The Rise of the House of Duveen by James Henry Duveen
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 1957. First American Edition. Hardcover. 293 pages ; illustrated ; 21 cm. Price clipped dust jacket with small tears along the dust jacket edges. Pages are age toned and unmarked. Binding is firm.
This is the story of an amazing family of art-dealers and of that wonderfully opulent period, beginning in Victorian times, when the great merchant princes of England and America were stocking their mansions with the finest art objects of the world. Duveen Brothers were largely responsible for prompting and guiding their lavish purchases. The firm's rise depended on the Duveens' uncanny appreciation of styles, qualities, and values, and their reputation won them customers such as George Salting, Pierpont Morgan, Benjamin Altman, Arabella Huntington, and other great collectors of their day.
S. N. Behrman, in his book Duveen, has created an unforgettable portrait of Joseph Duveen, Baron Duveen of Millbank, who carried the house—and the prices of fine art—to unprecedented heights; the present volume tells the equally fascinating story of an earlier generation's adventures in the art-trading world. Episode by episode, Mr. Duveen's narrative reads like a suspense story. The problem is not murder but money the buying and selling of millions of dollars' worth of great art; yet the reader's attention will hang on the outcome just as avidly. The book is rich with many colorful, behind-the-scenes anecdotes of individual members of the family: Joel J. Duveen, the intrepid founder, a gifted judge of art values, shrewd trader, and man of high character; Henry J., who skillfully negotiated for the New York branch of Duveen Brothers during the firm's early period; Joseph Duveen, who was to vow that no Duveen would succeed him in the firm; and the author himself, who pursued a highly adventurous career as an art-dealer.
For anyone who has responded to the lure of the auction room, for all who love fine art—and intrigue!—this book about a fabulous family of connoisseurs engaged in trading great works of art will be exciting reading indeed.
JAMES HENRY DUVEEN was born in Haarlem, Holland, in 1873. He was educated in Holland and Belgium. Mr. Duveen studied for many years in the great art capitals — London, Paris, Naples, Florence, Berlin, Madrid — and pursued the exacting career of dealer in works of art from 1889 until 1923. Two volumes of his reminiscences, Art Treasures and Intrigue (1935) and Secrets of an Art Dealer (1938), have been published in the United States. A British subject since 1904, Mr. Duveen now lives at Whitchurch, Herefordshire.
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