This collection documents the career of prominent art gallery owner Julien Levy. The records date from 1857 to 1983 and include correspondence, exhibit announcements and invitations, scrapbooks, gallery financial ledgers, audio-visual materials, and personal papers such as letters, diaries, appointment books and calendars. The material in this collection reflects the course of Levy’s life, beginning with childhood letters and elementary school papers, and ending with Levy’s obituary and memorials. The records follow Levy, fresh from Paris, as he opens his gallery in New York and quickly becomes one of the most well-known and respected art dealers in the United States. This star-studded collection features correspondence with some of the most celebrated artists of the Surrealist and other art movements, including Salvador Dali, Arshile Gorky, Frida Kahlo, Man Ray, and Marcel Duchamp. The bulk of material dates from 1933 to 1949, and the 1970s. Researchers should note that the collection contains few records from the 1950s and early 1960s. The collection is divided into seven series: “I. Correspondence,” “II. Subject files,” “III. Exhibition announcements and ephemera,” “IV. Financial records,” “V. Scrapbooks,” “VI. Diaries and calendars,” and “VII. Audio/Visual Materials.”
The “I. Correspondence” series contains letters, postcards, and notes that document Julien Levy’s career as gallery owner and art dealer, as well as his relationships with business associates, patrons, artists, family, and friends. The series is further divided into two subseries: “a. General correspondence” and “b. Personal correspondence.” Researchers should note that personal correspondence can also be found interspersed with the general correspondence. Levy’s general and personal correspondence were initially organized by Marie Difilippantonio, Levy’s assistant (check). This order has been maintained, however, it is important for researchers to be aware that the order is not strictly alphabetical. Correspondents who are represented by a single letter are frequently filed under the first two letters of their last name. For example, Annie W. Allen is filed under “Al’s: Allen“ which is filed after “Alvarez.” Researchers should therefore perform a key word search in order to ensure that the correspondent for whom they are looking is located. Furthermore, as a result of Difilippantonio's excellent description, the content of these letters are described to a limited degree. A keyword search will provide access not only to letters written to and from the artist, but also to letters in which the artist was discussed.
Subseries “b. Personal correspondence,” contains correspondence between Julien Levy and various family members, including his parents, Isabelle Isaacs Levy and Edgar A. Levy, and his sons, Jerrold, Javan and Jonathan. The correspondence in this subseries documents the passionate and volatile relationships with each of Levy’s three wives: Joella Lloyd Levy, Muriel Streeter Levy, and Jean Farley Levy. The records related to Levy’s father, Edgar A. Levy, offer insight into Levy’s tumultuous early years, including his leaving Harvard University, his early travels to Paris, and his first two marriages (and subsequent divorces). The subseries also contains a substantial amount of correspondence with Joella Levy’s mother, artist and writer Mina Loy, with whom Levy developed a close professional and personal relationship. The material dates from 1857 to 1981 and is arranged alphabetically by correspondent’s last name. Researchers are advised to perform a key word search in order to ensure that the correspondent/artist for whom they are looking is located.
Series “IV. Financial records,” consists of ledger books maintained by Julien Levy, personally, as well as for the Julien Levy Gallery. These books contain information on artwork owned by Levy, and include the date of sale and sale price of the pieces. Some of the books also reflect the financial interaction between Levy and his artists. The ledger books date from circa 1925 to 1978 and are listed chronologically.
The “V. Scrapbooks” series includes scrapbooks containing memorabilia from Levy’s career as a gallery owner and art dealer. The books include newspaper articles about the Gallery and the artists Levy represented, as well as exhibit announcements and catalogs, similar to materials found in series “III. Exhibition announcements and ephemera.” The materials date from circa 1925 to 1941 and are arranged alphabetically by scrapbook type and then chronologically.
The “VI. Diaries and Calendars” series contains Julien Levy and Jean Farley Levy’s appointment books and calendars. The bulk of materials dates from the 1970s, and continues beyond Julien’s death in 1981. There are a few diaries that date from the late 1940s and 1950s that were shared by Julien and Jean. It is likely, considering some of the personal notations inside, that Julien consulted these diaries as he wrote his memoirs. The appointment books and calendars provide insight into the later years of Levy’s life. The materials are arranged chronologically and date from 1948 to 1981.
Series “VII. Audio / visual materials” contains some undated VHS tapes, compact discs, and CD-ROMs of digitized materials related to Julien Levy, possibly including home video of Levy and his gallery events, interviews conducted about Levy and digital reproductions of exhibition announcements. Most of the digitization of the materials seems to have been done by the Julien Levy Foundation, before the records were transferred to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The processors of this collection did not review the materials; researchers should consult the Philadelphia Museum of Art Archives concerning accessibility of these materials.