In 1846 Michel Knoedler came to America from France as a representative of the Goupil engraving firm and established his business in New York. In 1857 Knoedler bought out Goupil's interest in the firm, which was first located on Broadway (moving three times to increasingly uptown addresses), later at various Fifth Avenue addresses, and moved in 1925 to East 57th Street. The business dealt in both American and European art, and included among its clients representatives of America's growing wealthy class, for example Collis P. Huntington, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Henry O. Havemeyer, William Rockefeller and John Jacob Astor. Following the death of Michel Knoedler in 1878, the business was run by his sons Roland, Edmond and Charles. In 1895 branches were opened in London and Paris. The turn of the century brought a great importation of old master paintings from Europe, purchased by intensely competitive collectors such as Henry Clay Frick, P.A.B. Widener, and Andrew W. Mellon. Knoedler's participated in the negotiations in the late 1920s and early 1930s with the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg for thirty-one paintings that were purchased by Andrew Mellon and are now in the National Gallery of Art. In 1996 Knoedler's celebrated its 150th anniversary with an exhibition of notable paintings whose sales the firm had handled, including Manet's The Plum (NGA 1971.85.1).
The Rise of the Art World in America: Knoedler at 150. Exh. cat. New York, 1996.