Index of Historic Collectors and Dealers of Cubism
Marie Harriman Gallery
New York, 1930–1945
Located on Manhattan’s East 57th Street, the Marie Harriman Gallery specialized in the sale of works by French Impressionist artists as well as international modern art. Marie Harriman, director of the self-named gallery from its founding in 1930 to its closing in 1942, had close ties with the French dealer Paul Guillaume, who was her main supplier of works by European modernists. During the twelve years in which it operated, the Gallery maintained an active schedule of exhibitions that included several shows on Cubism, such as Exhibition: Braque, Gris, La Fresnaye, Leger, Lipschitz, Marcoussis, Picasso in 1935, as well as solo shows for such artists as Picasso (1931 and 1939), Juan Gris (1932), and Fernand Léger (1941).

Marie and her husband W. Averell Harriman were prominent members of New York society. Mr. Harriman was heir to a large railroad company and the owner of a successful Wall Street financial services firm. He also had a career in politics and diplomacy, and served as governor of New York from 1955 to 1958. Marie was the daughter of a prosperous New York lawyer and independently wealthy. She was first married to Cornelius (Sonny) Vanderbilt Whitney, the son of sculptor Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, also the founder of the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 1930 the Harrimans married and began collecting art; that same year Marie opened her gallery. The Harriman collection focused on European modernism and included such highlights as Cézanne’s Still Life with Milk Jug and Fruit (1900), Georges Seurat’s Seascape at Port-en-Bessin, Normandy (1888), Degas’s Little Dancer Aged Fourteen (1878–81), André Derrain’s Still Life (1913), Paul Gauguin’s Parau na te Varua ino (Words of the Devil) (1892), Picasso’s Lady with a Fan (1905), all in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., and Woman Plaiting Her Hair (1906; Museum of Modern Art, New York).

In 1942 Marie closed her gallery in order to devote herself to the war effort. Although the closure was meant to be temporary, for reasons that remain unclear, she did not re-open the gallery after the war. During its brief run, the Marie Harriman Gallery became an important venue for French modernism entering the American market. Among the many works sold through the gallery were Gris’s Checkerboard and Playing Cards (1915; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection) and Braque’s Guitar and Still Life on a Mantelpiece (1921; The Metropolitan Museum of Art).

After Marie’s death in 1972, Averell donated a selection of their collection in her memory to the National Gallery of Art, where it is still housed today.

Contributed by Maria Castro, July 2017
For more information, see:
Yeide, Nancy H. “The Marie Harriman Gallery (1930–1942).” Archives of American Art Journal 39, no. 1/2 (1999): 3–11.

A collection of exhibition catalogues and announcements (1932–42 are held in the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Artwork from the Leonard A. Lauder Collection Formerly Owned By Collector/Dealer:
Checkerboard and Playing Cards
Checkerboard and Playing Cards Juan Gris
Paris, 1915