Records of the Hanover Gallery

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The records cover all aspects of the work of a commercial art gallery,

including sales, purchases and exhibitions. They consist of 11 day books, a purchase ledger, a sales ledger, address book of purchasers, a file relating to stock balances 1944- 57, 5 sets of index cards of purchasers and works sold, 5 scrap albums of exhibition catalogues, exhibition ephemera and press cuttings, 25 photograph albums of works in stock, a directory of photograph numbers and photographers, a folder of 19 loose photographs of works of art, 17 letters from Francis Bacon to Erica Brausen and Arthur Jeffress, 2 files of correspondence about Francis Bacon, 103 photographs (plus 139 duplicates) and 4 albums of photographs of works by Francis Bacon.

Administrative / Biographical History

Erica Brausen was born in Dusseldorf in 1908. After completing her education and with the rise of Hitler she left for Paris in the 1930s. She worked in a bookshop and began to organise displays of contemporary art. A friendship with the Catalan artist Joan Miro led her to Majorca where she ran a bar which was frequented by writers and artists. During the Spanish Civil War she used her contacts with the US navy to help some of her Jewish and socialist friends to escape and slipped away herself on a fishing boat. She arrived, penniless, in London about the time of the outbreak of the Second World War.

In London she met again many of her former friends and began organising small art exhibitions but, as a German citizen, she was not able to work until a homosexual friend agreed to marry her to give her status. Her first real work in London began with the Redfern Gallery. Then in 1946 she met an American millionaire banker, Arthur Jeffress and he offered to finance her in a gallery of her own.

She opened the Hanover Gallery in late 1947 at 32A, St George Street, just off Hanover Square, London, dealing in 19th and 20th century masters and contemporary British and foreign artists. In 1949 the British Government lifted an earlier ban on the importation of works of art for sale and the gallery quickly took advantage of this and grasped the opportunity to sell work by a wide range of continental and American artists. In 1956 Jean-Yves Mock joined the staff as her assistant. He proved to be a brilliant administrator.

The gallery particularly promoted sculpture with several exhibitions of works by Reg Butler, Alberto Giacometti, Eduardo Paolozzi and Marino Marini. Major painters shown included Francis Bacon, Graham Sutherland and William Scott, but young and relatively unknown artists were also encouraged. Brausen also regularly displayed works by the surrealist artists Duchamp, Ernst, Man Ray and Magritte. For financial reasons the gallery was forced to close on 1st January 1973.

Arrangement

The collection (except for the Francis Bacon Material) was originally numbered in a single sequence 1-51. It has been re-numbered within its 6 series. The former references, where applicable, have been included in the description of each item.

The papers have been arranged into the following series;-

863.1 Day Books

863.2 Sales and Purchases

863.3 Card indexes of stock and purchasers

863.4 Albums of Press cuttings and exhibition catalogues

863.5 Photograph Albums

863.6 Material relating to Francis Bacon

16 loose press cuttings reviewing exhibitions of Francis Bacon at the Hanover Gallery 1954-55 were added to the Tate Archive press cutting collection. They are all included in the press cutting album 863.4.2.

10 private view cards were added to the private view card collection. Nine were for exhibitions at the Hanover Gallery and are all included in the albums in 863.4. The tenth was for the exhibition Expressionisten Sammlung Buchheim, Wilhelm - Lehmbruck - Museum der Stadt Duisberg 1982.

On arrival at the Tate Archive the collection also contained a poster for the exhibition "Celebration du Sol" at the Galerie Daniel Cordier, Paris . As this was not part of the Hanover Gallery's archive it was passed to the poster collection.

Conditions Governing Access

Open. Access to all registered users.

Other Finding Aids

See paper list for further details.

Custodial History

The records were created by Erica Brausen, the owner of the Hanover Gallery in London, in the course of her business as an art dealer. The records were created by Erica Brausen and her staff and kept in the gallery until 1973 and afterwards in Erica Brausen's custody at her home. Before they were catalogued some of these records (the Purchase Ledger, Sales Ledger, daybooks and some of the photograph albums) were consulted by a man who subsequently faced criminal charges for producing false provenances for forged works of art. Part of his method of working consisted of inserting documents and photographs into archive collections in the expectation that these could be used to provide a provenance for a forged painting by suggesting that it had been shown in an exhibition or passed through the saleroom. Some of the photographs in the albums (particularly those of works ascribed to Alberto Giacometti) have been examined by a paper conservator and found to be on resin-coated photographic paper which was introduced in the early 1970s. These photographs cannot be contemporary with the albums and must be treated with circumspection. The Sales and Purchase Ledgers also seem to have been tampered with and some false entries have been added. A number of these items were removed by the Metropolitan Police and subjected to scrutiny in their forensic laboratories. A number of works of art which appeared to be suspect were marked up by the forensic staff. Their page markers have been retained on the Acquisition file in Gallery Records and a note has been added to the relevant catalogue entries. However all parts of the collection which were seen by this fraudster (Purchase Ledger, Sales Ledger, day books and photograph albums) are liable to have been tampered with and great care must be taken in using this collection.

Related Material

Tate Library holds a set of exhibition catalogues of the Hanover Gallery.

Corporate Names