Duveen by S.N. Behrman ; Illustrations by Saul Steinberg
New York: Random House, 1952. First edition. Stated "First Printing" on copyright page. Hardcover. 302 pages ; illustrations ; 22 cm. In very good condition with original $3.50 dust jacket, tight binding, clean pages and free of markings.
HE furnished a Washington apartment, handed the key to Andrew Mellon, later sold Mellon the apartment's contents jar twenty-one million dollars!
HE told his American clients, "You can get all the pictures you want at fifty thousand dollars apiece — that's easy. But to get pictures at a quarter of a million apiece —that wants doing!" His "doing" skyrocketed the values of art masterpieces to astronomical heights, transformed the American taste in art, and, in five decades, established American collections as among the finest in the world.
HE loved lawsuits. In one instance, having won the case, he paid in full the amount for which he had been sued.
HIS fabulous transactions with men of great wealth — Mellon, Rockefeller, Frick, Kress, Morgan, Altman and others — revealed the perfection of his salesmanship, yet he relished buying more than selling.
HE was Joseph Duveen, Lord Millbank, die most spectacular art dealer of all time. His astonishing career was built upon the simple observation that Europe had art and America money. To trade one for the other became the ruling and highly profitable passion of his life.
HIS story, by S. N. Behrman, America's distinguished dramatist, is a literary triumph of unremitting interest—an anecdotal feast unique in our time.
S. N. BEHRMAN
The author of Duveen first studied the arts at Clark University. He entered the Worcester hall of learning shortly after Sigmund Freud was invited to attend and explode upon America his theory of psychoanalysis. The Viennese doctor stayed only long enough to announce his new gospel and receive an honorary degree. Behrman lingered longer.
At the end of two years, and without a gospel or a degree, honorary or in course, he departed for Harvard. There, under the guidance of George Pierce Baker in his famous "47 Workshop," Behrman began his apprenticeship as a playwright. Ten years later, in 1927, he persuaded a New York producer to accept his first play, The Second Man. Year after year, thereafter, it was the producers who pleaded with him to stage his comedies.
Established as a dramatist of the first rank, Behrman cast a first wondering glance at the strange world of art and the even stranger world of its entrepreneurs. He had heard legends of Joseph Duveen, and began to collect them with the acquisitiveness of a millionaire on the prowl for masterpieces. Duveen is the superb result.
After it had run its six-part course in The New Yorker, Bernard Berenson, the world's most celebrated art critic, wrote a letter of congratulation to Behrman, saying that he was immensely impressed by the fairness and accuracy of the series. B. B. thereby authenticated this last, definitive portrait of Duveen.
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