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Jacques Seligmann & Co. records, 1904-1978, bulk 1913-1974

Jacques Seligmann & Co. records, 1904-1978, bulk 1913-1974

Jacques Seligmann & Co.

This site provides access to the records of Jacques Seligmann & Co. in the Archives of American Art, which were were digitized in 2010. The bulk of the collection has been scanned, and totals 330,752 images.

Processing of the collection was funded by the Getty Grant Program; digitization of portions of the collection was funded by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.

Collection Information

Size: 203.1 linear feet

Summary: The Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., records measure approximately 203.1 linear feet and date from between 1904 and 1978, with bulk dates of 1913-1974. The records include extensive correspondence files, reference material on American and European collectors and their collections, inventory and stock records, financial records, exhibition files, auction files, and the records of subsidiary companies, including de Hauke & Co., Inc., and Modern Paintings, Inc.

Biographical/Historical Note

Jacques Seligmann & Co. were international art galleries in New York City and Paris, France. Founded in 1880 in Paris, France and closed in 1978. The company's clients included most of the major American and European art collectors of the era, and the art that passed through its galleries often ended up in the collection of prominent American and European museums. Established as Jacques Seligmann & Cie in 1880 on the Rue des Mathurins, Paris. As American clients increased, the firm opened a New York office in 1904. In 1920, Seligmann's son Germain Seligman (who dropped the last 'n' from his name), a writer and scholar, became a partner and appointed president of the New York office. Jacques Seligmann died in 1923, and in 1924, Germain became president of both the New York and Paris offices. In 1937, the company headquarters moved from Paris to New York. The firm was active in antiquities, decorative arts, Renaissance art, and was among the first to foster contemporary European art, primarily through its subsidiary firm De Hauke & Co. (later Modern Paintings, Inc.), managed by César Mange de Hauke. In 1935, its Contemporary American Department was established, headed by longtime gallery employee Theresa D. Parker. During the years following WWII, the firm was involved in the recovery of looted artwork and property, and the sale of several significant collections. The firm ceased operations upon the death of Germain Seligman in 1978.

Provenance

Donated 1978-1979 by Mrs. Germain Seligman, daughter-in-law of Jacques Seligmann. Additional material was acquired in 1994 through the Estate of Mrs. Seligman. The Paris archives of Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., were destroyed by the Seligmann staff in 1940 to prevent them from falling into the hands of the Nazis.

Funding

Processing of the collection was funded by the Getty Grant Program; digitization of portions of the collection was funded by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.

A Finding Aid to the Jacques Seligmann & Co. Records, 1904-1978, bulk 1913-1974, in the Archives of American Art
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Finding aid prepared by Patricia C. Craig, Barbara D. Aikens, Stephanie L. Ashley, Rosa M. Fernandez
Scope and Contents note
The Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., records measure approximately 203.1 linear feet and date from between 1904 and 1978, with bulk dates of 1913-1974. The records include extensive correspondence files, reference material on American and European collectors and their collections, inventory and stock records, financial records, exhibition files, auction files, and the records of subsidiary companies, including de Hauke & Co., Inc., and Modern Paintings, Inc.
Historians and researchers will find the collection an invaluable resource in tracing the provenance of particular works of art. Although in the early 1940s many records in the Paris office were destroyed by Seligmann staff to keep them from falling into the hands of the occupying German military forces, many records survive, as much of the firm's business had previously come to center in the New York office. In all, the remaining records provide a comprehensive view of the activities and transactions of collectors and art dealers in the years leading up to and following World War II.
Correspondence (Series 1) is the largest series of the collection (80 linear feet) and is comprised of extensive correspondence files, primarily between Germain Seligman and his New York office staff with domestic and foreign private clients, collectors, dealers, individuals representing public museums and collections, and international scholars. The New York Office Correspondence (Series 1.1) concerns a wide variety of topics, including routine business matters, but focuses primarily on potential and realized sales and purchases and provenance documentation. Also found is detailed information on financial transactions, commissions, stock inventory, and the travel of Germain Seligman and other staff. Paris Office Correspondence (Series 1.2) is separated into a small subseries and contains correspondence written primarily by Jacques Seligmann from Paris. The subseries General Correspondence (Series 1.3) is the largest subsection of the Correspondence series and contains letters written to and received from clients and other business associates concerning business transactions and inquiries. The subseries Museum Correspondence (Series 1.4) contains letters between the firm and art institutions and museums. The subseries Germain Seligman's Correspondence (Series 1.5), contains not only personal letters but a wealth of information concerning the affairs of the firm. Much personal correspondence was marked "private."
Also of note in the Correspondence series are the Legal Correspondence Files (Series 1.6) and the Inter-Office Correspondence (Series 1.9) and Inter-Office Memoranda (Series 1.13). The Legal Correspondence Files subseries houses correspondence with both U.S. and Paris attorneys and concerns legal affairs and specific lawsuits. Of particular interest are Germain Seligman's attempts to recover Seligmann family and Paris gallery artwork and other assets stolen or confiscated by the Germans in World War II. This small subseries also contains limited information on the stock and inventory holdings of several of the firm's and Germain Seligman's subsidiary corporations, family legal affairs and lawsuits, and other related legal matters. The subseries Inter-Office Correspondence and Inter-Office Memoranda (called
fiches
by Seligmann staff) include memos between Germain Seligman and his staff about clients, collectors, sales, acquisitions, and other matters. These offer interesting commentary clearly intended to be read by staff only.
Also prominent is Collectors Files (Series 2), which contains numerous reference files documenting the collections of existing and potential clients with whom Seligmann & Co. maintained contacts. The files are arranged by either individual name or institution and reflect the wide scope of collector references maintained by the firm throughout its operating years. The files contain a variety of reference materials, such as photographs, provenance notes, and sales, purchase, and inventory information in cases where the collector purchased from the firm or the firm purchased from the collector. Researchers will find that many of the private and public names that appear in General Correspondence (Series 1.3) appear in the Collectors Files as well. Also found in this series are specific files relating to the Duc d'Arenberg Collection, the Clarence H. Mackay Collection, the Mortimer L. Schiff Collection, and the Prince of Liechtenstein Collection. The firm either handled substantial estate sales for these collections or purchased and sold important pieces from these collections.
Auction Files (Series 3) and Exhibition files (Series 4) trace the sales and exhibition activities undertaken by Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc. In the Auction files, researchers will find documentation of auctions of individual works of art owned by the firm and handled by Christie's, Parke-Bernet, and other auction houses. Of particular interest is the 1948-1949 Parke-Bernet auction of the C. S. Wadsworth Trust, a "dummy" trust set up by the firm to dispose of a portion of its unsold inventory. The Exhibition Files house a variety of documentation, such as catalogs and correspondence, concerning the firm's active exhibition history. Many of the exhibitions featured works of art recently acquired by the firm, such as the 1937 exhibition,
Twenty Years in the Evolution of Picasso,
which included a number of Picassos the firm acquired from Madame Jacques Doucet that year.
Reference Files (Series 5) includes a card catalog to books and catalogs in the library maintained by Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., and a photograph reference index of works of art. Inventory and Stock Files (Series 6) tracks the firm's inventory through a series of stock books and supporting documentation that include sales and provenance information.
Financial Files and Shipping Records (Series 7) consists primarily of records of the New York office, but some Paris office documents can be found scattered throughout. Found in this series is a wide variety of financial records including purchase receipt files, credit notes, invoices, consignment invoices and books, invoices, consular invoices, sales and purchase account books, ledgers, and tax records. The records appear to be quite complete and date from 1910 to 1977. Of particular interest are the purchase receipts and credit notes and memoranda that contain detailed documentation on acquisitions and sales. The consignment invoices provide information about works of art sold on behalf of other galleries and dealers, as well as which galleries and dealers were handling works of art for Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc. Although quite large and complex, the financial records offer a comprehensive overview of the firm's business and financial transactions.
The records of subsidiary companies that were part of Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., such as Contemporary American Department, de Hauke & Co., Inc., Modern Paintings, Inc., and Gersel Corp. are arranged in their own series. In 1935, the firm established the Contemporary American Department to represent young American artists. Under the direction of Theresa D. Parker, a longtime gallery employee, the department initiated an exhibition and loan program. Contemporary American Department (Series 8) includes mostly correspondence files and exhibition files.
The largest subsidiary company to operate under Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., was de Hauke & Co., Inc. De Hauke & Co., Inc., Records (Series 9) dates from 1925 through 1949 and contains domestic and foreign correspondence with clients, collectors, and dealers; inter-office correspondence and memoranda with Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc.; administrative and legal files; and financial records. Modern Paintings, Inc., records (Series 10) contains the legal and financial files of this subsidiary company, which was established in 1930 to incorporate most of the stock of the liquidated de Hauke & Co., Inc. Gersel Corp. Records (Series 11) contains a small amount of material from this company.
Researchers should note that a scattering of records from most of the subsidiary companies may also be found throughout additional series, particularly Inventory and Stock Files (Series 6) and Financial Files and Shipping Records (Series 7). Records for the firms Tessa Corp. and Georges Haardt & Co., which were also owned by Germain Seligman, are not part of the Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., Records, although scattered references to these two firms may be encountered throughout the collection.
German Seligman's Personal papers (Series 12) includes scattered family and biographical materials, his research and writings files, and documentation of his personal art collection. Found in Family and Biographical Material (Series 12.1) are photographs of family members, including Jacques Seligmann, and of the Paris gallery. Also found is a limited amount of correspondence concerning Germain Seligman's residency status and his desire to obtain an army commission during World War II. Germain Seligman's research and writing files are found in this series and include material for his books:
Roger de La Fresnaye, with a Catalogue Raisonné
(1969);
Merchants of Art, 1880-1960: Eighty Years of Professional Collecting
(1961);
The Drawings of Georges Seurat
(1947); and
Oh! Fickle Taste; or, Objectivity in Art
(1952). Documentation of Germain Seligman's private art collection is arranged in this series and includes provenance and research files and correspondence concerning his art collection.
Overall, the historical records of Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., offer researchers a comprehensive and detailed resource for studying one of the most active dealers in decorative arts, Renaissance, and European contemporary art. The records clearly document the firm's numerous acquisitions and sales of important works of art to well-known European and American collectors and museums as well as Germain Seligman's extensive client contacts and references. The collection offers an insightful, intriguing, and often fascinating view into the complex field of art sales, trading, and acquisition during the first half of the twentieth century, when many major collections in the United States were formed.
Researchers interested in tracing the provenance of individual works of art should carefully check each series of the collection for information to obtain a complete history for any work. Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., staff set up many different files to cross-reference works of art from various angles, such as artist or creator; collector or collection; most recent owner or repository location; stock inventory number, if owned by Seligmann & Co.; and photographic reference files. The task is made somewhat more difficult by the number of commission sales and joint ownership of works of art, often documented solely in the Inventory and Stock Files (Series 6) or the Financial Files and Shipping Records (Series 7). Only by tracing a name or date through the various series can one find all of the information relating to a particular work of art and its provenance.
Biographical/Historical note
Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., was counted among the foremost French and American art dealers in antiquities and decorative arts and was among the first to foster and support the growth and appreciation for collecting in the field of contemporary European art. The company's clients included most of the major American and European art collectors of the era, and the art that passed through its galleries often ended up in the collections of prominent American and European museums through the donations of the wealthy benefactors who purchased them from the company. Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., took an active part in promoting such donations as well as providing its own donations and selling paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts directly to many museums.
The company was first established as Jacques Seligmann & Cie. in 1880 on the Rue des Mathurins in Paris by Jacques Seligmann (1858-1923), a German émigré who came to France in 1874 and soon thereafter became a French citizen. The company experienced so much success that in 1900 a new, larger Galerie Seligmann was opened on the Place Vendôme, and Jacques's two brothers, Simon and Arnold, joined the business as partners. Simon served as the company's accountant, and Arnold was in charge of correspondence with the firm's many clients. Jacques remained as the manager and was in charge of all purchases for the firm.
Prominent clients of the company included Baron Edmond de Rothschild of France, the Stroganoff family of Russia, Sir Philip Sassoon of England, and American collectors Benjamin Altman, William Randolph Hearst, J. P. Morgan, Henry Walters, and Joseph Widener. As American clients increasingly came to dominate the company's sales activities, a New York office at 7 West Thirty-sixth Street was opened in 1904. Five years later, Jacques purchased the Hôtel de Sagan (also called the Palais de Sagan by the Seligmann family) in Paris as a location where Jacques Seligmann & Cie. could stage larger exhibitions and receive its most distinguished clients.
In 1912 a family quarrel resulted in a lawsuit that split the company. Arnold remained at the Place Vendôme location, reorganized under the name Arnold Seligmann & Cie., while Jacques consolidated his operations and moved the headquarters for Jacques Seligmann & Cie. to the Hôtel de Sagan. Jacques also opened an additional gallery at 17 Place Vendôme to retain a presence near the company's original location, but this branch soon relocated to 9 Rue de la Paix. The New York office, which formerly had operated out of a single room, was upgraded to larger office space and a gallery at 705 Fifth Avenue.
Jacques's son, Germain Seligman (1893-1978), showed an interest in art connoisseurship from his early years and often accompanied his father to work in the galleries. (In 1943, when Germain Seligman became an American citizen, he dropped the second "n" from his surname, and for clarity his name appears with this spelling throughout this finding aid.) His father taught him how to deal with clients and often assigned him tasks to help in the completion of sales. Germain accompanied Jacques on many business trips and in 1910 was sent to St. Peterburg, Russia, to secure information about the selling price of the Swenigorodskoi enamels owned by the Russian collector M. P. Botkine.
Germain continued to work informally in the firm's galleries until the outbreak of World War I. Within hours of the mobilization order in 1914, Germain joined the French army as a second lieutenant in the 132nd Infantry Regiment of Rheims. By 1916 he was promoted to first lieutenant in the Twenty-fourth Infantry Brigade and in the following year achieved the rank of captain in the Fifty-sixth Infantry Division. Also in the same year, he was assigned as the first French liaison officer to the First Division of the American Expeditionary Force in France, serving as translator for Major George C. Marshall. Seligman was discharged from the French army in 1919 and was awarded the French Croix de Guerre with six citations. (In 1938 Seligman also was awarded the Office of the Legion of Honor from France, and in 1939 he was decorated by General John Joseph Pershing with the Distinguished Service Medal of the United States, in recognition for his service during World War I.)
After his discharge from military service, Germain Seligman actively joined his father's company as a partner in 1920. Jacques Seligmann & Cie. was changed to Jacques Seligmann et Fils, and Germain was placed in charge as the president of the New York office. The strong American art market necessitated Germain's making numerous cross-Atlantic trips each year. Upon the death of his father in 1923, Germain took over as president of both the Paris and New York offices, and the company was once again renamed Jacques Seligmann & Cie.
In the early years of Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., the firm carried few paintings, as collectors focused their interest mostly on small objects, enamels, ivories, and other decorative pieces from the Byzantine to the Renaissance eras. Stone and bronze sculptures, medieval and Renaissance tapestries, and eighteenth-century French furniture were the most avidly collected pieces of the era. The galleries of Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., reflected its clients' tastes, but soon after the turn of the century art trends began to change.
The 1913 Armory Show introduced many Americans to contemporary European art, and collectors in the United States began to show marked interest in it. The advent of World War I brought much of the art market to a standstill in Europe, but interest in the Impressionists continued in the United States, and it quickly resumed in Europe, as well, after the war. Both collectors and dealers began buying modern art, led by such progressive American collectors as Walter Arensberg, Albert C. Barnes, A. E. Gallatin, Mrs. Horace O. Havemeyer, Mrs. Potter Palmer, Duncan Phillips, and John Quinn, among others.
Under Germain's leadership, Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., began acquiring works by Pierre Bonnard, Paul Cézanne, Honoré Daumier, Edgar Degas, Pablo Picasso, Henri Rousseau, and Vincent van Gogh. While Germain promoted this trend for modern art in the New York gallery, other family partners did not approve as this was a new direction for the firm. For this reason Germain Seligman looked to establish a new, independent business venture in the evolving field of modern art. He selected as his partner César Mange de Hauke.
César Mange de Hauke was born on March 8, 1900, the son of a French engineer and a Polish mother. After completing academic and art studies in England and France in the years following World War I, de Hauke arrived in the United States in 1926. While in New York City, he was introduced to Germain Seligman by Germain's cousin, René Seligmann, and by 1927 de Hauke had joined Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., as a sales representative.
With their shared interest in modern French painting, Seligman and de Hauke decided to explore the feasibility of sales in this area by forming a subsidiary to Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., that would specialize in contemporary European artists. In 1926 Seligman personally financed the fledgling company, first called International Contemporary Art Company, Inc., and he appointed de Hauke its director, but even before the legal documents setting up the company were completed the name was changed to de Hauke & Co., Inc. Although the bulk of the new company's art purchases took place in Paris and London, the majority of its sales occurred in the United States.
Seligman and de Hauke worked out an agreement allowing de Hauke to purchase works of art that could then be sold as stock inventory of Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., or privately under de Hauke's own name. Ownership of paintings was often shared among various art dealers, involving complicated commission transactions upon completion of sale. Seligman provided display space for de Hauke & Co., Inc., at the new, larger gallery of Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., now located at 3 East Fifty-first Street. The two businesses were deeply intertwined, as evidenced by the facts that Seligman's financial records include a great deal of de Hauke material and many of de Hauke's records are written on the stationery of Jacques Seligmann Co., Inc.
During the second half of the 1920s, de Hauke showed the work of modern French School artists in New York City. He exhibited works by Pierre Bonnard, Amedeo Modigliani, Odilon Redon, Ker-Xavier Roussel, Edouard Vuillard, and many others. De Hauke was equally interested in French School drawings and watercolors, and the scope of his exhibitions also included works by nineteenth-century masters such as Paul Cézanne, Jacques-Louis David, Eugè00E8;ne Delacroix, Jean Ingres, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Georges Seurat.
Among the exhibitions held at the New York gallery were two highly successful shows featuring the works of Pablo Picasso. The first one, held in 1936, displayed paintings from the Blue and Rose Periods and was soon followed by the 1937 exhibition,
Twenty Years in the Evolution of Picasso.
The star of this exhibition was
Les Demoiselles d'Avignon
which Germain had recently acquired from the Jacques Doucet Estate sale.
Despite the bleak economic conditions of the 1930s, the new business venture proved so successful that the other family members of Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., withdrew their opposition to expanding into the field of modern art, and de Hauke & Co., Inc., was dissolved and re-formed under the new name, Modern Paintings, Inc. César M. de Hauke was appointed its director, but tensions had crept into the relationship between the former partners, and by 1931, de Hauke had resigned and returned to Paris.
The mid-1930s appear to have been a period of reorganization for the company. By 1934 Modern Paintings, Inc., was also dissolved, and it assets were assumed by Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., and by Tessa Corp., another subsidiary of the firm. In 1935, however, the firm established a new subsidiary, the Contemporary American Department, to represent young American artists. Theresa D. Parker, a longtime gallery employee, was selected to head the department, and she initiated an exhibition and loan program. Soon thereafter, the City of Paris offered to buy the company's building at the Hôtel de Sagan as part of a complicated negotiation for a site for the
Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la vie Modern 1937.
The Paris office of Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., reestablished itself at 9 Rue de la Paix, but Germain selected the New York office as the headquarters for Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc. Subsequently he filed his legal residence as New York City. Germain's half-brother, François-Gerard, was left in charge of the Paris office operations, although Germain continued to commute between the two offices until the summer of 1939.
During the New York World's Fair of 1939, Germain served as a member of the Exhibition Committee, which coordinated the art section. When the fair was extended for an additional year, Seligman was asked to take responsibility for planning the French art section. World political events intruded, however, and rumors of impending war affected both the European and American economies as well as the international art world. Speculative sales, particularly in Europe, made for a chaotic and unpredictable market. In June 1940 German forces invaded France and occupied Paris. Business for Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., took a dramatic downturn. In the summer of 1940 the Seligmann galleries and family holdings were seized by the Vichy government, along with Germain's private art collection. The family house and its contents, along with almost the entire stock of the Paris firm, was sold at public auction. Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., staff burned the Paris office archives in an effort to keep the records relating to works of art from falling into the hands of the Nazi occupiers, who were looting and shipping art to Germany.
Family members also experienced the pains and changes brought on by the war. Jean Seligmann, a cousin of Germain and the head of Arnold Seligmann & Cie., was captured and shot in Vincennes, France. François-Gerard, a half-brother, was drafted into the army and subsequently joined the French Resistance. Another brother, André, fled France in September 1940 and arrived in New York City, where he opened his own gallery. (He would later return to Paris after the war, but died shortly thereafter from a heart attack.)
Germain applied for a commission in the United States Army in 1942, but his application was initially turned down due to his noncitizen status. Soon thereafter, however, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the second War Power Act, which stipulated that naturalization could be expedited if the individual served in the military during the war. This act prompted Germain to further press his application for a post overseas, citing his citizenship status as fairly inconsequential or at least no longer a grave hindrance. Despite numerous letters exchanged with the War Department, however, his application was eventually rejected due to changes in military personnel policy.
During the war years, the Seligmann company in New York moved from its 3 East Fifty-first Street location to smaller quarters at 5 East Fifty-seventh Street. The first exhibition in this space was held in the spring of 1944. By 1945 the Contemporary American Department was reactivated, with Theresa D. Parker as its head.
In the years following the war, a rapprochement occurred among the family members who had been split since the family quarrel between Jacques and Arnold Seligmann. With the death of Jean Seligmann during the war, Arnold Seligmann & Co. had been left without a director. Germain consolidated the two family businesses, but made separate financial and administrative entities of the Paris and New York offices. Henceforth they were affiliated "only by ties of affection."
During the early to mid-1950s, many of the activities involving Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., centered upon the recovery of looted artwork and property as well as resolving outstanding issues from the consolidation of the various family businesses. The firm was also involved in the sale of several significant collections.
In 1951 Germain was commissioned by the family of the Duc d'Arenberg to sell the family's collection of important illuminated manuscripts, engravings, and select paintings. Jan Vermeer's
Portrait of a Young Girl
was purchased for over a quarter million dollars.
Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., also handled the 1953 sale of works from the Prince of Liechtenstein's collection and negotiated the purchase of seven Italian marble sculptures that were eventually sold to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation in 1954. From the late 1950s up until the closing of the company in 1977-1978, the exhibitions mounted by the firm seem to indicate a gradual focus back toward drawings and more traditional art. Contemporary American artists continued to be shown as well, but the firm no longer maintained its leading edge in the art market.
Germain, who during the 1940s had written several works, among them a monograph on Roger de La Fresnaye in 1945 and
The Drawings of Georges Seurat
in 1947, devoted himself more and more to writing. In
Oh! Fickle Taste; or, Objectivity in Art,
published in 1952, Seligman addressed the importance of political and social climates in understanding the evolution of art collecting in the United States. He followed this book with the 1961 publication of
Merchants of Art, 1880-1960: Eighty Years of Professional Collecting
which memorialized his father and traced the history of Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc. Germain's most significant work,
Roger de La Fresnaye, with a Catalogue Raisonné
(1969), was lauded by art critics and listed among the 1969 "Best Ten Books of the Year" by the
New York Times.
With the death of Germain Seligman in 1978, the firm doors closed, leaving behind a legacy of collecting that helped to establish American collectors and museums in the forefront of the international art world. A survey of the major art museums and collections in the United States reveals the significant number of works that were acquired either by sales or through donation from Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc. The influence the company wielded is also demonstrated through the network of relationships it built with collectors, art museums and institutions, and other dealers, such as Dr. Albert C. Barnes, Bernheim-Jeune, George Blumenthal, Sen. William A. Clark, the Detroit Institute of Arts, M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art, Marjorie Merriweather Post, Henry Walters, and Wildenstein & Co., among others.
1858, September 18
Jacques Seligmann born in Frankfurt, Germany.
1874
Jacques Seligmann leaves Germany to work in Paris, France, as an assistant at Maître Paul Chevallier, a leading Paris auctioneer. Soon after he leaves to work for Charles Mannheim, an expert in medieval art.
1880
Jacques Seligmann opens his own shop at the Rue des Mathurins. An early client is Baron Edmond de Rothschild.
1893, February 25
Germain Seligman is born in Paris, France. His mother's maiden name is Blanche Falkenberg (d. 1902).
1900
Jacques Seligmann & Cie. is formed when Jacques's brothers, Arnold and Simon, join him as partners and the business moves to the Place Vendôme.
1904
The New York City office of Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., is established, with Eugene Glaenzer as the manager. Beginning in 1905, Seligmann begins yearly visits to the New York office.
1907
Jacques Seligmann is elected a Fellow for Life of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
1909
Jacques Seligmann & Cie. acquires the Hôtel de Sagan on the Rue Saint Dominique. Jacques moves the headquarters for the company to this location and reserves its use for the most exclusive and important clients, but his brother Arnold continues to oversee the general operations of the company at the Place Vendôme.
1912
A lawsuit between Jacques Seligmann and his brother, Arnold, results in a split in the family company. Arnold remains at Place Vendôme under the name Arnold Seligmann & Cie. Jacques consolidates his activities at the Hôtel de Sagan. He also opens another gallery at 17 Place Vendôme, but this is soon moved to 9 Rue de la Paix.
1914
As a result of the split in the family business, a new office and gallery are opened at 705 Fifth Avenue, and Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., is incorporated within the State of New York.
1914-1919
Germain Seligmann serves in the French army as a second lieutenant in the 132nd Infantry Regiment of Rheims. Later he is assigned as the first French liaison officer to the First Division of the American Expeditionary Force in France. He is discharged from active service in 1919.
1920
Germain Seligman becomes a partner with his father and formally joins Jacques Seligmann & Fils as the president of the New York office.
1923, October
Jacques Seligman dies.
1924
Germain Seligman becomes the president of both the Paris and New York offices. Several of his brothers and sisters become partners in the firm. Theresa D. Parker joins the New York office.
1926
The New York office moves to 3 East Fifty-first Street. Germain Seligman, with César Mange de Hauke, sets up de Hauke & Co., Inc., to sell modern European paintings to American clients.
1930
De Hauke & Co., Inc., becomes Modern Paintings, Inc.
1931
De Hauke resigns as head of Modern Paintings, Inc., and returns to Paris.
1934
Modern Paintings, Inc., is dissolved, and its assets are assumed by Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., and by Tessa Corp., another subsidiary of the parent company.
1935
The Contemporary American Department is created as a part of Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., and Theresa D. Parker directs its operations.
1936-1937
Jacques Seligmann et Fils moves out of its gallery space at the Hôtel de Sagan and briefly reestablishes its headquarters at 9 Rue de la Paix. By 1937, however, the company headquarters moves to New York City. Germain Seligman establishes his legal residence there.
1939
World War II begins.
1940
During the summer, the Seligmann family house and its contents (at Rue de Constantine) are seized and sold by order of the Vichy government, along with Germain's private art collection and the gallery's stock. The Paris archives of Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., is destroyed by the Seligmann staff in order to keep the records from falling into the hands of the Nazis. René Seligmann dies in a New York hospital in June; François-Gerard, Germain's half-brother, is called up to serve in the army and joins the French Resistance. Another brother, André, escapes to the United States and opens a gallery in New York. Jean Seligmann, a cousin of Germain and the head of Arnold Seligmann & Cie., is captured and shot at Vincennes, France.
1943
Germain Seligman becomes an American citizen (and drops the second "n" from his original surname).
1944, Spring
The New York gallery holds its first exhibition in the new 5 East Fifty-seventh Street location in New York City. During the war years, the firm had moved from its Fifty-first Street location to smaller quarters.
1945
The Contemporary American Department is reactivated.
1946
After the war, Arnold Seligmann & Cie. is left without a director, although it remains at the Rue de la Paix location. Germain consolidates the two firms but organizes the Paris and New York offices as separate financial and administrative entities.
1969
Germain Seligman publishes
Roger de La Fresnaye, with a Catalogue Raisonné.
The book receives acclaim and is listed on the 1969
New York Times "
Ten Best Books of the Year."
1978, March 27
Germain Seligman dies.
Arrangement note
Following is an outline of the arrangement of the collection by series and corresponding box numbers and extent. More detailed information for each series and subseries, along with a box and folder inventory, is found in the Series Descriptions/Container Listings, which can be found by following the series links below. Glass plate negatives are housed separately and closed to researchers.
Series 1: Correspondence, 1913-1978 (1-174, 80 linear feet)
Series 2: Collectors Files, 1875, 1892-1977, undated (Boxes 175-252, 35 linear feet)
Series 3: Auction Files, 1948-1975, undated (Boxes 253-259, 2.75 linear feet)
Series 4: Exhibition Files, 1925-1977, undated (Boxes 260-272, 5.5 linear feet)
Series 5: Reference Files, 1877-1977, undated (Boxes 273-278, 2.25 linear feet)
Series 6: Inventory and Stock Files, 1923-1971, undated (Boxes 279-289, 4.5 linear feet)
Series 7: Financial Files and Shipping Records, 1910-1977 (Boxes 290-357, 30.5 linear feet)
Series 8: Contemporary American Department, 1932-1978 (Boxes 358-381, 10 linear feet)
Series 9: De Hauke & Co., Inc., Records, 1925-1949, undated (Boxes 382-416; 16 linear feet)
Series 10: Modern Paintings, Inc., Records, 1927-1950 (Boxes 417-420, 1.25 linear feet)
Series 11: Gersel Corp. Records, 1946-1969 (Box 421, 0.25 linear feet)
Series 12: Germain Seligman's Personal Papers, 1882, circa 1905-1984, undated (Boxes 422-459, OV 460, 17 linear feet)
Provenance
Donated 1978-1979 by Mrs. Germain Seligman, daughter-in-law of Jacques Seligmann. Additional material was acquired in 1994 through the Estate of Mrs. Seligman. The Paris archives of Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., were destroyed by the Seligmann staff in 1940 to prevent them from falling into the hands of the Nazis.
Processing Information note
The staff of the Archives of American Art partially processed the collection to a preliminary level in the late 1970s. The collection was fully processed and the finding aid created by a team of professional archivists and archives technicians, including Barbara D. Aikens, Stephanie L. Ashley, Wendy Bruton, Patricia K. Craig, and Rosa Fernandez, between 1998 and 2001, with funding from the Getty Foundation.
Series 1: Correspondence and Series 2: Collectors Files were digitized in 2010 with funding provided by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. The bulk of the remainder of the collection was digitized in 2010 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art. Glass plate negatives were re-housed in 2015 with a grant provided by the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund.

Additional Forms Available

Series 1 and Series 2 of the collection were digitized in 2010 and are available via the Archives of American Art's website.

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

Jacques Seligmann & Co. records, 1904-1978, bulk 1913-1974. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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