By complete serendipity, I stopped in to look at the Getty’s blog, called The Iris, today — and here’s what I found: a post from yesterday saying the part of the Knoedler & Co. Gallery archive is processed and “available for research.” Some finding aids have been posted online already.
The Getty purchased the Knoedler archive — 1,300 linear feet — just last October, and took possession in December. So this is speedy work. It covers the period from about 1850 to 1971, and included “letters, telegrams, albums, sales books, stock and consignment books, card files on clients and art works, rare photographs, reference photo archives, and rare books,” among other things. Here is the Getty’s description. The contents have organized as follows, and you can see what is processed (updates as they happen).
Series I. Stock books: Available now
Series II. Sales books: Available now
Series III. Commission books: Available now
Series IV. Inventory cards: August 2013
Series V. Receiving and shipping records
Series VI. Correspondence: In process
Series VII. Departments
Series VIII. London and Paris offices
Series IX. Other financial records
Series X. Photographs
Series XI. Research files
Series XII. Catalogs and ephemera
So what has the archive revealed so far? The Iris post, by Karen Meyer-Roux, focuses on Knoedler’s representation of Andrew Mellon in the purchase of treasures from the Hermitage.
From Leningrad to Washington, via New York (Knoedler), London (Colnaghi), Berlin (Mattiesen Gallery), and Moscow (Mansfeld), agents and dealers communicated by telegrams and negotiated the collector’s purchase. Stock books and sales books document the purchase of the 21 paintings that Mellon acquired through this chain of intermediaries. The entry in the sales book shown below [at left here] lists a commission charged by Knoedler for two paintings in the sale, Botticelli’s The Adoration of the Magi and Rembrandt’s Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife.
There’s more tale where that came from (including the reluctance of Hermitage staff to part with van Eyck’s Annunciation, though I think it merely shows documents for things we already know from biographies of Mellon. But the post has wonderful pictures, and a welcome promise in the last line:
The GRI plans on digitizing a portion of the stock and sales books to increase their access for research.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Getty