In 1937, after working for nearly twenty years in the Boston art market, Charles D. Childs founded Childs Gallery on Newbury Street in Boston. The gallery is now the longest running of the commercial Newbury Street galleries. Childs has one of the largest inventories of oil paintings, drawings, watercolors, prints and sculpture in the United States. Newbury Street, the heart of the New England art market, has seen many changes in the more than sixty years since Childs Gallery was started as trends, people and galleries have come and gone. Childs Gallery, however, has remained steady in its mission.
The mission of the gallery is to provide the public (collectors, dealers and museums) with high quality older works of art–from the Renaissance to the 1950s–that come to the market from many sources–including the capacious attics of New Englanders. In addition to mainstream collecting taste, Childs has always sought the unusual, the overlooked, and the out of taste in order to give the collector of modest means the opportunity to collect fine works at modest prices. In many cases, this has proved to be an opportunity to purchase art far ahead of price trends and to learn about artists and schools along with scholars and curators. Indeed, a part of the tradition of Childs Gallery has been scholarship. Charles D. Childs wrote the first catalogue raisonné for several printmakers in the 1920s, the first article on Robert Salmon (1938), and was responsible for much of the scholarship on Fitz Hugh Lane. Similarly, his successor at Childs Gallery, Carl L. Crossman, developed the scholarship of paintings and objects of the China Trade for the first time in a comprehensive way. Over the last two decades, D. Roger Howlett and the staff of Childs Gallery have written books, catalogues and scholarly articles on Donald De Lue, Albert Wein, George Luks, Arthur Heintzelman, Herbert Barnett, William Partridge Burpee, The Lynn Beach Painters, Richard Bassett, Molly Luce, and Samuel Chamberlain. The gallery has led in research and re-introduced artists such as I. M. Gaugengigl, Laura Hills, Henry R. Kenyon, Sally Michel, A. L. Ripley and Gertrude Beals Bourne. The Childs Gallery Bulletin has been a reference source quoted by the New York Historical Society Dictionary of American Painters and Who Was Who in American Art. The Childs Gallery Print Annual began in 1976 and has become a standard among print galleries. The Painting Annual and Works on Paper are other publications of the gallery.