An interview of Wendell Zoehler conducted 1978 April 14 and 27, by Robert F. Brown, for the Archives of American Art.
Zoehler speaks of his long association with the Doll & Richards art gallery in Boston from 1929 to 1966.
Biographical / Historical:
Wendell Zoehler (1907-1989) was an art dealer in Boston, Massachusetts.
Originally recorded on 1 sound tape reel. Reformatted in 2010 as 2 digital wav files. Duration is 1 hr., 22 min.
These interviews are part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.
The records of the Doll & Richards gallery of Boston measure 87.5 linear feet and date from 1863 to 1978, with the bulk of the material dating from 1902-1960s. Extensive financial and sales records, inventory records, and correspondence and letter books provide a detailed account of the business operations and sales of the gallery. Also found are notes and research files on artists and paintings, business and legal records, exhibition catalogs, six exhibition scrapbooks, printed materials, and photographs. Significant correspondents include John Chetcuti, Robert Freiman, Lloyd Goodrich, Tod Lindenmuth, Macbeth Galleries, William Meyerowitz, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Stanley Woodward, and Andrew Wyeth, among many others.
Scope and Content Note:
The records of the Doll & Richards gallery of Boston measure 87.5 linear feet and date from 1863 to 1978, with the bulk of the material dating from 1902-1960s. Extensive financial and sales records, inventory records, and correspondence and letter books provide a detailed account of the business operations and sales of the gallery. Also found are notes and research files on artists and paintings, business and legal records, exhibition catalogs, six exhibition scrapbooks, printed materials, and photographs. The bulk of the collection dates from 1902 when the gallery was incorporated and new books were begun. According to gallery employee Wendell Zoehler, many records from the 19th century were discarded and periodically, especially when the gallery moved, other records were discarded.
Incoming and outgoing correspondence documents sales, consignments, appraisals, exhibitions, and inquiries by artists and others to Doll & Richards for over a century. Significant correspondents include artists John Chetcuti, Robert Freiman, Tod Lindenmuth, William Meyerowitz, Dwight Shepler, Elizabeth O'Neill Verner, Stanley Woodward, Andrew Wyeth, and others. Additional correspondents include Lloyd Goodrich from Whitney Museum of American Art, Azeez Khayat Gallery, Macbeth Galleries, Kleemann Galleries, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. There is one letter from George Inness (1866). Outgoing correspondence is limited to 46 volumes of letterpress copybooks dating from 1930-1967.
Notes and research files primarily consist of compiled information about artists in which Doll & Richards dealt. These include card files related to the provenance of paintings by Winslow Homer and William Stanley Haseltine, and a book about Winslow Homer with notations by Zoehler about the sale of paintings .
Administrative and business records of general daily operations include an address book, meeting minutes, miscellaneous lists and notes, and a large card file of contacts with clients, consignors, artists, and businesses. A detailed description of the gallery's operations by Zoehler is also found here. Legal records include contracts, agreements, certificates of stock, certificates of copyrights, and photocopies of founding documents.
Although there are limited records prior to 1902, the financial records provide comprehensive detail of the gallery's financial transactions from the turn of the century through the early 1970s. Volumes of financial ledgers provide details of artwork bought, sold, and consigned; order forms for sales, framing, restoration, and shipping; gallery expenditures and salaries; records of client purchases; and other affairs. Many of the financial records are indexed and cross-referenced, offering researchers complex but rich documentation. The financial records should be consulted with the numerous inventory records that provide detailed information about the stock of art work held at the gallery. Inventory records also include documentation about the frames held by the gallery from the mid-1880s-1950. The gallery used sometimes complex codes to index and cross reference sales and stock. When known, these codes have been outlined in the more detailed series desciptions below, or filed within the appropriate boxes.
The history of Doll & Richards' exhibitions from the 1880s-1968 are documented in six disassembled bound volumes that contained exhibition catalogs and announcements. There are also additional loose catalogs and announcements. Additional printed materials include newspaper clippings related to exhibitions and the gallery and seven scrapbooks related to Doll & Richards' exhibitions from 1909-1943.
The bulk of the black and white photographs in the collection are of works of art by artists that Doll & Richards exhibited. There are only a handful of photographs of other subject matter, but include images of the gallery spaces at 2 Park Street, 71 Newbury, and 138 Newberry; and of artists.
The collection is arranged as nine series:
Series 1: Correspondence, 1863-1972, bulk 1930s-1972 (Boxes 1-14; 14 linear feet)
Series 2: Notes and Research Files, 1880s-1978, bulk 1930s-1960s (Boxes 15-16, 78; 1.2 linear feet)
Series 3: Business Records, circa 1866-1978, bulk 1910s-1960s (Boxes 16-18; 1.9 linear feet)
Series 4: Legal Records, 1863-1906, 1941-1962 (Boxes 18, 78; 0.3 linear feet)
Series 5: Financial Records, 1871-1973, bulk 1902-1969 (Boxes 18-69, 79, BV81-112; 55 linear feet)
Series 6: Inventory Records, 1881-1969, bulk 1900s-1940s (Boxes 69-70, BV113-128; 2.3 linear feet)
Series 7: Printed Materials, circa 1880s-1968, bulk 1890s-1960s (Boxes 70-75; 4.9 linear feet)
Series 8: Photographs, circa 1880s-1960s (Boxes 75-78; 2 linear feet)
Series 9: Scrapbooks, 1908-1968, bulk 1908-1943 (Boxes 77, 80; 1.1 linear feet)
The records have been arranged according to the original order maintained by the gallery. Bound volumes containing exhibition catalogs glued to the internal spines have been disbound for preservation and proper housing.
The Doll & Richards gallery originated in Boston in 1866 as an art gallery and framing shop owned by Charles E. Hendrickson, E. Adam Doll, and Joseph Dudley Richards. The gallery was a well-known Boston establishment for over 100 years that represented William Stanley Haseltine, Winslow Homer, William Morris Hunt, and Andrew Wyeth, among many other notable American painters, sculptors, and printmakers.
In 1870 Hendrickson retired and the gallery became Doll & Richards. After the untimely death of Doll in 1880, Richards purchased Doll's interest in the firm, retaining the gallery's well-known name. Under Richards' direction, the gallery prospered. Richards promoted the works of painter Winslow Homer, developing a market for his watercolors in Boston. He incorporated the gallery in 1902 and served as the treasurer and financier until his death in 1922 at 80 years old. The gallery then reorganized; Arthur McKean, who joined in 1911, became manager, and J.L. (Joe) Richards became treasurer. Fergus Turner, who joined the firm as a salesman in 1885 and became president in 1902, retained his role as president until 1938.
Over the century the gallery showcased contempory American artists, including William Morris Hunt, Dodge McKnight, William Stanley Haseltine, Laura Coombs Hills, Eliot O'Hara, Joseph Lindon Smith, Stanley Woodward, and Andrew Wyeth. The gallery also consigned paintings, prints, and objects from other major art galleries including Azeez Khayat Gallery, Kennedy Galleries, M. Knoedler and Co., Macbeth Gallery, Victor D. Spark, and Victor Waddington Galleries (Dublin, Ireland). According to long-time employee Wendell Zoehler (employed from 1929-1966), Doll & Richards' primary clientele came from the Social Register. In the summer months when wealthy Bostonians typically vacationed outside of the city, Doll & Richards remained open for tourists, many of whom became regular seasonal customers of the gallery.
The gallery experienced financial difficulties in the 1930s, leading to bankruptcy. Doll & Richards was purchased by McKean and incorporated in Maine in 1941. McKean sold Doll & Richards in 1962 to Maurice Goldberg; at this time none of the remaining family or staff were connected with the gallery. In 1973, the gallery was sold to Jeanne and Paul Sylva and closed.
Although the gallery always remained in the vicinity of Boston Common, it relocated numerous times over the years. In 1871 the gallery moved from 28 Summer Street to 145 Tremont Street. In 1878, the gallery remodeled and occupied the entire two-story building at 2 Park Street, renting out the second floor, known as the Hawthorne Room, for lectures. After thirty years on Park Street, Doll & Richards relocated to Newbury Street in 1908, beginning a succession of moves down Newbury Street approximately every twenty years, finally to 172 Newbury Street in 1962.
Among the other resources relating to the Doll & Richards gallery in the Archives of American Art is an oral history interview with Wendell Zoehler conducted by Robert Brown on April 14 and April 27, 1978.
A daguerroteype of Gaetano Cardinal Bedini received with the records was transferred to the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery on May 24, 2004.
The Doll & Richards records were donated to the Archives of American Art in numerous accessions between 1973 and 1979 by Jeanne and Paul Sylva, who purchased the gallery in 1973, and by former employee Wendell Zoehler.
Use of original papers requires an appointment.