Artful Partners: Bernard Berenson and Joseph Duveen

Colin Simpson, Author MacMillan Publishing Company $22.5 (323p) ISBN 978-0-02-611330-4
It is stunning to read that Berenson, esteemed authority on Italian Renaissance paintingthe man responsible for authenticating works by Leonardo da Vinci and Raphaelwas also a crook, the world's most successful illegitimate art dealer. For 30 years, Simpson maintains, Berenson had a secret partnership with celebrated art broker Lord Duveen. This duo, it is charged here, unloaded forgeries and artworks of dubious distinction on the wealthy and unsuspecting; their duped clientele included Morgans, Rockefellers, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and many other bastions of culture in the U.S. Berenson netted millions, enabling him to live in high style at Tatti, his villa near Florence, where he held court as connoisseur and mentor to a generation of scholars. Duveen, portrayed here as a ruthless, power-hungry conniver, gained credibility from Berenson's reputation for scholarship. Author of bios of Lady Emma Hamilton and Lawrence of Arabia, Simpson has produced an explosive expose, meticulously documented and low-keyed in its approach, yet sensational and damning nonetheless. First serial to Connoisseur magazine. (February 27)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1987
Release date: 03/01/1987
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