An overview, selected bibliography, and frequently asked questions about the Duveen Brothers archive, which has been processed and is available for research.

Created 2007, updated 2013
Author: Library Services

History


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.

Access


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:

Copies of the Duveen Brothers records on microfilm are also available at the following institutions:

Thomas J. Watson Library at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Institut national d'histoire de l'art, Paris

If you have questions regarding access to the Duveen microfilm at the above locations please contact the repository directly for additional information.