Paul Rosenberg

Above: Paul Rosenberg in his offices at 21, rue de la Boétie, Paris, circa 1920.

In 2007 The Museum of Modern Art Archives accepted the generous bequest of the papers of Paul Rosenberg. Rosenberg (1881–1959), a French art dealer and collector with galleries first in Paris and then in New York, is best known for his role in promoting early modern painters in France and facilitating the migration of French pictures to the United States during the first half of the last century. As such, he actively upheld the traditions of connoisseurship and innovation on which the Museum was founded, and he had dealings with many artists and collectors who played significant roles at MoMA in its early years. Rosenberg was an advisor and longtime friend to the Museum’s first director, Alfred H. Barr, Jr., and he collaborated frequently with MoMA curators on exhibitions, loaning or donating great works of early modern French art from his private collection and his galleries. He was named a Patron of the Collections at the Museum in 1957.

The Paul Rosenberg Archives comprise numerous sale records, photographs of every work in the galleries’ inventories, correspondence, exhibition files, photographs of installations, and other published and unpublished artistic, literary, professional, and historical documents representing the careers of Rosenberg, his son, Alexandre (gallerist and founding president of the Art Dealers Association of America), and notable friends. Rosenberg’s affiliations in international spheres of modern art predate the founding of The Museum of Modern Art, and his papers—in addition to their representation of significant aspects of twentieth-century ideas, art, and society—are critical for documenting the provenance of hundreds of paintings and sculptures in private and public collections.

The Museum of Modern Art is honored by the bequest of these materials to its Archives and is delighted to be an agent of their broader accessibility. Most of the items on display here are in the Paul Rosenberg Archives; others are drawn from the Rosenberg family’s private collections and from The Museum of Modern Art Library.

The exhibition is organized by Donald Prochera, Project Associate Archivist.

Funding for the processing and creation of a finding aid for the Paul Rosenberg Archives was provided by the Leon Levy Foundation, the Art Dealers Association of America, and by the Library Council and the Trustee Committee for Museum Archives, Library and Research of The Museum of Modern Art.

Origins and Early Years: Establishment of the Rosenberg Galleries

Alexandre Rosenberg the elder (died 1913), father of Paul and his older brother, Léonce (1878–1947), established himself as an antiques dealer in Paris in 1878. He knew and promoted Impressionist artists and had a taste for unusual pictures by emerging painters, including Vincent van Gogh. He encouraged his sons to share these professional interests and afforded them ample opportunities in Paris and abroad to acquire experience and contacts and to collect art. Paul and Léonce first worked as partners in the family business, but they soon established distinct personalities and social networks in the creative effervescence of Paris in the early twentieth century and eventually opened separate galleries.

Memoir Paul Rosenberg, c. 1940 [PR, II.1.]
Beginning with the phrase “Je suis né à Paris” (I was born in Paris), these ten pages are an autobiographical narrative— occasionally nostalgic and humorous—of Rosenberg’s family history, education, and professional development, written after he moved with his family from Nazi-occupied France to New York in September 1940. Evident in this memoir is the great charm mingled with a generous reserve of creative intelligence for which Rosenberg was widely known.

Letter Alexandre Rosenberg to Paul and Léonce Rosenberg, November 16, 1908 [PR, I.7.2]
This memo outlines a business transaction between father and sons in cordial but formal terms. The elder Rosenberg had retired in 1906, passing a rich legacy on to Paul and Léonce, but he continued to oversee and encourage their business affairs until his death in 1913.

Exhibition catalogues Exposition d’originaux de Hok’saï et de Hokkeï, dans les collections de MM. Charles Ricketts and Shannon, Londres (Paris: Galeries L. & P. Rosenberg, 1909) and Exposition d’oeuvres de Toulouse-Lautrec (Paris: Galerie Paul Rosenberg, 1914) [PR Paris catalogues]
These catalogues are remnants of the early antiquarian and nineteenth-century interests of the Rosenberg family, whose collections of decorative arts, artifacts, and antique manuscripts contained items from around the globe. One exhibition consisted of Japanese drawings promised to the British Museum (and so none were for sale); the collectors had acquired the drawings from a collection that had emerged out of Japan at the time of its opening to the West. The impact of such images upon European painters of the period—including Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, an artist Paul Rosenberg very much appreciated—was one among many seeds of European modernism.

Photograph-album leaves Rosenberg collections, Paris, c. 1910–20 [PR III.3.]
These images of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century French paintings pasted onto ruled paper are annotated and numbered in correspondence with the Rosenbergs’ photograph indexes. Many of them were taken ’while the paint was still wet,’ during and after the young brothers’ apprenticeships with their father in the 1910s. This germinal point for the collection of photographic materials in the Rosenberg archives is a valuable reference for art provenance research and a didactic tool of connoisseurship.



Letter Gustave Fayet to Paul Rosenberg, April 1, 1909 [PR I.156.15]
Fayet, one of the most important collectors of Paul Gauguin’s work at the turn of the twentieth century, pokes fun at the conservative tastes in official museum circles in Paris. He specifically targets the Louvre and the Luxembourg museums. The latter was then the center for France’s modern collections, which though devoted to nineteenth-century and living artists contained no work by Post-Impressionists such as Gauguin or Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Fayet writes that the acceptance of Rosenberg’s proposal that the Louvre acquire a Van Gogh painting would require an artistic revolution, a cause in which he would be glad to enlist.

Photographs on index cards Galeries Paul Rosenberg, Paris, 1911–39, and Paul Rosenberg Gallery, New York, 1940–87 [PR III.3.]
These cards—a few of the several thousand in the Rosenberg archives—replaced albums in Paul Rosenberg’s record keeping. They all represent objects that have been included in the Rosenberg’s private collections or gallery stock.


Above: Illustrated postcard Léonce Rosenberg to Paul Rosenberg, Rome, 1913 [PR I.48b.4]
In this postcard Léonce refers to Rome as the ”ville éternelle . . . -ment ennuyeuse” (the eternal . . . -ly boring city). A man of broad tastes and classical education, he may refer to life in the Roman heat among the ruins and the pastoral nature of Italy in contrast to the modern energy of Parisian life in 1913.

Photograph Paul Rosenberg during World War I, Paris, c. 1915. Photographer unknown [Rosenberg family collection]
Léonce was mobilized, but Paul (seated at center background, beside the staircase), not enjoying the same robust health as his brother, worked as a secretary to a general, Niox, at the Hôtel des Invalides, Paris. He also organized numerous exhibitions to benefit troops and civil society during and after those years.

Letter Guillaume Apollinaire to Paul Rosenberg, 1917 [PR I.94.8]
The year before his premature death, the poet thanks Rosenberg for photographs of the work of Henri Rousseau (1844–1910). Both men had been keen supporters of the customs-agent-turned-painter, who was to be the subject of an issue of Apollinaire’s review Les Soirées de Paris, for which he had requested a photograph of “La Charrette” (the cart), possibly La Carriole du père Junier (Père Junier’s cart) (1908).

Letter Robert Delaunay to Paul Rosenberg, September 28, 1919 [PR I.61.5]
Delaunay illustrates his message with a graceful miniature sketch of Henri Rousseau’s painting Le Pont de Grenelle (The Grenelle Bridge) (c. 1892). Delaunay was the original owner of the picture, having discovered it in a curiosity shop.



Notes Paul Rosenberg, 1919 [PR, II.1.]
These notes record Rosenberg’s last visits and final respects to the painter Auguste Renoir (1841–1919), offering a privileged glimpse into the artist’s life and an extremely rare account of his funeral, conducted among family members and close friends. Renoir struggled against severe arthritis but nevertheless worked until the end.

Invoice Parisian wine and spirits merchant, December 3, 1916 [PR 1.147.12]
Rosenberg was a great admirer of Renoir and often had cases of “fine champagne” and other gifts shipped to the artist at his Villa des Collettes in Cagnes-sur-Mer, France.

The rue de la Boétie in Les Années folles: Modernism, Creation, and Upheaval

While continuing to cooperate on matters of mutual interest, Paul and Léonce Rosenberg established themselves in distinct artistic spheres in Paris. In 1908 Paul leased and eventually purchased a vast townhouse in the 8th arrondissement, at 21 rue de la Boétie. In 1910 Léonce opened his gallery, Haute Époque, nearby at 19 rue de la Baume, where he established the Galerie de L’Effort Moderne after World War I.

In the years between the wars (“Les Années folles”), Paul’s interest shifted from traditional art toward alliances with major artists of the era—among them Georges Braque, Marie Laurencin, Fernand Léger, André Masson, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso. He became known for an innovative blending of style and a very high standard of quality in his approach to decoration, exhibitions, and publishing, attracting international attention and establishing his reputation among artists, collectors, fellow dealers, critics, and scholars.


Photograph on index card and photograph Pablo Picasso, Portrait of Paul Rosenberg, 1919
[PR III.3; III.2]

Picasso and his wife, the Russian dancer Olga Koklova, became neighbors of Paul Rosenberg and his wife, Marguerite, at 23 rue de la Boétie just after Rosenberg and the artist had come to a business arrangement, in 1918. Rosenberg would represent Picasso and have first choice among his new works, while guaranteeing a minimum of purchases, an arrangement that essentially freed the artist from financial concerns. Over the next twenty years the Rosenbergs were often the subjects and recipients of Picasso’s drawings and paintings.




Limited-edition art book Pablo Picasso, Trente-deux reproductions des maquettes en couleurs, d’après les originaux des costumes & décor par Picasso pour le ballet “Le Tricorne” (Paris: Éditions Paul Rosenberg, 1920) [MoMA Library]

Rosenberg first published the designs for the ballet Le Tricorne as a set comprising one signed etching and sixty-three reproductions (thirty-one with pochoir coloring). The exceptional quality of the printing, perfected to the last painstaking detail and color matching, met international acclaim.


Invitation list Paul Rosenberg and secretary, Paris, before April 1921 [PR I.119.10, 110-111]

A fascinating glimpse into Rosenberg’s social and professional milieu, this four-page handwritten guest list, presumably for the April–May or September receptions for exhibitions of paintings and drawings by Picasso, includes Rosenberg’s draft proposal for the invitation’s wording, along with names and addresses of an impressive group of his friends and colleagues and those of Picasso: artists, writers, musicians, collectors, art dealers, publishers, politicians, and aristocrats—the cream of Parisian society (in French, ‘le tout Paris’).

Letters John Quinn to Paul Rosenberg, 1922 [Rosenberg, Paul I.12.]
Quinn, an American lawyer and important collector of modern art, maintained good relations with Rosenberg, though his preference was to deal personally with artists, including Picasso.

Signed receipt Pablo Picasso to Paul Rosenberg, January 16, 1924 [PR I.122.10]
This receipt documents works consigned by Picasso to Rosenberg in 1923. It is one of the few documents in Picasso’s hand in these archives—due in part to his aversion to letter writing and in part to the wartime dispersal of Rosenberg’s archives for the years when their relationship was most active. Others are in the collections of the Morgan Library and Museum, New York, and the Musée Picasso, Paris.

Signed receipt Pierre Reverdy to Paul Rosenberg, 1924 [PR I.156d.15]
This receipt documents partial payment to Reverdy, a poet and friend of Picasso, Braque, and Matisse, for a commission to write a text about Picasso.

Photograph Masked ball, Paris, June 1924. Photographer unknown [Rosenberg family collection]
This photograph documents a masked ball hosted by art patron Étienne de Beaumont to honor the opening of the ballet Mercure, poses plastiques en trois tableaux, created by Picasso together with composer Eric Satie and choreographer Léonide Massine. Among those at the table in costume are Picasso, Marguerite Rosenberg, Léonce Rosenberg, Olga Koklova, and Paul Rosenberg (disguised with a beard).



Press clipping Complimentary notice, Journal des Débats to Galeries Paul Rosenberg, December 4, 1924 [PR I.119.10, 19-20]
Paul Rosenberg’s exhibitions were always highlighted in the French and international press, and this clipping provides a key to contemporary perceptions of his gallery: “Chez Paul Rosenberg, on voit clair” (At Paul Rosenberg’s gallery, the way becomes clear). It is interesting to note that a journal devoted to debates on current issues (“Débats”) should use such a serene and conciliatory tone to describe a gallery at the center of the polemical passions that raged around modernism at the time.

Illustrated postcard Léonce Rosenberg to Paul and Marguerite Rosenberg, 1916 [Rosenberg family collection]
This is an affectionate souvenir de guerre from Léonce. He served, as he wrote, with the “R.F.C. 15th Wing, B.E.F. (France).”


Periodical Bulletin de l’Effort Moderne, nos. 1–40 (1924–27). Edited by Léonce Rosenberg, with contributions by Fernand Léger, Maurice Raynal, Theo van Doesburg, Piet Mondrian, Roger Bissière [et al] [MoMA Library]

Exhibition catalogue Exhibition of Important Paintings by Great French Masters of the Nineteenth Century (New York: Durand-Ruel Galleries, 1934) [MoMA Library]
This catalogue accompanied an exhibition organized by Rosenberg and Durand-Ruel to benefit the Children’s Aid Society and the French Hospital of New York. Rosenberg wrote the introduction.

Woodblock prints Pablo Picasso, bookplates designed for Alexandre Paul Rosenberg, c. 1935 [Rosenberg family collection]

This monogrammed ex libris design—along with the original woodblocks—was a gift from the artist to the younger Rosenberg. Picasso had been an official witness to Alexandre’s birth, in 1921, and the two were lifelong friends.

Printed catalogue covers Paul Rosenberg Gallery, New York, 1950s [PR catalogues, New York]
Picasso designed several bookplates and printer’s devices throughout his career for his friend Paul, who favored this design for gallery publications.

Greeting cards Paul Rosenberg’s personal stationery, 1950s [Rosenberg family collection]
These are examples of the many designs created by Picasso for Rosenberg’s personal use. Some were made from an original woodblock (such as the green motif of three men); others (such as the vase of flowers design) were reproduced by printers from a drawing.

Photograph News agency proofs, Belgrade, 1939 [Rosenberg family collection]
Rosenberg accompanies Paul, the Prince Regent of Yugoslavia, through a visit to the exhibition of French art Rosenberg had brought to Belgrade. As an important art collector and donor, he was a special guest of the prince and was invested with the honors of the Royal Order of Saint Sava in recognition of his services to art.


The 1920s and 1930s were a period of intense exchange between Rosenberg and his peers throughout Europe and the Americas. He assisted in the evolution of many European collections as well as those focused on modern art at established institutions in the United States, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut, and The Museum of Modern Art, New York. In New York Rosenberg was in familiar company among European art dealers who had established a strong presence in America, such as Paul Durand-Ruel and Pierre Matisse.

Catalogue raisonné Ludovico Rodolphe Pissarro and Lionello Venturi, Camille Pissarro: Son art—Son oeuvre (Paris: Galerie Paul Rosenberg, 1939) [Rosenberg family collection]
Rosenberg served as editor and publisher of this complete catalogue of Camille Pissarro’s work. The Rosenbergs’ association with Pissarro and his heirs dates back to the nineteenth century, when Paul’s father, Alexandre, first established alliances with collectors and dealers of work by Impressionists and Post-Impressionists.

World War II, Looting, and Restitution: Expatriates in New York

Rosenberg’s interactions with museums, collectors, and dealers throughout Europe left him vulnerable to the political pressures that exploded in the late 1930s. By then he had begun to transfer portions of his collections to other parts of France, England, and the United States and to assist several of his artists, clients, and colleagues to do so as well. However, well before 1940, when German forces occupied France, Rosenberg’s property had been targeted for seizure. His collection of art and photo clichés (glass negatives), his furniture, and his library and archives, among other personal possessions, were looted and dispersed. His property at 21 rue de la Boétie was sequestered by sympathizers of the Vichy government and transformed into the infamous Institut d’études des questions juives (Institute for the study of the Jewish question), a meeting place for the viciously anti- Semitic and their friends.

Cablegrams and letters Alfred H. Barr, Jr., Daniel Catton Rich, Henry P. McIlhenny, Paul J. Sachs, et al., to and on behalf of Paul Rosenberg, 1940–50 [PR II.1.; II.2.; II.3.; II.6. 1950]
These cabled messages from members of the American museum and academic communities include invitations to Rosenberg to come to the United States, recommendations that he be considered a national asset, and testimony by professionals familiar with his private and gallery collections in France before the war.

Photograph on index card “Nuit étoilée” by Vincent van Gogh (1889), c. 1939–42 [PR III.3.]
In 1941 The Museum of Modern Art acquired Van Gogh’s Starry Night, which Rosenberg had purchased in Europe in 1939, through an amicable exchange. Among the most famous of modern paintings, it had been in private collections and completely out of the public eye for most of the first half-century of its existence.


Photograph Street window of Paul Rosenberg’s first New York gallery, at 16 East Fifty-Seventh Street, near Madison Avenue, c. 1941. Photographer unknown [Rosenberg family collection]

Article Paul Rosenberg, “French Artists and the War,” Art in Australia: a quarterly magazine 4, no. 4 (December– February, 1941–42) [MoMA Library]
Rosenberg was invited to express his concerns regarding conditions faced by artists remaining in occupied France. He also writes of the importance of art during times of crisis.



Letter Peter Bellew to Paul Rosenberg, April 29, 1942 [PR II.2.1]
This letter from the editor of Art in Australia thanks Rosenberg for his article and discusses the daunting proposition of bringing an Australian exhibition to the United States in a time of global war.

Letters Winifred Easton to Paul Rosenberg, 1940s–50s [PR, II.1.E; II.2.E; II.3.E; II.4.E, etc]
During World War II, Easton looked after Rosenberg’s gallery in London. Her crucial role in general business affairs, shipping paintings and photographs to New York, and relaying family and political news with intelligence and humor helped sustain the morale of the Rosenberg family.

Letter Henri Focillon to Paul Rosenberg, 1942 [PR II.2.15]
A friend and mentor of Rosenberg, Focillon, French medievalist art historian, was teaching at Yale University when war broke out. In this letter, handwritten by his wife at his bedside in the year preceding his death, he thanks Rosenberg for prompt help in locating some elusive research material.

Letter (and attached lists) Alfred H. Barr, Jr., to Pablo Picasso, care of Paul Rosenberg, April 9, 1942 [PR, II.2.31]
Many of Picasso’s works, including the painting Guernica (1937) and its preparatory drawings, were on loan to The Museum of Modern Art in 1942. After discussing the subject with Rosenberg, Barr wrote this letter to the artist informing him of the Museum’s policies regarding wartime insurance.

Cablegram Paul Rosenberg to Ministry of Justice, Vichy, France, 1943 [PR, II.2.APR]
In this message Rosenberg expresses indignation at the French state’s violation of his rights and property, declaring his intention to obtain justice, even if only after the war.

Letter Alfred Stieglitz to Paul Rosenberg, 1944 [PR II.3.S]
Rosenberg was in frequent contact with Stieglitz, the great American photographer who directed the gallery An American Place not far from Rosenberg’s first New York gallery. The men had a number of friends and colleagues in common, among them the artist and writer Marius de Zayas, and both Rosenberg and Stieglitz had played a role in the evolution of the widely esteemed collections of the American John Quinn.

Notarized affidavit Adjunct mayor of the 8th arrondissement, Paris, December 18, 1946 [PR V.1.4]
This affidavit confirms that the mayoral office was a witness to the complete pillaging of the Rosenbergs’ gallery and home by Nazi forces during the Occupation.

Book Jean Cassou, Le Pillage par les Allemands des oeuvres d’art et des bibliothèques appartenant à des juifs en France: recueil de documents (The German pillaging of artworks and libraries belonging to Jews in France: Documentary collection) (Paris: Éditions du Centre, 1947) [MoMA Library]
This book was printed with the cooperation of victimized collectors, the National Museums of France, and special fine arts task forces assembled by the Allied powers. Included are lists composed by Paul and Alexandre Rosenberg of paintings looted by the Nazis from their collections, photographs of artworks, and copies of correspondence on the subject emanating from the highest levels of the Third Reich.

Court record (draft of deposition) Paul Rosenberg and attorneys, retort in support of his suit before the Swiss courts, Lausanne, 1947 [PR V.2.2]
When Rosenberg returned to Europe after the war, he confronted a number of art dealers in France and Switzerland regarding paintings looted from his collections and “received” by them. As a defense tactic, some claimed that the works were no longer his, as the Vichy government had stripped him of his citizenship and, therefore, his property. Rosenberg could have negotiated but refused, he wrote in French, to “recogniz[e] the Vichy government as the legitimate and free government of my country.” He was eventually awarded full restitution by the Swiss courts.

Postwar America and Europe: New York and the Art World

In the 1940s, in spite of and in part due to the war, artistic activity intensified in the United States and in New York in particular, as waves of talent from Europe sought refuge there. Paul Rosenberg and his son, Alexandre—who joined the rest of the family in New York in 1946, after spending the war with the Free French in England, Africa, and France— were so intimately and productively drawn into the American perspective on art that they were determined to maintain their activity on both sides of the Atlantic. This period was also marked by Rosenberg’s continuing personal battles within the ranks of those seeking to regain control over personal property, which often involved great expense and required exceptional bureaucratic, legal, and political savvy.

Exhibition catalogues Paul Rosenberg and Company, New York, 1940s and 1950s [PR&Co catalogues]
These catalogues accompanied exhibitions featuring the work of these American artists closely associated with Paul Rosenberg and his gallery: Marsden Hartley (1942), Karl Knaths (1945), Max Weber (1946), and Abraham Rattner (1950).

Letters (copy) Paul Rosenberg to Pablo Picasso, November 29, 1948, and January 15, 1949 [PR, II.2.1948–49]
Rosenberg follows up with Picasso on plans discussed during visits, thanks him for personal favors, requests others, and chides the artist for being a poor letter writer.


Photograph, Elaine Rosenberg sitting for a portrait by Marie Laurencin, Paris, May 1950. Photograph by Alexandre Rosenberg [Rosenberg family collection]


Above: Letter and attached pen sketch Le Corbusier (Charles-Édouard Jeanneret) to Paul Rosenberg, April 25, 1951 [PR II.6.20]
The architect Le Corbusier, whose paintings Rosenberg exhibited in 1948 and 1950, requests that his friend locate one of the works remaining at the Rosenberg gallery, based on the sketch he encloses, writing, “ce tableau qui est sur mes listes, et mes listes sont dessinées à la main” (this picture on my lists, and my lists are drawn by hand).

Letter (copy) Paul Rosenberg to Georges Braque, December 15, 1951 [PR II.6.]
Rosenberg requests confirmation from Braque of his suspicion that a painting he has seen in New York is counterfeit.

Signed catalogue page Georges Braque to Paul Rosenberg, March 26, 1952 [PR III.2.15]
Braque replies, writing directly on the reproduction sent him, “Ce tableau n’est pas de moi/G Braque 1952/Le 26 Mars” (This picture was not done by me/G Braque 1952/March 26).

Letter Abraham Rattner to Paul Rosenberg, 1952 [PR II.8.Rattner
Around an abstracted figure, Rattner expresses gratitude, optimism, and joie de vivre.

Letter (copy) Paul Rosenberg to Nicolas De Staël, December 1, 1953 [PR II.8.8]
Rosenberg, referring to a comment published in the American press, translates his own words of admiration for the Franco- Russian painter: “The author asked me if there might be . . . a young painter I considered to be of the same level as the great artists of the beginning of the century and for whom I was ready to take . . . risks. I replied: Yes, only one. De Staël.

Exhibition catalogue Nicolas De Staël (New York: Paul Rosenberg & Company, 1953) [PR&Co catalogues]


Exhibition catalogue “Masterpieces Recalled” (New York: Paul Rosenberg & Company, 1957) [PR&Co catalogues]

This catalogue contains several pages of homage by American museum professionals to Paul Rosenberg in honor of his seventy-fifth birthday.

Letter Douglas Cooper to Alexandre Rosenberg, February 21, 1959 [PR II.12.5]
The collector, art historian, and long-time friend of the Rosenbergs requests the loan of Picasso’s painting Harlequin (1918) for a retrospective he is organizing with the artist’s help in Marseilles. Alexandre replies that it is impossible to convince his father to separate himself from the picture, so strong is the attachment he has felt for it all his life. Paul Rosenberg died a few months later.

Exhibition catalogue Ingres in American Collections (Paul Rosenberg and Company, New York, 1961) [PR&Co catalogues]

Letter template Alexandre Rosenberg to collectors and museums, 1960 [PR II.12.Ingres]
Rosenberg appeals to colleagues and clients for loans from their holdings so he can assemble an exhibit of the artist’s works exclusively from collections in the United States, a gesture hitherto unprecedented.

Letter (copy) Marguerite Rosenberg to Rose Valland, March 31, 1961 [PR II.14.49]
Paul’s widow thanks Valland, known as “the heroine of the Louvre,” for her role in facilitating the recovery of looted art and states that she is still determined to pursue their claims. While an employee of the French National Museums during the Occupation, Valland secretly kept records of the original collections and eventual destinations of Nazi-looted pictures being “sorted” and exported.


Letter Alfred H. Barr to Alexandre Rosenberg, January 18, 1961 [PR II.14.32]

Barr warmly acknowledges the continuity of the Rosenbergs’ support to The Museum of Modern Art over two generations.

Alexandre Rosenberg: Of Art Scholarship and Responsibility

Alexandre Rosenberg began to assume responsibility for the direction of the Paul Rosenberg Gallery even before his father’s death, in 1959. His earliest acquisitions were made with his father’s guidance, through relationships with artists, dealers, and museum curators on both sides of the Atlantic that he had inherited from his father and come to know as friends. He was keenly concerned, as his father had been, about the quality of public visual culture in a world increasingly fragmented by the proliferation of mass media.

Rosenberg distinguished himself professionally from his father in several ways. He made alliances with a new spectrum of contemporary painters and sculptors and came to represent— for his colleagues and the museum professionals who knew him—an ideal of a vanishing type, the “scholar-dealer,” who insisted on rigor and thoroughness of critical method. His correspondence reveals increased involvement with ethical issues in the field of art dealing beginning in the 1960s, his voice eloquent among those encouraging the rewriting and voluntary acceptance of codes of standards and regulated practices. As his father had done following World War I, Rosenberg lent vigorous and definitive support to professional associations and legislative bodies.

Exhibition catalogue Loan Exhibition, The Nineteenth Century Heritage, for the Benefit of Greenwich House (New York: Paul Rosenberg and Company, 1950) [PR&Co catalogues]
Organized and with an introductory essay by Alexandre Rosenberg, this exhibition marked a pivotal moment in the career of the young scholar and art dealer. The essay reflects a well-considered engagement with theoretical and philosophical ideas surrounding perceptions of art and history—moral philosophy and political science are on equal footing with aesthetics.

Letter (and attached lists) Paul Rosenberg and Company, to Alfred Frankfurter, New York, 1957 [PR II.10.1]
At the request of Frankfurter—then editor of Art News— the gallery consulted business documentation and correspondence to provide a list of French and American paintings brought to American museums in its care. The list was necessarily incomplete due to war losses, and Frankfurter is reminded that museums had purchased many paintings from Rosenberg in Paris, some long before the opening of the New York gallery in 1941.

Letter Graham Sutherland to Alexandre Rosenberg, May 29, 1957 [PR II.10.S]
Sutherland began his association with Paul Rosenberg and Company in 1956, yet he had shown at Rosenberg’s London gallery in 1937, and he writes that he is very happy “to find myself once more under your roof.”

Exhibition catalogue Exhibition of Recent Paintings by Graham Sutherland (New York: Paul Rosenberg & Company, 1959) [PR&Co catalogues]

Handwritten letter Giacomo Manzù to Alexandre Rosenberg, 1968 [PR II.M]
The sculptor, at the height of his fame, muses on the establishment of a museum for his work in Ardea, near Rome, by the Amici di Manzù (Friends of Manzù).

Public address (draft) Alexandre Rosenberg, 1969 [PR II.22.M]
Text of Rosenberg’s contribution to the opening ceremonies of the Raccolta Manzù (Manzù Collection) museum in Ardea, Italy, March 1969. As Giacomo Manzù’s dealer and personal friend, Rosenberg celebrates the unique quality of the collection, established near the artist’s studio. This innovative public art museum for a living artist was enthusiastically received by the Italian and the international art worlds.

Brochure Photographs By Elaine and Alexandre Rosenberg, 1971 [Rosenberg private collection]

These candid images were made during a private visit with Giacomo and Inge Manzù at the artist’s studio in Ardea, Italy.


Article (draft) Alexandre Rosenberg, “Of Art Scholarship and Responsibility,” 1983 [Rosenberg family collection]
This typescript is a draft of a text published in Art and Auction in June 1983. Neither a lament nor a polemic, Rosenberg’s text reflects the needs and aspirations of the professional milieu in which he and his colleagues functioned: it is a call for greater integrity and increased communication within the community of art dealers and scholars.

Photograph Paul Rosenberg and Charles Durand-Ruel, 1933. Photograph by Pierre Matisse [Rosenberg family collection]

Rosenberg and Durand-Ruel are pictured aboard an aircraft bound for Kansas City, for the opening of the William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art.]


Installation view

Letter Pierre Matisse to Alexandre Rosenberg, December 1, 1969 [PR II.22.M]
Matisse recalls that art dealers and antiquarians from every field had been present at the 1933 Kansas City event, writing, in French, “We had begun to emerge from the mess of the Great Depression and this opening seemed quite an event.”

Letter (copy) Alexandre Rosenberg to Ralph F. Colin, 1974 [PR II.27.C]
Rosenberg benefited greatly from the counsel of lawyer and art collector Ralph Colin while working toward the foundation in 1962 of the Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA). Rosenberg served as the association’s first president. Here he outlines his idea to establish a special file in the ADAA archives for documentation generated by the appraisal of fakes or mistaken and misleading attributions.

Exhibition catalogues The Primacy of Design: major drawings in black and colored media from the Marina Picasso collection (1983); Bronzes of the Italian Renaissance (1981); Renaissance Bronzes and Later Sculpture (1984) New York: Paul Rosenberg & Company [PR&Co catalogues]
In the years before his premature death, Alexandre Rosenberg turned his attention increasingly to his antiquarian interests and writing, to which he had planned to devote himself entirely.

Official government publication House Ways and Means Committee, Washington, D.C., 1986 [Rosenberg family collection]
Printed transcription of text delivered by Alexandre Rosenberg for public hearings in Washington, D.C. of the Art Advisory Panel, established to review taxpayer evaluations of artwork for tax purposes. The legislative goals of the Committee were to address the complexity of IRS examination and to prevent abusive tax shelters.

Archival finding aid and labels Russian State Archives, Moscow, multiple administrative dates 1949–98 [PR IV.1]
A decade ago, the earliest business and personal papers from the Galerie Paul Rosenberg in Paris, those corresponding to the years 1905 to 1928, were recovered and reintegrated into the present Rosenberg archives. The records had been looted during the German occupation of France in the 1940s, “liberated” by the Soviet army in Eastern Europe after the retreat of Nazi forces, and kept in secret archives in Moscow. The recuperation of these papers depended on multilateral political cooperation, extensive research by family members, and the persistence of a visionary element in the cultural legacy left to them by Paul and Alexandre Paul Rosenberg.



Labeled simply “Fonds 235” (Collection 235), the archives were returned to the Rosenbergs in 2000 by the Russian State Archives. The files were accompanied by this basic inventory and summary description and contain archivists’ notes and records, indicating that the collection had been consulted by researchers over the course of the half-century it had remained in relative obscurity.

The Russian archivists who first received these materials respected the original arrangement and order. The nearly twenty-five thousand items in the collection were individually hand-numbered and were in the original file folders ordered chronologically. This method of processing confers upon these papers the status of a “special collection.”


The challenges involved in facilitating public access to the Paul Rosenberg Archives have been very stimulating and afforded great satisfaction. I am happy to thank Mrs. Elaine Rosenberg for her generosity and cordiality and for her often astonishing knowledge and insight. Madame Ilda François and Mr. Bernardo Dorado have been the very best colleagues one could hope for. All members of the Rosenberg family have been graciously encouraging.

Throughout this period, good counsel and support have been offered by Michelle Elligott, Milan Hughston and the MoMA Museum Archives and Library staff: Michelle Harvey, Tom Grischkowsky, Jonathan Lill, Mackenzie Bennett, Deborah Dewees, Miriam Gianni, Molly Shea, Peter Huelster, Julia Feldman and Verena Johannsmann in the Archives; Sheelagh Bevin, Jennifer Tobias, David Senior, Philip Parente, Rachel Morrison and Danny Fermon in the Library. Thanks also to Sarah Bodinson, Rebecca Roberts, Allegra Burnette and Chiara Bernasconi for their enthusiasm and expertise with word and image.

A word of admiration and appreciation is also due to the many persons of great intelligence, ability and talent who have come to visit and learn chez Rosenberg. In addition to renewing valuable old friendships, The Museum of Modern Art has indeed deservedly gained some very good new ones.