Stephanie L. Ashley, Sarah Haug, and Christopher DeMairo
Scope and Contents
The records of New York City Kraushaar Galleries measure 106.3 linear feet and 0.181 GB 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 2008-2022 additions include 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 1965-1999, 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 and digital 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.
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 of Kraushaar Galleries donated an additional 38.4 linear feet in 2008-2009 and an additional 8.4 linear feet in 2012-2017 and 6.0 linear feet in 2022.
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.
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.
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Getty Foundation and the Smithsonian Institution Collections Care Fund.
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. Born-digital materials were processed by Kirsi Ritosalmi-Kisner in 2020 with funding provided by Smithsonian Collection Care and Preservation Fund. The 2012-2017 addition of 8.4 linear feet was minimally processed by Christopher DeMairo in 2022.