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Milch Gallery records, 1911-1995

Milch Gallery records, 1911-1995

Milch Gallery

Collection Information

Size: 42.2 linear feet

Summary: The records of Milch Gallery document the business transactions of the corporation and the professional and personal relationships of the Milch brothers with the artists they represented, as well as with the larger community of artists and art dealers between 1911 and 1980. Unfortunately, early correspondence is sparse. In a letter responding to a 1951 request for historical information, Milch replied: "Several years ago [1947] we had to give up our gallery at 108 West 57th Street, and move to smaller quarters here. Since we had no room for old records, we had to destroy most of them."

Biographical/Historical Note

Milch Gallery is an art gallery in New York, N.Y. Founded in 1912 by Edward Milch (1865-1954), who established a partnership with his brother Albert (1881-1951) in 1916, incorporating as E. & A. Milch but soon after becoming Milch Galleries. In the early years, a large part of the business consisted of framing, cleaning and restoration services, and the sale of prints; by the 1920s the focus had shifted to American paintings, although fine framing remained a side line. Name changed to Milch Gallery in 1967, and the business dissolved upon the death of Albert's son Harold C. Milch (1904-1981).

Provenance

Milch Gallery gave the Archives of American Art a small selection of correspondence, photographs, and printed matter, and loaned a few other items in 1966-1967; these records were microfilmed on reels D285, N730, and NM1-NM2. Records of the Milch Gallery were purchased from the estate of Harold C. Milch by Elliott Galleries of New York City, and subsequently acquired by Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, which donated them to the Archives in 1986. With the exception of the scrapbook about Thomas Moran (reel N730; present location of the original is unknown), prior loans and gifts from Milch Gallery were incorporated and refilmed with the 1986 gift. Additional material donated 1995 and 2014 by Hirschl & Adler Galleries, Inc.

A Finding Aid to the Milch Gallery Records, 1911-1995, in the Archives of American Art
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Finding aid prepared by Catherine Stover
Scope and Content Note
The records of Milch Gallery document the business transactions of the corporation and the professional and personal relationships of the Milch brothers with the artists they represented, as well as with the larger community of artists and art dealers between 1911 and 1995. Unfortunately, early correspondence is sparse. In a letter responding to a 1951 request for historical information, Milch replied: "Several years ago [1947] we had to give up our gallery at 108 West 57th Street, and move to smaller quarters here. Since we had no room for old records, we had to destroy most of them."
Alphabetical files are comprised mainly of incoming correspondence from 1911 to 1962. Correspondence concerns arrangements for exhibitions, sales and consignments, advice to collectors and executors of estates, and routine business matters. A number of the artists represented in these files were friends of the Milch brothers and some of their letters mention their personal lives as well as their formal business with the Gallery. Collectors who routinely dealt with Milch Galleries included John Gellatly, Mary Blair, Hersey Egginton, Carlton Palmer, and Edward Coykendell; a three volume manuscript catalogue of Coykendell's collection is included. Among the estates handled by Milch were Willard Metcalf, John Twachtman, Abbott H. Thayer, Maurice Fromkes, and Thomas Moran.
Also found are sales records and other financial records such as general ledgers, sales and purchase records, and tax information.
Printed matter consists of gallery exhibition catalogs, checklists, invitations, announcements, publications, and scrapbooks. Many catalogs and checklists are annotated with prices and other information. A complete run of Milch Galleries
Art Notes
, issued intermittently from 1918-1928/29 is preserved with the gallery records. as is a scrapbook relating to early exhibitions held at the Edward Milch Galleries and E. & A. Milch, Inc., and artists represented by them.
Photographs included with the records are less voluminous than might be expected, and pictures of works of art predominate. There are also a very small number of exterior and interior photographs of Milch Gallery, photographs of people including artists, Edward and Albert Milch, and photographs of groups such as Ten American Artists and the Associated Dealers in American Paintings.
The 1995 and 2014 additions measure 3 linear feet and date from 1922-1995. Milch Gallery activities are documented through correspondence; artists' files; financial, sales, and stock records; printed material; and photographs.
See Appendix for List of Milch Gallery Exhibitions and Checklists
Historical Note
Between 1911 and 1916, prior to the establishment of the Milch Galleries, Austrian immigrant Edward Milch (1865-1953) operated the Edward Milch Galleries at 939 Madison Avenue 1911, mainly handling prints and providing framing services.
Albert Milch (1881-1951) was employed by a gilder and later a picture framer before becoming the business partner of his older brother. In 1916 they incorporated as E. & A. Milch (with Edward as President and Albert as Secretary of the corporation) and opened the Milch Galleries at 108 West 57th Street, New York City. During their partnership, Edward served as President and Albert as Secretary of the corporation. According to Joseph Gotlieb, a long-time employee, during this period Montross Gallery became inclined toward modern French art and the American artists associated with them began searching for galleries more sympathetic to their interests. "As Albert Milch was a framemaker to several of them, and as he was opening a new gallery in 1916 to specialize in American Art, some artists decided to let the Milch Galleries, and others, handle their work. It turned out to be a good arrangement for both sides, and a successful one" (letter from Joseph S. Gotleib to Susan Hobbs [National Museum of American Art], December 30, 1977).
From the beginning, Milch Galleries dealt in American art almost exclusively, representing living artists, handling the estates of recently deceased artists; in addition they acquired nineteenth century works for resale and accepted pieces on commission. Although framing and restoration services continued to be offered to customers, this aspect of the business soon diminished in importance.
Harold C. Milch (1904-1981), Albert's son, was affiliated with the business, and upon his father's retirement was appointed partner; after Albert died in 1951, Harold was sole proprietor, serving as both President and Secretary.
Milch Galleries moved to smaller quarters at 55 East 57th Street in 1947, and ten years later to 21 East 67th Street. In 1967, the name was changed to Milch Gallery and the business relocated to 1014 Madison Avenue. The gallery dissolved upon the death of Harold Milch. A third brother, David C. Milch, was also an art dealer, but was not associated with Milch Gallery.
1911
Edward Milch Galleries opens at 939 Madison Ave.
1912
First exhibition at Edward Milch Galleries
1916
Incorporation of E. & A. Milch; Edward Milch, President, and Albert Milch, Secretary; change of name to Milch Galleries and relocation to 108 West 57th St.
1918
Milch Galleries
Art Notes
begins publication
1944
Edward Milch retires; Albert Milch President, and Harold C. Milch [son of Albert], Secretary
1947
Milch Galleries moves to 55 East 57th St.
1951
Death of Albert Milch (1881-1951); Harold C. Milch, President and Secretary
1953
Death of Edward Milch (1865-1953)
1957
Milch Galleries moves to 21 East 67th St.
1966
Archives of American Art begins acquiring records of the Milch Galleries (gifts and loans from Milch Galleries)
1967
Relocation to 1014 Madison Ave., and name change to Milch Gallery
1981
Death of Harold C. Milch (1904-1981)
1986
Archives of American Art receives the bulk of Milch Gallery records (gift of Salander-O'Reilly Galleries)
Arrangement
Records of the Milch Gallery are organized into seven series. With the exception of the alphabetical files, records are arranged by record type and then chronologically. Photographs are categorized by subject, with pictures of individuals arranged alphabetically by name, and works of art arranged alphabetically by artist.
Series 1: Alphabetical Files, 1911-1962
Series 2: Sales Records and Inventories, 1911-1969, undated
Series 3: Financial Records, 1914-1980, undated
Series 4: Printed Matter, 1996, 1910-1967, undated
Series 5: Photographs, 1903-circa 1944, undated
Series 6: Miscellaneous, 1916-1970, undated
Series 7: Addition to the Milch Gallery Records, 1922-1995 (Boxes 60-65, 3 linear feet)
Provenance
Milch Gallery gave the Archives of American Art a small selection of correspondence, photographs, and printed matter, and loaned a few other items in 1966-1967; these records were microfilmed on reels D285, N730, and NM1-NM2. Records of the Milch Gallery were purchased from the estate of Harold C. Milch by Elliott Galleries of New York City, and subsequently acquired by Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, which donated them to the Archives in 1986. With the exception of the scrapbook about Thomas Moran (reel N730; present location of the original is unknown), prior loans and gifts from Milch Gallery were incorporated and refilmed with the 1986 gift. Additional material donated 1995 and 2014 by Hirschl & Adler Galleries, Inc.
Processing Information
The collection was processed by Catherine Stover in 1991. The 1995 and 2014 additions were processed to a minimal level and updates were made to the finding aid by Hilary Price in 2015.

Additional Forms Available

The bulk of the collection is microfilmed on reels 4410-4465; earlier loans were filmed on reels D285, N730, and NM1-NM2; microfilm is available 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. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Milch Gallery records, 1911-1995. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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