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Henry Walters and Bernard Berenson: Collector and Connoisseur
     

Henry Walters and Bernard Berenson: Collector and Connoisseur

by Stanley Mazaroff, William R. Johnston (Foreword by)
 

Collecting Italian Renaissance paintings during America’s Gilded Age was fraught with risk because of the uncertain identities of the artists and the conflicting interests of the dealers. Stanley Mazaroff’s fascinating account of the close relationship between Henry Walters, founder of the legendary Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, and Bernard Berenson,

Overview

Collecting Italian Renaissance paintings during America’s Gilded Age was fraught with risk because of the uncertain identities of the artists and the conflicting interests of the dealers. Stanley Mazaroff’s fascinating account of the close relationship between Henry Walters, founder of the legendary Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, and Bernard Berenson, the era’s preeminent connoisseur of Italian paintings, richly illustrates this important chapter of America’s cultural history.

When Walters opened his Italianate museum in 1909, it was labeled as America’s "Great Temple of Art." With more than 500 Italian paintings, including self-portraits purportedly by Raphael and Michelangelo, Walters’s collection was compared favorably with the great collections in London, Paris, and Berlin. In the midst of this fanfare, Berenson contacted Walters and offered to analyze his collection, sell him additional paintings, and write a scholarly catalogue that would trumpet the collection on both sides of the Atlantic. What Berenson offered was what Walters desperately needed—a badge of scholarship that Berenson’s invaluable imprimatur would undoubtedly bring.

By 1912, Walters had become Berenson’s most active client, their business alliance wrapped in a warm and personal friendship. But this relationship soon became strained and was finally severed by a confluence of broken promises, inattention, deceit, and ethical conflict. To Walters’s chagrin, Berenson swept away the self-portraits allegedly by Raphael and Michelangelo and publicly scorned paintings that he was supposed to praise. Though painful to Walters, Berenson’s guidance ultimately led to a panoramic collection that beautifully told the great history of Italian Renaissance painting.

Based primarily on correspondence and other archival documents recently discovered at the Walters Art Museum and the Villa I Tatti in Florence, the intriguing story of Walters and Berenson offers unusual insight into the pleasures and perils of collecting Italian Renaissance paintings, the ethics in the marketplace, and the founding of American art museums.

Editorial Reviews

Wall Street Journal
A pointed account of the relationship between the famous connoisseur and the railroad magnate.

— Robert Messenger

Fine Art Connoisseur
"Surprisingly, this is the only book ever to focus on just one of Berenson’s client relationships. For this and other reasons, every collector—especially the temple-building grandees at work today—should read Mazaroff ’s compelling investigation"

Wall Street Journal - Robert Messenger
"A pointed account of the relationship between the famous connoisseur and the railroad magnate."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801895128
Publisher:
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date:
05/28/2010
Edition description:
20
Pages:
248
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Recognized annually in Best Lawyers in America, Stanley Mazaroff retired from the active practice of law to study art history at the Johns Hopkins University. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Walters Art Museum.

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