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Getty Research Institute Ensures Broader Access to the Recently Acquired Duveen Archive

October 3, 2002

Los Angeles—The Getty Research Institute of the J. Paul Getty Trust, which in 1998 was given the Duveen Archive by The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, today announced that the archive has now been catalogued and microfilmed to ensure greater national and international access.  These important records of the celebrated Duveen Brothers fine art dealership that operated from 1869 to 1964 in London, Paris, and New York have enormous significance for art scholarship and collecting.  To allow scholars to put this valuable resource to better use, the Getty Research Institute and the Metropolitan Museum have agreed that microfilm copies of the archive will be deposited in the Watson Library of the Metropolitan Museum, the Witt Library of the Courtauld Institute in London, and the Institut national d'histoire de l'art in Paris.

The Duveen Brothers enterprise, founded by Henry J. Duveen, was engaged in acquiring and selling every kind of rare art object, from master paintings by artists including Titian and Botticelli to Chinese porcelain and decorative arts. Duveen was born in Holland to a poor family and began his career by selling Dutch Delft ware. He, his brothers, a nephew, and later Edward Fowles, who bought the company in 1939, went on to sell works of art to almost every major museum in the United States and Europe, as well as prominent private collectors including J. Pierpont Morgan, Henry Ford 2nd, and Henry E. Huntington.   As a whole the archive, which includes some rare personal correspondence and the firm’s business records, is a unique resource on the acquisition of objects, the development of artistic taste, and the history of culture.

"The Research Institute is undertaking an ambitious long-term project on the history of collecting," said Getty Research Institute director Thomas Crow, "including the gathering of a group of scholars to work together over the course of a year on the theme of 'markets and value.' The Duveen Archive joins a rich repository of archives devoted to this subject, which will sustain our research and intellectual dialogue."

Everett Fahy, the John Pope-Hennessy Chairman of European Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum, added, "We at the Metropolitan Museum are pleased to see the Duveen Archive—truly the most significant collection of records amassed by any art dealership based in Western Europe—become available to a broader public through the Getty Research Institute."

The collection became known as the Duveen Archive when the firm's records were given in 1968 to the Metropolitan Museum's department of European paintings. Honoring the request of Edward Fowles, the archive's donor and the last surviving partner of Duveen Brothers, and due to staff and space limitations, for over 30 years only museum and Frick Collection staff could access the materials. The Metropolitan Museum, with the support of Fowles' descendants, decided to make this valuable resource more widely accessible by permanently transferring the Duveen Archive to the special collections of the Research Library at the Getty Research Institute.

"The Duveen Archive is an immense resource amounting to almost 450 reels of microfilm," said Susan M. Allen, chief librarian of the Research Library. "Scholars and curators will be able to mine it for documentation and evidence to support a wide variety of research topics on a century of European art collecting by important Americans."

Because much of the Duveen Archive is in fragile condition, the Getty and its state-of-the-art facilities are ideally suited for the preservation of these rare materials. In addition, the Research Library allows scholars to conduct art-historical and provenance research with the benefit of Library staff expertise and access to the primary materials in the special collections. Curators and collection managers from the National Gallery of Art, the Nelson-Atkins Museum, and the Los Angeles County Museum have already been able to use the Archive to research works in their collections.

"The archive of the most successful art dealer of the 20th century—and especially his partnership with Bernard Berenson, who was the world's leading authority on Italian Renaissance painting—is an amazing source for researchers studying the history of taste," said Alain Schnapp, general director of the Institut national d'histoire de l'art in Paris.

"The Courtauld Institute is thrilled to receive the Duveen Archive microfilm into the Witt Library," said Barbara Thompson, Witt Librarian at the Courtauld Institute of Art. "Visiting scholars, academics, and students will be welcome to research this unique archive, which is of enormous significance to the study of art dealership, collecting, and collectors."

The Getty Research Institute serves education in the broadest sense by increasing knowledge and understanding about art and art history through advanced research. The Research Institute provides intellectual leadership through its research, exhibition, and publications programs and provides service to a wide range of scholars worldwide through residencies, fellowships, online resources, and a Research Library. The Research Library is one of the largest art and architecture libraries in the world, containing 800,000 volumes, including general collections of books, periodicals, and auction catalogues encompassing the history of Western art and related fields in the humanities. The Research Library's special collections include rare books, artists’ journals, sketchbooks, architectural drawings and models, photographs, and archival materials.

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