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James Graham & Sons gallery records, 1815, 1821, circa 1896-2011, bulk 1950s-1980s

James Graham & Sons gallery records, 1815, 1821, circa 1896-2011, bulk 1950s-1980s

James Graham & Sons

Collection Information

Size: 95.2 linear feet

Summary: The records of the New York City gallery James Graham & Sons measure 95.2 linear feet and date from 1815, 1821, circa 1896-2011 (bulk 1950s-1980s). The collection generally documents the gallery's contemporary art department during the time in which Robert Claverhouse Graham, Sr. worked at the gallery (1940-1979); records prior to 1954 are sparse and scattered. Gallery records include artist files; correspondence; exhibition files; financial records; inventory records; printed materials; sales, loans, and consignment records; scrapbooks; and photographic materials. Also found are records from Coe Kerr Gallery regarding exhibitions of artwork by Jamie Wyeth, and to a lesser extent, Andrew and N.C. Wyeth.

Over the years, the gallery changed names and established contemporary art departments. In addition to records of James Graham & Sons, the collection holds the records of Duveen-Graham Modern Art (in partnership with Albert Duveen), Graham Gallery, Graham Modern, JG|Contemporary, and, to a lesser extent, The Clapp and Graham Co.

Alphabetical files are a mix of business correspondence and business records. The bulk of the series contains correspondence with galleries, museums, other institutions, and, to a lesser extent, clients regarding sales, consignments, and loans of artwork. Also found are materials relevant to the daily operations of the gallery, including correspondence, subject files, and scattered financial, business and legal records.

Exhibition files provide scattered documentation of the gallery's exhibitions through catalogs, clippings, correspondence, guest books, notes, photographs, press materials, price lists, and sales receipts and other financial records.

Artists' Files document the numerous artists who have been represented by the gallery, especially modern American artists. Folders for each artist can contain a variety of materials, including correspondence with the artist or with institutions regarding consignments, loans, sales and exhibitions; photographic materials primarily of artwork; sales invoices; exhibition catalogs, postcards, and other printed materials; press releases; magazine and newspaper clippings; price lists; artist binders; and research materials on artists and artwork. Also found are some subject files, per original arrangement. There is extensive material related to artists Carmen Cicero, Susan Crile, Elaine De Kooning's portrait of President John F. Kennedy, Edwin Dickinson, muralist Seymour Fogel, Nancy Fried, Irving Kriesberg, Gari Melchers, Jonathan Santlofer, Reeve Schley, Peter Stevens, Joan Thorne, and Selina Trieff.

Artwork files document sales, consignments, and loans of artwork primarily from the mid-1980s to 2000s. Materials include agreements and contracts; condition reports; correspondence; invoices and receipts; photographs of artwork; shipping records; and photocopied printed material and other documentation. This series requires written permission from the donor in order to access.

Sales records from 1959-1984 (missing 1974) are found in the Financial Records series. Also found are check stub books from the mid-late 1950s; price lists; records for the Four Seasons Charter Corp.; and scattered banking, consignment, tax, and other financial records. Inventory cards from mid-1950s-1970s and inventory lists, often with notations and prices, are found in the series Inventory Records.

Coe Kerr Gallery Records regarding the Wyeths document Jamie Wyeth's exhibitions primarily from the mid-1970s-early 1980s. Also found is limited material regarding Andrew Wyeth and N.C. Wyeth. Materials include correspondence, photographs, exhibition printed materials, and extensive newspaper clippings.

There are exhibition catalogs, books, announcements, magazines, clippings, postcards, posters and other printed materials related to artists, John Graham & Sons exhibitions, and exhibitions by Graham artists held at other galleries and museums. Also found is an 1815 fifty cent note which was redeemed in 1821.

Seven scrapbooks document discrete aspects of the business, including the gallery's advertising, participation in an art fair, and the careers of artists Guy Coheleach and Van Dearing Perrine. Materials housed in the scrapbooks include clippings, catalogs, photographs, and other printed materials.

Photographic Materials include mostly black and white photographs, negatives, slides and transparencies of artwork; scattered photographs of installations, artists, and the gallery; and a handful of personal snapshots. The bulk of the photographs are undated, but were likely printed between 1950s-1990s.

Biographical/Historical Note

James Graham & Sons (Est. 1857) is an art gallery in New York, N.Y. James Graham & Sons is one of the oldest family-run galleries in the United States, specializing primarily in American paintings and sculpture, both contemporary and secondary market.


The James Graham & Sons records were donated in three accessions in 2007, 2008, and 2012 by Priscilla Caldwell and Jay Grimm of James Graham & Sons.

Related Materials


Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by Smithsonian Institution Collections Care Preservation Fund.

A Finding Aid to the James Graham & Sons Gallery Records, 1815, 1821, circa 1896-2011, bulk 1950s-1980s, in the Archives of American Art
Historical Note
The James Graham & Sons gallery has been owned and managed by the Graham family in New York City since 1857. Throughout its history, the gallery has specialized in decorative arts, antiques, and 19th-early 20th century and contemporary American art.
In 1857, Samuel Graham founded a gallery at 66 Third Street and specialized in furniture. Graham was joined by his son James in the 1880s and expanded the business to include antiques and decorative arts. James A. Graham, the third generation Graham, joined the gallery in the early 20th century. James Graham and antiques dealer Marshall Clapp created Clapp & Graham in 1914, a partnership which was dissolved around 1940.
James R. Graham, the fourth generation Graham, joined the gallery in 1937, followed by his brother Robert Claverhouse Graham, Sr. in 1940. The gallery was then named James Graham & Sons and was located at 514 Madison Avenue. At this time, the gallery specialized in bronzes, ceramics, silver, sculptures, and 19th-early 20th century American art. Robert C. Graham, Sr. introduced modern American art, especially The Eight, into the gallery's inventory.
In 1955, the gallery moved to 1014 Madison Avenue, where it remained until the late 2000s. That same year, Graham opened its first contemporary department with Albert Duveen. Duveen-Graham Modern Art gallery was based on the third floor of the Madison Avenue building and dealt solely in contemporary art until its closing in 1958. Robert C. Graham, Jr. (Robin) joined the gallery in 1963, becoming the fifth generation Graham to run the family business. The gallery is currently located at 32 East 67th Street.
Betsy Fahlman's "James Graham & Sons: A Century and a Half in the Art Business" (2007) was a valuable resource in constructing this Historical Note.
The collection is arranged as 10 series:
Series 1: Alphabetical Files, circa 1896, 1902-1999, bulk 1955-1986 (Boxes 1-15; 15 linear feet)
Series 2: Exhibition Files, 1912, 1947-2004 (Boxes 16-24; 8 linear feet)
Series 3: Artists' Files, circa 1907-2006, bulk 1955-1999 (Boxes 24-62, 95-96; 39.1 linear feet)
Series 4: Artwork Files, circa early 1900s-2011, bulk mid-1980s-2009 (Boxes 63-71, 94, 101; 9.3 linear feet)
Series 5: Financial Records, circa 1937-1993 (Boxes 72-76, 96; 4.5 linear feet)
Series 6: Inventory Records, circa 1954-1993 (Boxes 76-78, 96; 2.1 linear feet)
Series 7: Coe Kerr Gallery Records Regarding Wyeths, 1964-1988 (Boxes 78-80, 97; 2.7 linear feet)
Series 8: Printed Materials, 1815, 1821, 1949-2006 (Boxes 81-82, 97; 2.1 linear feet)
Series 9: Scrapbooks, 1897-1990s (Boxes 82, 98-100; 0.9 linear feet)
Series 10: Photographic Materials, 1929-1990s (Boxes 83-93, 96, 100-101; 11.5 linear feet)
The James Graham & Sons records were donated in three accessions in 2007, 2008, and 2012 by Priscilla Caldwell and Jay Grimm of James Graham & Sons.
Processing Information
The collection was processed to a minimal level and a finding aid prepared by Sarah Haug in 2012, with funding provided by the Smithsonian Institution Collections Care Preservation Fund.
The Archives of American Art has implemented minimal processing tactics when possible in order to increase access to more of our collections. Minimal processing included arrangement to the series and folder levels. Generally, items within folders were simply verified with folder titles and dates, but not arranged further. Folder titles were transcribed from original folder headings; additional information provided by the processing archivist was written in brackets. The collection was rehoused in archival containers and folders. Staples and other fasteners were not removed, but materials were removed from binders or damaged binding when necessary.
Materials with Social Security numbers were redacted with copies left in the collection. The original documents are maintained separately.

Restrictions on Access

Use requires an appointment.

Artwork Files (Boxes 63-71, 94-95) and some photographic materials (Boxes 93 and 101) require written permission to access ACCESS RESTRICTED, use requires written permission.

How to Cite This Collection

James Graham & Sons gallery records, 1815, 1821, circa 1896-2011, bulk 1950s-1980s. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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