The Art of Scandal: The Life and Times of Isabella Stewart Gardner

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Immortalized by Henry James in print and by John Singer Sargent on canvas, Isabella Stewart Gardner has remained an elusive original whose independent life and work shocked the Boston aristocracy she married into. Based on extensive new research, this is the first biography of Isabella Gardner in thirty years. It reveals the many strands of her life as a cultural maverick and as muse and mentor, friend and patron to writers, musicians, and artists such as James, Sargent, Lady Gregory, Bernard Berenson, Elsie De Wolfe, Martin Loeffler, Julia Ward Howe, Okakura Kakuzo, Henry Adams, T. S. Eliot, and Paul Manship. The climax of her life came after her husband's death in 1898, when she designed and built an innovative museum in the form of a Venetian palazzo and, with the legendary art historian Bernard Berenson, created America's first great private art collection. The Art of Scandal is the story of a striking woman of great force and character and of the Boston she lived in, from the Brahmins of Beacon Hill to the newly emerging ethnic communities and the little-known gay subculture. Isabella Gardner emerges as one of the most evocative figures of America's Gilded Age.

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THE ART OF SCANDAL: The Life and Times of Isabella Stewart Gardner

User Review  - Kirkus

A thoroughly readable biography—the first in 30 years—of the eclectic-minded collector, patron, and designer whose unique legacy, an art-filled Venetian palazzo in Boston's Fenway neighborhood ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - lincics - LibraryThing

I gave up at about page 29. Thoroughly researched, but poorly organized and ponderously written. I might come back to this book to gain additional insight after I've read other biographies of this fascinating woman, but a poor choice for taking a first look at her life. Read full review


Three On Pilgrimage
Four The Awakener

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About the author (1997)

Douglass Shand-Tucci's previous books include T"he Art of Scandal," the bestselling biography of Isabella Steward Gardner; Boston Bohemia, and, most recently, Harvard University, with photographs by Richard Cheek and a foreword by Neil Rudenstine. The origin of "The Crimson Letter "is a speech Shand-Tucci, a 1972 graduate of Harvard College, gave to the Gay and Lesbian Caucus in 1997. He lives in Boston's Back Bay.

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