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Avery, Samuel Putnam (17 March 1822–11 August 1904), wood engraver, art dealer, and rare book and print collector, was born in New York City, the son of Samuel Avery and Hannah Parke. His father, variously listed as a shoe maker and a leather merchant, died of cholera in 1832. Through an apprenticeship in a bank-note company, Avery was able to learn the essentials of the wood-engraving trade. Officially recorded as an engraver in the 1842 New York City directory, he earned a living by engraving labels and making handbills for local merchants. At the same time he began a long involvement with the publishing trade, working for periodicals such as ...

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Albert C. Barnes Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1940. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LOT 12735, no. 102 P&P).

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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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Fenollosa, Ernest Francisco (18 February 1853–21 September 1908), educator, poet, and Orientalist, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, the son of Manuel Francisco Ciriaco Fenollosa, a Spanish musician who had come to the United States in 1838, and Mary Silsbee, who died when Ernest was eleven. After attending Salem High School, the sensitive and reserved young man entered Harvard College, where he studied with ...

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Huntington, Henry Edwards (27 February 1850–23 May 1927), urban developer, railroad executive, and book and art collector, was born in Oneonta, New York, the son of Solon Huntington, a merchant, land speculator, and farmer, and Harriet Saunders. His father was conservative by nature, and it was his uncle, railway magnate ...

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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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Rosenwald, Lessing Julius (10 February 1891–24 June 1978), art and book collector and philanthropist, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Julius Rosenwald, a businessman, and Augusta Nusbaum. In 1908 he went to Cornell University but left in 1911 to work as a shipping clerk for Sears, Roebuck, of which his father was president. In 1913 Rosenwald married Edith Goodkind; they had five children. He served as a seaman, second class, in the U.S. Navy during World War I; after the war he returned to Sears, Roebuck. In 1920 his father sent him to Philadelphia to start that city’s first Sears store....

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Sachs, Paul Joseph (24 November 1878–17 February 1965), museum director, teacher, and art collector, was born in New York City, the son of Samuel Sachs, a partner in the firm of Goldman, Sachs & Co., and Louisa Goldman. The family was part of the close-knit German-Jewish community in New York City. Paul Sachs attended the Sachs School in New York, a preparatory school operated by his uncle. He was attracted to art from his youth. In his memoirs he recounted how his bedroom became a gallery of prints and photographs and that he secretly harbored artistic aspirations. Although he soon determined that he lacked artistic talent, the study of the fine arts became the driving force of his life. At eighteen he took a trip with his father to Europe, where he saw many works of art. He entered Harvard in 1896, where he studied art under ...

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Schomburg, Arthur Alfonso (24 January 1874–10 June 1938), historian, bibliophile, and curator, was born Arturo Alfonso Schomburg in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the son of Mary Joseph, an unwed midwife or laundress who had been born free in 1837 on St. Croix, Virgin Islands. Some sources claim that his father was Carlos Federico Schomburg, a German-born émigré merchant, but in a reply to a questionnaire from ...

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Stokes, Isaac Newton Phelps (11 April 1867–18 December 1944), architect and historian, was born in New York City, the son of Anson Phelps Stokes, a banker, and Helen Louisa Phelps. His education was interrupted by episodes of ill health, but he entered Harvard University in 1887 and graduated in 1891. Stokes worked briefly in banking before he began to study at the School of Architecture of Columbia University from 1893 to 1894. He left without taking a degree and went to Paris to study housing design at the École des Beaux Arts. Improved tenement housing was to be a lifelong interest of his. In 1895 he married Edith Minturn. They had an adopted daughter....