Pictures from the Iveagh Bequest and Collections, with an Introduction and Catalogue of the Kenwood Collection by Sir Charles Holmes
by (GUINNESS, Edward Cecil, 1st Earl of Iveagh)
Finely colored photogravure frontis. of a Romney painting & 59 black & white photogravure plates. xxiii, , 33 pp. Very large & thick folio, orig. crimson half-morocco & red cloth (extremities & joints slightly rubbed), Iveagh's coat of arms stamped in gilt on upper cover, spine gilt, t.e.g. London: "Published for the Iveagh Trustees by W.J. Stacey" [Printed at the Chiswick Press], 1928. The spectacular catalogue of a true "masterpiece" collection, printed in only 100 numbered copies and with subscription form. Guinness (1847-1927), member of the brewing dynasty and renowned philanthropist, created a trust for this collection in 1925 as his final and unparalleled benefaction. "In 1874 [Guinness] bought his first major painting, Rembrandt's Judas Returning the Thirty Pieces of Silver, formerly in the Charlemont collection, but it was the flotation of the family's Dublin brewery on the Stock Exchange in 1886 that gave him ample funds to buy art. Between 1887 and 1891 he acquired nearly 250 pictures, almost exclusively from Agnew's, at a cost of about 550,000 pounds. Iveagh's taste was unadventurous and he indulged in the characteristic millionaire's preference for grand 18th-century English portraits. He surrounded himself with 36 by Reynolds, 22 by Romney, and 16 by Gainsborough, competing with the Rothschilds and the Randlords, and anticipating the American boom in English ancestor portraits fuelled by Duveen…Lord Iveagh was one of a handful of British collectors who could compete with the Americans, and like them he wanted his collection to be a public asset…[The Iveagh Bequest] was a fitting climax to the great tale of Victorian collecting of Old Master paintings. By the time of Iveagh's death, Old Master collecting on that scale was over in Britain."-Stourton and Sebag-Montefiore, The British as Art Collectors, p. 255. "Kenwood House, the great house designed by Robert Adam for the earls of Mansfield at Hampstead, fell on bad times during the war…Lord Iveagh bought the house for £108,000, filled it with some of his furniture and pictures, spent five nights in it, and then set up a trust, with a capital sum of £50,000, to maintain the house and its collection as an art gallery open to the public. Few gifts have been more splendid or more widely appreciated."-ODNB. Sixty-three paintings are described, of which 60 are illustrated with striking photogravure reproductions. This selection features the finest works from Iveagh's collection, including Rembrandt's Portrait of the Painter in Old Age. There are histories of the artistic schools, biographies of every artist, and succinct descriptions of the 63 paintings, with dimensions and provenance information. Very good copy. Bookplate and inoffensive stamp of Max Saffron here and there. With the prospectus (slightly creased and a few inoffensive tears), and order form. (Inventory #: 6069)
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