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Guide to the J. Paul Getty Collected Photographs and Postcards of Los Angeles and Vicinity, 1857-1940
IA40005  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical Note
  • Administrative Information
  • Related Archival Materials Note
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Collected photographs and postcards of Los Angeles, California and vicinity
    Date (inclusive): circa 1857-1940
    Number: IA40005
    Creator/Collector: Getty, J. Paul (Jean Paul), 1892-1976
    Physical Description: 0.6 linear feet
    Repository:
    The Getty Research Institute
    Institutional Records and Archives
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688
    (310) 440-7390
    archives@getty.edu
    Abstract: This collection primarily comprises black-and-white photographs of early California (1857-1940s). J. Paul Getty collected these images; they reflect his interest in Los Angeles and the coastal region of Santa Monica and Malibu, where he spent much of his life. The bulk of the images trace the development of Los Angeles from a small pueblo to a bustling city and show the Santa Monica coastline, canyons, and mountains prior to their development. The collection also contains several photographs of waterfront communities to the north and south of Los Angeles, a few shots of California missions, and one of the Redwoods. It also includes a small set of non-photographic postcards of California (1885).
    Request Materials: To access physical materials at the Getty, go to the library catalog record  for this collection and click "Request an Item." Click here for general library access policy . See the Administrative Information section of this finding aid for access restrictions specific to the records described below. Please note, some of the records may be stored off site; advanced notice is required for access to these materials.
    Language: Collection material is in English

    Biographical Note

    American oil tycoon and art collector Jean Paul Getty was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on December 15, 1892 to George Franklin Getty (1855-1930) and Sarah Catherine McPherson Risher Getty. Around 1906 the Getty family moved to Los Angeles. Jean Paul, called "Paul," attended a private military school before going on to the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and the University of California, Berkeley. In 1911, Paul went to Oxford to study economics and political science, completing his diploma in 1913. Afterwards he embarked on a year-long Grand Tour of Europe, which no doubt sparked his interest in art and antiquities.
    In 1914 Paul joined the family oil business and spent a year in the oil fields of Oklahoma. An astute investment in 160 acres near Stone Bluff, Oklahoma led to Paul's announcement two years later that he had earned his first million dollars. He returned to Los Angeles and took a break of more than a year before returning to the oil business. Paul then persuaded his father to shift the focus of the family business to the Los Angeles basin. Paul continued to work for the family company in addition to conducting oil drilling of his own, securing the family fortune by the time the stock market crashed in 1929. Upon his death in 1930 George left controlling interest in the company to Sarah. In 1934 Paul forced Sarah out of control of the company and gave her an annuity. His fortune grew as he acquired the controlling interest in several companies and became the head of a vast organization with activities in oil exploration, transportation, production and marketing, as well as minerals, manufacturing, real estate and agriculture. In the mid-1940s Getty bought the Saudi Arabian portion of the lease on the mineral rights in the Neutral Zone between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait; his wealth dramatically increased when this site produced oil in 1953.
    Beginning in the early 1930s Getty lived in a house he built next to William Randolph Hearst's on the beach in Santa Monica. During World War II he moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma for four years to supervise wartime production of parts for Allied aircraft at his Spartan Aircraft plant. In 1946 he purchased 64 acres in Pacific Palisades, California and renovated the existing hacienda, known as the Ranch House, where he lived until 1951. When Getty departed the United States for Europe in 1951, he kept his Pacific Palisades estate for the display of his art collection and for the possibility of his eventual return. Getty had been collecting art since the 1930s and continued collecting throughout his lifetime. By 1968 his art collection had begun to outgrow the Ranch House and he began planning a new building on the property to properly house these works. He chose to pattern this new museum building after a first-century Roman country house, based primarily on the plans of the ancient Villa dei Papiri near Herculaneum. This museum, often called the Villa, opened to the public on January 16, 1974.
    After leaving the United States Getty lived in hotel suites in Europe until 1960 when he moved to Sutton Place, a historic 72-room Tudor manor located 25 miles southwest of London. In 1957 Fortune magazine designated Getty as the world's wealthiest man, and he became the object of considerable public interest. For the rest of his life, both the respectable press and the tabloids reported on his perceived eccentricities and his private life, which included five marriages and divorces. J. Paul Getty died in England on June 6, 1976 without ever returning to California. Although he never saw the museum, he is buried at the Getty Villa property, on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Much to everyone's surprise Getty left the bulk of his fortune to the museum with a mission to promote "the diffusion of artistic and general knowledge."
    J. Paul Getty's publications include:
    • Getty, J. Paul. The history of the oil business of George F. and J. Paul Getty from 1903 to 1939. Los Angeles (?), 1941.
    • Getty, J. Paul. Europe in the eighteenth century. [Santa Monica, Calif.]: privately printed, 1949.
    • Le Vane, Ethel, and J. Paul Getty. Collector's choice: the chronicle of an artistic odyssey through Europe. London: W.H. Allen, 1955.
    • Getty, J. Paul. My life and fortunes. New York: Duell, Sloan & Pearce, 1963.
    • Getty, J. Paul. The joys of collecting. New York: Hawthorn Books, 1965.
    • Getty, J. Paul. How to be rich. Chicago: Playboy Press, 1965.
    • Getty, J. Paul. The golden age. New York: Trident Press, 1968.
    • Getty, J. Paul. How to be a successful executive. Chicago: Playboy Press, 1971.
    • Getty, J. Paul. As I see it: the autobiography of J. Paul Getty. Englewood Cliffs, N.J. : Prentice-Hall, 1976.

    Administrative Information

    Restrictions on Access

    These records are available for use by qualified researchers.
    The J. Paul Getty Trust reserves the right to restrict access to any records held by the Institutional Archives.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    [Cite the item and series (as appropriate)], Collected photographs and postcards of Los Angeles and vicinity, J. Paul Getty. Institutional Archives, Research Library, Getty Research Institute, Finding aid no. IA40005.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition note

    These materials were entered into the archives as accession number 1986.IA.29.

    Related Archival Materials Note

    The following materials are offered as possible sources of further information on the agencies and subjects covered by these records. The listing is not exhaustive.
    Contributing Institution: The Huntington Library
    The C. C. Pierce Collection of photographs , circa 1840-1930. Located in: The Huntington Library, San Marino, California. Identification number: photCL Pierce.
    Contributing Institution: Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles
    The Adelbert Bartlett Papers , [1900s]. Located in: Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles. Collection 1300.
    Contributing Institution: USC Libraries Special Collections, Doheny Memorial Library
    The Title Insurance Trust / C. C. Pierce Collection , 1860-1960. Located in: USC Libraries Special Collections, Doheny Memorial Library, Los Angeles, California. Record ID: chs-m265.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    This collection primarily comprises black-and-white photographs of early California (1857-1940s). J. Paul Getty collected these images; they reflect his interest in Los Angeles and the coastal region of Santa Monica,Malibu, and the Pacific Palisades, where he spent much of his life. The bulk of the images trace the development of Los Angeles from a small pueblo to a bustling city and show the Santa Monica area coastline, canyons, and mountains prior to their development. The collection also contains several photographs of waterfront communities and resorts to the north and south of Los Angeles, a few shots of California missions, and one of the Redwoods. It also includes a small set of non-photographic postcards of California (1885). Among this collection are also a few photographs of New York City, a photograph of an unidentified weightlifting competition, and a color photogravure of Château de Pierrefonds (France).
    Many of the photographs in this collection were originally collected by Charles C. Pierce (1861-1946), a notable photographer of early California, who sold photographs out of his store on Spring Street in Los Angeles. Although many of these images are stamped on the verso with the name C. C. Pierce, they were not necessarily created by Pierce. Pierce assembled an impressive library of historic California photographs (and negatives), removed the original photographers' signatures from the works, and stamped his own name on the images. Several other photographs in this collection are attributed to Adelbert Bartlett (1887-1966), a photographer based in Santa Monica, who was known locally and abroad for his images of Southern California.

    Arrangement

    This collection is arranged in two series: Series I. Photographic prints; Series II. Postcards.

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Topics

    Beaches--California--19th century
    Beaches--California--20th century
    Piers--California--19th century
    Piers--California--20th century
    Waterfronts--California--19th century
    Waterfronts--California--20th century

    Subjects - Places

    Los Angeles (Calif.)--Buildings, structures, etc.--19th century
    Los Angeles (Calif.)--Buildings, structures, etc.--20th century
    Los Angeles (Calif.)--History--20th century--Pictorial works
    Los Angeles (Calif.)--Pictorial works--19th century
    Malibu (Calif.)--Pictorial works--19th century
    Malibu (Calif.)--Pictorial works--20th century
    Ocean Park (Calif.)--Pictorial works--19th century
    Ocean Park (Calif.)--Pictorial works--20th century
    Pacific Palisades (Los Angeles, Calif.)--Pictorial works--20th century
    Santa Monica (Calif.)--Pictorial works--19th century
    Santa Monica (Calif.)--Pictorial works--20th century
    Santa Monica Mountains (Calif.)--Pictorial works--19th century
    Santa Monica Mountains (Calif.)--Pictorial works--20th century
    Topanga Canyon (Calif.)--Pictorial works--20th century
    Venice (Los Angeles, Calif.)--History--20th century--Pictorial works

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Photographic prints--California--19th century
    Photographic prints--California--20th century
    Photogravures--France--Color
    Postcards--California--19th century

    Contributors

    Bartlett, Adelbert, 1885-1946
    Getty, J. Paul (Jean Paul), 1892-1976
    Pierce, C. C. (Charles C.), 1861-1946