeyer, Roman Norbert Ketterer at Stuttgarter Kunstkabinett, Hans Trojanski, Van Damen Lilienfeld Galleries, Julius H. Weitzner, and Wildenstein & Co.
    From 1936 and through the war years the Schaeffers were engaged in a consignment partnership with the Dutch dealership Firma D. Katz in Dieren, Netherlands. Regular business dealings with the Katz family (Benjamin, David, Hanna, Joseph, Nathan and W. Katz) continued after the war.
    Among their clients were many renowned American and European art collectors, including George S. Abrams, Alexandre Ananoff (the French pioneer in astronautics), Manson F. Backus II and the Estate of Le Roy M. Backus, Murray Gordon Ballantyne, Herbert N. Bier, Oscar Roy Chalk, Eugene Ferkauf, Harvey S. Firestone Jr., Frits Lugt, Walter C. Baker, Luis A. Ferré at Museo de Arte de Ponce, Malcolm Forbes, Trude Krautheimer, Titi Leyendecker, Lord Methuen (Paul Ayshford Methuen, 4th Baron Methuen), J. William Middendorf II, Ruth Nottebohm, Rudolf August Oetker, Norton Simon, Richard F. Sterba, Anne and Otto Wertheimer, and Stanley S. Wulc.
    The gallery's business correspondence reveals frequent contact with the eminent art historians Svetlana Alpers, Winslow Ames, Kurt Bauch, Otto Benesch, Hermann Bünemann, Ludwig Burchard, Bernhard Degenhart, Max Jakob Friedländer, Walter Friedländer, Jan Gerrit van Gelder, Horst Gerson, Kurt Gerstenberg, Ludwig Grote, Sturla J. Gudlaugson, Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann, Julius S. Held, Walter Andreas Hofer, Walter Hugelshofer, Michael Jaffé, Myron Laskin, Konrad Oberhuber, Erwin and Gerda Panofsky, Eduard Plietzsch, John Alexander Pope, Leo van Puyvelde, John Rewald, Marcel Roethlisberger, Eric H. L. Sexton, Seymour Slive, Wolfgang Stechow, Charles Sterling, Werner Sumowski, Hanns Swarzenski, Hans Tietze, Wilhelm Reinhold Valentiner, Lionello Venturi, and Federico Zeri.
    The Schaeffers also contributed artworks to numerous art museums in United States, Canada, and Europe. James J. Rorimer, the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1955 to 1967, observed in 1961: "The Schaeffers are among the most serious, knowledgeable and helpful art dealers who are enabling American Museums to grow for the benefit of our public. They are friends who share unstintingly in helping curators, directors and trustees to choose with care the works of art which redound to the credit of their museums" (cit. obituary for Kate Schaeffer, New York Times, January 7 2001).

    Administrative Information


    Open for use by qualified researchers.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    Schaeffer Galleries records, 1907-1988, bulk 1925-1980. Research Library, The Getty Research Institute, Accession no. 910148.

    Acquisition Information

    The collection was acquired in 1991 and 1993 from the Schaeffer family. Additions received in 2001 and 2002 were merged with the archive.

    Processing History

    Vladimira Stefura processed the 1991 and 1993 acquisitions between 1996 and 1997 and wrote a preliminary finding aid. Additions received in 2001 and 2002 (45 boxes) were merged with the archive between 2014 and 2015 by Isabella Zuralski who also reorganized and reprocessed portions of the archive and substantially rewrote the finding aid.

    Related Archival Materials

    Schaeffer Galleries records. The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives.
    Schaeffer Galleries records, circa 1921-1982, bulk 1935-1950. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
    The Archives of American Art also holds an oral history interview of Kate Schaeffer conducted June 18, 1975 by Paul Cummings.

    Separated Materials note

    Approximately sixty monographs, issues of periodicals, and auction catalogs were pulled from the archive to be added to the Getty Research Library's online catalog. When cataloged, they will be searchable by the source collection phrase: Schaeffer Galleries Collection.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The records of the Schaeffer Galleries document the gallery's stock and business dealings from the early 1920s until the late 1980s, both in Berlin and New York.
    Series I. Indexes and Series II. Financial records comprise card catalogs, lists, and ledgers compiled and maintained throughout the years of the gallery's operations, which record artworks sold and purchased and detail transactions with clients and the gallery's administrative and financial dealings. The gallery's stock is also represented by approximately one thousand black-and-white negatives of artworks, numbered in white ink.
    Series III. Inventory forms the core of the archive and consists of approximately two and a half thousand study photographs of art handled by the gallery. These extensive photographic files are organized alphabetically by the artist's name and subsequently by title of artwork and include further documents concerning attribution, provenance, acquisition history, and sales and reference notes.
    Series IV. Correspondence dates from the early 1920s to the late 1980s. It contains the Schaeffer Galleries business correspondence with art collectors; museum curators; other art dealers; art historians; art restorers; and firms such as storage and shipping companies. Present are originals of letters received and carbon copies of letters sent. Occasionally included are bills and invoices; telegrams; and handwritten notes acknowledging purchase or return of an artwork. The files are incomplete for some years. Series IV.B includes personal correspondence of Kate Schaeffer from the years 1979 to 1981.
    Series V. Research files comprises a variety of materials. Included are papers documenting the gallery's business dealings with private collectors: inventories and lists with related correspondence and photographs; lists of artworks shown at exhibitions held at the gallery; several unpublished albums with photographs of gallery stock; and papers documenting artworks and art collections seen by the Schaeffers when travelling in Europe. There are several files concerning individual artworks and artists such as the sale by the Schaeffer Galleries of two Breughel paintings to Canada; an unpublished inventory of drawings by George Romney; or documents concerning the painting Tarquin and Lucretia by Titian. Also present are notes; photographs; certificates of authenticity; Kate Schaeffer's manuscript on Javanese art; a collection of annotated offprints, exhibition catalogs, and auction catalogs; and some unidentified items.

    Arrangement note

    Arranged in 5 series: Series I. Indexes, undated; Series II. Financial records, 1936-1982, undated; Series III. Inventory, approximately 1925-1980, undated; Series IV. Correspondence, 1919-1988, undated; Series V. Research files, 1907-1988, undated.

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Names

    Schaeffer, Hanns

    Subjects - Corporate Bodies

    Schaeffer Galleries (New York, N.Y.)

    Subjects - Topics

    Painting, Flemish
    Painting, European
    Painting, Dutch
    Drawing, Dutch
    Art -- Collectors and collecting -- Europe
    Art historians -- Correspondence
    Art dealers -- Correspondence
    Art -- Collectors and collecting -- United States
    Art -- Private collections -- United States
    Art galleries, Commercial -- United States

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Photographic prints
    Photographs, Original
    Letters (correspondence) -- United States -- 20th century
    Gelatin silver prints
    Black-and-white prints (photographs)
    Color transparencies
    Color prints (photographs)
    Dye diffusion transfer prints
    Black-and-white negatives


    Schaeffer, Kate Born
    Schaeffer, Hanns
    Schaeffer Galleries (New York, N.Y.)