A Short History of the Duveen Family and its involvement in Fine Art & Antiques

 

The Duveen family's involvement with the world of Fine Art and Antiques, can be dated back to Cordoba in Andalusia, Spain, prior to 1492, when the family was listed as 'Dealers of Antiquites'. The name 'Du Vesne', was adopted by the family from a French Grandmother, who was a descendant of the great art collector Eberhard Jabach. Jabach was reputed to have been the main buyer at the sale of the incomparable art collection of King Charles I. When the family fled Paris for Holland during the French Revolution, they changed the family name to 'Duveen', (for ease of pronounciation in Dutch).  My Great-Great Grandfather, Joel Joseph Duveen, came to England in c.1865 and soon became a dealer in antique Chinese Porcelain, helping build collections of prize pieces for wealthy Victorian Collectors in Hull and later in London.  In 1909, Joel changed his name to Joseph Joel and was given a Knighthood by Edward VII. By this time Sir Joseph had established a fine family business with large galleries in Bond Street, London and many wealthy clients in America, dealing in Fine Art, Antique tapestries, Chinese Porcelain and Fine Furniture. Sir Joe and his wonderfully capable wife, Rosetta, had 12 children, many of whom were involved in the business.

 

The Duveen business was in time headed by Sir Joseph's eldest Son, Joe, who later became Lord Duveen of Millbank, both he and his Father, (through the family business), bequeathing Art Works and funds to what is now Tate Britain, the National Gallery,(building the Duveen Galleries) and the British Museum, (funding the room in which the Elgin Marbles are housed).  My Great Grandfather, Louis Duveen,(Fourth son of Sir Joseph), was the Art Historian of the family business, researching single Art Works and entire Collections and advising Sir Joseph, (his Father), and his elder brother, (Joe), on acquisitions in Europe, Britain and America.

 

Emma Duveen