New Collection: The Brummer Gallery Records

Among the holdings of The Cloisters Archives are records of the Brummer Gallery of New York. It was founded by Joseph Brummer (1883-1947) in 1914 following the earlier establishment of a Paris gallery with his brother Ernest (1891-1964).

Joseph Brummer, 1925

Joseph Brummer, 1925

Until 1940, Ernest continued to run the Paris office and regularly export objects for sale in the New York branch. With the German invasion of Paris, he joined Joseph in New York where they ran the gallery together until Joseph’s death shortly after the war.

Ernest Brummer, (undated)

Ernest Brummer, (undated)

During the forty years that their Paris and New York galleries were operating, the Brummers were important sources of art objects for numerous museums and private collections throughout the U.S. and Europe. They dealt broadly in everything from classical antiquity to Modern Art, with significant focus on works of the Middle Ages, Pre-Columbian America, and Renaissance and Baroque decorative arts.

The digitized material from the collection primarily contains information on objects which were acquired through the New York and Paris galleries and sold in New York.  This includes more than 13,000 object cards—ordered by accession number—for each item purchased, including over 6,000 pieces exported from the Paris office.

N4002: Mexican mask in very hard gray-green stone. Open-baby mouth type. Has 8 holes. Aztec.

N4002: Mexican mask in very hard gray-green stone.

These 4×6” cards feature thumbnail photographs, names of sellers and buyers, purchase and sale prices, and, occasionally, condition information.

Accompanying the cards are four large binders with pages arranged by art era or medium, holding duplicates of the small object photos with accession numbers written below. These albums allow a researcher unequipped with the distinctive Brummer stock number to locate an item by its physical features. As well, the collection includes nearly 3500 address cards for clients, contemporary artists, staff, and service providers, which periodically note the purchase of or inquiries on specific objects.

Additional Brummer material is available for onsite consultation at The Cloisters Archives; please see the Finding Aid for the complete holdings.

Funding for the digitization of the Brummer collection was generously provided by The Kress Foundation.