American Art Association
American Art Association Records 1877-1924 (bulk 1910-1924)
The record is divided into three series:
Series I Material related to Auction Sales (1910-1923)
Series II Correspondence and Notes (1877-1924)
Series III Clippings (1881-1924)
The American Art Association records document a selection of auction sales run by the gallery, as well as Thomas Kirby's relationship with those who sold their works through the American Art Association. Records date from 1877-1924, with the bulk dating from 1910-1924. The collection includes correspondence, approximately 1,000 photographs, handwritten and typed notes, fragments of a typed manuscript on the American Art Association, pages from auction sales catalogues, newspaper and periodical clippings, and several sales catalogues. The bulk of the collection concerns specific auction sales conducted by the American Art Association. Files contain inventories of the works, often with prices and names of buyers; black and white photographs of the works and several of the exhibition installations; correspondence; sections of a typed manuscript on the American Art Association; handwritten notes regarding the sales; pages from sales catalogues; and clippings. Documentation of 70 sales ranges from a single typescript sentence to multiple folders of correspondence, inventories and hundreds of photographs of the items for sale. An additional 150 auction sales are represented in the files only by cursory handwritten notes. Some of the most heavily documented sales include 57 Paintings Belonging to Ichabod T. Williams of February 3-4, 1915; Charles of London, Italian, French & English Furniture, Tapestries, Rugs, Paintings, Porcelains, etc. of November 15-20, 1920; and Palatial Mansion & Contents Collected by William J. Saloman, April 4-7, 1923.
The American Art Association, a New York art gallery and auction house, was founded by James F. Sutton, R. Austin Robertson, and Thomas E. Kirby in 1883. Exhibitions of American art, as well as some Asian decorative arts, were on display in the sales galleries at 6 East 23rd Street. Thomas Kirby acted as auctioneer for the firm. Sutton and Robertson had previously established the American Art Gallery in 1879, which closed in 1882. Thomas Kirby had begun his career as an auctioneer in the early 1870s, working with a variety of firms, including George A. Leavitt and Company, and had conducted sales throughout the country. He had his own auction company, Thomas E. Kirby and Company, when he joined with Sutton and Roberts in 1883. R. Austin Robertson died in 1892. Kirby's son Gustavus joined the firm in 1912 and became half owner in 1915, upon the death of James Sutton. The galleries moved to 30 East 57th Street in 1922. In 1923, Kirby retired and sold the American Art Association to Cortlandt Field Bishop (1870-1935), who contracted Hiram Parke and Otto Bernet to run the auction house. In 1929 it merged with the Anderson Auction Company to form the American Art Association-Anderson Galleries, Inc. In 1938, the firm was taken over by Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., which had been formed a year earlier.
Location of Record
Frick Art Reference Library
10 East 71st Street
Tel: +1 212 547 0648
Fax: +1 212 879 2091
Online finding aid: http://www.frick.org/FindingAids/AmericanArtAssociation.html
Online catalogue: http://arcade.nyarc.org/record=b920817~S6
Reading Room hours:
Monday-Friday: 10-4:45; Saturdays: 9:30-1. Closed for holiday weekends,
Saturdays in June, July, and August.
The Frick Collection and Frick Art Reference Library
Written communication 19 February 2014
N.H. Yeide, K. Akinsha, A.L. Walsh (eds.), AAM Guide to Provenance Research, Washington 2001, p. 215.