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Barnes, Albert Coombs (02 January 1872–24 July 1951), collector, educator, and entrepreneur, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of John Jesse Barnes, a butcher, and Lydia A. Schafer. Barnes’s father lost his right arm in the Civil War, and his ability to support his family proved sporadic. However, Albert’s mother, to whom he was devoted, was hardworking and resourceful. Among his most vivid childhood memories were the exuberant black religious revivals and camp meetings he attended with his devout Methodist parents. Accepted at the academically demanding Central High School, which awarded bachelor’s degrees, his early interest in art was stimulated by his friendship with the future artist ...

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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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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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Guggenheim, Solomon Robert (02 February 1861–03 November 1949), industrialist, art collector, and museum founder, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Meyer Guggenheim, businessman, and Barbara Meyer, Swiss immigrants who had accompanied their parents to Philadelphia in 1847 to escape restrictions on Jews in their native land. By the time of Solomon’s birth, the family had prospered, its good fortune hastened by Meyer’s shrewdness in providing clothing and food supplies for the Union Army during the Civil War. After attending public school in Philadelphia, Solomon was sent to the Concordia Institute in Zurich, Switzerland, to polish his German and study business techniques. Together with his brothers Isaac, Daniel, and Murry, he became a partner in M. Guggenheim’s Sons, the family lace and embroideries manufacturing and importing company (1877; incorp. 1882), and remained in Europe as manager of a branch of the family business in Saxony. The four brothers became the masterminds behind the Guggenheim empire....

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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....

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Luhan, Mabel Dodge (26 February 1879–13 August 1962), writer and patron, was born in Buffalo, New York, the daughter of Charles Ganson and Sarah Cook, members of the upper class who lived on inherited wealth. Like most Victorian women of her class, Luhan was educated to charm and groomed to marry. Stultified emotionally and intellectually at home and at the various finishing (or boarding) schools she attended, she worked throughout her life to create a world that would simultaneously establish her identity and serve as a model for the larger European and American communities that surrounded her. She moved from one “cosmos,” as she called them, to the next, with the expectation that each would provide the answer to her own and her contemporaries’ need to connect with something larger than the dying legacy of individualism left them by late Victorian culture....

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Mellon, Andrew William (24 March 1855–26 August 1937), financier, statesman, and art collector, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Thomas Mellon, a lawyer and later a judge, entrepreneur, and banker, and Sarah Jane Negley. Mellon attended public schools in Pittsburgh and Western University of Pennsylvania (now the University of Pittsburgh). While still a student he observed his father’s financial dealings with industrialists ...

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Mellon, Paul (11 June 1907–01 February 1999), philanthropist, art collector, horse breeder, and conservationist, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Andrew W. Mellon, a banker, secretary of the treasury (1921–1932), and ambassador to Britain (1932–1933), and Nora McMullen Mellon. His parents divorced when he was five and his sister Ailsa was eleven. Under the terms of the divorce settlement, the children were to spend eight months with their father and four months with their mother, who was living in England. (When they reached the age of fourteen, the children were to decide how long they wished to stay with either parent.) As a child, Paul was afraid of his father, whom he described in his autobiography, ...

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Phillips, Duncan (26 June 1886–09 May 1966), art collector, writer, and museum founder, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Duncan Clinch Phillips, a business executive, and Eliza Laughlin Phillips, the daughter of James Laughlin, a banker and cofounder of the Jones and Laughlin Steel Company. In 1896 the family moved to Washington, D.C., where Phillips attended private schools. In 1908 he received a B.A. in English literature from Yale University. There he had published essays and reviews on esthetic matters. After graduation, he made his home in Washington while continuing to educate himself in the visual arts through reading, collecting, extended sojourns in New York, and travel to Asia and Europe. In 1912 he published his first article in a professional art magazine, and two years later a group of essays appeared as his first book, ...

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Price, Vincent (27 May 1911–25 October 1993), actor and art collector, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Vincent Leonard Price, a candy company president, and Marguerite Cobb Willcox. Price studied art history and English at Yale University and toured Europe as a member of the Yale Glee Club. After graduating in 1933, he made an unsuccessful attempt to obtain work as an actor in New York, then took a teaching job with the Riverdale (N.Y.) Country Day School. In 1934 Price began graduate study in fine arts at London University’s Courtald Institute. He wrote his master’s thesis on “Dürer and the School of the Danube” and auditioned for roles on the London stage....

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Shouse, Catherine Filene (09 June 1896–14 December 1994), philanthropist, patron of the arts, and advocate for careers for women, was born Catherine Filene in Boston, Massachusetts, the eldest daughter of A. Lincoln Filene and Thérèse Weil. As a child, she was known as Catherine; as an adult, she was always Kay. She grew up in a wealthy, progressive home where politicians, businessmen, musicians, and social reformers were frequent visitors. Her father, who never finished high school, engaged in civic, educational, and labor reforms while president of William Filene and Sons, the Boston retail store founded by her grandfather. Her mother, a talented amateur musician, supported the Boston Symphony Orchestra and founded a music settlement house....

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Warburg, Edward (05 June 1908–21 September 1992), philanthropist and art collector, was born Edward Mortimer Morris Warburg in White Plains, New York, the son of Felix Warburg, a banker and philanthropist, and Frieda Schiff. Warburg's family connections and long-standing philanthropic activities, combined with his education in art history at Harvard University, contributed significantly to his success as a patron of culture and humanitarian causes throughout his life....

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Whitney, Gertrude Vanderbilt (09 January 1875–18 April 1942), sculptor and patron of the arts, was born in New York City, the daughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt II, considered the wealthiest man in the United States, and Alice Claypoole Gwynne. She was raised in a neo-Renaissance palazzo in her native New York City. She attended the Brearley School and became a debutante, as befitted her social position. Vanderbilt graduated in 1894 and married ...