A Life in Art

Book - 2004
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Baker & Taylor
Provides a definitive portrait of Lord Duveen of Millbank, the twentieth century's leading art dealer, describing his rise to success in the art world, work with Old Masters paintings, rise to the upper levels of British society, influence at Buckingham palace, and controversial use of art espionage to discover his clients' tastes.

Blackwell North Amer
The story begins with Duveen pere, a Dutch Jew immigrating to Britain in 1866, establishing a business in London, going from humble beginnings in an antiques shop to a knighthood celebrating him as one of the country's leading art dealers. Duveen pere could discern an Old Master beneath layers of discolored varnish. He perfected the chase, the subterfuges, the strategies, the double dealings. He had an uncanny ability to spot a hidden treasure. It was called "the Duveen eye." His son, Joseph, grew up with it and learned it all - and more.
Secrest tells us how the young Duveen was motivated from the beginning by the thrill of discovery; how he ascended, at twenty-nine, to (de facto) head of the business; how he moved away from the firm's emphasis on tapestries and Chinese porcelains toward the more speculative, more lucrative, more exciting business of dealing in Old Masters. We see a demand for these paintings growing in America, fueled by the new "squillionaires" just at the moment when British aristocrats with great art collections were losing their fortunes...how Duveen's whole career was based on the simple observation: Europe has the art; America, the money.
Secrest shows how he sold hundreds of masterpieces by Bellini, Botticelli, Giotto, Raphael, Rembrandt, Gainsborough, Watteau, Velazquez, Vermeer, and Titian, among others, by convincing such self-made Americans as Morgan, Frick, Huntington, Widener, Bache, Mellon, and Kress that ownership of great art would ennoble them, and while waving such huge sums at the already noble British owners that the art changed hands and all were happy.
Duveen was as generous as he was acquisitive, giving away hundreds of thousands of pounds to British institutions (the Tate Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, the British Museum - including rooms to house the Elgin Marbles), organizing exhibitions for young artists, writing books about British art, and playing a major role in the design of the National Gallery in Washington.

& Taylor

Provides a portrait of Lord Duveen of Millbank, the twentieth century's leading art dealer.

Publisher: New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 2004
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780375410420
Characteristics: xxii, 517 p. : ill., ports., geneal. table ; 25 cm


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