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Kraushaar Galleries records, 1885-2006

Kraushaar Galleries records, 1885-2006

Kraushaar Galleries

Collection Information

Size: 100.7 linear feet

Summary: The records of New York City Kraushaar Galleries measure 91.9 linear feet and date from its establishment in 1885 to 2006. Three-fourths of the collection documents the gallery's handling of contemporary American paintings, drawings, and sculpture through correspondence with artists, private collectors, museums, galleries, and other art institutions, interspersed with scattered exhibition catalogs and other materials. Also included are John F. Kraushaar's estate records; artists' files; financial ledgers documenting sales and gallery transactions; consignment and loan records; photographs of artwork; sketchbooks and drawings by James Penney, Louis Bouché, and others; and two scrapbooks.

Biographical/Historical Note

Kraushaar Galleries (1885-) is an art gallery in New York, N.Y Established 1885 by Charles W. Kraushaar as the Kraushaar Galleries as a small store on Broadway near 31st Street. Charles and brother John F. Kraushaar moved the Galleries in 1901 to 260 Fifth Ave. and began adding more modern French and American painters. They became interested in "The Eight" group of American realists. George Luks, a member of "The Eight" was probably the first major Amerian artist represented at Kraushaar, and in 1917 John Sloan was invited to hold his first one-person show there. John assumed control upon Charles' death in 1917, and, ca. 1920, enlisted his daughter, Antoinette (b. 1902) to assist him. In 1919, the business moved to 680 Fifth Avenue, and in 1936 to 730 Fifth Avenue. While the Kraushaar Galleries exhibited mostly European artists in the early years, by the time John Kraushaar died in 1946, American art had become the focus of the business. In 1950, Antoinette Kraushaar assumed sole ownership. Carole Pesner joined as President in 1959, and Katherine Kaplan Degn as director in 1986. Antoinette retired in 1988 and died in 1992. The gallery is still in business at 724 Fifth Avenue.

Provenance

53.5 linear feet of records were donated to the Archives of American Art by Kraushaar Galleries in three separate accessions in 1959, 1994, and 1996. Katherine Kaplan Degn of Kraushaar Galleries donated an additional 38.4 linear feet in 2008-2009, 7.8 linear feet in 2012, 0.2 linear feet in 2013 and 0.8 linear feet in 2017.

Related Materials

Also in the Archives is an untranscribed oral history interview with Antoinette Kraushaar, 1982.

Funding

Processing of the collection was supported with funding from the Getty Grant Program and the Smithsonian Collections Care Fund.

A Finding Aid to the Kraushaar Galleries Records,
1885-2006
, in the Archives of American Art
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Author
Finding aid prepared by Stephanie L. Ashley and Sarah Haug
Historical Note
Charles W. Kraushaar established Kraushaar Galleries in 1885 as a small store on Broadway near Thirty-first Street in New York City. Initially the store sold artist materials, photogravures, and reproductions. Drawing on his previous experience working with William Schause, a leading dealer in European paintings, Kraushaar soon progressed to selling original watercolors, paintings, and engravings by European artists, primarily landscapes of the Barbizon School.
In 1901 Kraushaar moved the business to 260 Fifth Avenue and with the assistance of his brother, John F. Kraushaar, began adding more modern French and American painters to the inventory. Of particular interest to John Kraushaar was the group of American realists known as "The Eight," who had held a self-selected, self-organized exhibition at the Macbeth Gallery in 1908. The Eight were Arthur B. Davies, William Glackens, Robert Henri, Ernest Lawson, George Luks, Maurice Prendergast, Everett Shinn, and John Sloan. Luks, whom John Kraushaar met around 1902, was probably the first major American artist represented at Kraushaar Galleries. In 1917 John Sloan was invited to hold his first one-person show at the galleries despite accusations that his exhibition at the Whitney Studio the previous year had represented a brutal depiction of life that lacked subtlety and sensitivity.
When Charles Kraushaar died suddenly in 1917, John assumed control of the galleries and soon enlisted the assistance of his daughter, Antoinette Kraushaar. Antoinette had suffered a bout of pneumonia during the influenza epidemic of 1918 that cut short her education; grooming her for a career in the galleries was a logical step. Following the end of the First World War, Kraushaar resumed his buying trips to Europe, often accompanied by Antoinette, and exhibited works by European artists such as André Derain, Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Vincent Van Gogh. However, it was the increasing commitment to contemporary American artists for which the galleries would become best known. In addition to The Eight, the Kraushaars developed their inventory of American paintings and etchings with exhibitions of work by artists such as Gifford Beal, Charles Demuth, Guy Pène Du Bois, Gaston Lachaise, Jerome Myers, Charles Prendergast, and Henry Schnakenberg.
Returning from a buying trip to Europe in 1929, John Kraushaar wrote to California collector Preston Harrision on July 26 that "the prices over there, especially for modern pictures are astounding." Nevertheless, Kraushaar believed that investing in modern art would yield benefits within the next five years, and he refused to be influenced by museums and critics outside of New York who were reluctant to agree. He exhibited a healthy disrespect for museum directors in general, whom he referred to in his letters to Harrision as "dead heads" who ought to be sent to different art centers of the world in order to "get in touch with what is going on there" (March 11, 1929).
Like most of its contemporaries, Kraushaar Galleries suffered considerably during the Depression of the 1930s and struggled to collect and, in turn, pay accounts due. On October 5, 1931, John Kraushaar confessed to H. S. Southam, "Business is very bad with us, and I know that you will treat it confidentially when I tell you that I have had to sacrifice a good part of my personal holdings to provide cash for my own business." By 1934 the rent on the galleries' current location at 680 Fifth Avenue, where Kraushaar had moved in 1919, was out of all proportion to the amount of business that was being generated. In 1936, a timely move to 730 Fifth Avenue allowed the family to effect substantial economies without a disproportionate loss of business.
During the 1930s, John Kraushaar's health began to fail, and he was frequently absent from the galleries. Consequently, Antoinette Kraushaar took on greater responsibility for the operation of the business with the assistance of her brother Charles. Although Antoinette was one of few women to hold such a prominent position in the art business at that time, there is no evidence in the records to suggest that artists or customers who had been accustomed to dealing with John Kraushaar had any difficulty accepting the transition in management from father to daughter.
Nevertheless, collecting accounts remained difficult, and although business had improved by 1938 it was now stymied by the threat of war in Europe. The warmth of relations between the Kraushaars and the artists they handled, and their colleagues, was crucial to Antoinette during these years. She repeatedly expressed her gratitude for their understanding and assistance in her letters as she struggled to meet financial obligations and operate the business in her father's absence, experimenting with different strategies as she evolved an approach that would sustain the business. In a letter to Gifford Beal dated August 6, 1941, she spoke of "hellish times" and stressed, "I have learned a great many things during the past few years and hope that we are groping our way towards a working solution of our own affairs at least."
While there is no question that Antoinette Kraushaar shared her father's genuine interest in contemporary American artists, the growing commitment to these artists that was forged during these years was driven in large part by necessity. By increasing her stock of American art and adding "younger painters of promise," she was able to sell work in a much broader price range. Consequently she could reach a wider audience and increase the likelihood that the business would remain solvent. This method of business also suited her personality far more than having a very specialized inventory of highly priced work, an approach that she confessed to J. Lionberger Davis on December 3, 1940, "requires a particular kind of temperament, and frankly I neither like it nor believe in it."
Throughout her career Antoinette imbued the business with her personal style. She understood that elitism alienated art buyers of moderate income, who constituted her bread and butter, and believed strongly that the gallery environment should not be intimidating to potential customers. She corresponded at length with old and new clients alike, patiently offering advice when asked and maintaining liberal policies for those who wished to borrow artwork on approval. She also participated in events that promoted efforts to make art available to a wider audience, such as a 1951 exhibition and seminar at the Florida Gulf Coast Art Center that addressed problems of buying and selling art. She was a two-time board member of the Art Dealers Association of America and considered the organization to be an important source of support for the gallery community.
In her dealings with other commercial galleries and art institutions, Antoinette Kraushaar exhibited a strong spirit of cooperation and enthusiasm, consistently lending art to small, locally owned businesses and community organizations as well as to more established galleries and world-class museums. She also developed long and mutually beneficial associations with the art departments of many educational institutions across the country, which proved to be fertile ground for young and upcoming artists.
Antoinette Kraushaar exhibited the same honesty and fairness in dealing with artists as her father had, expressing her opinions of their work in a forthright manner and maintaining a policy of always looking at the work of any artist who came to her. She understood the inherent difficulties of dealing with living artists but relished the excitement of encouraging their work and watching them develop. On November 14, 1947, in reply to a letter from the artist Bernard Arnest, in which Arnest apologized for burdening her with his worries, she reminded him, "One of the functions of a dealer is to act as a safety valve. Didn't you know?"
Although she would not retain artists indefinitely if she felt their work had deteriorated in quality, Antoinette often stressed that she was prepared to accept little or no initial financial return on the work of artists who showed promise or whose work held a particular appeal for her. In a letter of December 30, 1940, she reassured Walt Dehner that the lack of sales from his recent exhibition would not lead her to withdraw his work from the galleries. In typically unassuming style she advised Dehner to "go on painting whatever interests you. We have found that there is no recipe for success, either artistic or material."
In the early 1940s Antoinette Kraushaar implemented two changes to her inventory. Sensing that interest in sculpture was growing, she rearranged the space to give that medium more room and attention. The market for etchings had been declining since the late 1930s, and as she reduced this part of her inventory she also acted on her personal passion for drawings by opening a small gallery devoted to contemporary American drawings that were priced well within the range of most customers.
By the time Kraushaar Galleries moved to 32 East Fifty-seventh Street, late in 1944, American art had become the main focus of the business. While the long-standing interest in The Eight and other artists of that period continued, the galleries also handled contemporaries such as Louis Bouché, Samuel Brecher, John Heliker, Andrée Ruellan, and Karl Schrag. When John Kraushaar died in December 1946, Antoinette and Charles legally assumed control of the business. This partnership continued until 1950, when Antoinette assumed sole ownership of the gallery.
In 1955 the galleries moved uptown to smaller quarters at 1055 Madison Avenue, and Antoinette Kraushaar gave up the greater part of her print business. She was inundated with requests from artists to be allowed a chance to show her their work, and the galleries' exhibition schedule was always full. Contemporary artists she now represented included Bernard Arnest, Peggy Bacon, Russell Cowles, Kenneth Evett, William Dean Fausett, William Kienbusch, Joe Lasker, and George Rickey, and she continued to exhibit artwork by Charles Demuth, William Glackens, George Luks, Maurice Prendergast, Boardman Robinson, and John Sloan.
By the late 1950s the artists of the generation that her father had promoted in the early part of the century had died, but Antoinette Kraushaar had the pleasure of seeing his faith in them come to fruition. In a letter to Ralph Wilson dated October 20, 1958, she stated with satisfaction, "The Boston Museum is taking (at long last) a deep interest in (Maurice) Prendergast, and they will probably do an important show within the next year." Her correspondence with William Glackens's son Ira in the 1960s reveals the extent to which Glackens's popularity had grown since his death in 1938, and the market for John Sloan's work had been increasing steadily since the late 1920s. In 1962 James Penney summed up Kraushaar Galleries' success in the foreword of a catalog for an exhibition of paintings and sculpture the galleries had organized with the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute at Hamilton College:
1854
Charles W. Kraushaar born
1871
John F. Kraushaar born
1885
Kraushaar Galleries established on Broadway near Thirty-first Street
1901
Galleries moved to 260 Fifth Avenue
1902
Antoinette Kraushaar born
1917
Charles W. Kraushaar died; John Kraushaar assumed control of the business, increasing inventory of modern American and European artists; first John Sloan exhibition
1919
Galleries moved to 680 Fifth Avenue
[1920]
Antoinette Kraushaar began assisting with the business
1924
Maurice Prendergast died
1936
Galleries moved to the Heckscher Building at 730 Fifth Avenue
1938
William J. Glackens died
1944
Galleries moved to the Rolls Royce Building at 32 East Fifty-seventh Street; American art now the main focus of the business
1946
John Kraushaar died; Antoinette and Charles Kraushaar assumed control of the business
1948
Charles Prendergast died
1950
Antoinette Kraushaar assumed sole ownership of Kraushaar Galleries
1951
John Sloan died
1955
Galleries moved to 1055 Madison Avenue
1959
Carole Pesner joined Kraushaar Galleries
1964
Galleries extended into adjacent building
1981
Galleries moved to 724 Fifth Avenue
1986
Katherine Kaplan joined Kraushaar Galleries
1988
Antoinette Kraushaar retired from day-to-day management of the business
1992
Antoinette Kraushaar died
Arrangement
Kraushaar Galleries generally filed all types of records together with correspondence in a combination of alphabetical and chronological files. Thus financial records, insurance records, receipts, photographs, and exhibition catalogs can be found interfiled with general correspondence in Series 1-3. A group of photographs of artwork maintained separately by Kraushaar Galleries constitutes Series 4. Series 6 was minimally processed separately from Series 1-5, and the arrangement reflects the original order of the addition for the most part.
Records in Series 1-3 were originally filed alphabetically by name of correspondent and then by month, by a span of several months, or by year. The alphabetical arrangement has been retained, but to facilitate access the collection was rearranged so that correspondence was collated by year. From 1901 to 1944 outgoing letters and incoming letters are filed separately; in 1945 some outgoing letters are filed separately, with the bulk of the material filed together as correspondence; from 1946 to 1968 incoming and outgoing letters are filed together as correspondence.
For Series 1-3 organizations or individuals represented by at least 15 letters are filed in separate file folders. All other correspondents are arranged in general files by letters of the alphabet, with selected correspondents and subjects noted in parentheses after the folder title.
Series 2 and several boxes in Series 3 contain a variety of notes and receipts received and created by Kraushaar Galleries that were originally unfoldered. The notes can be found in folders adjacent to the receipts and include handwritten notes of customer names and addresses, financial notes and calculations, catalogs of exhibitions, invitations and announcements to exhibitions frequently used as note paper, and other miscellany. Although most of the miscellaneous notes are undated, they are filed, with the receipts, at the end of the year to which they appear to relate. For the years 1929 and 1930 Kraushaar Galleries created separate alphabetical files for some of the billing statements received from other businesses. These have been filed adjacent to "Miscellaneous Notes" and "Receipts" in the appropriate years.
Kraushaar Galleries tended to file correspondence with businesses alphabetically according to the letter of the last name: for example, Wm. E. Goodridge & Son would be filed under G rather than W.
Series 1: Outgoing Letters, 1920-1945 (boxes 1-9; 9 linear ft.)
Series 2: Incoming Letters (boxes 10-26; 16.25 linear ft.)
Series 3: Correspondence, 1945-1968 (boxes 26-53; 27.75 linear ft.)
Series 4: Photographs, undated (box 54; 0.5 linear ft.)
Series 5: Artwork, [1926, 1938] (box 53; 2 items)
Series 6: Addition to the Kraushaar Galleries Records, 1877-2006 (boxes 55-99, BV100; 38.4 linear feet)
Scope and Content Note
The records of New York City Kraushaar Galleries measure 91.9 linear feet and date from 1877 to 2006. Three-fourths of the collection documents the gallery's handling of contemporary American paintings, drawings, and sculpture through correspondence with artists, private collectors, museums, galleries, and other art institutions, interspersed with scattered exhibition catalogs and other materials. Also included are John F. Kraushaar's estate records; artists' files; financial ledgers documenting sales and gallery transactions; consignment and loan records; photographs of artwork; sketchbooks and drawings by James Penney, Louis Bouché, and others; and two scrapbooks.
The collection reflects all activities conducted in the day-to-day administration of the business and relates to the acquisition, consignment, loan, sale, and exhibition of art by twentieth-century American artists and European artists of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The records document specific arrangements for loans and exhibitions, artist-dealer relations, relationships with public and private collectors, interaction with the art dealer community, and routine requests for information.
Much of the artist correspondence relates to practical arrangements for exhibitions of artwork, but in many cases also documents the development of individual artists and the effect of their relationship with the galleries on their ability to produce marketable work. Many of the artists represented in the collection also wrote lengthy letters, particularly to Antoinette Kraushaar, describing their attitudes to their work and providing insight into how that work was shaped by events in their personal lives.
The bulk of the correspondence with museums and institutions concerns practical arrangements for loans of artwork and provides detailed information about market prices and insurance values. It offers insight into the general climate of opinion toward particular artists and styles at any given time. Correspondence with other galleries and dealers also concerns loans and sales of artwork but, due to the typically cordial and cooperative nature of relations between the Kraushaars and their contemporaries, may also provide a more extensive and personal view of relationships and trends in the art dealer community. Similarly, while a portion of the correspondence with private collectors concerns routine requests for information and loans of art on approval, there is also substantive correspondence documenting the development of the artistic vision of collectors such as Preston Harrison, Elizabeth S. Navas, and Duncan Phillips.
From 1917 to the mid-1930s correspondence was handled mainly by John Kraushaar, and the bulk of that relating to European galleries and European art can be found during these years. Although there are only a handful of materials before 1926, records from the 1920s and 1930s document Kraushaar Galleries' growing commitment to American artists and the climate of the market for their work. The financial hardships of the Depression are vividly depicted in the numerous letters written during the 1930s seeking payment on accounts receivable and requesting extensions on accounts payable.
From the mid-1930s to 1968 correspondence was conducted primarily by Antoinette Kraushaar and, to some degree, by her assistants in later years. As the galleries' focus on American art increased, so did the volume of correspondence with artists, and the collection is particularly rich during the 1940s and early 1960s. In later years to 2006, most of the correspondence was conducted by Carol Pesner and gallery assistants.
The exhibition catalogs included in the collection do not represent a complete set. Those found are working copies used by the galleries in preparation for exhibitions and are often annotated with prices or insurance values. Additional exhibition catalogs can be found on the microfilm described in the Administrative Information section of this finding aid.
The majority of Kraushaar Galleries' insurance records can be found in files relating to the company Wm. E. Goodridge & Son, later known as Wm. E. Goodridge, Inc. Shipping and transportation records are generally filed under the names of the companies used for such transactions and can primarily be found under Davies, Turner & Co., Hudson Forwarding & Shipping Co., Railway Express Agency, Inc., and W. S. Budworth & Son, and to a lesser degree under American Railway Express Company, Arthur Lenars & Cie., C. B. Richard & Co., De La Rancheraye & Co., Hayes Storage, Packing & Removal Service, Inc., and Willis, Faber & Co. Ltd.
The 2008-2009 accretion includes additional correspondence similar in content and with correspondents as described above, as well as some artists' Christmas cards. However, the bulk of the additional correspondence dates from 1965-2006, with a handful of miscellaneous correspondence from 1877 to the mid-twentieth century. Also found are financial and business records including records from the closing of the John F. Kraushaar estate; over 40 ledgers providing nearly complete documentation of the gallery's sales and transactions from its establishment to 1946; incoming consignment records, including account statements and correspondence with artists, from the 1940s to 2006; and outgoing consignment and loan records from 1899-2006. The gallery's representation of its stable of artists is documented through artists' files containing printed materials, exhibition catalogs and announcements, price lists, and biographical information, as well as containers of photographs and negatives of artwork. Also found is a 1933 sketchbook by James Penney, drawings and sketchbooks by Louis Bouché, and two scrapbooks.
Provenance
53.5 linear feet of records were donated to the Archives of American Art by Kraushaar Galleries in three separate accessions in 1959, 1994, and 1996. Katherine Kaplan Degn of Kraushaar Galleries donated an additional 38.4 linear feet in 2008-2009, 7.8 linear feet in 2012, 0.2 linear feet in 2013 and 0.8 linear feet in 2017.
Separated Material
In addition to the records described in this finding aid, the following materials were lent to the Archives for filming in 1956 and are available on microfilm reels NKR1-NKR3 and for interlibrary loan: a book of clippings from 1907 to 1930, primarily of exhibition reviews; loose clippings and catalogs of exhibitions from 1930 to 1946; and a group of photographs and clippings relating to George Luks and other artists. These materials were returned to Kraushaar Galleries after microfilming.
Related Material
An untranscribed oral history interview with Antoinette Kraushaar was conducted for the Archives of American Art by Avis Berman in 1982, and is available on five audio cassettes at the Archives' Washington D.C. research facility.
Processing Information
The first three accessions were merged and processed by Stephanie L. Ashley in 2000, with funding provided by The Getty Grant Program. The 2008-2009 addition of 38.4 linear feet was minimally processed by Sarah Haug in 2011 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Institution Collections Care Fund. The arrangement of the 2008-2009 addition reflects the original order of the collection for the most part.

Additional Forms Available

Materials lent for microfilming in 1956 are available on microfilm reels NKR1-NKR3 at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center.

Restrictions on Use

Authorization to publish, quote or reproduce requires written permission from Katherine Kaplan Degn, Kraushaar Galleries, 74 East 79th St., Suite 9B, New York, N.Y. 10075

How to Cite This Collection

Kraushaar Galleries records, 1885-2006. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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