Art, Behind the Scenes, Getty Research Institute

Treasures from the Vault: The Carlhian Records

The Getty Research Institute is pleased to announce that the Carlhian records are now available for research. This archive enhances the Research Institute’s holdings in the history of decorative arts.

Maison Carlhian, Paris, warehouse with stock of plaster casts and boiserie, 1919

Maison Carlhian, Paris, workshop, 1919. Carlhian records. The Getty Research Institute, 930092

Based in Paris, the Carlhian firm acquired and produced furniture, boiseries or paneling, and wallpaper sets and sold them to clients in Europe, the United States, and Latin America. The Research Institute’s archive represents over a century of the operations of the firm, from its establishment in 1867 up until 1975, when it ceased its activities. It includes stock books, financial papers, correspondence, photographs, fabric samples, and furniture designs that record the firm’s operations in Paris, and its branches in Buenos Aires, Cannes, London, and New York.

Page 33 of Livre de stock moderne 3, 1914-1926 / Maison Carlhian

Page 33 (detail) of Livre de stock moderne 3, 1914-1926. Carlhian records. The Getty Research Institute, 930092

The firm specialized in interiors in the style of the French 18th century. In New York, it initially worked closely with Duveen Brothers—and often for the same clients, such as the Wideners.

Fabric sample for Eleanor Elkins Widener Rice’s drawing room / Maison Carlhian

Fabric sample for Eleanor Elkins Widener Rice’s drawing room. Carlhian records. The Getty Research Institute, 930092

The archive documents collectors and art markets in the cities in which Carlhian was established. The firm’s stock books trace the history of boiseries and furniture acquired by American museums such as the Philadelphia Museum and the Getty Museum.

Comprised of 837 boxes, 86 rolls, and 627 flat file folders, this quarter-mile long archive is one of the largest archives at the Research Institute. Our Department of Conservation and Preservation, which specializes in works on paper, architectural models, and other media represented in Special Collections, has rehoused the archive with painstaking care.

This has required removing mold imported from humid Parisian cellars, providing custom-made boxes for odd-sized stock books and custom-sized mylar sleeving for its 15,000 photographs, and finally protecting a remarkable collection of fabric samples for future generations.

Members of the Getty Research Institute's Department of Conservation and Preservation work to rehouse fabric samples in the Carlhian records, 2011

Members of the Getty Research Institute's Department of Conservation and Preservation work to rehouse fabric samples in the Carlhian records, 2011

New housing for fabric samples in the Carlhian records, the Getty Research Institute, 2011

Housing for fabric samples in the Carlhian records, The Getty Research Institute

“Treasures from the Vault” is an occasional series spotlighting the varied and unique holdings of the Research Library at the Getty Research Institute.

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      That heavy Saturn laughed and leaped with him,
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