Art Goes America
This paper interprets the "buying craze" among American tycoons between 1870 and the Second World War concerning mainly Renaissance art, particularly paintings, with the emphasis on the process of this transfer rather than on the art works and the resulting collections. It analyzes the roles of the House of Duveen, the art expert Bernard Berenson and other agents that acted as dominant intermediaries instrumental to the American Renaissance in fine art. Their efforts produced outstanding private collections and eminent art museums. Original American art, however, was crowded out, slowing down its further development for quite some time. The paper shows a slice of Thorstein Veblen's world and of its leisure-class elite engaged in conspicuous consumption and honorific expenditures in search of pecuniary decency.
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