Catalogue of Italian Pictures at 16, South Street, Park Lane, London and Buckhurst in Sussex, collected by Robert and Evelyn Benson.
xxvi, 229 pp. Large 4to, orig. grey cloth (corners bruised), gilt title on spine, t.e.g. London: Chiswick Press, 1914.
Presentation copy of this catalogue of a collection described as having “a comprehensiveness that would have done credit to a professional curator.” Benson (1850-1929), with his wife Evelyn, daughter of Robert Holford, “formed an important specialist collection. The senior partner of his eponymous bank, Benson was a member of the Burlington Fine Arts Club, a trustee of the National Gallery, and the editor of a number of catalogues of paintings, including that of his father-in-law’s collection. The Bensons’ taste was à la mode. They owned 114 early Italian paintings…as well as pictures by Gainsborough and Burne-Jones…”–Stourton and Sebag-Montefiore, The British as Art Collectors, p. 252-53.
“Despite the publication of his catalogue, Benson’s collection is not well known today, probably because it was never the subject of a spectacular auction sale. [Joseph] Duveen bought the entire collection in 1927 and sold most of it to his American customers…today Benson’s pictures are dispersed across many leading museums in North America.”–op. cit., p. 253. In a possibly apocryphal story, Joseph Duveen handed Robert Benson a blank check during a dinner party. The collection was sold for 2.5 million dollars.
The present catalogue lists all 114 of their Italian pictures and provides lengthy descriptions of each.
Very good copy. Bookplate of Robert and Evelyn Benson. Presented by Benson to Charles D. R. Williamson, with inscriptions in Latin and Greek, dated January 1915.
❧ “Mapping Titian” website hosted by Boston University.
Item ID: 6062