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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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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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Quinn, John (24 April 1870–28 July 1924), lawyer, collector of art and manuscripts, and patron of the arts, was born in Tiffin, Ohio, the son of James Quinn, a prosperous baker, and Mary Quinlan. Quinn’s success as a lawyer came early. He took a law degree from Georgetown University in 1893 and a second law degree from Harvard in 1895. Practicing in New York City, he established himself as one of the city’s leading financial lawyers in 1905 by dealing with the legal complications of J. B. Ryan’s takeover of Equitable Life Assurance Association of the United States, a firm that controlled $400 million in assets. Hard-driving and demanding, Quinn once fired five junior partners in one year. Yet in spite of his preoccupation with his work, he performed inestimable services for the arts....

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Reed, Luman (04 June 1785–07 June 1836), merchant, art collector, and art patron, was born at Green River (now Austerlitz), in Columbia County, New York, the son of Eliakim Reed II and Rebecca Fitch, farmers. The family lived in Connecticut until Reed’s father bought a New York farm in 1779. In 1792 they moved to nearby Coxsackie, where Reed attended a district school. There, in partnership with his cousin Roswell Reed, his father opened a store for the sale of agricultural produce and dry goods, in which Luman Reed worked after school; when his father sold the business, Reed worked for the new owner, Ralph Barker. In 1808 Reed married Barker’s sister Mary (known as Polly); the couple had two children....

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Sackler, Arthur Mitchell (22 August 1913–26 May 1987), research psychiatrist, art collector, and philanthropist, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Isaac Sackler and Sophie (maiden name unknown). In the 1930s Sackler simultaneously studied medicine at New York University (NYU) and art history at NYU and the Cooper Union Art Institute. To fund his medical studies, he joined the William Douglas MacAdams medical advertising agency. Sackler earned his B.S. from NYU in 1933 and his M.D. from NYU in 1937. In 1935 he married Else Jorgensen; they had two children....

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Scull, Robert Cooper (1917–01 January 1986), art collector and patron and business executive, was born on the Lower East Side of New York City, the son of Mayo Scull, a tailor. His parents were Russian immigrants whose name, originally Sokolnikoff, was changed to Scull at Ellis Island. Upon his arrival in New York, his father took a job sewing and designing with the fashionable department store Bergdorf-Goodman. Eventually the Sculls moved to the Upper West Side, where Robert attended DeWitt Clinton High School for advanced students. Unfortunately, he was forced to drop out of high school because of the Great Depression, and it was another nine years before he actually earned his diploma. In order to help his family during those trying times, he refinished furniture, made and sold his own soap, and even hustled pool. He was motivated to complete high school because of his interest in business, but at the same time his grandfather was broadening his horizons by taking him to museums and to the opera. Scull became increasingly fascinated by art and began taking classes at the Art Students League, the Pratt Institute, and the Textile High School on a part-time basis. Meanwhile, he worked at a wide assortment of day jobs—artist’s model, appliance repairman, and retail salesman—to pay the bills. Peter Wild, an artist for whom he occasionally modeled, gave him drawing lessons in return for his services, and in a short time Scull added commercial illustration to his résumé....

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Spreckels, Alma (24 March 1881–07 August 1968), museum builder and art collector, was born Alma de Bretteville in San Francisco, California, the daughter of Viggo de Bretteville, a farmer, and Mathilde Unserud. At age fourteen she was forced to quit school to go to work. At night she took art lessons at the Mark Hopkins Art Institute where, because of her beauty and statuesque figure (she was six feet tall), she also modeled for her instructors. One, the sculptor ...