Jacques Seligmann & Co. records, 1904-1978, bulk 1913-1974
Jacques Seligmann & Co.
Waegen, Rolf Hans
de Hauke, César
Parker, Theresa D.
Mackay, Clarence Hungerford
Liechtenstein, House of
Schiff, Mortimer L.
La Fresnaye, Roger de
MM. Jacques Seligmann & fils
Eugene Glaenzer & Co
Germain Seligmann & Co
De Hauke & Co., Inc
Place of publication, production, or execution:
203.1 linear feet
Following is an outline of the arrangement of the collection by series and corresponding box numbers and extent. More detailed information for each series and subseries, along with a box and folder inventory, is found in the Series Descriptions/Container Listings, which can be found by following the series links below. Series 1: Correspondence, 1913-1978 (1-174, 80 linear feet); Series 2: Collectors Files, 1875, 1892-1977, undated (Boxes 175-252, 35 linear feet); Series 3: Auction Files, 1948-1975, undated (Boxes 253-259, 2.75 linear feet); Series 4: Exhibition Files, 1925-1977, undated (Boxes 260-272, 5.5 linear feet); Series 5: Reference Files, 1877-1977, undated (Boxes 273-278, 2.25 linear feet); Series 6: Inventory and Stock Files, 1923-1971, undated (Boxes 279-289, 4.5 linear feet); Series 7: Financial Files and Shipping Records, 1910-1977 (Boxes 290-357, 30.5 linear feet); Series 8: Contemporary American Department, 1932-1978 (Boxes 358-381, 10 linear feet); Series 9: De Hauke & Co., Inc., Records, 1925-1949, undated (Boxes 382-416; 16 linear feet); Series 10: Modern Paintings, Inc., Records, 1927-1950 (Boxes 417-420, 1.25 linear feet); Series 11: Gersel Corp. Records, 1946-1969 (Box 421, 0.25 linear feet); Series 12: Germain Seligman's Personal Papers, 1882, circa 1905-1984, undated (Boxes 422-459, OV 460, 17.1 linear feet)
Access Note / Rights:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
The Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., records measure approximately 203.1 linear feet and date from between 1904 and 1978, with bulk dates of 1913-1974. The records include extensive correspondence files, reference material on American and European collectors and their collections, inventory and stock records, financial records, exhibition files, auction files, and the records of subsidiary companies, including de Hauke & Co., Inc., and Modern Paintings, Inc.
Historians and researchers will find the collection an invaluable resource in tracing the provenance of particular works of art. Although in the early 1940s many records in the Paris office were destroyed by Seligmann staff to keep them from falling into the hands of the occupying German military forces, many records survive, as much of the firm's business had previously come to center in the New York office. In all, the remaining records provide a comprehensive view of the activities and transactions of collectors and art dealers in the years leading up to and following World War II.
Correspondence (Series 1) is the largest series of the collection (80 linear feet) and is comprised of extensive correspondence files, primarily between Germain Seligman and his New York office staff with domestic and foreign private clients, collectors, dealers, individuals representing public museums and collections, and international scholars. The New York Office Correspondence (Series 1.1) concerns a wide variety of topics, including routine business matters, but focuses primarily on potential and realized sales and purchases and provenance documentation. Also found is detailed information on financial transactions, commissions, stock inventory, and the travel of Germain Seligman and other staff. Paris Office Correspondence (Series 1.2) is separated into a small subseries and contains correspondence written primarily by Jacques Seligmann from Paris. The subseries General Correspondence (Series 1.3) is the largest subsection of the Correspondence series and contains letters written to and received from clients and other business associates concerning business transactions and inquiries. The subseries Museum Correspondence (Series 1.4) contains letters between the firm and art institutions and museums. The subseries >Germain Seligman's Correspondence (Series 1.5), also arranged in this series, contains not only personal letters but a wealth of information concerning the affairs of the firm. Much personal correspondence was marked "private."
Also of note in the Correspondence series are the Legal Correspondence Files (Series 1.6) and the Inter-Office Correspondence (Series 1.9) and Inter-Office Memoranda (Series 1.13). The Legal Correspondence Files subseries houses correspondence with both U.S. and Paris attorneys and concerns legal affairs and specific lawsuits. Of particular interest are Germain Seligman's attempts to recover Seligmann family and Paris gallery artwork and other assets stolen or confiscated by the Germans in World War II. This small subseries also contains limited information on the stock and inventory holdings of several of the firm's and Germain Seligman's subsidiary corporations, family legal affairs and lawsuits, and other related legal matters. The subseries Inter-Office Correspondence and Inter-Office Memoranda (called fiches by Seligmann staff) include memos between Germain Seligman and his staff about clients, collectors, sales, acquisitions, and other matters. These offer interesting commentary clearly intended to be read by staff only.
Also prominent is Collectors Files (Series 2), which contains numerous reference files documenting the collections of existing and potential clients with whom Seligmann & Co. maintained contacts. The files are arranged by either individual name or institution and reflect the wide scope of collector references maintained by the firm throughout its operating years. The files contain a variety of reference materials, such as photographs, provenance notes, and sales, purchase, and inventory information in cases where the collector purchased from the firm or the firm purchased from the collector. Researchers will find that many of the private and public names that appear in General Correspondence (Series 1.3) appear in the Collectors Files as well. Also found in this series are specific files relating to the Duc d'Arenberg Collection, the Clarence H. Mackay Collection, the Mortimer L. Schiff Collection, and the Prince of Liechtenstein Collection. The firm either handled substantial estate sales for these collections or purchased and sold important pieces from these collections.
Auction Files (Series 3) and Exhibition files (Series 4) trace the sales and exhibition activities undertaken by Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc. In the Auction files, researchers will find documentation of auctions of individual works of art owned by the firm and handled by Christie's, Parke-Bernet, and other auction houses. Of particular interest is the 1948-1949 Parke-Bernet auction of the C. S. Wadsworth Trust, a "dummy" trust set up by the firm to dispose of a portion of its unsold inventory. The Exhibition Files house a variety of documentation, such as catalogs and correspondence, concerning the firm's active exhibition history. Many of the exhibitions featured works of art recently acquired by the firm, such as the 1937 exhibition, Twenty Years in the Evolution of Picasso, which included a number of Picassos the firm acquired from Madame Jacques Doucet that year.
Reference Files (Series 5) includes a card catalog to books and catalogs in the library maintained by Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., and a photograph reference index of works of art. Inventory and Stock Files (Series 6) tracks the firm's inventory through a series of stock books and supporting documentation that include sales and provenance information.
Financial Files and Shipping Records (Series 7) consists primarily of records of the New York office, but some Paris office documents can be found scattered throughout. Found in this series is a wide variety of financial records including purchase receipt files, credit notes, invoices, consignment invoices and books, invoices, consular invoices, sales and purchase account books, ledgers, and tax records. The records appear to be quite complete and date from 1910 to 1977. Of particular interest are the purchase receipts and credit notes and memoranda that contain detailed documentation on acquisitions and sales. The consignment invoices provide information about works of art sold on behalf of other galleries and dealers, as well as which galleries and dealers were handling works of art for Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc. Although quite large and complex, the financial records offer a comprehensive overview of the firm's business and financial transactions.
The records of subsidiary companies that were part of Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., such as Contemporary American Department, de Hauke & Co., Inc., Modern Paintings, Inc., and Gersel Corp. are arranged in their own series. In 1935, the firm established the Contemporary American Department to represent young American artists. Under the direction of Theresa D. Parker, a longtime gallery employee, the department initiated an exhibition and loan program. Contemporary American Department (Series 8) includes mostly correspondence files and exhibition files.
The largest subsidiary company to operate under Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., was de Hauke & Co., Inc. De Hauke & Co., Inc., Records (Series 9) dates from 1925 through 1949 and contains domestic and foreign correspondence with clients, collectors, and dealers; inter-office correspondence and memoranda with Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc.; administrative and legal files; and financial records. Modern Paintings, Inc., records (Series 10) contains the legal and financial files of this subsidiary company, which was establis
Jacques Seligmann & Co. records, 1904-1978, bulk 1913-1974. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Series 1 and Series 2 of the collection were digitized in 2010 and are available via the Archives of American Art's website.
Processing of the collection was funded by the Getty Grant Program; digitization of portions of the collection was funded by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.
Jacques Seligmann & Co. were international art galleries in New York City and Paris, France. Founded in 1880 in Paris, France and closed in 1978. The company's clients included most of the major American and European art collectors of the era, and the art that passed through its galleries often ended up in the collection of prominent American and European museums. Established as Jacques Seligmann & Cie in 1880 on the Rue des Mathurins, Paris. As American clients increased, the firm opened a New York office in 1904. In 1920, Seligmann's son Germain Seligman (who dropped the last 'n' from his name), a writer and scholar, became a partner and appointed president of the New York office. Jacques Seligmann died in 1923, and in 1924, Germain became president of both the New York and Paris offices. In 1937, the company headquarters moved from Paris to New York. The firm was active in antiquities, decorative arts, Renaissance art, and was among the first to foster contemporary European art, primarily through its subsidiary firm De Hauke & Co. (later Modern Paintings, Inc.), managed by César Mange de Hauke. In 1935, its Contemporary American Department was established, headed by longtime gallery employee Theresa D. Parker. During the years following WWII, the firm was involved in the recovery of looted artwork and property, and the sale of several significant collections. The firm ceased operations upon the death of Germain Seligman in 1978.
Donated 1978-1979 by Mrs. Germain Seligman, daughter-in-law of Jacques Seligmann. Additional material was acquired in 1994 through the Estate of Mrs. Seligman. The Paris archives of Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., were destroyed by the Seligmann staff in 1940 to prevent them from falling into the hands of the Nazis.
This site provides access to the records of Jacques Seligmann & Co. in the Archives of American Art, which were were digitized in 2010. The bulk of the collection has been scanned, and totals 330,752 images.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001