Duveen Brothers, London, Paris, New York
Duveen Brothers Records, 1876-1981, Bulk 1909-1939
Digitisation of the Records March 2015 - Getty Research Institute Text
Sir Joseph Duveen, who was among the most prominent art dealers of the first half of the 20th century, gained international fame for selling European Old Master paintings, antique furnishings, and other objets d'art to American collectors for record prices. Founded by Joseph Duveen's father and uncle in the late 1860s, Duveen Brothers experienced its greatest success during Joseph's tenure as president of the firm, 1909 to 1939. During this period, troubled economic conditions in Europe, coupled with the vast disposable income of America's millionaire class, created the ideal market condition for the transference of European art treasures, particularly paintings, to the mansions of America. Duveen took full advantage of the trend and remained a dominant figure in the art market throughout his career.
The business archive of the Duveen firm, known as the Duveen Brothers records, chronicles this important period in American collecting history and serves as a rich resource for scholars, especially those conducting provenance research and those studying the history of collecting. The archive is now preserved in the Research Library at the Getty Research Institute. It contains a vast amount of material including stock books, sales books, invoice books, shipping receipts, customer ledgers, loose photographs, 2,000 glass negatives, and hundreds of correspondence files that include letters to, from, and about clients, museums, scholars, and other dealers.
In 2006, the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, placed on deposit at the Research Library a large number of additional archival materials relating to Duveen Brothers, including scrapbooks, photo albums, research files, restoration photographs, and authentication certificates. These items had constituted part of the Duveen Brothers library, which was acquired by the Clark Art Institute in the 1960s.
The Clark material, which will remain on long-term loan to the Getty Research Institute, has been processed and is now available for research along with the rest of the archive. See below for accessibility. The Duveen Brothers library, which included numerous artist monographs and sales catalogs, was integrated into the Clark Art Institute's general holdings and is not part of the loan to the Getty Research Institute.
Owing to the fragile condition of the Duveen material, the contents of the archive have been photographed and transferred to microfilm. The microfilm is available on site to qualified researchers during regular library hours, 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. For additional information regarding access, please call the reference desk at (310) 440-7390 or contact the GRI
. The archive is also in the process of being digitized. Learn more
about the project.
Detailed finding aids for the Duveen Brothers records are available online
: Duveen Brothers Recods 1876-1981
Duveen Brothers stock photographs and records, 1829-1965
Digitized images from the Duveen Brothers records are now available online
Duveen Brothers Text 2007
The Duveen Brothers were art dealers who maintained branches in London, Paris, and New York and were active in the late 19th century through to the mid 20th century. Under the guidance of Joseph Duveen, and assisted by art experts, most notably Bernard Berenson, they were instrumental in the formation of the late 19th to early 20th century collections that became the core of the Frick Collection, the Huntington Art Collections, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the National Gallery of Art. In 1964 Edward Fowles, the last president of Duveen Brothers, sold the business to Los Angeles businessman and collector Norton Simon. Edward Fowles left the firm's records and papers to the Metropolitan Museum of Art but restricted access for 20 years. These were subsequently given by the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Getty Research Institute, which is preparing microfilm copies of the records, a copy of which will be sent back to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The records provide a detailed view of the Duveen Brothers business activities in London, Paris, and New York. Although the archive extends from 1876-1981, the bulk of the material dates from Joseph Duveen's tenure as president of the firm, 1909-1939, and the period from 1939 to 1964 when Edward Fowles directed the firm (with Armand Lowengard until 1943). The mass of documents, such as cables and letters, invoices, and ledger and stock books, give a day-by-day account of art dealing, business strategy, and the individuals involved.
Location of Record
Location: Special Collections - Contact Reference
202 microfilm reels
Call Numbers: 960015, 960015*, 960015**
Note: Access closed for microfilming, contact reference library for further information.
The Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities - Special Collections and Visual Resources
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles, CA
Tel: +1 310 440 7390
Fax: +1 310 440 7780
Getty Research Library Catalogue, <http://library.getty.edu/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?DB=local&PAGE=First>, first accessed 31 October 2002. Link updated 6 July 2007.
Getty Research Institute Tools and Databases http://www.getty.edu/research/tools/guides_bibliographies/duveen/?utm_source=grinews131&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=grinews131, accessed 27 March 2015
N.H. Yeide, K. Akinsha, A.L. Walsh (eds), AAM Guide to Provenance Research, Washington 2001, p. 222.