TABLE OF CONTENTS



Descriptive Summary

Biographical Information

Scope and Content Note

Restrictions

Selected Search Terms

Related Material

Administrative Information

Description of Series/Container List

Series 1: Diaries, 1878-1901

Series 2: Account Ledger, 1894, 1907-1917

Series 3: Photographs, 1867-1932, n.d.

Series 4: Miscellaneous, 1893, 1918[?]

Series 5: Art works, 1914-1915

Henri Vever

A Finding Aid to His Papers at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives



    Contact Information
    Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
    Smithsonian Institution
    Washington, D.C. 20560
    Tel: 202-633-0533
    Email: AVRreference@asia.si.edu

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Vever, Henri, 1854-1942
Title: The Henri Vever Papers
Dates: 1875-1932
Quantity: 2.5 linear feet, 35 items
Abstract: The papers of Parisian jeweler and art collector Henri Vever (1854-1942) include six diaries; a ledger of his art acquisitions; original oil paintings by Vever; and photographs. The materials document Vever's circle of friends, patrons, and other art collectors in turn-of-the-century Paris.
Identification: A1988.4, A1993.3

Biographical Information

For a more detailed look at the life of Henri Vever, please see the following publication from which much of this biographical information originates: Lowry, G.D. with Nemazee, S. (1988). A jeweler's eye: Islamic arts of the book from the Vever Collection. Washington D.C.: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Insitution with Seattle: University of Washington Press.

Biographical Overview
Date Event
1854 Vever born in Metz, France.
1870 Following the German annexation of Metz during the Franco-Prussian War, the Vever family leaves Metz for Luxembourg.
1871 Jean-Jacques Ernest Vever (father of Henri) buys a jewelry studio in Paris. Vever begins apprenticeship at Loguet and at Hallet and attends night classes at the Ecole des Art Décoratif in Paris.
1873 Vever enters the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the studios of M.A. Millet and J.L. Gérôme.
1881 Jean-Jacques Ernest Vever retires and Vever and his brother Paul assume control of the jewelry shop (Maison Vever). Henri Vever marries Jeanne Monthiers.
1882 Jeanne Vever gives birth to Marguerite Vever, the couple’s only child.
1885 Vever buys first painting.
1891 Vever travels to Russia where the Maison Vever takes part in a jewelry exhibition in Moscow.
1892 Vever becomes a regular participant of the dîners japonisants organized by art dealer Siegfried Bing.
1893 Vever appointed commissioner for jewelry to the World’s Columbian Exposition, in Chicago. Maison Vever exhibits jewelry at the Exposition.
1894 Vever donates forty Japanese prints to the Louvre.
1900 Vever joins the Société Franco-Japonasie and is elected the mayor of Noyers, France.
1906-1908 Vever publishes, Bijouterie Française au XIXe Siècle.
1913 With Georges Marteau, Vever authors, Miniatures Persanesa catalogue of the 1912 Exposition des Arts Musulmans.
1915 Paul Vever dies.
1919 Maison Vever commissioned to make sword of honor offered to Marshall Ferdinand Foch by the city of Paris to celebrate the end of World War I.
1921 Vever retires.
1939 Marguerite Vever dies.
1942 Henri Vever dies.
1982 Maison Vever closes.

Jeweler, art collector, and author Henri Vever was born in Metz, France in 1854. Together with his older brother Paul, Henri Vever managed the family jewelry firm, Maison Vever, from 1881 until Paul’s death in 1915 and Henri’s retirement in 1921. As an art collector, Vever amassed a large collection of European, Asian, and Islamic art. Through his work as a jeweler, art collector, and author, Henri Vever played an important role in the twentieth-century art world.

To equip him with the proper skills to run Maison Vever, Henri Vever apprenticed in the studios of Louguet and of Hallet and attended the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs in 1871. Two years later, the Ecole des Beaux-Arts accepted Henri and he entered the studios of artists M.A. Millet and J.L. Gérôme. Jean-Jacque Ernest Vever retired from Maison Vever in 1881 and his two sons, Henri and Paul, assumed control.

The youngest son of Jean-Jacques Ernest Vever, Henri Vever was born into a family of jewelers. His grandfather, Pierre-Paul Vever, launched a successful jewelry shop in Metz in 1854. Upon retirement, Pierre-Paul Vever’s son, Henri’s father, assumed control of the shop. With the German annexation of Metz during the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, Jean-Jacque Ernest Vever took his family to Luxembourg and one year later acquired a jewelry shop at 19 Rue de la Paix in Paris and named the new shop Maison Vever.

That same year Henri married Jeanne Monthiers and she gave birth to the couple’s only child, Margeurite, in 1882. Henri, Jeanne, and Margeurite Vever lived at 19 Rue de la Paix in the same building that housed Maison Vever. In 1892 Jeanne Vever inherited her family’s estate in Noyers, France.

The Vever brothers ran a very successful jewelry studio. Not only did Maison Vever’s clientele base expand during their tenure, but its designs were often prizewinners at various expositions around the world. The 1900 Exposition Universalle in Paris offers an example. The Maison Vever submission won a Grand Prix at this exposition in which the art movement Art Nouveau played a major role.

Henri Vever was a proponent of the Art Nouveau movement, a turn-of-the-century art movement whose adherents sought to forge a new, modern style, one that would, “reunite art and craft.” According to curator Glenn Lowry, Vever’s interest in Art Nouveau affected the Maison Vever’s designs. “…during the 1880s many of the Maison Vever’s designs were highly traditional, by the beginning of the 1890s the firm was at the vanguard of the art nouveau movement.

In addition to his work at Maison Vever, Vever amassed an enormous and influential collection of European, Asian, and Islamic art. Initially a collector of European art, by the late 1880s Vever’s collecting interests expanded to include Asian and then Islamic art works. According to Lowry, Vever’s interest in Islamic art was sparked in 1891 when he traveled to Moscow to participate in a jewelry exhibition. In approximately 1892 Vever joined Les Amis de l’Art Japonais, a group whose members met for dinners at which they discussed Japanese art. Claude Monet was also a member of this group.

From 1906 to 1908, Vever published a three-volume series, Bijouterie Française au XIXe Siècle . This set became the, “standard text on nineteenth-century jewelry”. Through his art collections, writings, and profession, Henri Vever played an important role in the twentieth-century art world. He acquired a large art collection and often loaned pieces out for exhibition to various galleries and museums throughout the world. Henri Vever retired from Maison Vever in 1921 and the sons of Paul Vever, André and Pierre, took over the reigns. Henri Vever died in 1942 at the country estate in Noyers. Maison Vever continued operation until 1982 when it permanently shut its doors.

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Scope and Content Note

The Henri Vever Papers measure 2.5 linear feet (35 items) and span the years 1875 – 1932. The collection contains six diaries, an account ledger, 20 photographs, one guest list, one ceremonial pommel, and six original oil paintings by Henri Vever.

This collection is organized into five series:

Series 1: Diaries, 1878-1901

Series 2: Account Ledger, 1894, 1907-1917

Series 3: Photographs, 1867-1932, n.d

Subseries 3.1: Henri Vever and Family

Subseries 3.2: Vever Family Estate in Noyers, France

Series 4: Miscellaneous, 1893, 1918[?]

Subseries 4.1: Dinner guest list

Subseries 4.2: Pommel

Series 5: Art Works, 1914-1915

Subseries 5.1: Le Havre, France

Subseries 5.2: Château de Noyers

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Restrictions

Restrictions on Access

Access is by appointment only, Monday through Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please contact the Archives to make an appointment.

Restrictions on Use

No restrictions on use.

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Selected Search Terms

Names:
Vever, Henri, 1854-1942
Subjects:
Art dealers -- France
Art nouveau
Art, Asian
Art, European
Art, Islamic
Jewelry -- France -- History -- Nineteenth Century
Jewelry -- France -- History -- Twentieth Century
Places:
Le Havre (France)
Paris (France)
Document Types:
Art works
Diaries
Photographs

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Related Material

The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery holds the, Vever Collection of Islamic Manuscripts. Additionally, the Archives holds, the Vever Family Photograph Album which contains photographs depicting the Vever family from 1881-1930 and the family estate in Noyers, France.

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Administrative Information

Alternate Formats

A portion of the collection has been microfilmed and is available through the Archives.

Preferred Citation

Henri Vever Papers. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Gift of François Mautin, 1988

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Linda M. Machado, 2001.

Provenance

The Henri Vever Papers were donated to the Archives by the grandson of Henri Vever, François Mautin, in 1988. Additionally, Mr. Mautin donated six original oil paintings by Henri Vever to the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in 1988. These paintings were transferred to the Archives in 1993.

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Description of Series/Container List

 
Series 1: Diaries,  1878-1901  
This series comprises six diaries kept by Henri Vever. They span the years 1878 to 1901 and all are handwritten and in French. All the diaries include later annotations by Mr. Vever's grandson, Francois Mautin. The diaries document the day-to-day happenings of Mr. Vever’s personal and professional lives. The earliest of the diaries dates from 1878. The diary from 1891 documents Vever’s travels to Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Russia, Turkey, Greece, and Italy. Four diaries are sequentially titled, “HV [Henri Vever] 1”, “HV2”, “HV 3”, and “HV 4”. These four diaries contain continuous entries starting in 1898 and ending in 1901. The series is arranged chronologically.
Box Folder
1 1 Diary,  1878  
Annotated by F. Mautin on July 1984
1 2 Diary,  1891  
Travel journal. Annotated by F.M. [Francois Mautin] July to Sept. 1891. Handwritten, in French.
1 3 Diary,  1898  
“H.V. 1”Annotated by F. [Francois] Mautin.1st entry 1 January 1898, last 5 May 1898. Handwritten, in French.
1 4 Diary,  1898  
“H.V.2” Annotated by Francois Mautin 1st entry, 9 May 1898, last 25 Nov. 1898. Handwritten, in French.
1 5 Diary,  1898 - 1899  
“H.V.3” Annotated by Francois Mautin 1st entry, 26 Nov. 1898, last 5 Nov. 1899. [1 Enclosure – program from Conservatoire National de Musique, Société des Concerts. April 1899.]. Handwritten, in French.
1 6 Diary,  1899 -1901  
“H.V.4” Annotated by Francois Mautin.1st entry 6 Nov. 1899, last 11 March 1901. Handwritten, in French.
 
Series 2: Account Ledger,  1894, 1907-1917  
This series comprises a one-volume ledger, with enclosures, maintained by Vever for 1894 and 1907 to 1917 to record his art purchases. Items enclosed in the ledger are housed next to the volume in a separate folder. Entries include year, date, name of dealer or auction house from which the item was purchased, a description of the purchase, and the asking and paid prices (in French francs). The series comprises one ledger book and a folder of items enclosed in the ledger (including the record for 1894).
Box Folder
2 1,2 Account Ledger,  1894, 1907 – 1917.  
“H.V Comptes Arts. 1907 a 1917 et 1894.”[Henri Vever Art Accounts 1907 to 1917 and 1894. Items enclosed in ledger are housed in folder 2]. Handwritten, in French.
 
Series 3: Photographs,  1867-1932, n.d.  
This series comprises twenty black and white photographs. It is subdivided into two subseries. Subseries one comprises fourteen photographs of Henri Vever and his family and subseries two comprises sixteen photographs of the Vever family estate in Noyers. The estate was the Monthiers family estate and inherited by Henri Vever’s wife, Jeanne, in 1892. Each subseries is arranged chronologically.
Subseries 3.1: Photographs of the Vever family,  1867-1932, n.d.  
Box Folder
2 3 Henri and Paul Vever,  1867[?]  
Studio portrait. Annotated on back, “Paul (L) Henri (R) Vever 1867 (?) Henri looks much younger about 10 years old which would make it 1864.”
2 3 Henri Vever,  ca. 1875  
Henri Vever in military uniform. Annotated on back, “Henri Vever – circa 1875. 1854-1942 (military service). Studio: Photographie J. Caron, Nancy.
2 3 Henri Vever,  ca. 1880  
Annotated on back, “Henri Vever (1854.1942) circa 1880.” Studio: A. Dietsche, Paris.
2 3 Henri Vever,  ca. 1895  
Henri Vever. Portrait on cabinet card. Photographer, Léon Colson
2 3 Henri and Jeanne Vever,  1895-1900  
Henri and Jeanne Vever and bicycles. Annotated on back, “Henri Vever (born 1854) and his wife Jeanne (née Monthiers) circa 1895 – 1900.
2 4 Marguerite Vever,  1903  
Studio portrait. Annotated on back, “Marguerite Vever (H.V. only daughter) Then 27 years old” Studio: Cautin & Berger, Paris.
2 4 Henri and Jeanne Vever,  1930  
2 copies. Annotated on back, “Henri et Jeanne Vever. Noyers circa 1930.”
2 4 [Henri Vever],  1931  
Annotated on back, “1931, 71 years old.” Studio: Abel Photographe. Paris.
2 5 Henri Vever,  1931  
Annotated on back, “Henri Vever 1931. 1854 – 1942.” Studio: Abel Photographe, Paris.
2 5 Henri Vever ,  1931  
Studio portrait. Annotated on back, “Henri Vever 1931. 1854-1942.
2 5 Henri Vever,  1931  
Studio portrait. Annotated on back, “Henri Vever (1854 – 1942), 1932.” Studio: Walery, Paris.
2 5 Photograph of Henri Vever and envelope,  n.d.  
Envelope addressed to Madame Andre in Rabat.
2 5 Henri Vever, [Marguerite Vever?], and two unidentified children,  n.d.  
Envelope addressed to Madame Andre in Rabat.
2 5 1 photograph of a drawing,  n.d.  
Modern print of an 1890 drawing by Henri Vever. Annotated on back, “Exact size of the original. Jean Hilaire Monthiers. 1822 – 1892. Father of Jeanne Monthiers 1861 – 1948, wife of Henri Vever. Drawn by Henri Vever 1890.”
Subseries 3.2: Photographs of the family estate in Noyers, France  1924, n.d.  
2 6 Photograph,  1924  
Vever family estate in Noyers, France.
2 6 Photograph,  n.d.  
Vever family estate in Noyers, France.
2 6 Photograph ,  n.d.  
Vever family estate in Noyers, France.
2 6 Photograph,  n.d.  
Vever family estate in Noyers, France. Annotated on back.
2 6 Picture postcards,  1924  
2 picture postcards of the Vever family estate in Noyers, France.
 
Series 4: Miscellaneous,  1893, 1918[?]  
This series comprises two items and is subdivided into two subseries. Subseries 5.1 is guest list for an 1893 dinner gathering of the organization, “Les Amis de l’Art Japonais”, of which Vever was a member. Among the many individuals listed is Claude Monet. Subseries 5.2 is a Henri Vever designed pommel. It is a reproduction of the pommel of a ceremonial sword given to Marshal Foch in 1918 by the city of Paris.
Subseries 4.1: Dinner Guest List  1893  
Box Folder
2 7 "Dîner des amis de l’art Japonais",  1893  
Guest list and addresses for a dinner, guests include Claude Monet.
Subseries 4.2: Pommel,  1918  
Box Folder
3 Pommel,  1918  
Reproduction of pommel of ceremonial sword given to Marshal Foch in 1918 by city of Paris. Designed by H. Vever.
 
Series 5: Art works,  1914-1915  
This series comprises six oil paintings by Henri Vever. This series is subdivided into two subseries. Subseries one consists of Vever’s depictions of Ste. Adresse in Le Havre, France. The second series comprises Vever’s depictions of the Château de Noyers.
Subseries 5.1: Le Havre, France,  1914  
Box Folder
4 1 "Coucher de Soleil à Ste. Adresse (Le Havre)" by Henri Vever,  1914  
Oil on canvas mounted on paperboard.16.3 cm H x 22.7 cm W x 0.3 cm DS1988.2
4 2 "Coucher de Soleil à Ste. Adresse (Le Havre)" by Henri Vever,  1914  
Oil on canvas mounted on paperboard.16.3 cm H x 22.7 cm W x 0.3 cm DS1988.3
4 3 "Coucher de Soleil à Ste. Adresse (Le Havre)" by Henri Vever,  1914  
Oil on canvas mounted on paperboard.16.3 cm H x 22.7 cm W x 0.3 cm DS1988.4
4 4 "Coucher de Soleil à Ste. Adresse (Le Havre)" by Henri Vever,  1914  
Oil on canvas mounted on paperboard.16.3 cm H x 22.7 cm W x 0.3 cm DS1988.5
Subseries 5.2: Château de Noyers (Eure),  1914  
4 5 Château de Noyers (Eure),” by Henri Vever,  1914  
Oil on wood.20.9 cm H x 27.5 cm W x 0.3 cm. DS1998.6
4 6 Château de Noyers (Eure),” by Henri Vever,  1914  
Oil on wood. 20.9 cm H x 27.5 cm W x 0.3 cm. DS1998.7