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Schaeffer Galleries records, circa 1921-1982

Schaeffer Galleries records, circa 1921-1982

Schaeffer Galleries (New York, N.Y.)

Collection Information

Size: 1.6 linear feet

Summary: The Schaeffer Galleries records measure 1.6 linear feet and date from circa 1921 to 1982, with the bulk of the material dating from 1935-1950, when the gallery was most active. Owned by Hanns S. and Kate Schaeffer, the gallery first operated in Berlin from 1925 to 1939 and later in New York City from 1936 to circa 2000.

Correspondence, subject and exhibition files, purchase records, printed materials, and photographs document the gallery's operations. Primary correspondents include art collector Arthur C. Tate and the gallery's Pacific Coast director LeRoy Backus.

Correspondence is with art collector Arthur C. Tate from 1933-1963 and Schaeffer Galleries' Pacific Coast director LeRoy Backus from 1938-1948. Scattered Artist/Research files contain primarily printed materials on Pablo Picasso, Ogden Pleissner, and Hubert Robert. There is also a list of art from various countries.

Exhibition files document Schaeffer Galleries' exhibitions of European Art, particularly Flemish and Dutch Old Masters. There are also one person exhibition files and a file concerning works of arts loaned for an exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Art in 1938. The height of Schaeffer Galleries' activities from the late 1930s to the early 1950s, when the gallery held the most shows, are documented in the LeRoy Backus correspondence and exhibition series.

The gallery worked with art collector Arthur C. Tate and the financial records documenting these transactions are the only sales records in the collection. The series contains receipts and invoices for sales of decorative and other arts to Arthur C. Tate, including sales arranged by Schaeffer Galleries with other dealers.

Printed Materials include a scrapbook of clippings, a guest book, exhibition catalogues and announcements, and bulletins.

Photographs depict paintings, mostly portraits and landscapes by 16th through 18th century Dutch and Flemish Masters, plus one photograph of the painter Ann Phillips.

Biographical/Historical Note

The Schaeffer Galleries (founded 1925; closed 2000) were art galleries in both New York, N.Y. and Berlin, Germany. Owned by Hanns S. and Kate Schaeffer, the Galleries specialized in Old Masters paintings and drawings, originally concentrating on Flemish and Dutch masters. Operated in Berlin, 1925-1939, and New York from 1936 to 2000.


Kate Schaeffer donated the Schaeffer Galleries records to the Archives of American Art in 1982.

Related Materials

The Getty Research Library holds 100 linear feet of the historical records of Schaeffer Galleries dating from 1925-1985.


Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.

A Finding Aid to the Schaeffer Galleries records, circa 1921-1982, bulk 1935-1950, in the Archives of American Art
Biographical/Historical note
Owned by Hanns S. and Kate Schaeffer, Schaeffer Galleries specialized in Old Masters paintings and drawings, originally focusing on works by Flemish and Dutch masters. The gallery operated in Berlin, Germany from 1925 to 1939 and in New York City from 1936 to circa 2000.
Hanns Schaeffer opened an art gallery in Berlin in 1921. He then established branches in London and San Francisco, all named Schaeffer Galleries. The Schaeffers closed all three branches in 1939 following the opening of their New York City gallery space in 1936. The New York gallery was first located at 61 East 57th Street in Manhattan, but changed locations a few times. As of 2000, Schaeffer Galleries had stayed at its location at 983 Park Avenue for over fifty years. Schaeffer Galleries was most active from the late 1930s until the early 1950s. During this period, the gallery held numerous exhibitions and built its reputation by selling paintings and drawings by Old Masters, primarily Flemish and Dutch, to private collectors and museums.
The Schaeffers also donated works of art to museums throughout their lives. They were knowledgable art dealers who advised museum directors and curators on selecting art work for their collections. For example, The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Leonardo da Vinci's ''Bear Walking'' and a Jean-Antoine Watteau were both acquired through the Schaeffer galleries. Other paintings and drawings that the Schaeffers sold through their gallery include Botticelli's ''Madonna and Child with Singing Angels'' at the Staatliche Museen in Berlin, Correggio's ''Salvator Mundi'' in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, Rubens's ''Cleopatra'' at the Detroit Institute of Arts, and many paintings by Dutch artists such as Frans Hals and Rembrandt.
The couple ran the gallery together for three decades until Hanns Schaeffer died in 1967. Kate Schaeffer then became the owner and president of Schaeffer Galleries and continued managing the business for almost 20 years with more emphasis on drawings. Kate Schaeffer died at the age of 102 on December 20, 2000 at her home in Manhattan. Schaeffer Galleries closed circa 2000, shortly thereafter.
James J. Rorimer, the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1955 to 1967, observed, "The Schaeffers are among the most serious, knowledgeable, and helpful art dealers who are enabling American museums to grow for the benefit of our public. They are friends who share unstintingly in helping curators, directors and trustees to choose with care the works of art which redound to the credit of their museums."
Arrangement note
This collection is arranged as 6 series.
Series 1: Correspondence, 1933-1963 (0.4 linear feet; Box 1)
Series 2: Subject Files, circa 1935-circa 1980 (4 folders; Box 1, 3)
Series 3: Exhibition Files, 1935-1953 (0.5 linear feet; Box 1, 3, OV 4)
Series 4: Arthur C. Tate Purchase Records, 1932-1963 (4 folders; Box 1)
Series 5: Printed Material, 1938-1957 (0.5 linear feet; Box 2-3)
Series 6: Photographs, 1921-1982 (3 folders; Box 2-3)
Kate Schaeffer donated the Schaeffer Galleries records to the Archives of American Art in 1982.
Processing Information note
This collection was fully processed by Rihoko Ueno in February 2012 with funding provided by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment.

How to Cite This Collection

Schaeffer Galleries records, circa 1921-1982. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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