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Alice Pike Barney. Photograph by Frances Benjamin Johnston. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-101726).

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Barney, Alice Pike (14 January 1857–12 October 1931), artist and arts patron, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the daughter of Samuel Napthali Pike, an arts patron and successful businessman, and Ursula Muellion “Ellen” Miller. She grew up and was educated at various schools in Cincinnati and New York City, her family having moved there in 1866. Although Barney courted the famous British explorer ...

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Bliss, Lillie P. (11 April 1864–12 March 1931), art collector, patron, and benefactor, was born Lizzie Plummer Bliss in Boston, Massachusetts, daughter of Cornelius Newton Bliss, a textile merchant who was active in Republican Party politics, and Elizabeth Mary Plummer. In 1866 the family moved to the Murray Hill section of New York City, where as a young girl Bliss was privately educated. She lived there caring for her invalid mother until 1923, when her mother died. Bliss acted as hostess in New York and Washington, D.C., for her father, who served as secretary of the interior (1897–1899) in the cabinet of ...

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Chrysler, Walter Percy, Jr. (27 May 1909–17 September 1988), art collector and benefactor, was born in Oelwein, Iowa, the son of Walter P. Chrysler (1875–1940), founder of the corporation that bears his name, and Della Viola Forker. “Collecting has always been in my blood,” Chrysler said. He was brought up amid his family’s art collection, was taken to many art museums and galleries, and his wealth facilitated acquiring what was to become his passion. While attending Hotchkiss School, he used his father’s birthday gift to purchase his first work of art, a Renoir watercolor, which included a small nude figure. His dormitory master was horrified, and, as Chrysler later recalled, “busted it over his knee and threw it in the trashcan” ( ...

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Clarke, Thomas Benedict (11 December 1848–18 January 1931), art collector, was born in New York City, the son of George Washington Clarke, an educator, and Mary Jane McKie. Clarke attended the Mount Washington Collegiate Institute, in New York City, a school founded and run by his father. In 1871 he married Fannie Eugenia Morris, the daughter of grocer-alderman John J. Morris; the couple had five children, a son and four daughters. By 1872 Clarke was dealing in laces, collars, and linens in partnership in New York City with one John Carmichael. Four years later he was manufacturing linen collars in partnership with Thomas King of Troy, New York. He retired from Clarke & King in 1892 to devote his full attention to collecting and selling art. Clarke held several semipublic positions, including trustee of the Brooklyn Bridge (1880), and became practically a professional clubman, joining, among other clubs, the Brook, Metropolitan, Century, Union League, Manhattan, New York Athletic, and New York Yacht Club....

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Dreier, Katherine Sophie (10 September 1877–29 March 1952), artist and art patron, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Johann Caspar Theodor Dreier, an iron distributor, and Dorothea Adelheid Dreier, his cousin. The youngest of five children, she grew up in a family with strong Germanic ties and a long-standing commitment to social and humanitarian reforms. Until art took precedence in her life, Dreier involved herself in a number of Progressive Era reforms, beginning in 1898 with her service as treasurer of the German Home for Recreation of Women and Children in Brooklyn, an institution cofounded by her mother. In 1903 she helped launch both the Manhattan Trade School for Girls and the Little Italy Neighborhood House in South Brooklyn. Dreier was also active in woman suffrage, serving as a delegate to the Sixth Convention of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance held in Stockholm in 1911 and heading the German-American Committee of the Woman Suffrage party in New York in 1915. In 1918 she spent five months in Argentina surveying that country’s fledgling social reforms....

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Force, Juliana Rieser (23 December 1876–28 August 1948), museum director and early champion of American art, was born in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Maximilian Rieser, a hatter and grocer, and Julianna Schmutz Kuster. As a girl she wanted to be a writer and hoped to go to college; when that proved financially impossible, she temporarily settled for teaching English and stenography at a business school in Hoboken, New Jersey, where the family had moved in 1886....

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Gallatin, Albert Eugene (23 July 1881–15 June 1952), art museum founder, critic, and painter, was born in Villanova, Pennsylvania, the son of Albert Horatio Gallatin, a professor of analytical chemistry at New York University, and Louisa Belford Ewing. He was the proud namesake of his great-grandfather, ...

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Isabella Stewart Gardner. Photograph of a painting by John Singer Sargent. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-112024).

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Gardner, Isabella Stewart (14 April 1840–17 July 1924), patron of the arts and museum founder, was born in New York City, the daughter of David Stewart, an importer and businessman, and Adelia Smith. Educated at a series of private girls’ schools in New York, Gardner (known as “Belle” from early childhood) was sent to a French Protestant school in Paris at age sixteen. Her parents soon joined her in Paris, where the Stewarts befriended the family of John L. Gardner, a Boston businessman involved in shipping. Belle Stewart and Julia Gardner, a girl of her own age, quickly became close friends....

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Gilder, Helena de Kay (14 January 1846–28 May 1916), painter and cultural reformer, was born Helena de Kay in New York City, the daughter of Commodore George Colman De Kay, a naval officer, and Janet Halleck Drake. As a granddaughter of poet Joseph Rodman Drake...

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Guggenheim, Peggy (26 August 1898–23 December 1979), art patron, was born Marguerite Guggenheim in New York City, the daughter of Benjamin Guggenheim, who directed the mining and smelting interests of the Guggenheim clan, and Florette Seligman. She grew up in one of the most affluent and socially prominent Jewish families in New York, tutored at home except for a short stint at the Jacoby School. In addition to the loneliness imposed by her restrictive home life, her childhood was marked by her father’s death in the 1912 ...

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Harkness, Rebekah West (17 April 1915–17 June 1982), philanthropist, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of Allen Tarwater West, a stockbroker, and Rebekah Semple. The youngest of three children, Rebekah grew up surrounded by the amenities of a prominent St. Louis family. A vivacious, headstrong teenager with a penchant for the arts, she obeyed but did not agree with her father’s request that she resign from a St. Louis Opera production of ...

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Havemeyer, Henry Osborne (18 October 1847–04 December 1907), sugar merchant and investor, was born in New York City, the son of Frederick Christian Havemeyer, Jr., a sugar merchant, and Sarah Osborne Townsend Havemeyer. From childhood on he was known as Harry. By the time of his birth the extended Havemeyer family, whose antecedents, originally from Germany, had emigrated from England in the late eighteenth century, was one of New York's wealthiest and most prominent, making their fortune in sugar refining. A substantial part of that fortune had been made by Harry's father, in partnership with his cousin ...

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Havemeyer, Louisine Waldron (28 July 1855–06 January 1929), collector, patron, and suffragist, was born Louisine Waldron Elder in New York City, the daughter of George William Elder, a merchant, and Mathilda Adelaide Waldron. In 1874 Louisine accompanied her sisters and recently widowed mother to Europe. She and her sister Adaline resided in Paris at the fashionable Del Sartre rooming house favored by women art students. ...

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Herring, James (12 January 1794–08 October 1867), portraitist and art promoter, was born in London, England, the son of James Herring, a teacher, and Mary Holland. He came to the United States with his parents, arriving and settling in New York City in October 1805. Herring attended Erasmus Hall Academy in Flatbush (now part of Brooklyn), New York, where drawing, he wrote years later, was his best subject. As a young adult he pursued various occupations, working as a teacher, a clerk, and a distiller of alcohol....

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Johnston, John Taylor (08 April 1820–24 March 1893), railroad president and art patron, was born in New York City, the son of John Johnston, a banker, and Margaret Taylor. His parents, who had come from Scotland, took Johnston on one of their periodic visits to their homeland; he studied briefly at Edinburgh High School and was named “dux” (top pupil) of his class. He graduated from the University of the City of New York (now New York University) in 1839 and proceeded to study law, first at the Yale College law school (1839–1841) and then in the New York office of Daniel Lord. Admitted to the New York bar in 1843, Johnston soon found that the profession did not engage his interests fully. He traveled abroad for two years, before returning to the United States and commencing his career in the field of railroad development....

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Juilliard, Augustus D. (19 April 1836–25 April 1919), industrialist and patron of the arts, was born at sea during the voyage that brought his parents, Jean Nicholas Juilliard, a farmer, and Anna Burlette, to the United States from Burgundy, France. Although he had been a shoemaker in France, Augustus’s father believed that farming offered greater potential for success in America. He and his family settled near Canton, Ohio. Following Juilliard’s schooling he worked in his brother-in-law’s dry goods store in Bucyrus, Ohio. After making a number of buying trips to New York he decided to settle there. He eventually was employed by one of the leading textile commission houses, Hoyt, Spragues & Company. In 1873, when Hoyt, Spragues declared bankruptcy, Juilliard was appointed receiver. Sometime thereafter he formed his own successful textile commission house, A. D. Juilliard and Company, where he served as senior partner....

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Otto Kahn Photograph by Arnold Genthe Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-G401-T-5788-002).

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Kahn, Otto Herman (21 February 1867–29 March 1934), investment banker and patron of the fine arts, was born in Mannheim, Germany, the son of Bernhard Kahn, a banker, and Emma Eberstadt. Reared in a home with a rich cultural atmosphere and with valuable works of art, Otto was privately tutored and displayed a keen interest in music. He became familiar with banking and in 1883 began to work in a small bank in Karlsruhe....