Skip to main content

Galerie Chalette records, 1916-1999, bulk,1939-1994

Galerie Chalette records, 1916-1999, bulk,1939-1994

Galerie Chalette

Collection Information

Size: 25 linear ft.

Summary: The records of the New York Galerie Chalette measure 23.4 linear feet and date from 1916-1999, with the bulk of the material dating from 1939-1994. The collection documents this contemporary art gallery's operations from its founding in 1954 through Madeleine Lejwa's later years as an independent dealer. Included are correspondence, artists' files, financial and legal records, printed materials, clippings, exhibition catalogs, audio recordings, and motion picture film; about half of the collection consists of photographs. Arthur Lejwa's profession as a biochemist prior to becoming a gallery owner is also documented in this collection. The collection also contains personal records of the Lejwas, including correspondence, legal papers, photographs, photo albums, and printed material.

Among the artists represented in the artists' files are Jean Arp, Max Bill, Burgoyne Diller, Wojciech Fangor, Sue Fuller, Julio Gonzalez, Roberta Gonzalez, Lazlo Moholy-Nagy, William Reimann, George Rickey, Leon Polk Smith, Victor Varsarely, Max Weber, and various Dada artists. Many artists are represented in the large collection of photographs as is the Lejwa's personal collection. Included in the business records are invoices, receipts for works sold, yearly sales and purchase ledgers, checks for artwork purchases, and index card files recording sales. Legal records include files related to litigation, primarily Lebenstein v. Lejwa. The collection includes film reels and audio recordings of lectures, broadcasts, and exhibits from the 1960s-1990s. It also includes two film reels from a French television program about Jean Arp.

Among the personal records are biographical information, correspondence, legal records mostly related to the settlement of Arthur Lejwa's estate, a significant quantity of snapshots, negatives and slides, and newspaper clippings chronicling Arthur Lejwa's work as a biochemist and the Robert Gould Research Foundation. Arthur Lejwa's scientific career is also represented in biographical information, publications, research notebooks, and photographs. Much of the personal correspondence is from 1939-1951 and is written in Polish, Yiddish, and German. The Lejwa's philanthropic donations, especially in Israel, are documented in correspondence, papers, and photographs. Many of the photographs and photo albums record Madeleine Lejwa's travels in the 1970s-1990s.

Biographical/Historical Note

Galerie Chalette, founded 1954, is an art gallery, in New York, N.Y., operated by Madeleine Chalette Lejwa.


The records were donated by Robert Warshaw, executor of the Madeleine Chalette Lejwa estate in two accessions in 1997 and 2005.

Related Materials

Addition papers related to Leon Chalette and Madeleine Chalette are located at Leo Baeck Institute, New York, N.Y.

A Finding Aid to the Galerie Chalette Records,
bulk 1939-1994
, in the Archives of American Art
Historical Note
Art dealers and collectors Madeleine Chalette (1915-1996) and Arthur Lejwa (1895-1972) opened the Galerie Chalette in New York on 45 West 57th Street in February, 1954. The gallery originally specialized in contemporary French graphics and later shifted its focus to contemporary twentieth century European and American art, particularly the work of Jean Arp. Over the years, Galerie Chalette relocated twice. In 1957, the gallery moved to 1100 Madison Avenue and then to 9 East 88th Street in 1964.
Madeleine Chalette was born in 1915 in Paris and grew up in Poland. In 1940, after Madeleine's efforts to secure the release of her father, Leon Chalette, from Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin were successful, father and daughter traveled by boat to Shanghai. They stayed in Shanghai throughout World War II, arriving in the United States in 1946. Arthur Lejwa, a Polish-born biochemist, immigrated to the United States in 1939 and taught at Long Island University. In 1947, Madeleine and Arthur Lejwa were married in Cincinnati, Ohio where Arthur was the Director of the Robert Gould Institute for Nutritional Research.
The gallery was very active in the 1950s and 1960s, as evidenced by the numerous exhibitions. Many of the exhibitions in the 1950s were thematic. Exhibitions in the 1960s were mostly organized around the work of a particular artist, such as Wojciech Fangor and Leon Polk Smith. In 1972, the Metropolitan Museum of Art showcased Jean Arp's work from the Lejwa's collection and a few works lent by Arp's widow, Marguerite Arp. The exhibition was expanded and traveled as "Arp 1877-1966," first exhibited at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and then shown in seven museums in the United States and six in Australia.
In the early 1970s, the Lejwas began supporting institutions in Jerusalem, including donating a 17th century Polish menorah to The Israel Museum and five sculptures to be displayed in public spaces: "The Threshold of Jerusalem" by Jean Arp, "The Loop" by Robert Engman, George Rickey's "Two Lines Oblique," "The Skedion Ekton" by Stephanie Scuris, and "Four Cubes Cut in Identical Halves" by Max Bill.
Following Arthur's death on October 27, 1972, Madeleine continued as an independent dealer and consultant and renamed the business Chalette International. In the 1980s, Madeleine Lejwa continued her philanthropic endeavors in Jerusalem, donating to a scholarship fund for Arab students. She was also a strong supporter of New York University's archeological site Aphrodisias, in southwestern Turkey. In the 1970s and 1980s, Lejwa traveled widely including Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Italy, Turkey, Japan, and China. Madeleine passed away at age 81 on June 9, 1996.
The collection is arranged as 8 series. The series are generally arranged alphabetically by type of material or subject, and chronologically thereafter.
Series 1: Correspondence, 1920-1995 (Boxes 1-2; 1.4 linear foot)
Series 2: Artists' Files, 1916-1996 (Boxes 2-6, 25; 4.3 linear feet)
Series 3: General Business Files, 1950-1994 (Boxes 6-8; 2.3 linear feet)
Series 4: Printed Materials, 1931-1996 (Boxes 9-10, 25; 1.2 linear feet)
Series 5: Photographs, circa 1920s-1994 (Boxes 10-16, 24-25; 7 linear feet)
Series 6: Legal Records, 1938, 1959-1988 (Box 17; 0.8 linear feet)
Series 7: Personal Papers of Arthur and Madeleine Chalette Lejwa, 1925-1999 (Boxes 17-21, 25; 3.7 linear feet)
Series 8: Motion Picture Film, Audio, and Video Recordings, circa 1950s-1995 (Boxes 21-23, FC 28-42; 4.3 linear feet)
The records were donated by Robert Warshaw, executor of the Madeleine Chalette Lejwa estate in two accessions in 1997 and 2005.
Processing Information
The bulk of the first accession was fully processed by Jordan Patty in 2005. In 2009, the remainder of the first accession and the second accession received a minimal level of processing, and the entire collection was arranged and described by Sarah Haug. Motion picture film reels were inspected and re-housed in 2016-2017 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Galerie Chalette records, 1916-1999, bulk,1939-1994. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

  • No downloads available