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Both as a biography and as a chapter of social and cultural history, this book portrays the life of the connoisseur of Italian Renaissance painting
Recounts Berenson's development into the most famous critic and arbiter of taste in the Anglo-American art world and illuminates his relationships with many of the great philosophers, writers, and art patrons of his time
" Few would have predicted that Bernard Berenson, from a poor Lithuanian Jewish immigrant family, would rise above poverty. Yet Berenson left his crowded home near Boston's railyards and transformed himself into the world's most renowned expert on Italian Renaissance paintings, the owner of a beautiful villa and an immense private library in the hills outside Florence. The explosion of the Gilded Age art market and Berenson's work for dealer Joseph Duveen supported a luxurious life, but it came with painful costs: Berenson hid his origins and, though his attributions remain foundational, felt that he had betrayed his gifts as a critic and interpreter of paintings. This finely drawn portrait of Berenson, the first biography devoted to him in a quarter century, draws on new archival materials that bring out the significance of his secret business dealings and the central importance of several women in his life and work: his sister Senda Berenson; his wife Mary Berenson; his patron Isabella Stewart Gardner; his lover Belle da Costa Greene; his dear friend Edith Wharton, and the companion of his last forty years, Nicky Mariano. Rachel Cohen explores Berenson's inner world and extraordinary visual capacity while also illuminating the historical forces-new capital, the developing art market, persistent anti-Semitism, and the two world wars-that profoundly affected his life"--
In 1925, the 22-year-old Kenneth Clark (1903–1983) and the legendary art critic and historian Bernard Berenson (1865–1959) met in Italy. From that moment, they began a correspondence that lasted until Berenson's death at age 94. This book makes available, for the first time, the complete correspondence between two of the most influential figures in the 20th-century art world, and gives a new and unique insight into their lives and motivations. The letters are arranged into ten chronological sections, each accompanied by biographical details and providing the context for the events and personalities referred to. They were both talented letter writers: informative, spontaneous, humorous, gossipy, and in their frequent letters they exchanged news and views about art and politics, friends and family life, collectors, connoisseurship, discoveries, books read and written, and travel. Berenson advised Clark on his blossoming career, warning against the museum and commercial art worlds while encouraging his promise as a writer and interpreter of the arts. Above all, these letters trace the development of a deep and intimate friendship.
The correspondence between Berenson, an art critic, and Gardener, a wealthy art collector, documents the development of the Gardener Museum collection

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