About: David Brafman and Lisa Cambier

David Brafman I've been the rare books curator at the Getty Research Institute since 2002. Before decamping from N.Y. to L.A., I was an adjunct professor in the NYU Classics Department and resident-expert at H.P. Kraus, Rare Books and Manuscripts, one of the world's leading dealers in rare books and manuscripts from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment. I came to that circuitous career path by getting a Ph.D. in classics and Arabic from Duke University (and the irresistible urge to head straight back to N.Y. the second I finished my doctorate). Besides being the rare books curator at the GRI, I'm also the curator in charge of filling the Plaza Display Case, which doesn't mean that I always curate the display myself. In fact, we welcome ideas, suggestions, and proposals for displays that highlight objects from the GRI special collections. I did happen to co-curate the current rotation on display in collaboration with my colleague in Collection Development, Lisa Cambier. Lisa Cambier I'm a staff assistant in Collection Development at the Getty Research Institute, meaning I get to work closely with the curators (including rare books curator David Brafman) on a multitude of projects, from filing reports to examining rare 16th-century books and manuscripts. I graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a bachelor’s degree in art history and earned my M.A. in Art Business from Sotheby’s Institute of Art in New York. In the course of conducting research for my M.A. thesis, I learned about the relevant work being done here at the GRI, which sparked my desire to return to sunny California.

Posts by David Brafman and

Posted in Art, Exhibitions and Installations, Getty Research Institute

Treasures from the Vault: Needlework Pattern Books

Pattern books from the GRI's collection in a display case, summer 2012

Copies of pattern, model, and sample books for needlework are among the rarest of early modern printed books to survive intact. The reason is simple: virtually all such books were considered “working copies,” and leaves were torn out to be… More»

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      #ProvenancePeek: July 31

      Every art object has a story—not only of how it was made, but of how it changed hands over time until it found its current home. That story is provenance.

      This small panel by Dutch master Gerrit Dou (photographed only in black and white) is now in the collection of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. It was sold to American collector Robert Sterling Clark, an heir to the Singer sewing machine fortune, in the summer of 1922.

      How do we know this? Archival sleuthing! A peek into the handwritten stock books of M. Knoedler & Co. (book 7, page 10, row 40, to be exact) records the Dou in “July 1922” (right page, margin). Turning to the sales books, which lists dates and prices, we again find the painting under the heading “New York July 1922,” with its inventory number 14892. A tiny “31” in superscript above Clark’s name indicates the date the sale was recorded.

      M. Knoedler was one of the most influential dealers in the history of art, selling European paintings to collectors whose collections formed the genesis of great U.S. museums. The Knoedler stock books have recently been digitized and transformed into a searchable database, which anyone can query for free.

      Girl at a Window, 1623–75, Gerrit Dou. Oil on panel, 10 9/16 x 7 ½ in. Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts


      #ProvenancePeek is a monthly series by research assistant Kelly Davis peeking into #onthisday provenance finds from the M. Knoedler & Co. archives at the Getty Research Institute.

      07/31/15

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