The J. Paul Getty Trust Research Home Search Tools & Databases Collection Inventories and Finding Aids
Collection Inventories and Finding Aids

Home | Return to Search Results

Find a term within this inventory

Print View

J. Paul Getty diaries, 1938-1946, 1948-1976

To access physical materials at the Getty, go to the library catalog record for this collection and click "Request an Item." Click here for general library access policy. See the Administrative Information section of this finding aid for access restrictions specific to the records described below. Please note, some of the records may be stored off site; advanced notice is required for access to these materials.
Getty (J. Paul) diaries

Scope and Content of Collection

The collection comprises the handwritten diaries (1938-1976) of billionaire J. Paul Getty. Although there are certainly references to family and friends throughout the diaries, the journal entries focus more on Mr. Getty's travels, business dealings, art collecting, and interests. They provide insights into the personality, priorities, politics, relationships, tastes, and values of the man as he built and maintained his empire. The diaries contain daily accounts of Mr. Getty's activities, briefly describing social events, business meetings, museum visits, historical and archaeological sites, art objects, and the various people with whom he interacted. They reveal his business practices and philosophies, his passion for history and art, and his cultivation of friendships with famous and influential people. Getty's diary entries also show his attentiveness to and concern regarding world affairs, such as his acute awareness of the threat of war while he was traveling through Germany in the late 1930s, and his respect for world leaders such as Winston Churchill and J. F. Kennedy.

Of particular interest to the study of art collectors and collecting are diary entries that assess art objects or illustrate Getty's relations with people in the art world. Journal entries include his contact with dealers, auction houses, collectors, curators, art experts, and other advisors, including Duveen. Within the diaries Getty comments on objects he considers acquiring in addition to objects he chooses not to acquire, disclosing how he developed his collections of decorative arts, antiquities, paintings, and sculpture. The diaries document acquisitions that became the foundational objects of the J. Paul Getty Museum, such as the ancient Roman Lansdowne Herakles, as well as acquisitions that Mr. Getty donated to other museums, such as Rembrandt's Marten Looten. The diaries also disclose Getty's rather competitive interest in what his contemporaries (individuals and institutions) were collecting at the time.


The diaries are arranged in chronological order.

The J. Paul Getty Trust The J. Paul Getty Trust
© J. Paul Getty Trust
Privacy Policy Terms of Use