Biographical / Historical
Owned by Hanns S. and Kate Schaeffer, Schaeffer Galleries specialized in Old Masters paintings and drawings, originally focusing on works by Flemish and Dutch masters. The gallery operated in Berlin, Germany from 1925 to 1939 and in New York City from 1936 to circa 2000.
Hanns Schaeffer opened an art gallery in Berlin in 1921. He then established branches in London and San Francisco, all named Schaeffer Galleries. The Schaeffers closed all three branches in 1939 following the opening of their New York City gallery space in 1936. The New York gallery was first located at 61 East 57th Street in Manhattan, but changed locations a few times. As of 2000, Schaeffer Galleries had stayed at its location at 983 Park Avenue for over fifty years. Schaeffer Galleries was most active from the late 1930s until the early 1950s. During this period, the gallery held numerous exhibitions and built its reputation by selling paintings and drawings by Old Masters, primarily Flemish and Dutch, to private collectors and museums.
The Schaeffers also donated works of art to museums throughout their lives. They were knowledgable art dealers who advised museum directors and curators on selecting art work for their collections. For example, The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Leonardo da Vinci's ''Bear Walking'' and a Jean-Antoine Watteau were both acquired through the Schaeffer galleries. Other paintings and drawings that the Schaeffers sold through their gallery include Botticelli's ''Madonna and Child with Singing Angels'' at the Staatliche Museen in Berlin, Correggio's ''Salvator Mundi'' in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, Rubens's ''Cleopatra'' at the Detroit Institute of Arts, and many paintings by Dutch artists such as Frans Hals and Rembrandt.
The couple ran the gallery together for three decades until Hanns Schaeffer died in 1967. Kate Schaeffer then became the owner and president of Schaeffer Galleries and continued managing the business for almost 20 years with more emphasis on drawings. Kate Schaeffer died at the age of 102 on December 20, 2000 at her home in Manhattan. Schaeffer Galleries closed circa 2000, shortly thereafter.
James J. Rorimer, the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1955 to 1967, observed, "The Schaeffers are among the most serious, knowledgeable, and helpful art dealers who are enabling American museums to grow for the benefit of our public. They are friends who share unstintingly in helping curators, directors and trustees to choose with care the works of art which redound to the credit of their museums."