Norton Simon was a businessman who transformed a dying canning and juice- bottling plant into the Hunt Foods and Industries empire. After his death, however, most obituaries did not focus on his business acumen or on his failed 1970 run for U.S. senate; instead Simon has been remembered as one of the great American art collectors, whose interests spanned from Rembrandt to Picasso. His collection of some 12,000 works is now housed in the Norton Simon Museum, in Pasadena, California.
Though born in Belgium, Ernest Gambart became England’s leading art dealer in 1840. His success began after traveling to London as a French representative for the Parisian print publishers Goupil & Cie. By 1854, Gambart founded the French Gallery in London, which showcased works by prominent contemporary artists from Britain and France. In 1867, he sold the lease for this gallery to Henry Wallis (1805–1890), and then opened Lefevre Gallery with his nephew, Leon Lefevre. Gambart retired from the business in 1870.
In 1830, Jean-Marie-Fortuné Durand-Ruel (1800–1865) founded the Galerie Durand-Ruel in Paris; he was the art gallery’s first dealer. His son, Paul Durand-Ruel (1831–1922), took over the business in 1865. Under Paul’s leadership, the gallery made Impressionism popular in the United States. He was also one of the first gallery owners to regularly organize solo exhibitions for his artists. Buying dozens of paintings at a time from each artist, Paul gave himself a near monopoly on the Impressionist market. In 1886, Galerie Durand-Ruel exhibited the Impressionists in America and, one year later, opened a permanent gallery location in New York. The Monets, Renoirs, and Cassats that passed through Galerie Durand-Ruel now reside in some of the most important collections in the United States.
Starting his arts career as a book illustrator and as an engraver for the American Bank Note Company, Samuel Putnam Avery established himself as an art dealer in New York by 1864. With the assistance of George A. Lucas (1824–1909), he commissioned paintings for his Francophile clientele from fashionable French artists, including Ernest Meissonier, Jean-Léon Gérôme, and William-Adolphe Bouguereau. Avery went on to become one of the founders of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and his personal collection has been distributed among libraries and museums throughout New York.
Thomas Wigglesworth came from a long line of Harvard graduates, the first being the poet Rev. Michael Wigglesworth from the class of 1651. After graduating from Harvard Law School himself, Thomas joined his father’s Boston-based business, trading from Kolkata and East India. Thomas’s art collection, which is discussed in Edward Strahan’s Art Treasures of America (1980), included many works by nineteenth-century French painters of the Barbizon and academic tradition. Upon his death in 1907, having never married nor having children, Thomas ended the Wigglesworth line of his family.
George A. Lucas was an art agent in Paris who catered to American collectors and dealers, especially those in his hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. He often acquired works from Bouguereau for American galleries and would sometimes commission paintings directly from the artist on behalf of Bouguereau-hungry collectors. He notably helped build Baltimore businessman William T. Walters’s collection of nineteenth-century art, which later became a founding collection of the Walters Art Museum.
Henry Charles Lea was a wealthy civil reformer, political activist, and medieval historian who wrote extensively on the Catholic Church and the Inquisition. He owed his fortune to his maternal grandfather, Mathew Carey, who had established one of the most successful publishing firms in Philadelphia; Lea worked at the firm his entire career. The art in Lea’s collection featured a range of subjects related to his intellectual interests, from witchcraft beliefs and the prosecution of witches by the Inquisition, to Italian painting and classical literature.
Anna “Nina” Lea was the youngest child of Henry Charles Lea (1825–1909), the civil reformer, political activist, and medieval historian. Like her father, Nina was a student of history and is said to have helped him in his research on the Inquisition. Upon her death in 1927, of her $2.5 million estate, Nina left $150,000 each to the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University to endow professorships in memory of her father. In an obituary published in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Nina was remembered as an active participant in social affairs, women’s clubs, and artist circles.
Seymour Stein is a Brooklyn-born music executive who founded Sire Records and acted as the vice president of Warner Bros. Records. He signed well-known musicians, including Madonna, the Ramones, and the Cure, and is credited with bringing Indie music to America.
Sir Kutayba Alghanim is the chairman of Alghanim Industries, a multinational company with interests in many industries, including advertising, automotive sales, and food and beverage. Born and raised in Kuwait, Alghanim attended the University of California, Berkeley, before returning to work at the family company.
Starting in 1861, Henry Wallis managed the French Gallery in London for Ernest Gambart (1814–1902) before he purchased the business in 1867. When Henry’s son, Thomas Wallis (1837–1816), joined the company, it became known as Wallis and Son. Thomas retired in 1910, and his son, Harry Wallis (1871–1949), oversaw the business until it closed in 1929.
Henry Clay Lewis was a wealthy banker in the small town of Coldwater, Michigan. Without formal education or cultural background in the arts, Henry and his wife, Alma, opened the Lewis Art Gallery to the public in 1869. Visitors could see the couple’s acquisitions from American art auctions, as well as those from Henry’s visits to Europe, free of charge. The Lewis’s collection eventually included works by well-known European and American artists, including William-Adolphe Bouguereau and Eastman Johnson, which are now among the notable holdings of the University of Michigan Museum of Art.
Louis Marcotte de Quivières was a government official, stockbroker, and winemaker. He came from a family of art collectors who commissioned no fewer than nineteen portraits from French painter Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. For his own collection, Louis also commissioned works by Théodore Chassériau, including an 1841 portrait, which is now at the Louvre.
William Schaus (1821–1892) founded his New York City art gallery in 1853. He had immigrated to the United States four years earlier to represent the Paris gallery Goupil & Cie. In 1868, William was joined by his then eighteen-year-old nephew, Hermann Schaus (1850–1911), who later inherited the company. The gallery is credited with bringing to the United States the country’s first Rembrandt, important works by Anthony Van Dyck, and works by contemporary European artists, such as Gericault, Goya, Bouguereau, and Rousseau.
Millard F. Tompkins was an attorney in New York and a member of the firm Tompkins, Boal & Tompkins. He graduated from New York University and the New York University Law School.
The American Art Association, the first auction house in the United States, was established in 1883 by James F. Sutton, R. Austin Robertson, and Thomas E. Kirby, in New York City. Also known as the American Art Gallery, the purpose of the association was to promote American art. The Association ended operations in 1923, when it was sold to Cortlandt Field Bishop.
William and Frances Haussner were restaurateurs who amassed an impressive collection of nineteenth-century paintings and sculptures. William began his career as a chef in the Museum Restaurant in Nuremberg, Germany, but upon moving to the United States in 1926, William and his wife opened Haussner’s Restaurant in Baltimore, Maryland. Starting their art collection in 1939, when nineteenth-century academic paintings were undervalued on the market, the Haussners purchased works from the estate auctions of J.P. Morgan, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and Henry Walters. By the time they retired, in 1999, works of art, including two paintings by Bouguereau, covered every wall of their restaurant, from floor to ceiling. Their extensive collection was eventually sold at Sotheby’s auction house.
Steve Cohen, a billionaire hedge fund investor, lives in Connecticut with his wife, Alexandra. Together, they founded the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation, which supports veterans and children’s health. The Cohens are also active collectors of primarily modern and contemporary art; in 2016, their collection was worth an estimated $1 billion.
M. Knoedler & Co. was founded in 1848 by Michel Knoedler, who came to New York from France to sell engravings made by the Paris dealer Goupil & Cie. He also eventually sold paintings on behalf of the gallery. In 1857, Knoedler bought out Goupil’s interest in the business, but he still sourced much of his stock from Goupil. Many of Knoedler’s clients were American captains of industry with newfound wealth, such as Collis P. Huntington, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and William Rockefeller. The Knoedler family ran the business until 1971, when Armand Hammer purchased it. In 2011, the gallery’s sudden closure led to multiple lawsuits that claimed the company had sold fake paintings by mid-twentieth-century artists for over a decade.
Founded in Paris by Henry Rittner in 1827, the gallery of Goupil & Cie dealt primarily in French art. Though specializing in academic painting and the Barbizon School, some Impressionist and Old Master works were also traded here. In addition to selling paintings, the firm published engravings and photographs after the paintings. While this made art affordable for the growing middle class in the United States, it also elevated artists such as William-Adolphe Bouguereau and Jean-Léon Gérôme into household names. The firm functioned under this name until 1884, when it became known as Boussod, Valadon & Co.
Allen Dunning Vorce owned and operated the art gallery A.D. Vorce & Co.between 1876 and 1904. The gallery, which had locations in Hartford, Connecticut, and New York City, sold works of art and porcelain curios. Vorce, who had established a reputation as a connoisseur of art, was often consulted by other art galleries throughout the region.
Mary J. Munsill, the daughter of Gail Borden, who invented and made his fortune from condensed milk, lived in Hartford, Connecticut, almost her entire life. Her private art collection featured works by Bouguereau, Rosa Bonheur, Jean-Léon Gérôme, and Christian Adolf Schreyer. When Munsill gave a painting by Leon Lhermitte to the Wadsworth Atheneum, in memory of her son, Marcus, the announcement in the Hartford Courant proclaimed that her house was "already filled with the choicest paintings, as they always have one of the largest and finest private collections in Connecticut."
Charles E. Gross was a lawyer in Hartford, Connecticut. He was also a trustee of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.
Joseph Harrison Jr. was an art collector and engineer, who made his fortune building locomotive steam engines. He saw art as an important tool for the social improvement of the working classes and not only advocated for the founding of art museums but also opened his own gallery to the public. After his death, his wife, Sarah Poulterer Harrison (1817–1906), donated works from their collection to the Smithsonian Museums and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
Walter P. Chrysler Jr., son of the founder of the Chrysler Corporation, began his art collection at the early age of fourteen. After graduating from Dartmouth, Chrysler embarked on a grand tour of Europe, where he met and purchased work from many artists, including Picasso, Matisse, and Leger. After the Chrysler Building was sold and Chrysler retired from the business, in 1956, he dedicated all his time to the arts, eventually founding a museum in Norfolk, Virginia, which bears his name.
Col. John Stricker Jenkins was a collector and coffee importer, notable in Baltimore business circles. He joined his father’s coffee import company in 1850 and married Clara Vandervoot of New York four years later. The couple began collecting in 1856, acquiring paintings and drawings by artists popular with other Baltimore elite. Though they prized their collection, even housing their drawings in gold-leaf matting in a purpose-built box, they began to auction their art in 1876, due to John’s declining health.
Having argued more than 150 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, John Graver Johnson was one of the most successful corporate lawyers of the nineteenth century. He was asked by both Presidents Garfield and Cleveland to consider nomination to the Supreme Court, but he refused. Johnson’s art collection, comprised of European works from the fourteenth to nineteenth centuries, was regarded as one of the best private collections in the United States. Today, his collection remains in his hometown of Philadelphia, forming the backbone of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Son of Philadelphia banker Enoch W. Clark (1802–1856), Clarence Howard Clark expanded his father’s financial holdings, founding the Fidelity Trust Company and widely increasing his business interests to include railroads and real estate. In the 1860s, he built Chestnutwold, a massive Italianate mansion in a part of Philadelphia that he was developing into a residential district. In addition to Bouguereau, his art collection included works by Charles-Émile Jacque, Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Mauritz de Haas, Édouard Detaille, Adolf Schreyer, and Petrus van Schendel, as well as rare books, glass pieces, sculpture, and ceramics.
The John Levy Galleries were run by John Levy (1906–1981), an educator, dealer, collector, and writer in New York City. Upon Levy’s death, the galleries closed.
John Taylor Johnston was a railroad executive and art collector, as well as one of the founders and the first president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Born to parents of Scottish descent, Johnston was educated at City University of New York and Yale Law School. His career in the railway industry started with a small line in New Jersey, and eventually expanded. Johnston opened his private art collection to the public several days a week until 1877, when a financial crisis forced him to sell all his works.
Founded in 1852 by John Snedecor, the Snedecor Gallery is the oldest operating gallery in New York City. John’s son, Charles Edward Snedecor, eventually inherited the business, but after his death in 1917, the gallery was sold outside the family. Today, the gallery operates on 20th Street in New York under the name Driscoll Babcock Gallery.
Born Elizabeth Cook to a doctor in Oklahoma, Mrs. Elizabeth Cook Lynch married her second husband, Colin Leiter Campbell of Chicago, in 1932. Campbell was grandson of Levi Leiter, the co-founder of Marshall Field’s department store, and the son of Nancy Carver Leiter Campbell and British military officer Colin Powys Campbell. The marriage did not last long, dissolving in 1938. Elizabeth later remarried and lived in New York, becoming an Abstract Expressionist painter under the name Liz Clark.
William Randolph Hearst was a media mogul who, at the height of his career, owned twenty-nine major newspapers and eighteen magazines, in addition to many radio broadcasting and television platforms. Born in San Francisco, Hearst was the son of a wealthy gold-mine owner and enjoyed a privileged upbringing, full of travel and art. After the death of his mother, Phoebe, in 1919, Hearst inherited thousands of acres in San Simeon, California, and built a mansion to showcase his extensive art collection. Hearst’s extravagant lifestyle, as well as the onset of the Great Depression, led to financial difficulties that required him to sell much of his art collection and media empire. His larger-than-life personality and sensationalist style of journalism were the basis for the movie Citizen Kane (1941).
Bertha H. Buswell, a lifelong resident of Buffalo, New York, married oil investor David Gunsberg in 1893. When Gunsberg died, in 1915, Buswell inherited a generous portion of his estate. She filled her home with an art collection that included paintings, sculpture, silver, and textiles. Upon her death, some of Buswell’s art was given to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but most stayed with Buswell’s brother and heir, Ralph Hochstetter. When Hochstetter passed away, in 1955, the collection was left to the Memorial Art Gallery at the University of Rochester.
Ralph Hochstetter, a successful banker and oil executive, lived in Buffalo, New York, his entire life and never married. After his sister, Bertha H. Buswell, passed away, he lived in her Buffalo mansion, which contained her impressive art collection.
James Tolman Pyle inherited his father’s successful soap factory, which produced the best-selling Pyle’s Pearline Soap. Pyle had a grand home on the then-fashionable corner of Fifty-third Street and Fifth Avenue in New York, as well as a palatial summer home, called Hurstmont, in Morristown, New Jersey; both residences were designed by the esteemed firm McKim, Mead and White.
New Yorker William Loring Andrews was an important art collector who focused on rare books and prints. He served as a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and was named the institution’s first librarian in 1882.
Philadelphia-born Henry Pratt McKean owed his wealth to his father, Thomas McKean (1735–1817), a jurist who signed the Declaration of Independence. Henry, who was an avid horticulturist and patron of the arts, was later voted governor of Pennsylvania.
Mildred H. Zeder was wife to James C. Zeder, a leading engineer with the Chrysler Corporation. The couple lived in Michigan.
Juan Antonio Pérez Simón is a businessman who found success in the telecommunications industry. Born in Spain, but raised in Mexico, Pérez Simón acquired his first works of art as an impoverished young man; he purchased prints of paintings by El Greco and Diego Velázquez from the gift shop of the Prado Museum, in Madrid. Though he now owns authentic works by Dalí, Goya, Bouguereau, El Greco, and Rubens, the prints remain in his collection. In 2010, his collection of 3,000 works of art was named the largest private collection in the world.
In 1842, New Yorker John Wolfe succeeded his father, Christopher Wolfe, in the family business of hardware importing. Throughout his life, John formed three separate art collections. He developed his second after the Civil War, following the success of his reformed firm Wolfe, Dash & Fisher. Focused on French painting, this collection is discussed at length in Edward Strahan’s Art Treasures of America (1880). John often commissioned paintings directly from artists, including Bouguereau, Pierre-Auguste Cot, and Alexandre Cabanel. John’s cousin, Catharine Lorillard Wolfe (1828–1887), was also an avid art collector, having inherited a fortune from her own father. She became a well-known benefactor of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Born in Philadelphia, Edward Stiles Stokes was the son of a wealthy produce wholesaler. He made his own fortune through a New York oil refinery, eventually forming a partnership with James Fisk (1835–1872). Stokes was known to be handsome, fashionable, and quick to spend his money at the racetrack, on showgirls, and in the saloon. When Fisk introduced Stokes to his mistress, Josie Mansfield, Stokes and Mansfield started their own affair. In an effort to gain Mansfield’s full attention, Stokes fatally shot Fisk outside the Grand Central Hotel, on January 6, 1872. After three trials, at which Stokes claimed self-defense, he was found guilty of manslaughter; he spent his four-year sentence quite comfortably in the Sing-Sing and Auburn prisons. Upon his release, in 1876, he became the owner of New York’s Hoffman House Hotel, which housed the city’s most famous male-only saloon in the late nineteenth century.
Robert Sterling Clark, heir to the Singer sewing machine fortune, and his wife, Francine, amassed a sizable private collection of American and European art that included sculpture, prints, paintings, and decorative arts pieces. The couple later decided to open their collection to the public, which led to the 1955 founding of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Massachusetts.
Dr. Edward Orzac (1917–2012) began his medical training shortly before World War II. After serving in the Army, he finished his studies and began practicing medicine, eventually founding the Franklin Medical Center in Valley Stream, New York. He and his wife, Beatrice, traveled the world and enjoyed collecting art.
Originally from Ireland, Alexander Turney Stewart moved to the United States and first supported himself through teaching. After the death of his grandfather, Stewart used his more than $2,000 inheritance to open a drapery shop on Broadway in New York City, which eventually expanded to a giant wholesale and retail business. Now known as the “merchant prince,” Stewart is considered to be the father of the modern-day department store, where customers pay a set price instead of bargaining with the store owner. At the time of his death, in 1876, Alexander’s fortune was worth an estimated $5 billion, which equates to about $100 billion today.
Cornelia Mitchell Clinch married “merchant prince” Alexander Turney Stewart in 1823. Together, they had two children, John, born in 1834, who died as an infant, and May, who died at birth, in 1838. The Stewarts’ home, the “Marble Mansion” designed by John Kellum, took four to five years and more than $2 million to build. After her husband’s death, in 1876, Cornelia did not take over Alexander’s business. The retail and wholesale operation, which was left to Judge Henry Hilton, fell and never recovered.
Born in the English village of Little Wilbraham, Frederick Layton moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at a young age to help his father set up a meatpacking company. With the success of the company, Layton began collecting art, eventually forming a local community of collectors, including Martha Reed Mitchell (1818–1902) and William H. Metcalf (1821–1892). In 1888, Layton opened the Layton Art Gallery to benefit the larger Milwaukee community.
Robert L. Stuart was the son of a Scottish immigrant who opened a candy-making business in New York. Stuart later expanded the enterprise, adding a sugar refinery. After 1835, the company grew to become the largest sugar-refining business in the city. Stuart’s private art collection included not only an impressive group of nineteenth-century American and European paintings, but also approximately 25,000 books and many scientific specimens. Many expected that his collection would eventually be given to the American Museum of Natural History (at which he served as president for two years), Princeton University, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. However, Stuart’s widow left the collection to the Lenox Library, now the New York Public Library, upon her death.
Mary McCrea Stuart was one of the best-known philanthropists in New York City. After inheriting her husband’s fortune, in 1882, she gave millions of dollars to the Princeton Theological Seminary and the New York Historical Society. Stuart, much like her husband, was a strict observer of the Sabbath. When it came to donating her husband’s art collection, she feared that institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art would eventually be open on Sundays. Consequently, she left all works of art to the Lenox Library of New York, with the stipulation that they never be displayed “on the Lord’s Day.”
James Lenox (1800–1880) was a collector of rare books, prints, maps, paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts pieces. He eventually had a library and art gallery built to allow public access to his collection. Designed by Richard Morris Hunt, and completed in 1877, his was one of the first public libraries in New York City. Visitors were required to apply for admission, however, and the library’s collection was noncirculating. In 1911, the building was destroyed to make way for Henry C. Frick’s mansion, now home to the Frick Collection. The works housed in the Lenox Library were combined with those in the Astor Library and the Tilden Trust, in 1895, to form the foundation of the New York Public Library.
Hirschl & Adler Galleries were founded in 1952 by Norman S. Hirschl and Abraham M. Adler, in New York. The galleries have long specialized in European and American art from the eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries, but now also cover the postwar period through Hirschl & Adler Modern.
Eliot F. Shepard, whose father owned a bank-note engraving company, studied law at New York University and set up his own practice in the city, later becoming the first president of the New York Bar Association. Shepard married Margaret Louisa Vanderbilt, of the famous family of robber barons; she was the oldest daughter of William H. Vanderbilt and granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt. In 1888, Shepard purchased the Mail and Express newspaper. An extremely religious man, he placed a Bible verse on the editorial page of each issue.
Descended on his mother’s side from John Jay, the first chief justice of the Supreme Court, William Jay Scheiffelin was a member of one of the oldest, most important families in New York. Trained as a chemist, he entered his family’s wholesale drug business, eventually becoming chairman of the board. In 1891, he married Maria Louisa Shepard (1870–1948), the oldest child of Eliot F. Shepard. Scheiffelin supported many progressive social reform movements, such as the fight for the elimination of sweatshops and the promotion of educational opportunities for young black Americans.
Edward Franklin Albee was a prominent figure in American vaudeville. He started his career as a ticket collector with entertainer P. T. Barnum. In 1885, Albee joined with fellow showman Benjamin Franklin Keith to run the Bijou Theatre in Boston, Massachusetts. In the 1920s, the Keith-Albee circuit, of which Albee was the manager, controlled nearly 400 theaters in the East and Midwest. Through these venues, the two men introduced moving pictures to the United States. By 1928, film company RKO took over the business and began transforming the theaters into movie venues.
Hinman B. Hurlbut was a successful lawyer, banker, and railroad executive. He received a law degree in his hometown of New York City before moving to Cleveland, in 1836. In 1850, Hurlbut left the world of law and turned to banking, before eventually becoming president of the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis Railroad. Hurlbut’s interest in art developed during two trips to Europe. Upon his death, he left funds to be used for founding an art museum in Cleveland; his donation eventually helped establish the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Coming from an impoverished family in Connecticut, Collis Potter Huntington worked his way up from peddler to successful New York merchant before moving to Sacramento, California, for the Gold Rush. Once there, he partnered with other businessmen to create the Central Pacific Railroad, which resulted in the first transcontinental railway. His fortune and questionable business practices make him a quintessential “robber baron” of the Gilded Age. After the death of his first wife, he married his mistress, Arabella Worsham, in 1884.
Born in Richmond, Virginia, Arabella Worsham Huntington moved to New York City with her first husband, in 1869. She later became a mistress to the wealthy businessman Collis Potter Huntington (1821–1900); the couple married in 1884, nine months after the death of Collis’s first wife. A dedicated patron of the arts, Arabella enjoyed the wealth her husband amassed as a railroad tycoon. Thirteen years after Collis’s death, she married his nephew, Henry E. Huntington (1850–1927), and the couple traveled Europe, collecting art. Their collection became the foundation for the Huntington Library and Art Gallery in California.
Henry Edwards Huntington was the nephew of railway tycoon Collis Potter Huntington (1821–1900). Henry amassed his own fortune by holding important positions in several railways. He became an avid book collector, sometimes even purchasing entire libraries. His collection is now housed in the Henry E. Huntington Library, in San Marino, California, along with much of the art that he and his wife, Arabella (ca. 1851–1924), collected during their world travels.
Duveen Brothers, a London art dealership, was founded in the 1860s. Branches of the company were subsequently set up in New York and Paris. Joseph Duveen (1869–1939), part of the second generation of family members to run the firm, was president from 1909 to 1939. Under his leadership, the company became famous for selling Old Master paintings and European decorative arts pieces to wealthy American clients. The business closed in 1964.
Davelle Coombs Kountze was the wife of Nebraska-born New York banker Augustus Kountze (1870–1927).
The Parke-Bernet Galleries were co-founded in 1939 by Otto Bernet (1881–1945) and Hiram H. Parke (1874–1959), in New York City. By 1964, the business had expanded to become the largest auction house in America. Sotheby’s purchased the company and renamed it Sotheby Parke Bernet & Co.
Son of the banker and railroad tycoon William T. Walters (1820–1894), Henry Walters was an art collector and philanthropist, best known for founding the Walters Art Gallery (now the Walters Art Museum), in Baltimore, Maryland. Though Henry was a tastemaker among his contemporaries, purchasing works by Bouguereau and other popular artists, he also collected objects that were not highly valued among early twentieth-century connoisseurs. Because of this, the Walters Art Museum now owns the best collection of illuminated medieval manuscripts in the United States.
Born in Massachusetts, but raised in North Carolina, Sara Wharton Green Walters became a socialite in Wilmington, North Carolina. She married her second husband, noted art collector Henry Walters, in 1922. A respected collector in her own right, Sara had a particular interest in eighteenth-century French art and furniture. At the time of her death, her collection was worth an estimated $600,000.
By the 1960s, J. Paul Getty had become a billionaire from his work in the petroleum industry. He was known for his frugality, often refusing to pay full price for a work of art, or anything else. When his grandson was kidnapped, in 1973, Getty even negotiated down the ransom from $17 million to $3 million. Though, early on, he collected paintings by artists such as Titian, Monet, Bouguereau, and Degas, his interests later shifted to Greco-Roman antiquities. Upon Getty’s death, in 1976, his collection was transferred to the J. Paul Getty Museum.
Joseph Raphael De Lamar was born in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. After a career as a seaman, he settled in the United States and made a fortune as a trader, mine owner, and financier. To cap his success, De Lamar wanted to marry the most beautiful woman in America. For him, this was Nellie Virginia Sands (1876–1946), the daughter of a New York druggist, whom he met on Narragansett Pier, in Rhode Island. Sands reminded De Lamar of the subject of Bouguereau’s painting Dawn. Despite the reported romance of their courtship and marriage, the relationship ended in divorce.
Hanzel Galleries, an important auction house in Chicago, closed in September 1998, after being in business for forty-five years.
George I. Seney, president of the Metropolitan Bank between 1877 and 1884, was also an art collector and philanthropist. His collection of nineteenth-century American, French, and German paintings was highlighted in Edward Strahan’s Art Treasures of America (1880). Although he gave twenty paintings to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1887, financial problems forced him to sell much of his collection at auction in 1885 and 1890.
John Wanamaker was a rags-to-riches department store giant, who built his reputation through truth in advertising. He began importing works of art from Paris in the 1880s to display in his store to, in his own words, “prove that a mercantile establishment can also be allied with the fine arts.” He bought from artists popular with many other Gilded Age collectors, such as Rosa Bonheur, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, and Charles-François Daubigny. But Wanamaker also bought a few Old Masters, perhaps explaining his attraction to the style and subjects of Bouguereau. When Wanamaker died, in 1922, the Philadelphia Inquirer put his obituary on the front page and called him the city’s foremost citizen.
Dr. Hubert Eaton acquired paintings to be displayed in the museum at Forest Lawn Memorial-Park in Glendale, California. In 1917, Eaton was named the cemetery’s general manager, and he worked to transform Forest Lawn from a sleepy site into one of the must-see tourist attractions of the area. A deeply religious man, he was likely attracted to the theological subjects of Bouguereau’s paintings. The cemetery continues to attract visitors with an active museum exhibition schedule and a long list of celebrity burials, including Walt Disney, Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, Jimmy Stewart, Sammy Davis Jr., and Clark Gable. It has also become a popular wedding venue.
Before her marriage to Charles Morgan (1795–1878), the enormously wealthy shipping magnate, Mary Jane Morgan was a school teacher. Upon her husband’s death, she began to aggressively, though quietly, collect art, eventually owning four works by Bouguereau alone. When she passed away, it was reported that “this estimable and accomplished lady had managed to invest nearly $2 million in pictures, bric-a-brac, and costly orchids, which she gathered in a modest residence on East Twenty-sixth Street. The particulars of this astonishing collection read like the dazzling properties of a fairy or oriental tale.” Despite the publicity surrounding the sale of her collection, some paintings sold for much less than what she had paid.
Marjorie Merriweather Post’s parents built the Post cereal empire, which she then transformed into General Foods. Post was a renowned collector of decorative arts, particularly French and Russian pieces, as well as a celebrated hostess. She purchased Hillwood, her elegant home (now museum) in Washington, D.C., to display her art collection and host parties.
In 1928, Armand Hammer (1898–1990) founded Hammer Galleries in New York. Hammer’s connection to China, through his other company, Occidental Petroleum, allowed him to enhance the popularity of Modernism and Impressionism in the Near East. To this day, Hammer Galleries focuses on Impressionist and Modern masters.
William H. Metcalf, co-founder of a Milwaukee shoe and boot company, was the son of the painter Eliab Metcalf (1785–1834) and was himself an amateur photographer. In 1876, it was reported that Metcalf added an “elaborate, two-room, windowless, top-lit gallery” to his Italianate residence. The gallery may have been private, but it was well-known in high society circles and was more or less open to visitors on Sunday afternoons. Metcalf also served as an original trustee of the Layton Art Gallery, founded in 1888 by Frederick Layton (1827–1919).
Carol Dempster Larsen was a silent film star, often featured in films directed by D. W. Griffith and co-starring W. C. Fields. Her husband, Edwin S. Larsen, was a wealthy stockbroker who retired at age thirty-four with the moniker “boy genius of Wall Street.” The two were lifelong benefactors of the San Diego Museum of Art; upon Carol’s death, in 1991, she bequeathed an additional $1.6 million to the museum to strengthen their prints and drawings collection.
Born into a Viennese family of restaurateurs, nineteen-year-old Philip Henrici came to the United States in 1864. In 1868, he opened a pastry shop in Chicago, but it burned in the Great Fire just a few years later. He then opened Henrici’s, a restaurant on Randolph Street in Chicago’s Loop. With an elegant dining room and moderately priced American menu, it was advertised as “Chicago’s Most Famous Restaurant” and became a city institution. To decorate the restaurant, Henrici and his son-in-law, William M. Collins (1877–1946), purchased forty-two European paintings and prints. After expanding to twenty locations, in 1962, the flagship restaurant ceased operation; the building was condemned to be used for the Daley Civic Center. The last surviving Henrici’s location closed in the mid-1980s.
Morrie A. Moss began working at a building supply company in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1932; four years later, he purchased the business. According to his obituary, Moss became a philanthropist later in life because “he came up the hard way and knew what it was to be left wanting.” Collecting in the 1950s, Moss owned a considerable number of French, British, Netherlandish, and American paintings, as well as holdings of Paul Storr silver.
Arthur Tooth & Sons was a prominent London art gallery. Charles Tooth (1788–1868), a carver and framer, founded the gallery in 1842 for his son, Arthur. Arthur Tooth & Sons dealt mainly in nineteenth-century British and Continental paintings, before expanding to Old Master paintings in the 1880s. Like most other large dealers, Tooth also published reproductive prints, a lucrative aspect of the Victorian art market. Between 1900 and 1924, Arthur ran a New York location, as well as a branch in Paris. The London gallery remained in business until the 1970s.
George Washington Lininger, of Omaha, Nebraska, made his fortune from his farm implement business. Starting around 1880, he traveled abroad with his family and collected art. To house this growing collection, Lininger built an art gallery on the rear of his home, in 1886. The space not only was open to the public but became a center of civic life in Omaha. Around 1900, Lininger’s health began to decline, and the gallery was closed to the public. When his wife, Caroline M. Newman Lininger, died, in 1927, the family’s collection of 300 paintings was sold at auction.
Originally from New Jersey, Charles Henry Sanford amassed a fortune by investing in questionable public works schemes, at the expense of Argentina’s government and Barings Bank of London. In 1890, Sanford and his wife settled in London, purchasing No. 6 Carlton House Terrace. They remodeled the structure in an opulent Italianate style, replete with marble, gilding, carving, and a mother-of-pearl inlaid coffered ceiling. In addition to making charitable contributions throughout his life, Sanford donated $50,000 for the founding of a Buenos Aires orphanage, in 1919.
Upon the death of her first husband, Charles Ulrick Bay (d. 1955), Josephine Bay Paul was elected to replace him as president of the investment bank A. M. Kidder & Co.; she was the first woman to head a New York Stock Exchange corporate firm. In addition to being a dedicated advocate for gender equality in business, Paul was a well-known art collector and philanthropist.
Michael Henry de Young was a notable journalist and businessman. Born in Saint Louis, he later moved to San Francisco, where he founded the San Francisco Chronicle and worked as a real estate developer; he built his fortune through these ventures. De Young was instrumental in establishing the California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894 and persuaded the city to preserve the Fine Arts Building as a museum. Much of his art collection, which was extensive, eventually made it into that museum, and after his death, the institution was renamed in his honor.
Born into a prosperous Ohio banking family, Ceilan M. Spitzer greatly expanded his financial holdings throughout long and successful careers in real estate development and railroads. His title was not a military one but, instead, was acquired when he was appointed the quartermaster general of Ohio, with the rank of a brigadier general. Spitzer’s home included an art gallery, the only private one in Toledo, and was filled with art and objects he had acquired in the United States and on numerous trips to Europe. Spitzer’s collection comprised not only the Bouguereau painting but also works by more progressive artists, such as Childe Hassam (1859–1935).
Born Maurice-Jean-Marie-Louis Delaire de Cambacérès, the Baron Delaire de Cambacérès was a French military officer who married Louise Anne-Marie de Rohan Chabot, in 1886. His formal title was the Comte de Cambacérès; he was made a knight of the Legion of Honor in 1896.
Louise Anne-Marie de Rohan Chabot (Madame la Comtesse de Cambacérès) was born in Paris. Her father was Charles Guy-Fernand de Rohan Chabot, Count of Chabot and an officer of the Seventh Hussar Regiment; her mother was Marie-Augusta-Alicia Baudon de Mony (or Mouy), who descended from Spanish nobility.
Marie Delaire de Cambacérès was the eldest child of the Comte and Comtesse de Cambacérès. She married Stanislas Lannes de Montebello, in 1909.
Philip Hewat-Jaboor is an independent art advisor who works with collectors, museums, and designers to buy works of art. He worked at Sotheby’s Belgravia before opening his own business, in 1982. A collector in his own right, Hewat-Jaboor owns a wide variety of objects, from ancient sculpture to photography. Since 2012, he has acted as chairman of the Masterpiece London art fair.
Felix Isman rose from being an errand boy for a coffee shop to becoming a wealthy dealer of real estate, first in his native city of Philadelphia, and then in New York City. By age twenty-seven, he made his first $1 million and was well-known for his ambitious real estate deals. A noted collector of nineteenth-century French and Dutch paintings, Isman owned works by Millet, Corot, Daubigny, Cazin, and Harpignies.
Moulton & Ricketts was a fine arts gallery, active in the early 1900s. The main gallery was located in Chicago, Illinois, but Moulton & Ricketts also had branches in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and New York City.
Born in San Antonio, Texas, Clarence L. Dillon was an American financier and president of the investment bank Dillon, Read & Company. He was active on Wall Street and served, in the capacity as either trustee or director, the American Foreign Securities Corporation, multiple New York banks, and the Dodge Automobile Company. Dillon was also a trustee of the Metropolitan Opera.
After serving in the Union army and establishing grocery and banking businesses, Charles Gerard Conn invented a mouthpiece with a comfortable rubber gasket that revolutionized the way horns were played. Met with enormous success, he expanded his business to produce musical instruments of all kinds. Like many self-made men of his era, Conn collected paintings to adorn his dwellings; at one point, he owned two paintings by Bouguereau. Due to risky business investments, economic downturns, and his own volatile personality, Conn repeatedly faced financial difficulties throughout his life. By 1915, he was forced to sell most of his assets.
Ira Spanierman opened his gallery, which specialized in American art from the nineteenth century to the present, in the 1960s. The New York gallery closed in December 2014 when Spanierman retired, at the age of eighty-six. He had dedicated sixty years to the art dealing industry.
Melvin (Mel) Simon (1926–2009) was a self-made billionaire, having co-founded the largest shopping mall chain in the world with his brother, Herb. After being discharged from the Army in the 1950s, Melvin sold encyclopedias door to door, eventually settling in Indianapolis. Due to his urban mall construction, he is often credited with the revival of downtown Indianapolis. Melvin’s wife, Bren Burns Simon, is the current CEO of MBS Associates, LLC, as well as the director of multiple foundations, including the Melvin and Bren Simon Charitable Foundation, Joshua Max Simon Charitable Foundation, and the Mel and Bren Simon Cancer Center. Though Melvin passed away in 2009, Bren continues to support cultural and philanthropic programs around the world.
Howard Deering Johnson was the founder of the ubiquitous roadside restaurant franchise, instantly recognizable for its orange roofs, Howard Johnson’s. Though known for his frugality in his business, Johnson was described as a “free spender” in his personal life; he had a particular fondness for “flashy automobiles,” and he also reportedly once owned a fifty-seven-foot yacht. Paintings by artists such as Bouguereau, which still carried the air of success and sophistication in the first half of the 1900s, would have been appealing to the newly minted millionaire and would have fit well into his stately homes.
The Frye Art Museum, in Seattle, Washington, was established with a founding collection of 232 paintings that originally belonged to Charles and Emma Frye, owners of a local meatpacking plant. The Fryes’ collection, which focused on European art of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with particular strength in the German and Austrian Academies, had previously been displayed in both a specially built gallery within their home and their company offices.
Born in England, Charles F. Fowles started his career with the London art dealer Arthur Tooth & Sons, later moving to America to work for their New York gallery. In the early 1900s, he and another Tooth representative, Stevenson Scott, quit to form their own firm, Scott and Fowles Co. Unfortunately, Fowles died on May 7, 1915, when a German U-boat sunk the British ocean liner the Lusitania.
Edmund Cogswell Converse was a descendant of one of the original seventeenth-century families that settled in Massachusetts. He began his career at the National Tube Works of Pennsylvania and worked his way up through the business, which eventually merged with J. P. Morgan’s United States Steel Corporation. Converse established Conyers Farm, a 1,200-acre estate in Greenwich, Connecticut. Designed like an estate in England, his property not only contained the huge Conyers Manor but also a working farm, dozens of farm buildings, houses for his employees, and additional homes for his mother and his daughter.
The Victor G. Fischer Art Company was an art gallery in Washington, D.C. Founded by Victor G. Fischer, who sold and collected works of art by American and European artists, the company dissolved in 1911.
Susan Blodgett Lowe was the daughter of a wealthy Michigan lumber baron. Her husband, Edward Lowe (1860–1938), the son of prosperous English immigrants, made a fortune working for Susan’s father. Together, the couple purchased works of art to display in Holmdene Manor, their mansion near Grand Rapids, Michigan. Susan, who was an ardent gardener, also supported a number of local charities, including the D. W. Blodgett Home for Children (founded with money from her father) and the Butterworth Hospital.
Daughter of the ruthless robber baron Jay Gould (1836–1892), Anna Gould was one of the original Victorian-era “dollar princesses,” or young, newly wealthy American women who sought the hands of titled Europeans. She had to suffer through not only the humiliation of a long, highly publicized annulment to rid herself of her first husband, who was both a philanderer and a wastrel, but also the suicide of her youngest son, Howard de Talleyrand-Périgord, Duc de Sagan (1909–1929). After her sister died, in 1938, Anna inherited Lyndhurst, a summer home in Tarrytown, New York, that her father had purchased in 1880. In 1961, Anna bequeathed the home to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Herbert A. Kende was president of Selected Artists Galleries in New York City. Born in Vienna, Kende came to America in 1935 and became an art auctioneer, selling works by Old Masters, such as Tintoretto, Rubens, Van Dyck, and Velázquez.
Canadian James William Woods rose from modest origins to build an enormously profitable timber and manufacturing empire. His company supplied tents and other canvas materials to Allied soldiers during both world wars. As a public testament to his success, Woods built a mansion called Kildare House, in Ottawa, and filled it with an impressive art collection. His philanthropic work included raising funds for the YMCA and an endowment for the Protestant Hospital.