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April 16, 2018
9781421424453
9781421424446
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7.00 Inches (US)
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v2.1 Reference

A Paris Life, A Baltimore Treasure

The Remarkable Lives of George A. Lucas and His Art Collection

In 1857, George A. Lucas, a young Baltimorean who was fluent in French and enamored of French art, arrived in Paris. There, he established an extensive personal network of celebrated artists and art dealers, becoming the quintessential French connection for American collectors. The most remarkable thing about Lucas was not the art that he acquired for his clients (who included William and Henry Walters, the founders of the Walters Art Museum, and John Taylor Johnston, the founding president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art) but the massive collection of 18,000 paintings, drawings, sculptures, and etchings, as well as 1,500 books, journals, and other sources about French artists, that he acquired for himself. Paintings by Cabanel, Corot, and Daubigny, prints by Whistler, Manet, and Cassatt, and portfolios of information about hundreds of French artists filled his apartment and spilled into the adjacent flat of his mistress.

Based primarily on Lucas’s notes and diaries, as well as thousands of other archival documents, Stanley Mazaroff’s A Paris Life, A Baltimore Treasure tells the fascinating story of how Lucas brought together the most celebrated French artists with the most prominent and wealthy American collectors of the time. It also details how, nearing the end of his life, Lucas struggled to find a future home for his collection, eventually giving it to Baltimore’s Maryland Institute. Without the means to care for the collection, the Institute loaned it to the Baltimore Museum of Art, where most of the art was placed in storage and disappeared from public view. But in 1990, when the Institute proposed to auction or otherwise sell the collection, it rose from obscurity, reached new glory as an irreplaceable cultural treasure, and became the subject of an epic battle fought in and out of court that captivated public attention and enflamed the passions of art lovers and museum officials across the nation.

A Paris Life, A Baltimore Treasure is a richly illustrated portrayal of Lucas's fascinating life as an agent, connoisseur, and collector of French mid-nineteenth-century art. And, as revealed in the book, following Lucas's death, his enormous collection continued to have a vibrant life of its own, presenting new challenges to museum officials in studying, conserving, displaying, and ultimately saving the collection as an important and intrinsic part of the culture of our time.

About the Author

Stanley Mazaroff is an independent art historian and the author of Henry Walters and Bernard Berenson: Collector and Connoisseur. Recognized annually in The Best Lawyers in America, Mazaroff retired from the active practice of law in 2003 to study art history at Johns Hopkins University.

Endorsementss

"Stanley Mazaroff has thoughtfully recreated the legacy of one of America’s best documented late-nineteenth-century French art collections—its formation by a well-connected expatriate, its journey across time and space as taste and its institutional keepers changed, and its enduring significance both for scholars and the city that preserved it."

- Doreen Bolger, former Director, The Baltimore Museum of Art, coauthor of American Impressionism and Realism: The Painting of Modern Life, 1885–1915

"A Paris Life, A Baltimore Treasure explores two compelling stories in sequence: the extraordinary life, work, and collecting habits of George Lucas, one of the least known but most influential Americans in Paris in the nineteenth century, and the dramatic tale of what happened to his collection once it found its way after his death to his native Baltimore. A significant contribution to the growing literature exposing the mechanisms of the transatlantic art market in the late-nineteenth century, Mazaroff’s book rightfully inserts George Lucas as a protagonist in the construction of the American private collection—and ultimately the civic museum—in the twentieth century. Equally compelling is Mazaroff’s account of the ultimate fate of Lucas’s own collection, one that was complementary rather than commensurate with the collections he built for others. A true Baltimore tale (and featuring a few of the most famous art-world celebrities!), A Paris Life, A Baltimore Treasure is a page-turning account of one of the most complex and exciting cultural battles fought in twentieth-century America. A terrific read!"

- Julia Marciari-Alexander, Executive Director, The Walters Art Museum, coeditor of This Other Eden: Paintings from the Yale Center for British Art

"Stanley Mazaroff's elegantly written account of all facets of the life and career of George A. Lucas provides a much needed and reliable source for the activity of this influential agent to art collectors. Mazaroff's work expands our appreciation of the cultural life of Belle Époque Paris and Gilded Age America."

- Inge Reist, Director, The Frick Collection, editor of A Market for Merchant Princes: Collecting Italian Renaissance Paintings in America

"A solidly researched book that draws on an impressive range of archival sources, A Paris Life, A Baltimore Treasure is a meticulous and convincing examination of the construction and fate of a collection."

- Elizabeth Rodini, Johns Hopkins University Program in Museums and Society, coauthor of Paper Museums: The Reproductive Print in Europe, 1500–1800

"As an attorney, the author is uniquely qualified to assess the legal battle over George Lucas’s collection that roiled Baltimore’s cultural institutions in the 1990s. Even more remarkable is Mazaroff’s lucid account of Lucas’s career as an art advisor and aesthete. He describes vividly the art world in Paris during the Gilded Age, and the timeliness of Lucas’s role in the formation of some of the most significant art collections in America."

- Eik Kahng, Assistant Director & Chief Curator, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, coeditor of The Repeating Image: Multiples in French Painting from David to Matisse

"Combining a thoroughly researched, exhaustive account of the cultural life of Baltimore during the early nineteenth century with a balanced assessment of expatriate George A. Lucas's career and art holdings, A Paris Life, A Baltimore Treasure is an insightful analysis that draws on Mazaroff's legal experience and familiarity with almost all of the individuals involved."

- William R. Johnston, Curator Emeritus, The Walters Art Museum, author of William and Henry Walters, the Reticent Collectors

"This timely book illuminates the tangled relationship between the cultural and pecuniary value of art, and maps the shifting, often tenuous, grounds on which these values are established. At the same time A Paris Life, A Baltimore Treasure lovingly resurrects George Lucas, one of America’s most influential and romantic expatriates. Meticulously researched, for both the general reader and scholar, this book charts new ground in the history of collecting."

- Jo Briggs, Associate Curator of 18th- and 19th-Century Art, The Walters Art Museum, author of Novelty Fair: British Visual Culture between Chartism and the Great Exhibition

Reviewss

"With rich period detail and a genuine warmth towards its subject, it is eminently readable. Written for scholars and a general audience alike A Paris Life, a Baltimore Treasure amplifies Lucas's vital role in linking collectors in the United States and French artists during the highpoint of American buying power, from the Civil War until the mid 1880s, a story that, to date, has only been told in temporary exhibitions of Lucas's collection."

- Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide

"Mazaroff details three decades of uncertainty over the ownership and importance of Lucas's gift. This story is greatly enhanced by the fact that most of the actors in the legal drama, which played out from the 1960s to the 1990s, gave interviews to the author; this oral history is the kind of vital inside information that scholars in future decades will relish. The book raises questions about art and money, personal enthusiasms and institutional priorities, and the grey areas in between, which make the process of shepherding gifts of art so political and complex."

- Jo Briggs - The Art Newspaper

9781421424446 : a-paris-life-a-baltimore-treasure-mazaroff
Hardback
344 Pages
$64.95 USD
9781421424453 : a-paris-life-a-baltimore-treasure-mazaroff
Electronic book text
344 Pages
$64.95 USD

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