Archives & Library

Archive Collections

The Centre holds and provides access to archive material relating to the study of British art and architectural history. The collections contain the research papers of art historians, museum directors and curators; dealers; art critics, collectors and other individuals working in the field of art history.

Frank Simpson

72 boxes. This collection is in the process of being catalogued. Please contact collections staff for more details. (Ref FHS)

The archive contains material created and collected by Frank Simpson over a fifty year period, both in the course of his activities at the institutions for which he worked (The Courtauld Institute of Art, The Barber Institute of Fine Art (University of Birmingham) M. Knoedler & Company and The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art), and also in relation to his own research into collecting and collections.

Alongside material gathered and authored by Simpson, the collection includes a significant amount of material created by other individuals. In particular, the work related correspondence of both Charles Stewart Carstairs, Director of Knoedler's London Office in the 1920s; and Letitia Simpson, the Librarian at Knoedler's from the 1920s-1950s (who was also Simpson's Aunt).

The archive includes correspondence; research notes; sale catalogues; country house and collection catalogues; exhibition lists as well as a huge number of photographs. It also includes bibliographies and academic course descriptions from the early years of the Courtauld Institute of Art.

At the core of the archive are two sequences of files arranged alphabetically by artist: one containing correspondence and research material; the other containing photographs, and both relating - in the main - to works of art which passed through the sale rooms at Knoedler's. An additional section contains similar material, but is organised alphabetically by collection.

The Frank Simpson archive is a rich source for the study of provenance, collections and collecting. A significant proportion of the material dating from the 1920s, the material also reveals much about the disbanding of collections after the First World War. The focus is mainly on British Art, but also includes European Art.

Frank Simpson (1911-2002) was an amateur art historian. He commenced his career as a Library Clerk at The Courtauld Institute of Art (1934-1945). He was then employed as a Librarian at The Barber Institute of Fine Art, University of Birmingham (1945-1958), M. Knoedler & Co. (c.1960-1971) and at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art (1971-1976).