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Art/ Libraries and Research Centers/ Thomas J. Watson Library Digital Collections/ Manuscript Collections/ F. Kleinberger Galleries Inc. Records

F. Kleinberger Galleries Inc. Records

Letterhead on cream-colored paper that reads: The F. Kleinberger Galleries, Ancient Paintings, 709 Fifth Avenue

F. Kleinberger Galleries Inc. was an art dealer established in 1848. The early history of the firm is not well documented, but it was perhaps founded in Budapest by David Kleinberger Dombai, who was succeeded by Francois Franz Kleinberger. During the 20th century, Kleinberger's business focused on sales of old master European art to clients in Europe, the United States and South America. In 1910 Kleinberger opened a New York branch, where Emil M. Sperling and his son Harry G. Sperling played leading roles. Harry G. Sperling eventually became President and owner.

Among Kleinberger's major clients were Jules S. Bache, Walter C. Baker, August Cornelius de Ridder, John G. Johnson, Philip Lehman, Robert Lehman, J. P. Morgan, George D. Pratt, and Mortimer Schiff. During the 1910s and 1920s Kleinberger sales to department store magnate and art collector Benjamin Altman and his business successor Michael Friedsam were especially lucrative. Numerous masterpieces purchased by Altman and Friedsam from Kleinberger were later bequeathed to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The firm sold frequently to US institutions, including the Met, Baltimore Museum of Art, J. B. Speed Art Museum, Cleveland Museum of Art, St. Louis Art Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, and Detroit Institute of Arts. International museum clients included the Louvre and Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest.

F. Kleinberger Galleries closed soon after the death of Harry G. Sperling in 1971. Sperling bequeathed to The Metropolitan Museum of Art many artworks, an endowment to support purchases of European drawings and prints, and a trove of stock cards representing more than 6000 thousand artworks bought and sold by F. Kleinberger Galleries from the 1890s to the 1970s. All of these cards have been digitized and can be searched via the Thomas J. Watson Digital Collections portal in numerous ways.

Primary access points include the name of artist or creator of the work, its title, the Kleinberger Galleries inventory number, the name of the seller of the object to Kleinberger, the name of the buyer from Kleinberger, and the date of these transactions. You may search on any of these fields from the collection's advanced search screen here, using the drop-down menu under from the "Enter Search Term" box. Please note that when you arrive on this page you must uncheck "Select All Collections," click the "Show All" button, then check "Kleinberger Galleries Records" to limit your search to this material.

When searching, be aware that transcription of the hand-written text on the stock cards often replicates the exact spelling, punctuation, abbreviations, and other idiosyncrasies and inconsistencies introduced by the Kleinberger staff who created the documents. When searching for a buyer or seller name you may wish to enter possible variant spellings of names (Bohler and Boehler, for example), as well as acronyms and abbreviations. In addition, searching across the entire collection using the "All Fields" option may turn up appearances of names or terms outside of specific data fields. Museum Archives staff are happy to provide guidance on search strategies, and welcome inquiries and comments about this database via

A related collection of business correspondence of F. Kleinberger Galleries Inc. is held by the Getty Research Institute, and is available online. 19th century records of the business were likely lost or destroyed during World War II.

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Funding for the digitization of these records was provided by The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.