Keenly Anticipated Publication Offers Insights on the Influential Dealers Behind Famous U.S. Museum Collections

Book cover, black and white image

Duveen Brothers was the most prominent art and antique dealer in London, Paris, and New York, from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. The firm’s success is famously attributed to their observing that "Europe has a great deal of art, and America has a great deal of money." The works they bought and sold at high prices to wealthy Americans like Henry Clay Frick, John D. Rockefeller Jr., Arabella Huntington, and John Pierpont Morgan include European furniture, tapestries, porcelain, and other objets d’art that remain the core collections of many of the most famous museums in the United States to this day.

Published in association with D Giles Limited and making extensive use of Duveen Brothers records at the Getty Research Institute, as well as letters and invoices in the archives of the firm’s clients, Duveen Brothers and the Market for Decorative Arts, 1880-1940 provides a rich study of this influential firm in the history of collecting. Here, for the first time, their commerce in objets d’art is examined through the perspective of the dealers— Joel, Henry, and Joseph Duveen—rather than the viewpoint of their clients. In doing so, author Charlotte Vignon traces the phenomenon they sparked of the exodus of antique furniture and objets d’art from Europe to the United States, and the development in America of a passion for these valuable objects.

Vignon comments, “My hope is that this study of the countless objects, people and places Duveen Brothers were involved with will allow a broader audience to understand the profound impact Duveen Brothers made on the art world in the twentieth century. Particularly, their pioneering contribution to the formation of art collections that ultimately became the foundation stones of America’s most prestigious cultural institutions.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Charlotte Vignon is Curator of Decorative Arts at The Frick Collection and visiting associate professor at the Bard Graduate Center in New York. Vignon is the author of Masterpieces of French Faience: Selections from the Sidney R. Knafel Collection (with Sidney R. Knafel, 2018), Pierre Gouthière: Virtuoso Gilder at the French Court (with Christian Baulez, 2016), The Frick Collection Decorative Arts Handbook (2015), and Exuberant Grotesques: Renaissance Maiolica from the Fontana Workshop (2009). In 2018, she was awarded the insignia of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy.

The book (320 pages, 7 1/4 x 9 x 1/4 inches, 75 color illustrations; $59.95 hardcover, $53.95, member price) is available in the Museum Shop or can be ordered through the Frick’s Web site (frick.org) or by phone at 212.547.6848.

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