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Duveen Brothers stock documentation from the dealer's library, 1829-1965

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Duveen Brothers stock documentation from the dealer's library

Biographical/Historical Note

The Duveen Brothers was a firm of influential art dealers active from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries with offices in London, Paris, and New York. Under the guidance of Joseph Duveen (1869-1939), and assisted by art experts, most notably Bernard Berenson (1865-1959), Duveen Brothers played a prominent role in the transfer of works of art from Europe to the United States. The firm helped form important private collections that later became the nuclei of museums such as the National Gallery of Art, the Huntington Art Collections, and the Frick Collection.

Joel Joseph (1843-1908) and Henry Duveen (1854-1919), the founders of Duveen Brothers were originally from Meppel, Holland. In 1866, Joel Joseph moved to England, first to the city of Hull and then to London, where he began importing delftware, porcelain and other objets d'art from Holland. In 1877, Henry moved to Boston and then New York, where he would become associated with the affluent American collectors J. P. Morgan, Benjamin Altman, Collis P. Huntington, P. A. B. Widener and George J. Gould. Joseph Duveen, the eldest son of Joseph Joel and the principal personage behind the firm's peak from 1907 to 1939 joined the business under his father's mentorship in the London branch in 1887. In 1905-1908, Sir (later Lord) Joseph Duveen made the decisive purchases in Paris of the Rodolfe Kann and Maurice Kann collections and in Berlin of the Hainauer collection.

The firm's operation involved a network of runners, scholars, librarians, writers, and photographers. Its access to the vast financial resources of its clientele of international bankers provided it with the capital necessary to make major purchases. The firm achieved major sales to collectors, such as Samuel Kress, Andrew Mellon, Henry Clay Frick, Joseph E. Widener, Mr. and Mrs. Henry E. Huntington and Philip Lehman.

In 1939, after Lord Duveen's death, his nephew, Armand Lowengard and Edward Fowles assumed leadership of the firms in Paris, New York and London. When Lowengard passed away in 1943, Fowles took over the presidency of Duveen Brothers until 1964, when he sold the firm to Norton Simon with most of its remaining stock.

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