JOSEPH DUVEEN by S.N. Behrman
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JOSEPH DUVEEN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A dashing, sparkling and loving epitaph to an era and one of its most fabulous figures- this is the biography of the art dealer Joseph Duveen, who as a middleman of great masters purveyed art and immortality to the most powerful men of his time. Impulsive prodigal, audacious, generous, shrewd- and on occasion- sharp, Duveen circulated with a kinetic energy and a sublime showmanship through London, Paris and New York,- defused his clientele with the fierce excitement of possession,- inspired them with a deep respect for the absolutism of his opinions and the cachet of his name,- built his success on the theorem that ""When you pay high for the priceless, you're getting it cheap"",- and sold culture with a personal imprimatur. Here are many of the elaborate negotiations and continuous litigations in which he figured; the long history of his association with Kress, Morgan, Frick, Widener, Mellon, Altman- these the upper echelon of his upper bracket customers- and the intricate process of converting a ""Midas into Maecenas"" as he provided the privilege of expensiveness and the promise of eternity for a favored few. Here too, is the long friendship, and dependence, on Berenson, whose subtle intuition and scholarship gave the final touch of authenticity to many of his transactions. And finally, his last masterpiece, The National Gallery of Art in Washington, which was the Duveen inspiration through which Mellon and Kress were able to circumvent oblivion- and the Collector of Internal Revnue....A witty, buoyant, stimulated portrayal of a gentleman-rogue and a charmed career, this captures the exaltation of the medium in which he dealt and the enthusiasm he brought to it, and has already met with a tremendous reader response through the New Yorker in which it first appeared.

Pub Date: March 24th, 1952
Publisher: Random House