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The  picture below shows Japie Witkop, dangling rather uncomfortably from the arms of Johan Bruning, technical assistant for the art dealers Frans Buffa & Sons. The white cat would have preferred to curl up lazily on a footstool in the gallery, but first he had to have his picture taken in honour of the fact that he had been an esteemed member of staff for thirteen years. This touching image comes from a previously unknown archive comprising hundreds of letters, dozens of photos as well as various administrative files belonging to the company of Frans Buffa & Sons. The archive was given on loan to the RKD in 2013, coinciding with the launch of a thoroughgoing research project into the Amsterdam art dealership, which conducted its business from the Kalverstraat for more than 150 years.

Unknown photographer, probably a portrait of Jan Bruning with
the gallery cat, Witkop, on the premises of Frans Buffa & Sons,
c. 1938, RKD, The Hague; Buffa Archive

From September, the results of the research will be presented in three ways: the gallery's archive will be made accessible through the RKD's online databases; the individual dealings of the gallery owners and their personal liaisons with clients and artists are revealed in a publication entitled Kunsthandel Frans Buffa & Zonen 1790-1951, Schoonheid te koop (Frans Buffa & Sons 1790-1951, beauty for sale), and from 10 September 2016 to 8 January 2017, you can visit an exhibition with the same title at the Singer Museum Laren.

The RKD (Netherlands Institute for Art History) is the world’s leading information centre and central source for the study of Dutch art.

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