Old Masters, New World: America's Raid on Europe's Great Pictures, 1880-World War I

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Penguin, 2008 - Art - 336 pages
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The Gilded Age race to bring Europe’s most valuable art to America

In 1870 a group of wealthy and culturally ambitious New Yorkers founded the Metropolitan Museum of Art in a Manhattan brownstone with a lackluster collection and not a single major work of art. Americans came late to the game of art collecting and raced to catch up. Soon, America’s new industrial tycoons began to compete for Europe’s extraordinary Old Master pictures, laying claim to works by Vermeer, Titian, Rembrandt, and others, and causing a major migration of art across the Atlantic.

Cynthia Saltzman recounts the fierce competition to acquire some of the greatest paintings in the world and the boom in the market. At the center of this enterprise were the steel tycoon Henry Clay Frick, the banker J. Pierpont Morgan, the sugar king Harry Havemeyer and his wife Louisine, as well as the Boston aesthete Isabella Stewart Gardner, and the Metropolitan’s president, Henry Marquand. Old Masters, New Worldis the story of beauty, aesthetics, and taste; money, trade, and power. It is a backstage look at the part played in American collecting by experts like Bernard Berenson and dealers like Colnaghi, Knoedler, and Duveen—who raced around Europe to negotiate purchases and sales of the rarest and most costly masterpieces.

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User Review  - jcbrunner - LibraryThing

The United States is a young nation. In contrast to the hundreds and thousands of years of accumulated history and art in Europe and Asia, the Americans had to start from scratch in building cultural ... Read full review


American Citizen Patron of Art
Mr Morgan Still Seems to Be Going on His Devouring
Grecos Merit Is That He Was Two Centuries Ahead
A Picture for a Big Price
Octopus and Wrecker Duveen
Highest Prizes of the Game of Civilization
Thanks Not in the Market at Present
If This War Goes On Many Things Will Be for Sale
The Feast of the Gods

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About the author (2008)

Cynthia Saltzman holds degrees in art history from Harvard and Berkeley and an MBA from Stanford. She is a former reporter for Forbes and The Wall Street Journal and author of The Portrait of Dr. Gachet.

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